President George Washington (1732-1799)

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to appellation. ”

“Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do — then do it with all your strength.”

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and fearful master.”

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”

“In politics as in religion, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.”

“A free people ought… to be armed”

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”

“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

“99% of failures come from people who make excuses.”

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”

“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government”

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. ”

“Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession. ”

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American peoples’ liberty teeth and keystone under independence… From the hour the pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable…The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”

“Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth”

“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”

“The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.”

“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.

“Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”

“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”

“The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregard the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those be well-tried before you give them your confidence.”

“To persevere in one’s duty, and be silent is the best answer to calumny”

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all”

“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience. ”

“No Man has a more perfect reliance on the all-wise and powerful dispensations of the Supreme Being than I have, nor thinks his aid more necessary…The man must be bad indeed who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude towards the great Author of the Universe whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf….In war He directed the sword, and in peace, He has ruled in our councils.”

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”

“Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.”

“A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”

“If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of God.”

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.”

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”

“I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.”

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough. Not only have I found that when I talk to the little flower or to the little peanut they will give up their secrets, but I have found that when I silently commune with people they give up their secrets also – if you love them enough”

“99% percent of failures are the ones who make excuses.”

“A bad war is fought with a good mind.”

“It is absolutely necessary… for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders.”

“Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect – We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions – The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

“Wherein you reprove another be unblameable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precepts.”

“No people can be bound to acknowledge the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the united States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency”

“A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.”

“Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.”

“Where are our Men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their Country?”

“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”

“The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction – to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

“…overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.”

“Labor to keep alive in your chest that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

“…if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

“George Washington famously warned against … ‘ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear”

“The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. … The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.”

“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”

“Much was to be done by prudence, much by conciliation, much by firmness.”

“[death]…the abyss from where no traveler is permitted to return”

“Its good to live alone than to live in a bad company”

“Of Congress, “party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day whilst the momentous concerns of an empire…are but secondary considerations,” that “business of a trifling nature and personal concernment withdraws their attention from matters of great national moment.”

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

“The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.”

“The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest of purposes.”

“No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.”

“I hope I shall always have firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

“A man ought not to value himself of his achievements or rare qualities of wit, much less of his riches, virtue or kindred.”

“To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.”

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

“Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.”

“The common and continual mischief’s [sic] of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion.”

“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.”

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.”

“Be not glad at the misfortune of another, though he may be your enemy.”

“The great mass of our Citizens require only to understand matters rightly, to form right decisions.”

“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

“Men may speculate as they will; they may talk of patriotism; they may draw a few examples from ancient story, of great achievements performed by its influence; but whoever builds upon it, as a sufficient Basis for conducting a long and bloody War, will find themselves deceived in the end. We must take the passions of Men as Nature has given them, and those principles as a guide which are generally the rule of Action. I do not mean to exclude altogether the Idea of Patriotism. I know it exists, and i know it has done much in the present Contest. But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting War can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of Interest or some reward. For a time, it may, of itself push Men to Action; to bear much, to encounter difficulties; but it will not endure unassisted by Interest.”

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.”

“If the cause is advanced, indifferent is it to me where or in what quarter it happens.”

“A slender acquantiance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.”

“Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all cases of passion admit reason to govern.”

“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this [the course of the war] that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations…”

“I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing Hand of Heaven, in the various instances of our extensive Preparation for this Operation, has been most conspicuous and remarkable.”

“We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency. We expected to encounter many wants and distressed… we must bear the present evils and fortitude…”

“The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”

“Unhappy it is, though, to reflect that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in a brother’s breast and that the once-happy plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?”

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