12 Teddy Roosevelt Quotes On Courage, Leadership, And Success

RooseveltLibrary of CongressTeddy Roosevelt, holding court in Oyster Bay, New York, in May 1916.

Among US presidents, Teddy Roosevelt stands out. He’s the only one to win both the Nobel Prize and the Medal of Honour. Plus, he busted up corporate trusts, fathered the Panama Canal, and set aside 230 million acres of land for public good, kickstarting the American conservation movement.

Born in Manhattan in 1858, Roosevelt served as lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War, and then came back to New York to serve as governor.

In 1901, a 43-year-old Roosevelt became the youngest president after President McKinley was assassinated. He’d hold the office until 1909.

Roosevelt was also a master orator. We combed through his speeches, interviews, and letters for a few of his most blazing turns of phrase.

On inaction

'To sit home, read one's favourite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men's doing.'

(The Higher Life Of American Cities, December 1895)

On courage

'A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realise that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage... For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.'

(Campaign address, October 1898)

On work

'I don't pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.'

(Speech, September 1902)

On diversity

'I cannot consent to take the position that the door of hope -- the door of opportunity -- is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or colour. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.'

(Letter, November 1902)

On corporations

'Our aim is not to do away with corporations; on the contrary, these big aggregations are an inevitable development of modern industrialism ... We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good. We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.'

(State of the Union address, December 1902)

On the day-to-day

'... we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.'

(Inaugural Address, March 1905)

On striving

'You often hear people speaking as if life was like striving upward toward a mountain peak. That is not so. Life is as if you were travelling a ridge crest. You have the gulf of inefficiency on one side and the gulf of wickedness on the other, and it helps not to have avoided one gulf if you fall into the other.'

(Address, May 1904)

On success

'It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.'

('Citizenship in a Republic,' April 1910)

On conflict

'The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.'

(Practical Politics, April 1913)

On virtue

'No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues; and this without regard to whether the loss is due to the growth of a heartless and all-absorbing commercialism, to prolonged indulgence in luxury and soft, effortless ease, or to the deification of a warped and twisted sentimentality.'

('Nobel Lecture,' May 1910)

On history

'It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavour to apply to the problems of the present precisely the qualities which in other crises enabled the men of that day to meet those crises.'

('The New Nationalism,' August 1910)

On critics

'It is not the critic who counts ....

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...

who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.'

('Citizenship in a Republic,' April 1910)

After a political genius, meet a scientific genius.

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