This shirt features an AR-15 and a phrase first coined by US President Theodore Roosevelt when referring to foreign policy. It symbolizes the idea of negotiating peacefully but also having strength in case things go wrong. The first known use of the phrase occurs in a private letter from Roosevelt (then Governor of New York) to Henry L. Sprague, dated January 26, 1900.Roosevelt wrote, in a bout of happiness after forcing New York's Republican committee to pull support away from a corrupt financial adviser:I have always been fond of the West African proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”In an article about an interview with Governor Roosevelt, published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on April 1, 1900, a reporter noted that “His motto, he says, he has taken from the South African people: ‘Speak softly— carry a big stick— and you will go far.'Roosevelt would go on to be elected Vice President later that year, and subsequently used the aphorism publicly in an address to the Minnesota State Fair, entitled “National Duties”, on September 2, 1901:A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.”Four days later, President William McKinley was shot by an assassin; his death a further eight days later elevated Roosevelt to the presidency.Roosevelt's attribution of the phrase to “a West African proverb” was seen at the time as evidence of Roosevelt’s “prolific” reading habits, but the claim that it originated in West Africa has been disputed. No earlier citation for the phrase has been found, and there is no record of the phrase being used in West Africa before Roosevelt's time. It has been therefore suggested that he might have coined the phrase himself.