Saturday, September 29, 2007

Quotes and Facts: From "Theodore Rex" by Edmund Morris.

This is my last post based on "Theodore Rex" by Edmund Morris ( ). Most of the quotations are from Theodore Roosevelt, however, I have also included some quotes by Morris for clarification.

On April 2, 1903, in Chicago, Roosevelt gave a speech affirming the Monroe Doctrine (which declared the entire Western Hemisphere off limits to European expansion). This speech famously paraphrased a West African Proverb:
"There is a homely old 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 the highest training, a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far." Morris, p.215.

Morris puts Roosevelt's statement in context: 'This generated such applause as to suggest that the audience took his "adage" as aggressive rather than cautionary. Actually, Roosevelt was trying to say that soft-spoken (even secret) diplomacy should be the priority of a civilization, as long as hardness-of military resolve, of military might-lay back of it. Otherwise, inevitably, soft speech would look like scared speech' Morris, p.216.

Theodore Roosevelt on Conservation and Child-Bearing, April, 1903:
"Every man who appreciates the majesty and beauty of the wilderness and of wildlife, should strike hands with the far-sighted men who wish to preserve our material resources, in the effort to keep our forests and our game-beasts, game-birds, and game-fish-indeed, all the living creatures of prairie and woodland and seashore-from wanton destruction. Above all, we should recognize that the effort toward this end is essentially a democratic movement. It is entirely within our power as a nation to preserve large tracts of wilderness, which one valueless for agricultural purposes and unfit for settlement, as playgrounds for rich and poor alike...But this end can only be achieved by wise laws and by resolute enforcement of the laws." Morris, p. 221.

Morris on Roosevelt's views of childbearing: 'His views on childbearing ("Three cheers for Mr. and Mrs. Bower and their really satisfactory American family of twelve children!") were bolstered by spaces so wide and soil so deeply fertile. With the irrigation schemes he had signed into law, these plains might one day support a hundred million people.
'In Iowa's fecund fields, glistening with spring rain, women in faded Mother Hubbard gowns crowded his (train) car, their arms bursting with progeny...Bachelors declining to marry,urban women repressing their natural reproductive function, denied America the seed she needed to grow and be great. Ripeness was all. "I congratulate you on your crops," he said, smiling around at clustered families, "but the best crop is the crop of children." '

Comment by "The Hand": I was surprised at Roosevelt's views on population control. I assumed that as a pioneering environmentalist, he would be for the limitation of family size. It was a pleasant discovery to find that he could be for preserving nature and large families at the same time.

Theodore Roosevelt on the way to preserve peace: "We infinitely desire peace, and the surest way of obtaining it is to show that we are not afraid of war." Morris, p. 229.

Theodore Roosevelt on the Japanese Empire: "If now nations come to power...the attitude of we who speak English should be one of ready recognition of the rights of the newcomers, of desire to avoid giving them just offense, and at the same time of preparedness in body and in mind to hold our own, if our interests are menaced." Morris, p. 313.

This is the end of my reflections on Theodore Roosevelt. These reflections have led to articles to be posted in early October, one on the fighting of Just Wars (Iraq in particular), and another on the Church and War. Future biographies of famous Americans to be discussed on "The Hand" will include those of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin. The first volume of Morris's life of Theodore Roosevelt, "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" can be ordered by going to this link: .

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