What is the "strenuous life?" In 1899, then vice president Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech to the Hamilton Club in Chicago. The speech, known as "The Strenuous Life," focuses on Roosevelt's experiences overcoming obstacles throughout his life. He tells the group what America needs to do to succeed in the upcoming 20th Century during this age of Imperialism. You can read the speech in its entirety here.
What does this mean for U.S. History?
TR's primer for a strenuous life can be applied to anything. For success in U.S. History, here is how it can relate:
"Our country calls not for the life of ease but for the life of strenuous endeavor."
Regularly striving to improve your knowledge is part of the strenuous life. This includes going beyond the assigned work. In U.S. History, many opportunities are provided to assess yourself online in both content and geography. Terms packets are provided for each unit to allow students to more easily focus on what is to be learned. Completing these is part of the strenuous life. Connecting books, movies, and historical locations to class lessons is another part. This provides students with a more well-rounded education and a better appreciation of history.
"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Focusing on the process of learning is huge. In U.S. History, there are many names, terms, events, and location to know. These are part of our language of talking about history. The online quizzes will help you commit these to memory. You can take the quizzes as many times as you wish without negative consequences. If you keep trying, you will succeed.
"Wisely used leisure merely means that those who possess it … are all the more bound to carry on some kind of non-remunerative work in science, in letters, in art, in exploration, in historical research-work of the type we most need in this country, the successful carrying out of which reflects most honor upon the nation."
Roosevelt felt that using your spare time to improve yourself would also improve this nation. Spending time reading about history or watching a movie would improve your knowledge of the subject. So would completing a research project, visiting a historical location, or interviewing someone who has lived through history.
"We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life."
Roosevelt says it is not only important to strive for victory, but also important to be good person. In U.S. History this means helping about in class with various assigned jobs to makes sure the class functions as a team. It also means respecting different ideas and opinions in discussions, while contributing to those discussions yourself.
"It is a base untruth to say that happy is the nation that has no history. Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
There are a lot of great lessons to be learned from history. Let's find out what they are.