Theodore Roosevelt: The Man in the Arena

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Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal
Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal

On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave a moving speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. It was titled the “Citizenship in a Republic” speech but the real takeaway, what it is famous for, is what is now known as Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote.

The speech was well-attended. Edmund Morris, in his biography Colonel Roosevelt, tells us, the crowd included “ministers in court dress, army and navy officers in full uniform, nine hundred students, and an audience of two thousand ticket holders.” The quote has become for some a daily affirmation, that is, said habitually on a daily basis. The quote is:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt’s Accomplishments and Highlights

  • He devised the domestic Square Deal program which had three basic ideas known as the “three C’s”: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection.
  • Working with Army Colonel Leonard Wood, Roosevelt formed the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. Known as the Rough Riders, their greatest victory came at the Battle of San Juan Hill, which was the decisive battle of the war.
  • Following the assassination of President William McKinley in September 1901, at 42 years of age he became the 26th President of the United States. As of 2015 he remains the youngest person to assume the office of the President of U.S.
  • In 1902 by the United Mine Workers of America engaged in a strike that threatened the home heating supplies of tens of millions of Americans. President Roosevelt rolled up his sleeves and organized a fact-finding commission. He then threatened to use the U.S. Army to mine the coal and take over the mines. He convinced both the miners and the mine owners to accept the findings of the commission. The strike was suspended and never resumed. The miners got a 10% increase in wages and their working hours were set from 10 to 9 and as a concession to the owners, they didn’t have to recognize the trade union as a bargaining agent from that point on.
  • He imposed railroad regulation by pushing through the Elkins Act of 1903 and the Hepburn Act of 1906 to curb monopolistic power of the railroads.
  • He directed his Attorney General Philander Knox to bring a lawsuit on antitrust grounds against what was known as the “Beef Trust” that monopolized half or more of beef sales in the country. As the trial progressed it was shown that the “Big Six” leading meatpackers had formed a conspiracy to fix prices and divide the meat market among themselves resulting in higher profits.
  • He directed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, in 1906. The first banned food and drugs and medicine that were not pure or labelled falsely from being manufactured, sold, and shipped. It also mandated that active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug’s packaging and that drugs couldn’t go below the purity levels established by the U.S. Pharmacopeia. This was a huge win for consumers and reduced the likelihood of getting taken in by a scam.
  • He championed the conservation movement. The intention was to protect natural resources inclusive of animal, fungus, and plant species as well as their habitat for the future. He was the first president to put conservation far up on the national agenda. Roosevelt set aside and designated more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all prior presidents combined. He went on to establish the US Forest Service. It was signed into law and allowed for the creation of 5 National Parks and established the first 51 Bird Reserves and 150 National Forests.
  • Under his direction the Panama Canal was constructed. At first Colombia controlled Panama and objected to U.S. involvement. Roosevelt sent war ships to block the sea lanes from Colombia and insured that Panama got its independence.

It is clear that Theodore Roosevelt was a visionary, a man of action who stood up for American citizens, and protected their rights. His sense of what we should all strive for is encapsulated in his The Man in the Arena quote. We would all do well to focus on it habitually.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Killing the SS — A Book Review

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Killing the SS -- a book review
Killing the SS — a book review

Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History (ISBN: 9781250165541) is the latest in the Killing series of books by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Whereas there are a plethora of books about what happened to the Nazi SS during the war, this book puts the focus on what transpired after the war. Specifically, tracking the SS down and bringing them to justice.

Who Were the Nazi SS?

To understand why it was so important to bring these men to justice, it is key to know just who they were. Officially they were the Schutzstaffel or Protection Squadrons. They were a military arm unto themselves in the military of Nazi Germany and were comprised of men who thought of themselves as the “racial elite” of the Nazi future.

They held the responsibility for party security, ethnicity identification, settlement and population policy, as well as intelligence gathering and analysis. The SS also controlled the German police forces as well as the concentration camp system. They were tasked with conceiving and implementing plans to restructure the ethnic composition of eastern Europe as well as the occupied Soviet Union. They were the strong arm of the democratic socialist Nazi party as Hitler envisioned it.

For the most part, it was their brutal and inhuman work in the concentration camps as they did their best too carry out the “final solution” for the Jews in the typical efficient German style. This is the reason that post-war justice had to be sought. Many met their fate at the Neurenberg trials. Others went on the lam; mostly to South America.

Enter the Nazi Hunters

The book goes into exciting and factual detail regarding the exploits of the Nazi hunters; many of them were members of the Mossad. Their mission was to track down and eliminate SS members wherever they were found. Once found they were not hard to verify; their blood type was tattooed high up the underside of their arms.


Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History is a good read and I give it a 9 out of 10. It presents a well-researched, factual account while still reading like a spy novel. It’s best to know the history of monsters such as the SS lest we repeat it. If this book review helped you please pass the link on to your social media friends.


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Trump and Kim Jong Un Played Chicken; Kim Blinked First

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Kim Jong Un's ballistic missile policy
Kim Jong Un’s ballistic missile policy

This article was updated on 8/18/18.

This morning we awake to yet another chapter in the unfolding global melodrama between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the unhinged dictator of the hermit kingdom.

Kim Jong Un, or the “Pillsbury Doughboy with a really, really bad haircut” has been very vocal about his plans for the U.S. unincorporated United States territory of Guam. Specifically, he has been threatening to fire four missiles in order to surround the U.S. territory of Guam in “enveloping fire.”

Undoubtedly this is a trick right out of his father Kim Jong-il’s playbook. Rattle that rusty old saber, make a few headlines, and sit back and wait for humanitarian food aid.

Historically, US presidents back down from North Korean threats. For example, as recently as 2009 the Obama administration said that it will not enforce a UN resolution allowing the interdiction of North Korea’s shipping when suspected of illegal arms traffic.  Instead, the US will ask permission to inspect, and retreat when refused. This weakness did not bode well for Obama’s legacy.

Donald Trump is the New Sheriff in Town

No doubt Kim Jong Un imagined this tried and true strategy would keep working with his threat to attack Guam as he sipped 100-year old whiskey and cavorted with his concubines. However he was ill-prepared to hear President Trump warn Pyongyang last week that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and could engulf the North in “fire and fury.”

Kim’s response after having a look at a military plan presented to him by his senior officers was telling. He seems to have had an uh-oh moment and realized he wasn’t dealing with Obama anymore. This isn’t the former guy that spends his working hours playing on the golf course, this is the guy that owns the golf course.

Kim is now in full backpedaling mode and says he has resolved not to launch the attack on Guam just yet but instead advised the U.S. “to take into full account” whether the current standoff was to its benefit. He also said it was incumbent on the U.S. to “stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer.”

He went on to say, “If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared.”

Sanctions Against North Korea Also a Factor

The recent UN-mandated sanctions against North Korea are likely a factor figuring into Kim’s come-to-Jesus moment. Although he usually scoffs at sanctions, this time even Russia and China committed.

China is the real surprise. It is Kim’s largest trading partner and cheerleader. The Chinese customs agency specified that on Monday it will cease processing imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead ores and fish at midnight on September 5.

The latest sanctions, considering all the nations that are participating, are expected to block exports valued at more than $1 billion. This is significant since total exports are valued at $3 billion last year.

Over the years Kim has used various means (other than ruthless treatment and starvation of his countrymen) to keep his grip on power. One of these is the state propaganda of the Kim Jong Un as a mystical figure. Perhaps he can use some of that mojo to channel his father and ask for advice.

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