Quotations


Declaration of IndependenceWe hold these truths to be self-​evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain un­alien­able Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pur­suit of Happi­ness. — That to secure these rights, Gov­ern­ments are insti­tuted among Men, deriv­ing their just powers from the con­sent of the gov­erned, — That when­ever any Form of Gov­ern­ment be­comes de­struc­tive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abol­ish it, and to insti­tute new Gov­ern­ment, lay­ing its foun­da­tion on such prin­ciples and organ­iz­ing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happi­ness. Prudence, in­deed, will dic­tate that Gov­ern­ments long estab­lished should not be changed for light and tran­sient causes; and accord­ingly all experi­ence hath shewn that man­kind are more dis­posed to suf­fer, while evils are suf­fer­able than to right them­selves by abol­ish­ing the forms to which they are accus­tomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpa­tions, pur­suing in­vari­ably the same Object evinces a design to re­duce them under abso­lute Despo­tism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Gov­ern­ment, and to pro­vide new Guards for their future security. — American Declaration of Independence
Margaret ThatcherEurope was created by history. America was created by philosophy. — Margaret Thatcher (paraphrased)
Thomas PaineGovernment, even in its best state, is but a nec­es­sary evil; in its worst state, an intol­er­able one. — Thomas Paine
Gerald Ford[A] government big enough to give you every­thing you want is a gov­ern­ment big enough to take from you every­thing you have. Gerald Ford
Milton FriedmanThere’s no such thing as a free lunch. — Milton Friedman  
George Orwell During times of uni­ver­sal deceit, tell­ing the truth becomes a revolu­tionary act. — George Orwell (Eric Blair)
G.B. Shaw A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the sup­port of Paul. — George Bernard Shaw
George Orwell Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever cor­rectly reported in a newspaper. — George Orwell (Eric Blair)
James Madison If men were angels, no gov­ern­ment would be nec­es­sary. If angels were to gov­ern men, neither ex­ter­nal nor in­ter­nal con­trols on gov­ern­ment would be necessary. — James Madison
Samuel Adams Shame on the men who can court exemp­tion from pres­ent trouble and expense at the price of their own pos­ter­ity’s liberty! — Samuel Adams
Benjamin FranklinThey who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little tem­po­rary safety, deserve neither lib­erty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin
Samuel Adams It is a very great mis­take to imagine that the object of loy­alty is the author­ity and inter­est of one indi­vid­ual man, how­ever dig­nified by the applause or enriched by the suc­cess of popular actions. — Samuel Adams
George MacDonald It is not in the nature of poli­tics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to gov­ern their fellowmen. — George MacDonald
George Washington Government is not reason, it is not eloq­uence, it is force; like fire, a trouble­some ser­vant and a fear­ful master. — George Washington [?]
Ronald ReaganFreedom is never more than one genera­tion away from extinc­tion. We didn’t pass it to our chil­dren in the blood­stream. It must be fought for, pro­tected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sun­set years tell­ing our chil­dren and our chil­dren’s chil­dren what it was once like in the United States where men were free. — Ronald Reagan
Lord ActonAll power cor­rupts; abso­lute power cor­rupts absolutely. — John Dalberg-Acton
Edmund Burke The greater the power, the more dan­ger­ous the abuse. — Edmund Burke
Lord Acton The danger is not that a par­tic­u­lar class is un­fit to gov­ern: every class is un­fit to govern. — John Dalberg-Acton
Benjamin Franklin In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Consti­tu­tion with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Gov­ern­ment nec­es­sary for us, and there is no form of Gov­ern­ment but what may be a bless­ing to the people if well admin­istered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well admin­istered for a course of years, and can only end in Des­pot­ism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so cor­rupted as to need des­potic Gov­ern­ment, being incapable of any other. — Benjamin Franklin
Alexis de TocquevilleThe American Republic will endure until the day Con­gress dis­covers that it can bribe the pub­lic with the pub­lic’s money. — Alexis de Tocqueville
James Madison It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so volumi­nous that they can­not be read, or so inco­herent that they cannot be understood. — James Madison
Thomas Jefferson Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of gov­ern­ment those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow opera­tions, per­verted it into tyranny. — Thomas Jefferson
H.L. MenckenCivilization, in fact, grows more and more maud­lin and hys­teri­cal; especially under de­moc­racy it tends to de­gen­er­ate into a mere com­bat of crazes; the whole aim of prac­ti­cal poli­tics is to keep the popu­lace alarmed (and hence clam­or­ous to be led to safety) by an end­less series of hob­goblins, most of them imaginary. — H.L. Mencken
Lord Acton The one pervading evil of de­moc­racy is the tyr­anny of the ma­jor­ity, or rather of that party, not always the ma­jor­ity, that suc­ceeds, by force or fraud, in carry­ing elections. — John Dalberg-Acton
René Descartes A state is better governed which has few laws, and those laws strictly observed. — René Descartes
Thomas Sowell Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a his­tory of replacing what worked with what sounded good. — Thomas Sowell
George Santayana Those who cannot remember the past are con­demned to repeat it. — George Santayana
George Orwell So much of left-wing thought is a kind of play­ing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot. — George Orwell (Eric Blair)
Edmund Burke Politics ought to be adjusted, not to human reason­ings, but to human nature; of which the reason is but a part, and by no means the great­est part. — Edmund Burke
Thomas Jefferson A wise and frugal govern­ment, which shall leave men free to regu­late their own pur­suits of indus­try and improve­ment, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government. — Thomas Jefferson
?
