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A collection of notable quotations from a variety of Early Modern Era individuals. See the Guide for more details.
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'Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. `Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
A people... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.
— Letter to Benjamin Harrison, October 10, 1784
— George Washington
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? — George Washington
A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.— George Washington
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.
— Letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, January 9, 1790
— George Washington
And you will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion for Posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.
— The Newburgh Address, January 2, 1783
— George Washington
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.
— Circular to the States, May 9, 1753
— George Washington
Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.— George Washington
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.— George Washington
Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.— George Washington
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.— George Washington
But if we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little.
— Letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 8, 1796
— George Washington
But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.
— 1796 - Farewell Address
— George Washington
Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human Nature.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Can you then consent to be the only sufferers by this revolution, and retiring from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness and contempt? Can you consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor? If you can go and carry with you the jest of tories and scorn of whigs' the ridicule, and what is worse, the pity of the world. Go, starve, and be forgotten!
— Letter to the Officers of the Army, March 12, 1783
— George Washington
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.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, July 25, 1785
— George Washington
Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.— George Washington
Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.
— Letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775
— George Washington
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.— George Washington
Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.— George Washington
Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.
— George Washington
For myself the delay [in assuming the office of the President] may be compared with a reprieve; for in confidence I assure you, with the world it would obtain little credit that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities and inclination which is necessary to manage the helm.
— Comment to General Henry Knox, March 1789
— George Washington
Friendship is a plant of slow growth and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.— George Washington
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.
— Upon fumbling for his glasses before delivering the Newburgh Address, March 15, 1783
— George Washington
Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.— George Washington
Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.— George Washington
Happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabrick of Freedom and Empire on the broad basis of Independency; who have assisted in protecting the rights of humane nature and establishing an Asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions.
— General Orders, April 18, 1783
— George Washington
Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
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.
— Address to Congress on Resigning his Commission, December 23, 1783
— George Washington
I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species...and to disperse the families I have an aversion.
— Letter to Robert Lewis, August 18, 1799
— George Washington
I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.— George Washington
I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.
— Letter to David Stuart, June 15, 1790
— George Washington
I give my signature to many Bills with which my Judgment is at variance.... From the Nature of the Constitution, I must approve all parts of a Bill, or reject it in total. To do the latter can only be Justified upon the clear and obvious grounds of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging as to be over tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.
— Letter to Edmund Pendleton, September 23, 1793
— George Washington
I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.
— Letter to Francis Van der Kamp, May 28, 1788
— George Washington
I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one`s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.
— Letter to Burwell Bassett, May 23, 1785
— George Washington
I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country.— George Washington
I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.
— Letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789
— George Washington
I hope that I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider to be the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man
— To Alexander Hamilton, 1788
— George Washington
I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, June 19, 1788
— George Washington
I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
— Circular letter of farewell to the Army, June 8, 1783
— George Washington
I rejoice in a belief that intellectual light will spring up in the dark corners of the earth; that freedom of enquiry will produce liberality of conduct; that mankind will reverse the absurd position that the many were, made for the few; and that they will not continue slaves in one part of the globe, when they can become freemen in another.
— Draft of First Inaugural Address, April 1789
— George Washington
I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.— George Washington
I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see a policy of a gradual Abolition of Slavery.
— Letter to Lawrence Lewis, August 4, 1797
— George Washington
If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.
— Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789
— George Washington
If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates.
— 1796 - Farewell Address
— George Washington
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.— George Washington
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.
— Annual Message, December 1793
— George Washington
In our progress toward political happiness my station is new; and if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.
— Letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, January 9, 1790
— George Washington
In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
It appears to me that little more than common sense and common honesty in the transactions of the community at large would b necessary to make us a great and a happy nation. For if the general government lately adopted shall be arranged and administered in such a manner as to acquire the full confidence of the American people, I sincerely believe they will have greater advantages, from their natural, moral, and political circumstances, for public felicity than any other people ever possessed
— To the citizens of Baltimore, 1789
— George Washington
It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the Delegates from so many different States ... should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well founded objections.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788
— George Washington
It is an old adage that honesty is the best policy. This applies to public as well as private life, to states as well as individuals.
— To James Madison, 1785
— George Washington
It is better to be alone than in bad company.— George Washington
It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.— George Washington
It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.— George Washington
It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
— George Washington
It is not everyone who asketh that deserveth charity; all however, are worth of the inquiry or the deserving may suffer — George Washington
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were 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 in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
— Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, August 17, 1790
— George Washington
It is on great occasions only, and after time has been given for cool and deliberate reflection, that the real voice of the people can be known
— Letter to Edward Carrington, May 1, 1796
— George Washington
It is yet to be decided whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.
— Circular to the States, 1783
— George Washington
It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.— George Washington
It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.
— Letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789
— George Washington
It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.
— George Washington
It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage.
— Eighth Annual Message to Congress, 1796
— George Washington
Jealousy, and local policy mix too much in all our public councils for the good government of the Union. In a words, the confederation appears to me to be little more than a shadow without the substance....
