60+ Theodore Roosevelt Quotes for Your Inner Outdoorsman and Active Citizen

Learn more about America’s 26th President with our collection of Theodore Roosevelt quotes.

Before taking office as the 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt had already made a name for himself as a historian and an adventurer. He became an archetype of the ultra-masculine frontiersman, while still maintaining his image as an intellectual and a scholar. It is perhaps this particular mélange that made him appeal to the American people who would eventually elect him. 

Quotes about the Outdoors

Aside from being President, Roosevelt was best known as an outdoorsman. He was an ardent lover of nature and had a passion for hunting. His respect for all living things, as well as his high regard for outdoor sportsmen, is evident throughout his writing.   

1. “The forest and water problems are perhaps the most vital internal problems of the United States.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

2. “My time was still much occupied with looking after the health of my brigade, but the fact that we were going home, where I knew that their health would improve, lightened my mind, and I was able thoroughly to enjoy the beauty of the country, and even of the storms, which hitherto I had regarded purely as enemies.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

3. “Learn to draw quick and shoot straight—the former being even more important than the latter.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail

4. “Some of these men are brave only because of their confidence in their own skill and strength; once convince them that they are overmatched and they turn into abject cowards.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail

5. “From its very nature, the life of the hunter is in most places evanescent; and when it has vanished there can be no real substitute in old settled countries.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter

6. “No one, but he who has partaken thereof, can understand the keen delight of hunting in lonely lands. For him is the joy of the horse well ridden and the rifle well held; for him the long days of toil and hardship, resolutely endured, and crowned at the end with triumph.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter

7. “Ahead of us the sun was sinking behind a mass of blood-red clouds; and on either hand the flushed skies were changing their tint to a hundred hues of opal and amethyst. Our tireless little horses sprang under us, thrilling with life; we were riding through a fairy world of beauty and color and limitless space and freedom.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter

8. “The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics. Of course ‘nature’—in common parlance a wholly inaccurate term, by the way, especially when used as if to express a single entity—is entirely ruthless, no less so as regards types than as regards individuals, and entirely indifferent to good or evil, and works out her ends or no ends with utter disregard of pain and woe.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

9. “There is certainly the most extraordinary diversity in the traits by which nature achieves the perpetuation of species.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

10. “Every first-rate museum must still employ competent collectors; but I think that a museum could now confer most lasting benefit, and could do work of most permanent good, by sending out into the immense wildernesses, where wild nature is at her best, trained observers with the gift of recording what they have observed.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

11. “The conquest of wild nature demands the utmost vigor, hardihood, and daring, and takes from the conquerors a heavy toll of life and health.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

12. “One of the innumerable mysteries of nature which are at present absolutely insoluble is why some snakes should be so vicious and others absolutely placid and good-tempered.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

13. “The early morning was always lovely on these rivers, and at that hour many birds and beasts were to be seen.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

14. “The man who wishes to do the best scientific work in the wilderness must not try to combine incompatible types of work nor to cover too much ground in too short a time.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

Quotes about Government and Civic Duty

Roosevelt was also very passionate about civic duty and very transparent with his beliefs on the role of government. Many of these quotes are still applicable today, especially when thinking on America’s global and historical presence. 

15. “For all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

16. “It is better for the Government to help a poor man to make a living for his family than to help a rich man make more profit for his company.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

17. “Now and then I am asked as to ‘what books a statesman should read,’ and my answer is, poetry and novels—including short stories under the head of novels. I don't mean that he should read only novels and modern poetry. If he cannot also enjoy the Hebrew prophets and the Greek dramatists, he should be sorry.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

18. “Just as democratic government cannot be condemned because of errors and even crimes committed by men democratically elected, so trade-unionism must not be condemned because of errors or crimes of occasional trade-union leaders.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

19. “The position now taken by the Government is absolutely destructive of legitimate business, because they outline no rule of conduct for business of any magnitude.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

20. “Americans learn only from catastrophe and not from experience.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

21. In no other country in the world had such enormous fortunes been gained. In no other country in the world was such power held by the men who had gained these fortunes; and these men almost always worked through, and by means of, the giant corporations which they controlled. The power of the mighty industrial overlords of the country had increased with giant strides, while the methods of controlling them, or checking abuses by them, on the part of the people, through the Government, remained archaic and therefore practically impotent.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

22. “We of this generation do not have to face a task such as that our fathers faced, but we have our tasks, and woe to us if we fail to perform them!” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

23. “No man has a right to shirk his political duties under whatever plea of pleasure or business.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

24. “The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics; his second duty is that he shall do that work in a practical manner; and his third is that it shall be done in accord with the highest principles of honor and justice.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

25. “I think we ought to be broad-minded enough to recognize the fact that a good citizen, striving with fearlessness, honesty, and common sense to do his best for the nation, can render service to it in many different ways, and by connection with many different organizations.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

