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Top 112 Famous Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States of America.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was an American statesman, politician, conservationist, naturalist, and writer who served as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909.

Roosevelt brought the US into the Progressive Era, breaking up corporate monopolies, forming the conservation movement, and greatly increasing American influence around the world. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for brokering the end of the Russo-Japanese War. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. Theodore Roosevelt is widely regarded by historians and political scientists as one of the five greatest American presidents. (His distant cousin and future president Franklin D. Roosevelt)

We’ve gone through speeches, interviews, and letters for a few of his most memorable insights. Read on for some of the quotes about Theodore Roosevelt’s. Let’s dive right in:

112 Most Inspiring Theodore Roosevelt Quotes About Courage, Leadership and Success

1

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

2

“Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.” – Theodore Roosevelt

3

“Sometimes in life, both at school and afterwards, fortune will go against anyone, but if he just keeps pegging away and don’t lose his courage things always take a turn for the better in the end.” – Theodore Roosevelt

4

“The men and women who have the right ideals… are those who have the courage to strive for the happiness which comes only with labor and effort and self-sacrifice, and those whose joy in life springs in part from power of work and sense of duty.” – Theodore Roosevelt

5

“Our chief usefulness to humanity rests on our combining power with high purpose. Power undirected by high purpose spells calamity, and high purpose by itself is utterly useless if the power to put it into effect is lacking.” – Theodore Roosevelt

6

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” – Theodore Roosevelt

7

“If I must choose between peace and righteousness, I choose righteousness.” – Theodore Roosevelt

8

“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” – Theodore Roosevelt

9

“The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.” – Theodore Roosevelt

10

“The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt

11

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” – Theodore Roosevelt

12

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt

13

“Remember always that the man who does a thing so that it is worth doing is always a man who does his work for the work’s sake […] A scientific man, a writer, a historian, an artist, can only be a good man of science, a first-class artist, a first-class writer, if he does his work for the sake of doing it well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

14

“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 color. Such an attitude would, according to my convictions, be fundamentally wrong.” – Theodore Roosevelt

15

“Peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual; and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another’s keeping.” – Theodore Roosevelt

16

“I am a part of everything that I have read.” – Theodore Roosevelt

17

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

18

“There is only one quality worse than hardness of heart and that is softness of head.” – Theodore Roosevelt

19

“Dreams are a dime a dozen. it’s their execution that counts.” – Theodore Roosevelt

20

“Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been effort stored up in the past.” – Theodore Roosevelt

21

“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” – Theodore Roosevelt

22

“We are not building this country of ours for a day. It is to last through the ages.” – Theodore Roosevelt

23

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

24

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.” – Theodore Roosevelt

25

“Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!” – Theodore Roosevelt

26

“I don’t always get shot during the middle of a speech, But when I do, I finish the damn speech.” – Theodore Roosevelt

27

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’.” – Theodore Roosevelt

28

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” – Theodore Roosevelt

29

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

30

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.” – Theodore Roosevelt

31

“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” – Theodore Roosevelt

32

“Life means change; where there is no change, death comes.” – Theodore Roosevelt

33

“With self-discipline, almost anything is possible.” – Theodore Roosevelt

34

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

35

“I have only a second rate brain, but I think I have a capacity for action.” – Theodore Roosevelt

36

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

37

“A great democracy has got to be progressive, or it will soon cease to be either great or a democracy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

38

“Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” – Theodore Roosevelt

39

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

40

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” – Theodore Roosevelt

41

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in if it is not a reasonably good place for all of us to live in.” – Theodore Roosevelt

42

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

43

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

44

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

45

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

46

“Power invariably means both responsibility and danger.” – Theodore Roosevelt

47

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

48

“I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’” – Theodore Roosevelt

49

“Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the choice that something else is greater than that fear.” – Theodore Roosevelt

50

“Nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort.” – Theodore Roosevelt

51

“This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country.” – Theodore Roosevelt

52

“Washington’s career shows that we need to keep our faces steadily toward the sun. You can change the simile, to keep our eyes to the stars, but remember that our feet have got to be on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt

53

“To sit home, read one’s favorite 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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