— Letter to James Warren, October 7, 1785
— George Washington
Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.
— First Annual Message, January 8, 1790
— George Washington
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
— The Rules of Civility, Circa 1748
— George Washington
Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.— George Washington
Lenience will operate with greater force, in some instances than rigor. It is therefore my first wish to have all of my conduct distinguished by it.— George Washington
Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party generally.... A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.— George Washington
Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.— George Washington
Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.— George Washington
Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.— George Washington
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
— letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788
— George Washington
Mankind, when left to themselves, are unfit for their own government.— George Washington
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
— Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, August 17, 1790
— George Washington
More permanent and genuine happiness is to be found in the sequestered walks of connubial life than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure.
— Letter to the Marquis de la Rourie, August 10, 1786
— George Washington
My anxious recollections, my sympathetic feeling, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.
— Letter to Pierre Auguste Adet, January 1, 1796
— George Washington
My ardent desire is, and my aim has been... to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the U States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.
— Letter to Patrick Henry, October 9, 1775
— George Washington
My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.— George Washington
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.— George Washington
My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty... it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein.— George Washington
My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfill our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so.
— Letter to Gouverneur Morris, December 22, 1795
— George Washington
Next Monday the Convention in Virginia will assemble; we have still good hopes of its adoption here: though by no great plurality of votes. South Carolina has probably decided favourably before this time. The plot thickens fast. A few short weeks will determine the political fate of America for the present generation, and probably produce no small influence on the happiness of society through a long succession of ages to come.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, May 28, 1788
— George Washington
No compact among men... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.
— Draft of First Inaugural Address, April 1789
— George Washington
No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass.
— Letter to Benjamin Lincoln, June 29, 1788
— George Washington
No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.
— Letter to James Madison, November 5, 1786
— George Washington
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.
— Message to the House of Representatives, December 3, 1793
— George Washington
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.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.— George Washington
Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens... Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for live, in the sense of religious obligations desert and oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education ... reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. — George Washington
Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb and purge my heart by the Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of thy son, Jesus Christ.
— Personal Prayer Book
— George Washington
Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!
— Letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779
— George Washington
Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.— George Washington
Promote then as an object of primary importance, Institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe.— George Washington
Speak seldom, but to important subjects, except such as particularly relate to your constituents, and, in the former case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject.
— Public Speaking, November 10, 1787
— George Washington
The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.— George Washington
The Army (considering the irritable state it is in, its suffering and composition) is a dangerous instrument to play with.
— Letter to Alexander Hamilton, April 4, 1783
— George Washington
The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.— George Washington
The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779
— George Washington
The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail.
— Letter to George Chapman, December 15, 1784
— George Washington
The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.
— Fragments of the Draft First Inaugural Address, April 1789
— George Washington
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.
— Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland, December 2, 1783
— George Washington
The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life
— Circular to the States, June 8, 1783
— George Washington
The citizens of the United States of America have the right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of citizens 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 in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
— Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, September 9, 1790
— George Washington
The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations.
— Letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788
— George Washington
The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.— George Washington
The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.— George Washington
The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the Field -- the object is attained and it now remains to be my earnest wish & prayer, that the Citizens of the United States could make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings placed before them.
— Letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York City, November 27, 1783
— George Washington
The executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity.
— Letter to Gouverneur Morris, December 22, 1795
— George Washington
The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.— George Washington
The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
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 Freemen, 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.
— General Orders, August 23, 1776
— George Washington
The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.
— To the Annual meeting of Quakers, September 1789
— George Washington
The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
— George Washington
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.
— Farewell Address, 1796
— George Washington
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.
— Letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 8, 1796
— George Washington
The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
The scheme, my dear Marqs. which you propose as a precedent, to encourage the emancipation of the black people of this Country from that state of Bondage in wch. they are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your Heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work.
— Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, April 5, 1785
— George Washington
The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.— George Washington
The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity.
— Letter to the people of South Carolina, Circa 1790
— George Washington
The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.— George Washington
There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.— George Washington
There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
— First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
— George Washington
There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. 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.
— Annual Message, December 1793
— George Washington
There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.
— Letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795
— George Washington
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.
— Address to Congress, 1790
— George Washington
These are qualities to rare and to precious not to merit one’s particular esteem
— To the Marquis de Lafayette, 1788
— George Washington
Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.
— First Annual Message, January 8, 1790
— George Washington
To form a new Government, requires infinite care, and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid the superstructure must be bad.
— Letter to John Augustine Washington, May 31, 1776
— George Washington
True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.— George Washington
Truth will ultimately prevail where there are pains taken to bring it to light.
— To Charles Mynn Thurston, 1794
— George Washington
War - An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will.— George Washington
We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.
— Letter to James Madison, November 30, 1785
— George Washington
We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.
— Letter to John Jay, August 15, 1786
— George Washington
We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.
— Letter to Philip Schuyler, July 15, 1777
— George Washington
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.— George Washington
When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country.
— Address to the New York Legislature, June 26, 1775
— George Washington
Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.— George Washington

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