Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Theodore Roosevelt - American Soul

Though not a perfect man, Theodore Roosevelt is a giant. I don't use that term often: Giant.

One part of an upcoming essay I am putting together on my trip to
New York City has to do with the quotes from Theodore Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History. After reading these, the first thing that came to mind was, "What happened to New York. This man couldn't be elected to a CO-OP board now." How in 100 years could the state of New York go from an attitude that earned its moniker of "The Empire State" to deserving the title "The BENELUX State?" What a shame. I'll let Teddy speak for himself.

There is a delight in the hardy life of the open.

There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.

The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.

Conservation means development as much as it does protection.


A man's usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals insofar as he can.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

All daring and courage, all iron endurance of misfortune-make for a finer, nobler type of manhood.

Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life.


I want to see you game, boys, I want to see you brave and manly, and I also want to see you gentle and tender.

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground.

Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to successful life.

Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.

The State

Ours is a government of liberty by, through, and under the law.

A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy.

Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.

In popular government results worth while can only be achieved by men who combine worthy ideals with practical good sense.

If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness.
While working on this post, via The Corner Jonah Goldberg pointed the way to an essay on Theodore Roosevelt in The New Criterion by Harvey Mansfield via Powerline. You should read the whole thing as it covers the many unique aspects of TR's philosophy and how we have lost some of it. Here are some selected quotes that apply here though. NB: I think some of Professor Mansfield's observations may derive from the fact that as a Professor of Government at Harvard University he runs in that rarified peer group that runs from Northern Virginia to Southern Maine that represents the Beneluxization of part of the country. Some of his comments do apply to the average "man" there, but in Red State America, notsomuch. He too, needs to get out more. I think it might make him feel better. Perhaps he should go noodling.
The most obvious feature of Theodore Roosevelt’s life and thought is the one least celebrated today, his manliness. Somehow America in the twentieth century went from the explosion of assertive manliness that was TR to the sensitive males of our time who shall be and deserve to be nameless.
I think we know who he is talking about, but I would still love for him to name names.
TR appeals to some conservatives today for his espousal of big government and national greatness, and all conservatives rather relish his political incorrectness. As a reforming progressive he used to appeal to liberals, but nowadays liberals are put off by the political incorrectness that conservatives rather sneakily enjoy.
His father’s advice had been to lengthen the reach of his mind by strengthening his body, using sheer will-power.
Beats any gov'munt school "self-esteem building" program ever invented.
“Life is a great adventure, and the worst of all fears is the fear of living.”
We have abandoned—not reason for manliness like the pragmatists, nor manliness for reason like their tender-minded opponents—but both reason and manliness. We want progress without a rational justification and without the manliness needed to supply the lack of a justification.
That last quote from Professor Mansfield is right on target; for Blue State males and those that think like them. Again, in Red State America I think there is still a large swath of Roosevelt manliness out there. I know in my line of work my opinion is warped a bit by my subset, but I think it is largly accurate.

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