Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt   [RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVEL] [Paperback]Earlier this year I read the first of three volumes on Teddy Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, called The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt  (I’ve also read the second volume, and the third volume, just published, arrived at my home TODAY).

I’ve included some of the more interesting quotes/anecdotes from the book below. Comments marked with an italicized JCM and/or in [brackets] are by me. There are some gems in here. Print it out and peruse through it during the T-day break. Read a quote or two during the time-outs of the football games. You won’t be disappointed!

If you’ve not read much on TR, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book. Edmund Morris’ three works are the finest I’ve seen on TR and worth the investment. You can buy all three volumes in a hard bound set at a reasonable price here.
You can also listen to a brief interview with the author on NPR.

On TR’s Memory:“authors are embarrassed, during Presidential audiences, to hear long quotes from their works which they themselves have forgotten. Congressmen know that it is useless to contest him on facts and figures.  He astonishes the diplomat count Albert Apponyi by reciting, almost verbatim, a long piece of Hungarian historical literature: when the count expresses surprise, Roosevelt says he has neither seen nor thought of the document in twenty years.”… “I remember a book I had read some time ago, and as I talked the pages of the book came before my eyes.”

On Reading: “The president manages to get through one book a day even when he is busy. Owen Wister has lent him a book shortly before a full evening’s entertainment at the white house, and been astonished to hear a complete review of it over breakfast. “Somewhere between six one evening and eight-thirty next morning, beside his dressing and his dinner and his guests and his sleep, he had read a volume of three-hundred-and-odd pages, and missed nothing of significance that it contained.”” – JCM: rough estimates are that TR read approximately 500 books/yr.

Advice from his Father -“Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.” JCM: TR adored his father and leaned heavily upon him for wisdom and direction.

On affection and gratitude for his father: “I remember so well how, years ago, when I was a weak, asthmatic child, he used to walk up and down with me in his arms for hours together, night after night, and oh, how my heart pains me when I think that I never was able to do anything for him in his last illness!”…  “Years afterward” Corinne [his sister] recalled, “when the college boy of 1878 was entering upon his duties as President of the US, he told me frequently that he never took any serious step or made any vital decision for his country without thinking first what position his father would have taken on the question.”

On Opportunities: “It’s not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come he is ready to take advantage of them.”

On Depression: “Black care [i.e. depression] rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”

On Writing: “writers write best when removed from the scene that they are describing…” [TR was a prolific writer – authoring 35 books, hundreds of articles, and 150,000 letters in his lifetime.]

On Falling in the Frozen, Swollen Missouri river: Roosevelt actually enjoyed the experience. A few days later he again swam across the river with Manitou [his horse], at a point where there were no spectators to rescue him. “I had to strike my own line for twenty miles over broken country before I reached home and could dry myself,” he boasted to Bamie [his sister]. “However it all makes me feel very healthy and strong.”

On the Benefits of the ranch life: “He had gone west sickly, foppish, and racked with personal despair; during his time there he had built a massive body, repaired his soul, and learned to live on equal terms with men poorer and rougher than himself.”… TR said, “If not for north Dakota, I would not have become president of the U.S.A.!”

TR’s shrewdness - “TR argued that honest enforcement of an unpopular law was the most effective way to bring about its repeal. Legislators should think twice in future about passing laws to favor some voters, the neglecting them to please others.” [quoted during his term as police chief of NYC] JCM: Reminds me of the adage that the best way to prove an order is stupid is to execute it.

His strong response to being told he might be president one day.
                “Never, never, you must never either of you remind a man at work on a political job that he may be President. It almost always kills him politically. He loses his nerve; he can’t do his work; he give sup the very traits that are making him a possibility. I, for instance I am going to do great things here, hard things that require all the courage, ability, work that I am capable of… but if I get to thinking of what it might lead to-”
                He stopped, held us off, and looked into our faces with his face screwed up into a knot, as with lowered voice he said slowly: “I must be wanting to be President. Every young man does. But I won’t let myself think of it; I must not, because if I do, I will begin to work for it, I’ll be careful, calculating, cautious in word and act, and so-I’ll beat myself. See?”
                Again he looked at us as if we were enemies; then he threw us away from him and went back to his desk.
                “Go on away, now,” he said, “and don’t you ever mention the-don’t you ever mention that to me again.”

On Integrity: Bram Stoker, [author of Dracula], After watching TR in action at a literary dinner table,… wrote in his diary, “Must be President someday. A man you can’t cajole, can’t frighten, can’t buy.”

On War and Peace : “To be prepared for war is the most effectual means to promote peace.” “it is too late to prepare for war when the time for peace has passed.”

On cowardice: “All the great masterful races have been fighting races; and the minute that a race loses the hard fighting virus, then… it has lost its proud right to stand as the equal of the best.”… “cowardice in a race, as in an individual, is the unpardonable sin.”

On diplomacy: “Diplomacy, is utterly useless when there is no force behind it: the diplomat is the servant, not the master of the soldier.”

On the appeal of TR - “Years later, White tried to analyze the element of TRs conquering ability. It was not social superiority, he decided, nor political eminence, nor erudition; it was something vaguer and more spiritual, ‘the undefinable equation of his identity, body, mind, emotion, the soul of him.. It was youth, and the new order calling youth away from the old order. It was the inexorable coming of change into life, the passing of the old into the new.’”

Great leaders are great followers: “I don’t suppose I shall ever again have a chief under whom I shall enjoy serving as I have enjoyed serving under you… I hate to leave you more than I can say.” [written after resigning from his post as assistant secretary of the navy to head up the Rough Riders in the Spanish American war].

Friends thought he was crazy to go to war: “A man of unbounded energy and force,” secretary Long remarked in his diary. “He thinks he is following his highest ideal, whereas, in fact, as without exception every one of his friends advises him, he is acting like a fool. And, yet, how absurd all this will sound if, by some turn of fortune, he should accomplish some great thing and strike a very high mark.”

On Character: “he was too strong a man to be susceptible to flattery.”
“I should heartily despise the public servant who failed to do his duty because it might jeopardize his own future.”

And the quote for which he is likely best known…
“I have always been fond of the West African Proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’”


John and Pam Majors said...

Thanks for lending me the first in the trilogy. He is an amazing man and I am looking forward to learning more about him.

Jeba Qpt said...

Very interesting collection of Theodore Roosevelt Quotes.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
I like this quotation.add this one.Watch video for Theodore Roosevelt Quotes