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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1231
AUTHOR: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)
QUOTATION: The plea of good intentions is not one that can be allowed to have much weight in passing historical judgment upon a man whose wrong-headedness and distorted way of looking at things produced, or helped to produce, such incalculable evil; there is a wide political applicability in the remark attributed to a famous Texan, to the effect that he might, in the end, pardon a man who shot him on purpose, but that he would surely never forgive one who did so accidentally.
ATTRIBUTION: THEODORE ROOSEVELT, writing of John C. Calhoun, Thomas Hart Benton, chapter 5, p. 111 (1897, reprinted 1968).