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Keep Calm and Carry a Big Stick (shirt 69)

December 13, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry a Big Stick t-shirt

Keep Calm and Carry On poster

U.K.'s Keep Calm and Carry On poster from 1939


A Keep Calm and Carry a Big Stick t-shirt. This message blends two phrases from history: one from Britain during World War II, and another of a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.

“Keep Calm and Carry On” were posters created by Britain during World War II. The Wikipedia entry states that, although 500,000 of these posters were printed, they were distributed in limited numbers. So it wasn’t very well known. Then, in 2000, one of the few surviving posters was discovered in a second-hand bookstore. The image is now in the public domain, and you can find it printed on posters, mugs, and — yes — t-shirts. Olly Moss designed a clever take on the poster with “Now Panic and Freak Out,” and it’s available on Threadless.

“Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt to describe his approach to foreign policy — of negotiating backed up with military threat. The Wikipedia page says that Roosevelt took the phrase from a West African proverb. In his own words, Roosevelt’s foreign policy approach was “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis.”

My Keep Calm t-shirt and Big Stick shirt mashes together these two pieces of history. Design is sans serif text for the message and an original illustration for the stick (which looks kinda little to me, not a very big one there). This historical mash-up shirt is available at my Zazzle store.

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