A publication of the Library of Congress says:

Mr. Foulke in his letters reveals an unusual frankness in letting President Roosevelt know of the attitudes of his political enemies -- "small vermin," as the President called them.

Are there any documented examples of the President saying or writing "vermin" to characterize his political enemies?

  • 2
    More of a History stack question than Skeptics, I would think. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:11
  • 3
    @jeffronicus Skeptics is supposed to be for investigating unreferenced claims. The Library of Congress is making this claim without any references.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:27
  • Before it became popular to do this for real in some places in Europe, US political discourse used to have those [figurative] calls often enough, it seems theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/… Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:44
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    I'd have thought that "draining the swamp" was a more recent euphemism, but that also goes back more than a century en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drain_the_swamp Funnily enough the latter phrase was used by TR's contemporary Berger, whom you might know of. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 16:55
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    @Fizz the cartoon you linked, the "vermin" are problems such as "abuses," "errors," "rebates," "unfair methods," and "bank looting". The vermin are not people.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


Google Books is too limited for me to get the full context, but this is what I have, evidently from a letter he wrote in 1900. From The years of preparation, 1868-1900 - Page 1356:

…which will help us carry through our ticket this year, for I am incapable of feeling more earnestly about anything than I do about the awful misery and wrong, the shame and disgrace which would be caused by Bryan's success. I cannot express the anger and contemptuous indignation with which I regard the cultivated men from Schurz and Godkin down to the smaller vermin like Jack Chapman and Erving Winslow who at this great crisis show themselves traitors to their country.

(Links mine.)

  • He doesn't use the word "enemies", though?
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 8:38
  • 2
    @gerrit That's not in quotes in the original claim, so it's not Roosevelt's choice of words.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 11:11

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