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Theodore Roosevelt

"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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic," Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." (1891)

"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger." (1894)

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense."... "We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less.""The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us."
New York State Fair, Syracuse, September 7, 1903

"Viewed purely in the abstract, I think there can be no question that women should have equal rights with men."..."Especially as regards the laws relating to marriage there should be the most absolute equality between the two sexes. I do not think the woman should assume the man's name."
"The Practicability of Equalizing Men and Women before the Law,"
Senior thesis at Harvard, 1880

"Much can be done by law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal rights with man - including the right to vote, the right to hold and use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the same terms as the man."..."Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it should be paid as highly."
An Autobiography, 1913

"Working women have the same need to protection that working men have; the ballot is as necessary for one class as to the other; we do not believe that with the two sexes there is identity of function; but we do believe there should be equality of right."
Speech, National Convention of the Progressive Party, Chicago, IL, August 6, 1912

"Is America a weakling, to shrink from the work of the great world powers? No! The young giant of the West stands on a continent and clasps the crest of an ocean in either hand. Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with eager eyes and rejoices as a strong man to run a race."
Letter to John Hay, American Ambassador to the Court of St. James, London, Written in Washington, DC, June 7, 1897

"A healthy-minded boy should feel hearty contempt for the coward and even more hearty indignation for the boy who bullies girls or small boys, or tortures animals."..."What we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man."
"The American Boy," St. Nicholas Magazine, May 1900

"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."
Letter, Oyster Bay, NY, September 1, 1903

"If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful."
Letter to his son Kermit, quoted in Theodore Roosevelt by Joseph Bucklin Bishop, 1915

"There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live - I have no use for the sour-faced man - and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do."
Talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmastime 1898

"It is no use to preach to [children] if you do not act decently yourself."
Speech to Holy Name Society, Oyster Bay, August 16, 1903

"For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."
An Autobiography, 1913

"I never keep boys waiting. It's a hard trial for a boy to wait."
"The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name." "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Chicago, IL, April 10, 1899

"Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground."
The Groton School, Groton, MA, May 24, 1904

"I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds."
Oyster Bay, NY, July 7, 1915

"The object of government is the welfare of the people." "Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
"The New Nationalism" speech, Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in."
Chicago, IL, June 17, 1912

"I don't think any President ever enjoyed himself more than I did. Moreover, I don't think any ex-President ever enjoyed himself more."... "Success - the real success - does not depend upon the position you hold, but upon how you carry yourself in that position."
University of Cambridge, England, May 26, 1910

"A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user."
An Autobiography, 1913

"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."
Des Moines, Iowa, November 4, 1910

"Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness. We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so."
Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907

"No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character."
An Autobiography, 1913

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in."
Chicago, IL, June 17, 1912

"There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother."
Pasadena, CA, May 8, 1903

"Don't hit at all if you can help it; don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep."
New York City, February 17, 1899

"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it.""Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor."
Third Annual Message to Congress, December 7, 1903

"It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer."
Berkeley, CA, 1911

"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility."
Abilene, KS, May 2, 1903

"The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name." "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Theodore Roosevelt
Chicago, IL
April 10, 1899

"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
Letter, Oyster Bay, NY
September 1, 1903

The only kinds of courage and honesty which are permanently useful to good institutions anywhere are those shown by men who decide all cases with impartial justice on grounds of conduct and not on grounds of class.
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography
1913

If I wished to accomplish anything for the country, my business was to combine decency and efficiency; to be a thoroughly practical man of high ideals who did his best to reduce those ideals to actual practice. This was my ideal, and to the best of my ability I strove to live up to it.
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography
1913

Like most young men in politics, I went through various oscillations of feeling before I "found myself." At one period I became so impressed with the virtue of complete independence that I proceeded to act on each case purely as I personally viewed it, without paying any heed to the principles and prejudices of others. The result was that I speedily and deservedly lost all power of accomplishing anything at all; and I thereby learned the invaluable lesson that in the practical activities of life no man can render the highest service unless he can act in combination with his fellows, which means a certain amount of give-and-take between him and them.
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography
1913
There is superstition in science quite as much as there is superstition in theology, and it is all the more dangerous because those suffering from it are profoundly convinced that they are freeing themselves from all superstition. No grotesque repulsiveness of mediŠval superstition, even as it survived into nineteenth-century Spain and Naples, could be much more intolerant, much more destructive of all that is fine in morality, in the spiritual sense, and indeed in civilization itself, than that hard dogmatic materialism of to-day which often not merely calls itself scientific but arrogates to itself the sole right to use the term. If these pretensions affected only scientific men themselves, it would be a matter of small moment, but unfortunately they tend gradually to affect the whole people, and to establish a very dangerous standard of private and public conduct in the public mind.
Theodore Roosevelt
History As Liturature
1913

Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is character. It is true, of course, that a genius may, on certain lines, do more than a brave and manly fellow who is not a genius; and so, in sports, vast physical strength may overcome weakness, even though the puny body may have in it the heart of a lion. But, in the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group together under the name of character; and if between any two contestants, even in college sport or in college work, the difference in character on the right side is as great as the difference of intellect or strength the other way, it is the character side that will win.
Theodore Roosevelt
The Strenuous Life
Published in the "Outlook"
March 31, 1900

"Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense... We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man. We must see that each is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less. The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us." Theodore Roosevelt
New York State Fair, Syracuse,
September 7, 1903
"We meet here to pay glad homage to the memory of our illustrious dead; but let us keep ever clear before our minds the fact that mere lip-loyalty is no loyalty at all, and that the only homage that counts is the homage of deeds, not of words. It is but an idle waste of time to celebrate the memory of the dead unless we, the living, in our lives strive to show ourselves not unworthy of them. If the careers of Washington and Grant are not vital and full of meaning to us, if they are merely part of the storied past, and stir us to no eager emulation in the ceaseless, endless war for right against wrong, then the root of right thinking is not in us; and where we do not think right we cannot act right."
Theodore Roosevelt
Grant; Speech Delivered at Galena, Illinois
April 27, 1900

"...success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional crises which call for the heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average can not be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher."
Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic; Speech Delivered at Sorbonne, Paris
April 23, 1910

"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, and 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 the 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 know neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic; Speech Delivered at Sorbonne, Paris
April 23, 1910

"There is need of a sound body, and even more need of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character -- the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man's force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution -- these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside."
Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic; Speech Delivered at Sorbonne, Paris,
April 23, 1910