54

“The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” – Theodore Roosevelt

55

“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” – Theodore Roosevelt

56

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

57

“A stream cannot rise larger than its source.” – Theodore Roosevelt

58

“I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!” – Theodore Roosevelt

59

“I am only an average man, but by George, I work harder at it than the average man.” – Theodore Roosevelt

60

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

61

“Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.” – Theodore Roosevelt

62

“Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.” – Theodore Roosevelt

63

“Unless a man is master of his soul, all other kinds of mastery amount to little.” – Theodore Roosevelt

64

“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my inferior, except for his own demerit.” – Theodore Roosevelt

65

“When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” – Theodore Roosevelt

66

“It is impossible to win the great prizes of life without running risks, and the greatest of all prizes are those connected with the home.” – Theodore Roosevelt

67

“Great thought speak only to the thoughtful mind ,but great actions speak to all mankind.” – Theodore Roosevelt

68

“We have become great in a material sense because of the lavish use of our resources, and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils shall have been still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields, and obstructing navigation. These questions do not relate only to the next century or to the next generation. One distinguishing characteristic of really civilized men is foresight; we have to, as a nation, exercise foresight for this nation in the future; and if we do not exercise that foresight, dark will be the future!” – Theodore Roosevelt

69

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Theodore Roosevelt

70

“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

71

“A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” – Theodore Roosevelt

72

“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.” – Theodore Roosevelt

73

“Do not hit, at all, if it can be avoided, but never hit softly.” – Theodore Roosevelt

74

“There are many qualities which we need in order to gain success, but the three above all—for the lack of which no brilliancy and no genius can atone—are Courage, Honesty and Common Sense.” – Theodore Roosevelt

75

“There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man’s heart and soul, the man’s worth and actions, determine his standing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

76

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” – Theodore Roosevelt

77

“Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as be seen as a people with such responsibilities.” – Theodore Roosevelt

78

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

79

“No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause.” – Theodore Roosevelt

80

“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” – Theodore Roosevelt

81

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” – Theodore Roosevelt

82

“Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is character.” – Theodore Roosevelt

83

“All the resources we need are in the mind.” – Theodore Roosevelt

84

“Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one.” – Theodore Roosevelt

85

“In life as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard.” – Theodore Roosevelt

86

“It is out of the question for our people to rise by treading down any of their own number.” – Theodore Roosevelt

87

“We want men who will fix their eyes on the stars, but who will not forget that their feet must walk on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt

88

“We must remember not to judge any public servant by any one act, and especially should we beware of attacking the men who are merely the occasions and not the cause of disaster.” – Theodore Roosevelt

89

“Don’t hit a man at all if you can avoid it, but if you have to hit him, knock him out.” – Theodore Roosevelt

90

“The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

91

“The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.” – Theodore Roosevelt

92

“I grew into manhood thoroughly imbued with the feeling that a man must be respected for what he made of himself.” – Theodore Roosevelt

93

“Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” – Theodore Roosevelt

94

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

95

“It is a dreadful thing to come into the presidency in this way; but it would be far worse to be morbid about it. Here is the task, and I have got to do it to the best of my ability.” – Theodore Roosevelt

96

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.” – Theodore Roosevelt

97

“To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” – Theodore Roosevelt

98

“Democracy to be successful, must mean self-knowledge, and above all, self-mastery.” – Theodore Roosevelt

99

“Instead of speaking softly and carrying a big stick, President Wilson spoke bombastically and carried a dish rag.” – Theodore Roosevelt

100

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

101

“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” – Theodore Roosevelt

102

“There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.” – Theodore Roosevelt

103

“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 traveling 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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

104

“I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

105

“I don’t for a moment believe that we can turn back the wheels of progress.” – Theodore Roosevelt

106

“It is of little use for us to pay lip-loyalty to the mighty men of the past unless we sincerely endeavor 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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

107

“When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.” – Theodore Roosevelt

108

“At sometime in our lives a devil dwells within us, causes heartbreaks, confusion and troubles, then dies.” – Theodore Roosevelt

109

“Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Theodore Roosevelt

110

“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” – Theodore Roosevelt

111

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

112

“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 realize 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.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Further Reading

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