Keep Your Eyes On the Stars, But Your Feet On the Ground

Theodore Roosevelt? Oscar Wilde? William Allen Harper? Ayn Rand? Casey Kasem?

Dear Quote Investigator: High aspirations should be combined with a practical spirit to achieve greatness. This notion can be expressed with the following adage:

Keep your eyes on the stars, but your feet on the ground.

This statement has been attributed to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Would you please explore its provenance?

Quote Investigator: In 1900 New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech in Chicago, Illinois during which he signaled that he did not wish to be the Vice President of the U.S. The speech closed with the following words reported in “The Daily Inter Ocean” newspaper of Chicago. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The head-in-the-air theorists will not succeed in politics any more than in law, or physics, or dry goods. We’ve got to face facts. An uncomfortable truth is a safer companion than the most attractive falsehood. Strive mightily for high ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but don’t forget that your feet are necessarily on the earth.

Roosevelt employed different versions of the saying about stars and feet in several speeches over the years. He served as U.S. President from 1901 to 1909.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Keep Your Eyes On the Stars, But Your Feet On the Ground


  1. 1900 April 27, The Daily Inter Ocean, Roosevelt Says No, Quote Page 1, Column 7, Chicago, Illinois. (Newspapers_com)