Remarks in the Chapel of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota

April 04, 1903

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:

I am glad to have the chance of greeting you this evening, but I regret that the engagements for me have been so numerous that it will be only a greeting. I wish I could be here to see your beautiful grounds and buildings by daylight, and to see a little of the life of the university.

There are plenty of tendencies for good, and, I am sorry to say, plenty of tendencies for evil in our modem life, and high among the former must be placed the rapid growth of the great institutions of learning in this country. There is a twofold side to the work done in any institution of this kind. In the first place the institution is to turn out scholars and men proficient in the different technical branches for which it trains them. It should be the aim of every university which seeks to develop the liberal side of education to turn out men and women who will add to the sum of productive achievement in scholarship; who will not merely be content to work in the fields that have already been harrowed a thousand times by other workers, but who will strike out for themselves and try to do new work that counts; so in each technical school if the institution is worthy of standing in the front rank, it will turn out those who in that particular specialty stand at the head. But in addition to this merely technical work, the turning out of the scholar, the professional man, the man or woman trained on some special line, each university worthy the name must endeavor to turn out men and women in the fullest sense of the word, good citizens, men and women who will add by what they do to the sum of noble work in the whole community.

It is a good thing that so much attention should be given to physical development. I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal, and if he feels any sympathy for himself I do not like him. I believe thoroughly in the sound and vigorous body. I believe still more in the vigorous mind. And I believe most of all in what counts for more than body, for more than mind, and that is character. That is the sum of the forces that make the man or the woman worth knowing, worth revering, worth holding to. Play hard while you play, but do not mistake it for work. If a young fellow is twenty it is a good thing that he should be a crack half-back; but when he is forty I am sorry, if he has never been anything else except once at twenty a good half-back. Keep the sense of proportion. Play hard; it will do you good in your work. But work hard and remember that this is the main thing..

Finally, in closing, I think it is a safe thing to take a motto that I heard from the lips of an old football player once: "Don't flinch, don't foul, and hit the line hard."

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in the Chapel of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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