26. “I do wish that more of our good citizens would go into politics, and would do it in the same spirit with which their fathers went into the Federal armies.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

27. “There must be absolute religious liberty, for tyranny and intolerance are as abhorrent in matters intellectual and spiritual as in matters political and material; and more and more we must all realize that conduct is of infinitely greater importance than dogma.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

28. “I have always been fond of Josh Billings's remark that ‘it is much easier to be a harmless dove than a wise serpent.’ There are plenty of decent legislators, and plenty of able legislators; but the blamelessness and the fighting edge are not always combined. Both qualities are necessary for the man who is to wage active battle against the powers that prey.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

29. “A man's first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

30. “We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

31. “Credit should go with the performance of duty, and not with what is very often the accident of glory.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

32. “They understood that I paid no heed to where they came from; no heed to their creed, politics, or social standing; that I would care for them to the utmost of my power, but that I demanded the highest performance of duty; while in return I had seen them tested, and knew I could depend absolutely on their courage, hardihood, obedience, and individual initiative.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

33. “Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

Quotes about Life

Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific writer, producing 18 ambitious books and many more essays and speeches. It is not surprising, then, that we find many quotes about life that showcase his opinions concerning important strengths and qualities.

34. “The worst of all fears is the fear of living. ” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

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

36. “A man must think well before he marries. He must be a tender and considerate husband and realize that there is no other human being to whom he owes so much of love and regard and consideration as he does to the woman who with pain bears and with labor rears the children that are his.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

37. “The insistence upon individual responsibility was, and is, and always will be, a prime necessity.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

38. “[A] man does in very fact become fearless by sheer dint of practicing fearlessness when he does not feel it.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

39. “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid 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, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

40. “Love of peace is common among weak, short-sighted, timid, and lazy persons; and on the other hand courage is found among many men of evil temper and bad character. Neither quality shall by itself avail.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

41. “With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

42. “Any man who has met with success, if he will be frank with himself, must admit that there has been a big element of fortune in the success.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

43. “I had always felt that if there were a serious war I wished to be in a position to explain to my children why I did take part in it, and not why I did not take part in it.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

44. “Let these innocent people be careful not to invest in corporations where those in control are not men of probity, men who respect the laws; above all let them avoid the men who make it their one effort to evade or defy the laws.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

45. “If I was not going to earn money, I must even things up by not spending it.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

46. “Each man should have all he earns... but no man should live on the earnings of another, and there should not be too gross inequality between service and reward.”– Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

47. “We knew toil and hardship and hunger and thirst; and we saw men die violent deaths as they worked among the horses and cattle, or fought in evil feuds with one another; but we felt the beat of hardy life in our veins, and ours was the glory of work and the joy of living.”– Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

48. “But the joy of life is a very good thing, and while work is the essential in it, play also has its place.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

49. “Books are all very well in their way... but children are better than books.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

50. “Laissez-faire, says the professor, when it often means bind and gag that the strongest may work his will. It is a plea for the survival of the fittest—for the strongest male to take possession of the herd by a process of extermination.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

51. “The liberty of the individual has been annihilated by the logical process constructed to maintain it.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

52. “The room for choice is so limitless that to my mind it seems absurd to try to make catalogues which shall be supposed to appeal to all the best thinkers. This is why I have no sympathy whatever with writing lists of the One Hundred Best Books, or the Five-Foot Library.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

53. “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

54. “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, The Strenuous Life

55. “We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

56. “A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life, and, above all, it is a life which ultimately unfits those who follow it for serious work in the world.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

57. “We knew not whither we were bound, nor what we were to do; but we believed that the nearing future held for us many chances of death and hardship, of honor and renown.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

58. “Most of the men had simple souls. They could relate facts, but they said very little about what they dimly felt.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders

59. “The only danger lies in the extreme monotony of sitting still in the dark guarding men who make no motion, and the consequent tendency to go to sleep, especially when one has had a hard day's work and is feeling really tired.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail

60. “A man cannot practice too much with this if he wishes to attain even moderate proficiency; and as a matter of fact he soon gets to wish to practice the whole time.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail

61. “Nothing worth gaining is ever gained without effort.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

62. “A race must be strong and vigorous; it must be a race of good fighters and good breeders, else its wisdom will come to naught and its virtue be ineffective; and no sweetness and delicacy, no love for and appreciation of beauty in art or literature, no capacity for building up material prosperity can possibly atone for the lack of the great virile virtues.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

63. “A great many of our men in business, or of our young men who are bent on enjoying life (as they have a perfect right to do if only they do not sacrifice other things to enjoyment), rather plume themselves upon being good citizens if they even vote; yet voting is the very least of their duties.” – Theodore Roosevelt, The Duties of American Citizenship

64. “Training in the writing of good English is indispensable to any learned man who expects to make his learning count for what it ought to count in the effect on his fellow men.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness

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