Theodore Roosevelt on Integrity in Private and Public Life

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of United States, was an example to follow on how we should lead our lives. He had integrity in private and public life which is why he has been called one of America’s greatest heroes. In his presidential address at Osawatomie Kansas in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt said: “An individual must be possessed with moral force sufficient to resist all personal temptations that may come from any quarter; but not only from others-from himself as well”

Teddy Roosevelt riding horse with gun hunting illustration.

Citizenship in a Republic, 1910, from the speech Roosevelt, Theodore

The last thing any intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is reward any public official who claims that he will get the private citizen something to which he is not entitled, or that he will gratify some emotion or animosity that the private citizen should not have.

Allow me to demonstrate this with a personal tale. Several years ago, I was involved in cattle ranching in the western United States’ immense plains. There were no barriers in the way. The cattle roamed free, with the brand determining who owned them; the calves were branded with the brand of the cows they followed. If an animal was passed by during the round-up, it would reappear the next year as an unbranded yearling and be dubbed a maverick. These outlaws were branded with the name of the man whose range they were discovered, as was the usual in the area. I was riding the range with a new cowboy one day when we came across a maverick. We roped and tossed it, then constructed a small fire, pulled out a cinch-ring, heated it over the fire, and the cowboy began to brand it. “It’s So-and-brand,” so’s I told him, referring to the guy whose range we were on. “That’s OK, boss,” he said. “I know my stuff.” “Hold on, you’re putting on my brand!” I protested to him at another point. “That’s OK,” he said, “I always put on the boss’s brand.” “Oh, well,” I said. Now you return to the ranch and collect what is owed to you; I no longer need your services.” “What’s the matter?” he said, leaping to his feet. “I was putting your label on.” “Yes, my buddy,” I said, “and if you steal for me, you will take from me.”

Now, the same idea that governs private life also governs public life. If a prominent figure attempts to get your support by promising to do something wrong in your favor, you may be assured that if it becomes profitable for him, he will do something wrong against your interest.