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By Joseph Glantz


Theodore Roosevelt
​Theodore Roosevelt was born October 27, 1858 in New York City. He died on January 6, 1919 in Oyster Bay. He was the 26th President of the United States and a leader of the Republican and Progressive Parties. A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Roosevelt was best known for his fighting personality and busting up the big trusts and monopolies which rose to great power in his day.

For a Republican you weren’t a fan of big business. Let’s ask a few questions about that? How did you describe these big businesses?
Malefactors of great wealth. (Phrase first used in a speech at Provincetown, Massachusetts; 1907-08-20)

And what were you reservations about big business?
It is as true now as when the tower of Siloam fell upon all alike, that good fortune does not come solely to the just, nor bad fortune solely to the unjust. When the weather is good for crops it is also good for weeds. (Address at Providence, Rhode Island; 1902-08-23)

What did you want out of big business?
We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when any one engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal; and the first, and most elementary, kind of square deal is to give him in advance full information as to just what he can, and what he cannot, legally and properly do. (Appendix)

And the dangers of big business?
Where men are gathered together in great masses it inevitably results that they must work far more largely through combinations than where they live scattered and remote from one another… Under present-day conditions it is as necessary to have corporations in the business world as it is to have organizations, unions, among wage workers. (Address at Providence, Rhode Island; 1902-08-23)

In other words?
Men with the muckrake are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them. … If they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck their power of usefulness is gone. (Address on the laying of the cornerstone of the House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (1906-04-14) Address on the laying of the cornerstone of the House Office Building, Washington, D.C.; 1906-04-14)

And to put this in terms a layman can understand?
A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. (As quoted in Art of Communicating Ideas (1952) by William Joseph Grace, p. 389)
And to put this in terms a layman can understand?
No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency. 
("The Strenuous Life"; 10 April 1899)

On balance?
We can do nothing of good in the way of regulating and supervising these corporations until we fix clearly in our minds that we are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them. 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; 2 December 1902)

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism…. The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. (Speech before the Knights of Columbus, New York; 1915-10-12)

You were known as a fighter. Can you describe your philosophy?
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. (Speech at the Hamilton Club, Chicago; 1899-04-10)

In less complex terms?
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 (As quoted by [John M. Kost] (25 July 1995) in S. 946, the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1995: hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and the District of Columbia of the Committee on Governmental Affairs (1996)

And even simpler terms?
In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard. ("The American Boy"; 1900?)

The bottom line? 
I am all right — I am a little sore. Anybody has a right to be sore with a bullet in him. (Address at Milwaukee, WI; 1912)

So your fundamental philosophy?
A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have. (Speech at Springfield, Illinois; 1903-07-04)

And that layman thing again?
I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life. (Speech at the Hamilton Club, Chicago; 1899-04-10)

So, in summation.
There is a homely adage which runs "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of highest training a thoroughly efficient Navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far. (1901-09-02)

(Accounts of the precise wording with which he introduced this proverb vary. Another version is given below, within a more extensive transcript of the speech.) Theodore Roosevelt — An Autobiography (1913)

Democrats and your fellow Republicans found fault with you?
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, 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 the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and 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 — a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France; 1910-04-23)

Surely, there must be some positive to these criticisms. Can all these people be wrong?
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. (Kansas City Star; 1918-05-07)

Did you see global warming coming?
To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed. (Seventh State of the Union; 1907-12-03)

What about public financing of elections?
In England, where in some ways the standard is higher than here, such contributions are accepted as a matter of course, nay, as one of the methods by which wealthy men obtain peerages. It would be well-nigh an impossibility for a man to secure a seat in the United States Senate by mere campaign contributions, in the way that seats in the British House of Lords have often been secured without any scandal being caused thereby. (Autobiography Ch. VIII : The New York Governorship)

Religion as a campaign issue?
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. (As quoted in Stepping Stones: The Complete Bible Narratives; 1941)
How would you summarize your life?
I'm as strong as a bull moose and you can use me to the limit. (Letter to Mark Hannah; 1900-06-27))

And your summary of death?
Death is always and under all circumstances a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself has become one. (Letter to Cecil Spring-Rice; 1900-03-12)

Copyright 2016 Joseph Glantz