Theodore Roosevelt and the Big Stick

Theodore Roosevelt in October 1910. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Theodore Roosevelt in October 1910. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1901, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt used the phrase “Speak softly and carry a big stick” for the first time in public.

Here are some things you may not have known about Roosevelt and “big stick diplomacy.”

The philosophy behind the idea is to negotiate peacefully, but make it known that you’re willing to use non-peaceful methods to achieve your goals if necessary.

Roosevelt’s first use of the term came in 1900 in a letter celebrating a political victory while governor of New York.

The term appeared in print later that year, describing it as Roosevelt’s personal motto.

At various times, Roosevelt described the phrase as a proverb of West African or South African origin. However, researchers looking for the source of the phrase have found no examples of its use before Roosevelt.

Roosevelt used the philosophy to his benefit several times during his time in office as president.

He helped settle a coal miners’ strike by threatening to use the military to run the mines.

Roosevelt dispatched U.S. troops to Cuba after the British and Germans blockaded Venezuela in 1902.

The U.S. engineered a revolution in Panama, which was then part of Colombia, to help the American position in negotiations for the Panama Canal.

Finally, toward the end of his presidency, Roosevelt sent 16 battleships of the Atlantic Fleet, known as the Great White Fleet, around the world as a show of maritime power.

Our question, where was the U.S. Atlantic Fleet based?


Today is National Day in Vietnam.

It’s unofficially National Blueberry Popsicle Day, Pierce Your Ears Day, and Wear Teal Day.

It’s the birthday of tennis great Jimmy Connors, who is 64; actor Keanu Reeves, who is 52; and actress Salma Hayek, who turns 50.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1983 the top song in the U.S. was “Sweet Dreams. (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics.

The No. 1 movie was “Mr. Mom,” while the novel “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our website.

Also, if you’re enjoying the show, please consider supporting it through

Please rate the show on iTunes by clicking here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.