Roosevelt and the “big stick”

When vice president Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 1901, he probably didn’t think that the day’s words would last for more than a century, but he also didn’t expect to be the president by the end of the week.

On that day in Minnesota, Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” Although we largely forgot the last part of the quote, the first seven words define much of what people remember about Teddy Roosevelt.

Four days later, President McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. When McKinley died of his wounds, Roosevelt became the youngest person to assume the presidency, at 42 years of age.


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