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An obelisk should be left in Egypt; it is absurd, it is shockingly inappropriate, to plump down such an obelisk in Paris, New York, or London, where it is utterly out of place and has no reason for its presence. (Outlook , September 30, 1911.) Mem. Ed. XIV, 56; Nat. Ed. XII, 176.


No people is wholly civilized where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office and stealing a purse. Outlook, June 12, 1912, p. 480.

Office—Conduct in

I have named you as District Attorney. Now there is one thing, and one thing only, that I demand. That is, that you keep clear of factional politics, and indeed do just as little political work as possible, and confine your attention to making the best record as district attorney that has been made by any district attorney of Delaware. There must not be a single legitimate or well-founded complaint against you. You will of course show neither fear nor favor in anything you do. Any offender of any kind whose case may be brought to your attention, or whom you can reach, is to be prosecuted with absolute indifference as to whether he is Republican or Democrat, Addicks man or anti-Addicks man. I have liked you and I think well of you, but under the circumstances of your appointment and the way in which it was fought, I have a right to demand that you walk even more guardedly than the ordinary public official walks, and that you show yourself a model officer in point of fearlessness and integrity, industry and ability.

The question of your confirmation will come up when the Senate reconvenes. You can help yourself in it more than any other man can possibly help you; and you can help yourself only by making a record which will be a just source of pride to you and to me. (To William M. Byrne, March 23, 1903.) Mem. Ed. XXIII, 278; Bishop I, 241.

Office—Malfeasance in

Any man holding an executive or legislative position who is false to his oath of office, who is guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance, we hold to be a traitor to the whole people; and we have not permitted and will not permit any such man to remain in office where it is in our power to remove him. (Before New York Republican State Convention, Saratoga, September 27, 1910.) Mem. Ed. XIX, 33; Nat. Ed. XVII, 25.

Office — Recommendations for

In each recommendation I made I simply write about the men who have been under me, just as their commanding officers might write of them, or as I write about the men in my own regiment. Of course, I cannot say that they are better than their competitors, but I give the reasons why I regard them as good. Most emphatically I should regret being the cause of injustice to any one and would never want any recommendation of mine heeded if it means injustice to somebody else. (To Anna Roosevelt Cowles, December 29, 1899.) Cowles Letters, 229.

Office—Tenure of

It goes without saying that in a well-ordered government the great bulk of the employees in the civil service, the men whose functions are merely to execute faithfully routine departmental work, should hold office during good behavior, and should be appointed without reference to their politics; but if the higher public servants, such as the heads of departments and foreign ministers, are not in complete accord with their chief, the only result can be to introduce halting indecision and vacillation into the counsels of the nation, without abating by one iota the virulence of party passion. (1888.) Mem. Ed. VIII, 497- 498; Nat. Ed. VII, 429-430.

____________. I want it thoroughly understood that no presidential appointee has a prescriptive right to hold office. I intend to consult only the public welfare in making appointments. As long as a man proves himself fit and efficient his position is safe. When he shows himself unfit and inefficient he will be removed. (In conversation with a Representative from Illinois, late 1901.) Mem. Ed. XXIII, 180; Bishop I, 155.


See also Appointments; Campaign Expenses; Campaign Funds; Candidates; Civil Service; Negro Appointments; Patronage; Spoils System.


See Army Officers; Naval Officers.

Oil and Coal Conservation

In the Eastern United States the mineral fuels have already passed into the hands of large private owners, and those of the West are rapidly following. It is obvious that these fuels should be conserved and not wasted, and it would be well to protect the people against unjust and extortionate prices, so far as that can still be done. What has been accomplished in the great oil-fields of the Indian Territory by the action of the Administration offers a striking example of the good results of such a policy. In my judgment the government should have the right to keep the fee of the coal, oil, and gas fields in its own possession and to lease the rights to develop them under proper regulations; or else, if the Congress will not adopt this method, the coal deposits should be sold under limitations, to conserve them as public utilities, the right to mine coal being separated from the title to the soil. (Seventh Annual Message, Washington, December 3, 1907.) Mem. Ed. XVII, 530; Nat. Ed. XV, 451-452.


See also Mineral Fuels.

Old Age Insurance

See Social Insurance.

