Remarks in Willimantic, Connecticut

August 23, 1902

This nation has great problems to face—problems in its external policy—problems even more important in the administration of its internal affairs. We can solve them only if, with serious purpose, we set ourselves to the task alike in the national and state governments and in the local municipality and the county organizations. We have great problems ahead of us as a nation. They will task our intelligence but they will task still more what ranks ahead of intelligence—character.

It is a good thing for a nation to demand in its representatives intellect, but it is a better thing to demand in them that sum of qualities which we talk of character. All of you know that this is true in private life. If you are dealing with a man in a business way, whether as employer or employed, or in commerce, with a storekeeper or with any one, you want him to be a smart man, but it is a mighty bad thing if he is only a smart man.

Now, what you want in a private man with whom you deal is what you want in your representatives. If you are going to get good results from your association with a man in the business world, in the working world, it will be because that man has the right stuff in him, because he has common sense, honesty, decency and courage. And the same qualities must be shown in public life if we are to make this country what we will make it—an example to all the nations of mankind.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Willimantic, Connecticut Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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