Teddy Roosevelt Was Not Speaking Metaphorically

Today we see Teddy Roosevelt as the man’s man: the outdoorsman, hunter, and war hero. He is aggressive yet intelligent. He speaks softly but carries a big stick.


That last part is actually true.


The legend of that aphorism starts when Roosevelt, a young New York assemblyman, became the head of a committee taking action on a railway bill. Despite determined opposition, Roosevelt learned how to force a vote. 


In his Autobiography, he tells the story like this:

“I then put the bill in my pocket and announced I would report it anyhow. This almost precipitated a riot…The riot did not come off; partly, I think, because the opportune production of the chair leg had a sedative effect, and partly owing to wise counsels from one or two of my opponents.”

That’s right: Teddy Roosevelt actually did brandish a chair leg to threaten his opposition into submission.

Roosevelt fans, please revisit the President’s Autobiography. The incidents of his pugilistic past are just a few of the gems to be found.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Scott Trotti says:

    Visiting the Menger hotel bar in San Antonio, TX allows the mind to wander to a time when you could swill warm beer with Roosevelt and wonder if he actually spoke softly in that setting.

    1. Lovely thought. I wonder if he ever really spoke softly.

  2. Andrew says:

    I have the autobiography on my Kindle and I’ve been working though it slowly. Theodore Roosevelt is a singularly interesting person in American history. I can’t wait to finish the book.

    1. Right on! He is fascinating.

  3. Gordon Steffens says:

    Perhaps Teddy was overcompensating for actually having a little stick!

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