O'neill, Billy

My closest friend for the three years I was there [in the New York Assembly] was Billy O'Neill, from the Adirondacks. He kept a small crossroads store. He was a young man, although a few years older than I was, and, like myself, had won his position without regard to the machine. He had thought he would like to be assembly-man, so he had taken his buggy and had driven around Franklin County visiting everybody, had upset the local ring, and came to the legislature as his own master. There is surely something in American traditions that does tend toward real democracy in spite of our faults and shortcomings. In most other countries two men of as different antecedents, ancestry, and surroundings as Billy O'Neill and I would have had far more difficulty in coming together. I came from the biggest city in America and from the wealthiest ward of that city, and he from a backwoods county where he kept a store at a crossroads. In all the unimportant things we seemed far apart. But in all the important things we were close together. (1913.) Mem. Ed. XXII, 78; Nat. Ed. XX, 67.

O'neill, Bucky

There was Bucky O'Neill, of Arizona, captain of Troop A, the mayor of Prescott, a famous sheriff throughout the West for his feats of victorious warfare against the Apache, no less than against the white road-agents and man-killers. . . . He was a wild, reckless fellow, soft spoken, and of dauntless courage and boundless ambition; he was stanchly loyal to his friends, and cared for his men in every way. . . .

It was Doctor Church who first gave me an idea of Bucky O'Neill’s versatility, for I happened to overhear them discussing Aryan word-roots together, and then sliding off into a review of the novels of Balzac, and a discussion as to how far Balzac could be said to be the founder of the modern realistic school of fiction. (1899.) Mem. Ed. XIII, 14, 31; Nat. Ed. XI, 12, 27.

____________. The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. Bucky O'Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover— a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running: "The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted." As O'Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said: "Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you." O'Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said: "Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me." A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his feet a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness. (1899.) Mem. Ed. XIII, 93; Nat. Ed. XI, 79.

Open Covenants

The first point [of the Fourteen Points] forbids "all private international understandings of any kind," and says there must be "open covenants of peace, openly arrived at," and announced that "diplomacy shall always proceed frankly in the public view." The President has recently waged war on Haiti and San Domingo and rendered democracy within these two small former republics not merely unsafe, but non- existent. He has kept all that he has done in the matter absolutely secret. If he means what he says, he will at once announce what open covenant of peace he has openly arrived at with these two little republics, which he has deprived of their right of self-determination. He will also announce what public international understanding, if any, he now has with these two republics, whose soil he is at present occupying with the armed forces of the United States and hundreds of whose citizens have been killed by these armed forces. If he has no such public understanding, he will tell us why, and whether he has any private international understanding, or whether he invaded and conquered them and deprived them of the right of self-determination without any attempt to reach any understanding, either private or public. (Kansas City Star, October 30, 1918.) Mem. Ed. XXI, 420; Nat. Ed. XIX, 380.

Open Covenants

See also Fourteen Points; Peace Treaties.

Open Door

We advocate the "open door" with all that it implies; not merely the procurement of enlarged commercial opportunities on the coasts, but access to the interior by the waterways with which China has been so extraordinarily favored. Only by bringing the people of China into peaceful and friendly community of trade with all the peoples of the earth can the work now auspiciously begun be carried to fruition. In the attainment of this purpose we necessarily claim parity of treatment, under the conventions, throughout the empire for our trade and citizens with those of all other powers. (First Annual Message, Washington, December 3, 1901.) Mem. Ed. XVII, 159; Nat. Ed. XV, 137.

____________. The Open Door policy in China was an excellent thing, and I hope it will be a good thing for the future, so far as it can be maintained by general diplomatic agreement; but the Open Door policy, as a matter of fact, completely disappears as soon as a powerful nation determines to disregard it, and is willing to run the risk of war rather than forego its intention. (To W. H. Taft, December 22, 1910.) Foster Rhea Dulles, Forty Years of American-Japanese Relations. (D. Appleton-Century Co., N. Y., 1937), p. 87.

Open Door

See also China

Open Shop in Government Service

I am President of all the people of the United States, without regard to creed, color, birthplace, occupation, or social condition. My aim is to do equal and exact justice as among them all. In the employment and dismissal of men in the Government service I can no more recognize the fact that a man does or does not belong to a union as being for or against him than I can recognize the fact that he is a Protestant or a Catholic, a Jew or a Gentile, as being for or against him. (Interview with members of executive council, American Federation of Labor, September 29, 1903.) Mem. Ed. XXII, 551; Nat. Ed. XX, 473.

Open Shop

See also Collective Bargaining; Government Employees; Labor.


See International Opinion; Public Opinion.


See Compromise.


