Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Theodore Roosevelt (18581919)
There is a homely old adage which runs: Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far. If the American Nation will speak softly, and yet build, and keep at a pitch of the highest training, a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
President THEODORE ROOSEVELT, speech, Chicago, Illinois, April 2, 1903.Presidential Addresses and State Papers, part 1 (vol. 13 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, executive ed.), p. 266 (n.d.).
In America and the World War, chapter 2, p. 24, he referred to the homely proverb: Speak softly and carry a big stick.The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., vol. 18 (1926). In the last chapter of Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography, p. 524 (vol. 20 of Works, national ed.), he says: The only safe rule is to promise little, and faithfully to keep every promise; to speak softly and carry a big stick.