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Tag Archives: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far
Big Stick ideology, Big Stick diplomacy, or Big Stick policy refers to U.S. PresidentTheodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt attributed the term to a West African proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,” but the claim that it originated in West Africa has been disputed. The idea of negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the “big stick”, or the military, ties in heavily with the idea of Realpolitik, which implies a pursuit of political power that resembles Machiavellian ideals. Roosevelt first used the phrase in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 1901,four days before the assassination of President William McKinley who died eight days later, which subsequently thrust Roosevelt into the presidency. Roosevelt referred to the phrase earlier (January 26, 1900) in a letter to Henry W. Sprague of the Union League Club, mentioning his liking of the phrase in a bout of happiness after forcing New York‘s Republican committee to pull support away from a corrupt financial adviser. Roosevelt attributed the term as “a West African proverb”, and was seen at the time as evidence of Roosevelt’s “prolific” reading habits. Roosevelt described his style of foreign policy as “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis”. However, it is also rumored that Roosevelt himself first made the phrase publicly known, and that he meant it was West African proverb only metaphorically.