In a certain sense, no man can absolutely make an opportunity Nevertheless, when the chance does come, only the great man can see it instantly and use it aright. In the second place, it must always be remembered that the power of using the chance aright comes only to the man who has faithfully and for long years made ready himself and his weapons for the possible need. Finally, and most important of all, it should ever be kept in mind that the man who does a great work must almost invariably owe the possibility of doing it to the faithful work of other men, either at the time or long before. Without his brilliancy their labor might be wasted, but without their labor his brilliancy would be of no avail. (McClure's Magazine, October 1899.) Mem. Ed. XII, 506; Nat. Ed. XIII, 420.

Opportunity—Quality of

Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies, to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled. (At Osawatomie, Kan., August 31, 1910.) Mem. Ed. XIX, 15; Nat. Ed. XVII, 9.

____________. Our fundamental purpose must be to secure genuine equality of opportunity. No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar's worth of service rendered. (Before Ohio Constitutional Convention, Columbus, February 21, 1912.) Mem. Ed. XIX, 176; Nat. Ed. XVII, 130.

Opportunity and Reward

More and more we must shape conditions so that each man shall have a fair chance in life; that so far as we can bring it about each man shall start in life on a measurable equality of opportunity. with other men, unhelped by privilege himself, unhindered by privilege in others. . . .

I do not mean for a moment that we should try to bring about the impossible and undesirable condition, of giving to all men equality of reward. As long as human nature is what it is there will be inequality of service, and where there is inequality of service there ought to be inequality of reward. That is justice. Equal reward for unequal service is injustice. All I am trying to help bring about is such a condition of affairs that there shall be measurable approximation to a higher reward than at present for the right kind of service, and a lesser reward than at present for some forms of activity that do not represent real service at all. (At Pacific Theological Seminary, Spring 1911.) Mem. Ed. XV, 627; Nat. Ed. XIII, 660.


See also New Nationalism; Privilege; Square Deal.


Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess it becomes foolishness. (Seventh Annual Message, Washington, December 3, 1907.) Mem. Ed. XVII, 526; Nat. Ed. XV, 448.

____________. I am an optimist, but I hope I am a reasonably intelligent one. I recognize that all the time there are numerous evil forces at work, and that in places and at times they outweigh the forces that tend for good. Hitherto, on the whole, the good have come out ahead, and I think that they will in the future; but I am not so sure that I can afford to look at the coming years with levity. (To Wister, February 27, 1895.) Owen Wister, Roosevelt, The Story of a Friendship. (Macmillan Co., N. Y., 1930), P. 39.


See also Pessimism.

Optimist and Pessimist

A foolish optimist is only less noxious than an utter pessimist; and the pre- requisite for any effort, whether hopeful or hopeless, to better our conditions is an accurate knowledge of what these conditions are. (Forum, January 1897.) Mem. Ed.XIV, 134; Nat. Ed. XIII, 246.


I think very little of mere oratory. I feel an impatient contempt for the man of words if he is merely a man of words. The great speech must always be the speech of a man with a great soul, who has a thought worth putting into words, and whose acts bear out the words he utters; and the occasion must demand the speech. (To H. C. Lodge, July 19, 1908.) Lodge Letters II, 302.


See also Action; Debating.


The one all-important foundation of our system of orderly liberty is obedience to law. (Outlook, December 21, 1895.) Mem. Ed. XV, 150; Nat. Ed. XIII, 305.

Order and Liberty

No people can permanently remain free unless it possesses the stern self-control and resolution necessary to put down anarchy. Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive; special privilege for the few and special privilege for the many are alike profoundly anti-social; the fact that unlimited individualism is ruinous, in no way alters the fact that absolute state ownership and regimentation spells ruin of a different kind. All of this ought to be trite to reasonably intelligent people—even if they are professional intellectuals—but in practice an endless insistence on these simple fundamental truths is endlessly necessary. (1918.) Mem. Ed. XXI, 377; Nat. Ed. XIX, 342.

____________. We must realize that the reactionaries among us are the worst foes of order, and the revolutionaries the worst foes of liberty; and unless we can preserve both order and liberty the republic is doomed. (1918.) Mem. Ed. XXI, 383; Nat. Ed. XIX, 374.

Order and Stability

I believe with all my heart in order and stability, but I hold that in a people fit for self-government both can best be produced by giving the people full power. If they exercise this power badly, then they show that they are not fit for self- government. Outlook, November 15, 1913, p. 590.


See also Anarchy; Law; Liberty.

