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As I’ve mentioned before, I have a slight obsession with reading and learning about Theodore Roosevelt. Given the large number of books, letters, and speeches that TR produced throughout his life (35+ books, 150,000+ letters, 1000s of speeches), there are plenty of memorable quotes attributed to him – “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” “The man in the arena,” “The square deal,” just to name a few.
Recently, while reading TR’s 1885 book “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman,” I came across a hilarious quote regarding, of all things, his intense hatred of those “bleating idiots” known as sheep:
“Cattle-men hate sheep, because they eat the grass so close that cattle cannot live on the same ground. The sheep-herders are a morose, melancholy set of men, generally afoot, and with no companionship except that of the bleating idiots they are hired to guard. No man can associate with sheep and retain his self-respect. Intellectually a sheep is about on the lowest level of the brute creation; why the early Christians admired it, whether young or old, is to a good cattle-man always a profound mystery.”
The man definitely hates sheep. As well as anyone who associates with sheep. I wouldn’t even wear a wool sweater around this guy. Knowing the TR dictated many of his books, I laugh even harder when I picture him yelling and screaming about his hatred of domestic sheep, while some poor assistant tries to frantically capture the deluge of furious words spilling out of his mouth. No one can ever try to claim that TR wasn’t passionate!
Anyway… For those looking to learn more about TR’s time in the Badlands and his other western adventures, I do recommend Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. It’s facinating to read his firsthand impressions of hunting, wildlife and life on the western frontier in the late 1800s. However, knowing that TR was quite the self-promoter and had the habit of leaving out some of the less-than-flattering details of his exploits, you may also want to check out Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands by Roger Silvestro. It presents a more complete picture of TR’s time in the west, and gives the interesting backstory regarding why he chose to walk away from a career in politics to pursue life as a Ranchman.