American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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"Speak Softly. . ."

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) to Henry L. Sprague
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
to Henry L. Sprague

Albany, New York, January 26, 1900
Carbon copy letterbook
Manuscript Division
Gift of the heirs of Theodore
Roosevelt, Jr., 1958-1965 (52A)

This letter contains what is thought to be the first recorded use of the phrase "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick," which was later to become a trademark description of Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy. Here, Roosevelt, then New York's governor, waxes happily in the knowledge that he has forced the state's Republican leaders to abandon their support for the renomination of the corrupt Louis Payne as the state's insurance commissioner.

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