Organization, Party

When once a band of one hundred and fifty or two hundred honest, intelligent men, who mean business and know their business, is found in any district, whether in one of the regular organizations or outside, you can guarantee that the local politicians of that district will begin to treat it with a combination of fear, hatred, and respect, and that its influence will be felt. (Before the Liberal Club, Buffalo, N. Y., January 26, 1893.) Mem. Ed. XV, 70. Nat. Ed. XIII, 287.

____________. I am not against the organization and never have been against it because it was a party organization, but I have been against it because it was an organization for private plunder. That is what I am against. . . .

I have no quarrel with any man who has been in the organization for what he has done in the past if he's straight now. There are a good many things everybody sees are improper now that only a few thought were improper a short time back. It's like the lottery—Harvard College and many of your old churches about here were financed by lotteries in the old days. Times have changed.

If the organization is straight, runs straight, if its leaders and the men in it run straight, I have no objection to it. I will work with it just so long as it is straight and I won't worry over the possibility that some of its members have not always held as high views as they do now. (Fall 1916; reported by Leary.) Talks with T. R. From the diaries of John J. Leary, Jr. (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1920), pp. 6-7.

Organization, Party

See also Boss; Democratic Party; Governor Of New York; Independent ; Machine; Party Allegiance; Party System; Political Parties; Politicians; Politics; Primaries; Republican Party; Roosevelt 'S Political Career; Tammany Hall.

Orient—American Interests in

Our interests are as great in the Pacific as in the Atlantic. The welfare of California, Oregon, and Washington is as vital to the nation as the welfare of New England, New York, and the South Atlantic States. The awakening of the Orient means very much to all the nations of Christendom, commercially no less than politically; and it would be short-sighted statesmanship on our part to refuse to take the necessary steps for securing a proper share to our people of this commercial future. The possession of the Philippines has helped us, as the securing of the open door in China has helped us. Already the government has taken the necessary steps to provide for the laying of a Pacific cable under conditions which safeguard absolutely the interests of the American public. Our commerce with the East is growing rapidly. Events have abundantly justified, alike from the moral and material standpoint, all that we have done in the Far East as a sequel to our war with Spain. (At Hartford, Conn., August 22, 1902.) Mem. Ed. XVIII, 364-365; Nat. Ed. XVI, 278.


See also China; Japan; Open Door; Philippines.

Oriental Immigration

See Chinese Immigration; Immigration; Japanese Exclusion.

Ousel, The

The ousels are to my mind well-nigh the most attractive of all our birds, because of their song, their extraordinary habits, their whole personality. They stay through the winter in the Yellowstone because the waters are in many places open. We heard them singing cheerfully, their ringing melody having a certain suggestion of the winter wren's. Usually they sang while perched on some rock on the edge or in the middle of the stream; but sometimes on the wing; and often just before dipping under the torrent, or just after slipping out from it to some ledge of rock or ice. . . .

I cannot understand why the Old World ousel should have received such comparatively scant attention in the books, whether from nature writers or poets; whereas our ousel has greatly impressed all who know him. John Muir's description comes nearest doing him justice. To me he seems a more striking bird than, for instance, the skylark; though of course, I not only admire but am very fond of the skylark. (1905.) Mem. Ed. III, 286; Nat. Ed. III, 101-102.

Outdoor Life

Only a few men, comparatively speaking, lead their lives in the wilderness; only a few others, again speaking comparatively, are able to take their holidays in the shape of hunting trips in the wilderness. But all who live in the country, or who even spend a month now and then in the country, can enjoy outdoor life themselves and can see that their children enjoy it in the hardy fashion which will do them good. Camping out, and therefore the cultivation of the capacity to live in the open, and the education of the faculties which teach observation, resourcefulness, self- reliance, are within the reach of all who really care for the life of the woods, the fields, and the waters. Marksmanship with the rifle can be cultivated with small cost or trouble; and if any one passes much time in the country he can, if only he chooses, learn much about horsemanship. (1905.) Mem. Ed. III, 313; Nat. Ed. III, 124.

____________. I am not disposed to undervalue manly outdoor sports, or to fail to appreciate the advantage to a nation, as well as to an individual, of such pastimes; but they must be pastimes and not business, and they must not be carried to excess. There is much to be said for the life of a professional hunter in lonely lands; but the man able to be something more, should be that something more—an explorer, a naturalist, or else a man who makes his hunting trips merely delightful interludes in his life-work. (1905.) Mem. Ed. III, 310; Nat. Ed. III, 122.

Outdoor Life

See also Adventure; Horseback Riding; Hunting; Mountain Climbing; Nature; Ranch Life; Sports; Strenuous Life; Vigor; Wilderness.


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