War and Social Values

by Theodore Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt on War - Overview

His words about war are important for our time. Let us talk about the background for a moment.

What was going on during the time TR wrote this book? Germany had been attacking the United States. Specifically, Germany attacked American ships, including merchant ships. In the process, Germany was killing innocent Americans. The War, later to be called World War I, was beginning at various locations.

Pacifists in United States wanted to keep the United States out of the war. However, Theodore Roosevelt tells the public that in order for the United States to survive, we have to engage in war. Theodore Roosevelt says we must defend ourselves.

The quotes I am starting with are from his chapter "War and Social Values." The words of "War and Social Values" was originally given as a speech to the Sociological Society, in Washington DC.



Theodore Roosevelt quotes on war


TR Quote #1

"The Sociological Society can meet at Washington this year only because the man after whom the city was named was willing to go to war. If he and his associates had not gone to war, there would have been no possibility of discussing social values in the United States, for the excellent reason that there would have been no United States."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1916


TR Quote #2:

"Nothing is gained by debate on non-debatable subjects. No intelligent man desires war. But neither can any intelligent man who is willing to think fail to realize that we live in a great and free country only because our forefathers were willing to wage war rather than accept the peace that spells destruction."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1916


TR Quote #3

"War, like peace, is properly a means to an end - righteousness. Neither war nor peace is in itself righteous, and neither should be treated as of itself the end to be aimed at. Righteousness is the end. Righteousness when triumphant brings peace; but peace may not bring righteousness. Whether war is right or wrong depends purely upon the purpose for which, and the spirit in which, it is waged."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1916


TR Quote #4

"The really essential things for men to remember in connection with war are, first, that neither war nor peace is immoral in itself, and secondly, that in order to preserve the social values it is absolutely essential to prevent the military dominance of an alien enemy."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1916


TR Quote #5

"In the thirteenth century, Persia had become a highly civilized nation, with a cultivated class of literary men and philosophers, with universities, and with great mercantile interests. These literary men and merchants took the realities of war with much the same attitude that is taken in our own country.

Unfortunately for these predecessors of the modern pacifists, they were within striking distance of Genghis Khan and his Mongols. When the on-rush came, the pacifists' theories were worth just about what a tissue-paper barrier would amount to against a tidal wave."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1916



Compiled 10/24/05