Teddy Roosevelt Quote on Territorial Conquest

Teddy Roosevelt Quote

Quoted from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1894 book The Winning of the West, in which he presents a racist defense for territorial expansion of superior races:

Many good persons seem prone to speak of all wars of conquest as necessarily evil. This is of course a shortsighted view. In its after effects a conquest may be fraught either with evil or with good for mankind, according to the comparative worth of the conquering and conquered peoples. It is useless to try to generalize about conquests simply as such in the abstract; each case or set of cases must be judged by itself. The world would have halted had it not been for the Teutonic conquests in alien lands; but the victories of Moslem over Christian have always proved a curse in the end. Nothing but sheer evil has come from the victories of Turk and Tartar. This is true generally of the victories of barbarians of low racial characteristics over gentler, more refined peoples even though these, to their shame and discredit, lost the vigorous fighting virtues. Yet it remains no less true that the world would probably have gone forward very little, indeed would probably not have gone forward at all, had it not been for the displacement or submersion of savage and barbaric peoples as a consequence of the armed settlement in strange lands of the races who hold in their hands the fate of the years. Every such submersion or displacement of an inferior race, every such armed settlement or conquest by a superior race, means the infliction and suffering of hideous woe and misery. It is a sad and dreadful thing that there should of necessity be such throes of agony; and yet they are the birth-pangs of a new and vigorous people. That they are in truth birth-pangs does not lessen the grim and hopeless woe for the race supplanted; of the race outworn or overthrown. The wrongs done and suffered cannot be blinked. Neither can they be allowed to hide the results to mankind of what has been achieved.

Source: Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, Part 3 (1894), pp. 175-176

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this quote are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or positions of this site, and are merely meant to be a historical reflection on the speaker.


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