Theodore Roosevelt | Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Theodore Roosevelt plunged into his greatest role with typical vigor and energy, determined to lead the nation successfully into the future. Recognizing America’s new global prominence, his policy was to “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,” using diplomacy backed by strength to protect and sustain national interests. In 1908, he ordered the building of the Panama Canal despite the fact that the region was held by Colombia. He acted, and then left it to Congress to debate the issue. “While the debate goes on,” he said, “the canal does too.”

In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt received the Nobel Peace Price for helping to negotiate peace between Russia and Japan. He established the nation’s first consumer protection laws. He is responsible for the establishment and preservation of 150 national forests, 51 national wildlife refuges and five national parks.

 Take a look at this piece he wrote approximately 15 years after his presidency. It says a lot about his character and humility.Theodore Roosevelt

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. 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. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

“Theodore Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star” May 7, 1918

Many men look up to Theodore Roosevelt. The “Man in the Arena” speech has been my go-to inspiration for years now. I don’t aspire to achieve anything remotely close to what he did, but I do pursue the responsibility that he spoke of. He was fearless in words and action; this showed in his life. I believe that through his presidency his words had a ripple effect throughout the country. Many men that followed in his shoes idolized him for his character and fearlessness. Let’s hope he will be remembered for this along with his achievements.

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  1. John,

    That’s an excellent article about a guy who led a truly motivating life.

    I’m glad you included the “It’s not the critic who counts” quote. That’s always been one of my favorites.

    As an interesting sidelight, my state, Arizona, has a connection with the Rough Riders. Bucky O’Neill, once a mayor of Prescott, Arizona, volunteered for the Rough Riders and was killed in the Spanish-American war.

    Just before his death in Cuba he was quoted as saying “The Spanish bullet is not molded that will kill me.”

    There is still a life size memorial to Bucky O’Neill in front of the in front of the county courthouse in Prescott.

    • Thanks Terry! I think it’s a great quote too! You don’t hear it too often anymore though. Interesting fact about Bucky O’Neill. I’m going to google him.

  2. This is AWESOME. I never knew half this stuff about Roosevelt; in fact, I didnt’ know that he got into office because his predecessor was shot! Jeez. His quotes here are awesome; I only wish some of our politicians today were like this. Atlhough someone so honest and bold would probably never make it through primaries anyway. 🙁

    • TB, thanks man! TR left quite the legacy! I totally agree with you on politicians. It would be interesting to see him in action now.

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