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Theodore Roosevelt, 114 years ago this day, uttered the phrase, “speak softly and carry a big stick” for the first time in public. The phrase, which refers to the foreign policy strategy of maintaining sufficiently large military reserves while simultaneously striving for peaceful negotiations, persists to this day.
Joe Biden, in a 2012 speech, was quoted saying that the president “carries a big stick.” When Roosevelt used it for the first time, it was in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair:
Right here let me make as vigorous a plea as I know how in favor of saying nothing that we do not mean, and of acting without hesitation up to whatever we say. A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far.” If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble; and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power.
Speaking of “strength and power,” Keanu Reeves turns 51 today.