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The Background, Context, And Re Adaptation Of A Famous Quote By Theodore Roosevelt

2227 words - 9 pages

Theodore Roosevelt is a great president of the United States in the early 1900's who is famous for his quote “speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.” (Roosevelt) By this he means that in order to succeed, one need to have strength and power, and work hard for one's interest, as well as being respectful, avoiding conflict, and making peace. From his history of presidency, one can see why he said this quote-he has a history of both a strength/power element and a peace element. This quote has been re-adapted in various ways in our culture. Roosevelt's idea that successful people need both a hard element and a soft element is very logical.
It can be said that Roosevelt by nature is interested in power. According to Godfrey Benson, he served in the American Navy, (Benson, p39) which is very 'powerful.' He also describes Roosevelt as having a “manlier patriotism.” (Benson, p110) He also thought that it is a bad idea “to think peace rather than righteousness [as] the final goal.” (Benson, p111) He believed that the US “should be strong.” (Benson, p111) He also “loved the thought of his country's greatness,” (Benson, p111) and “was anxious for his country's security.” (Benson, p111) John Blum describes Roosevelt as “he believe[s] in power and in order. With power he thought to impose order; only with order, he contended, could be morality.” (Blum, p106-107) Therefore one can clearly see the power/strength element in Roosevelt's personality. During his period when American interest was in conflict with that of many other nations, (Benson, p106) he performed many 'powerful' actions. He “raised a regiment of Rough Riders in the west,” (Benson, p39) and “occup[ied] [Cuba for] two years” (Benson, p119) due to “a rebellion ... in Cuba against Spain.” (Benson, p119) He also sent the American navy into the Caribbean, (Benson, p126) and helped the Panaman rebels to achieve independence from Colombia. (Benson, p142-143) Also, “of the [Alaskan] boundary disputes of 1846, he ignore[d] the then infant nation of Canada, and advocate[d] the cherishing of an international quarrel.” (Benson, p110) Therefore one can see that Roosevelt had policies that aggressively promoted US national strength and interests.
However, Roosevelt also had a peaceful side. Lawrence F. Abbott claimed that he have an element of gentleness in his personality. (Abbott, xi) Roosevelt was described as by Godfrey Benson as a “successful peacekeeper.” (Benson, p146) He also settled a “controversy between France and Germany about Morocco.” (Benson, p149) He also “act[ed] as a mediator between Russia and Japan, which resulted in the treaty of Portsmouth and the ending of the Russo-Japan War in 1905,” (Abbott, p131) therefore winning “the Nobel Peace Prize.” (Abbott, p131) In fact, Roosevelt is so active at peacemaking so that Haynes Davis described in a journal article that “he has already availed himself of more opportunities to promote peace thru arbitration and mediation than...

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