Hope is not a strategy. — Unknown
Harry Truman It is amazing what you can accom­plish if you do not care who gets the credit. — Harry S Truman
Blaise Pascal Nothing is as approved as medi­oc­rity, the major­ity has estab­lished it and it fixes its fangs on what­ever gets beyond it either way. — Blaise Pascal
R.W. Emerson The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Will Durant [W]e are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. — Will Durant (writing about Aristotle)
Winston Churchill I am easily satis­fied with the very best. — Winston Churchill
G.B. Shaw The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other par­ticu­lar sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls…. — George Bernard Shaw (as Henry Higgins)
R.W. Emerson He who is not every­day conquer­ing some fear has not learned the secret of life. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Heraclitus Character is destiny. — Heraclitus 
R.W. Emerson Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
George MacDonald To be trusted is a greater compli­ment than being loved. — George MacDonald
Thomas Sowell Each new generation born is in effect an inva­sion of civi­liza­tion by little barbar­ians, who must be civi­lized before it is too late. — Thomas Sowell
Will Durant Education is a progressive dis­covery of our own ignorance. — Will Durant
Edward A. Murphy, Jr. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. — Edward A. Murphy, Jr.
Rudyard Kipling Everyone is more or less mad on one point. — Rudyard Kipling
François de La Rochefoucauld Hypocrisy is a tribute that vice pays to virtue. [L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu.]
— François de La Rochefoucauld
Calvin Coolidge You lose. — attributed to Calvin Coolidge, who allegedly gave this reply to Dorothy Parker at a dinner when she said, Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impos­sible to get more than two words out of you.
J.R.R. Tolkien All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost… — J.R.R. Tolkien (LOTR)
Gandalf Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judg­ment. For even the very wise can­not see all ends. — J.R.R. Tolkien (as Gandalf)
Mrs. Gump Stupid is as stupid does. — Forrest Gump’s mom
Richard Feynman To those who do not know math­ematics it is diffi­cult to get across a real feel­ing as to the beauty, the deep­est beauty, of nature. — Richard Feynman
Goethe Mathematicians are like French­men: what­ever you say to them they trans­late into their own lan­guage and forth­with it is some­thing entirely different. — Goethe
Paul Dirac God used beautiful math­ematics in creat­ing the world. — Paul Dirac
Arthur Eddington Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. — Arthur Eddington
Albert Einstein Make everything as simple as pos­sible, but not simpler. — Albert Einstein
Niels Bohr If quantum mechanics hasn’t pro­foundly shocked you, you haven’t under­stood it yet. — Niels Bohr
Albert Einstein The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emo­tion. Here­in lies the germ of all art and all true science. Any­one to whom this feel­ing is alien, who is no longer capable of wonder­ment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impene­trable for us really exists and mani­fests it­self as the high­est wis­dom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intel­li­gible to our poor facul­ties — this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true reli­gious senti­ment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among pro­foundly reli­gious men. — Albert Einstein
C.S. Lewis If you look for truth, you may find com­fort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either com­fort or truth only soft soap and wish­ful think­ing to begin, and in the end, despair. — C.S. Lewis
VoltaireCommon sense is quite rare. [Le sens commun est fort rare.] Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
William Shakespeare Cowards die many times before their death;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
— William Shakespeare (as Julius Caesar)
Edmund Burke All that is nec­es­sary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke
Thomas Jefferson All tyranny needs to gain a foot­hold is for people of good con­science to remain silent. — Thomas Jefferson
Martin NiemöllerIn Germany they came first for the Com­mu­nists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Com­mu­nist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade union­ists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade union­ist. Then they came for the Catho­lics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protes­tant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up. — Martin Niemöller [one of several versions of the quote that can be found]
Note: You can find a lot of quotes on the inter­net, including bogus and mis­attrib­uted quotes. I’ve tried to con­firm all of the quotes on this page either from the author’s pub­lished works or from mul­tiple inter­net sources. Even mul­tiple sources don’t guaran­tee authen­ticity; so, some­times I add a dis­claimer to a quote that is hard to authenti­cate but too good to omit.
Comments: 1. The Ford quote is often attrib­uted in­cor­rectly to Thomas Jefferson. [Text of speech] 2. Although Orwell was a social­ist, he showed a lot of com­mon sense in other ways. 3. I used to think of Sam Adams as a hot­head and rabble rouser, but his quota­tions show he was a thinker. He prob­ably didn’t deserve the bad rep­uta­tion he had for several years. 4. The (excellent) quote attrib­uted to Washington—for more than a century—is dis­puted. It’s a great quote by some­body. 5. Many people have said, Hope is not a strat­egy. Hillary Clinton said it during the 2008 cam­paign, and there is a book with that title. How­ever, the say­ing is older than either of these. 6. The Truman quote is some­times mis­attrib­uted to Ronald Reagan. I believe I first heard of it when Reagan used it, but appar­ently it origi­nated with Truman. 7. Murphy’s Law is usually mis­inter­preted. Murphy, an engi­neer, meant it as a serious state­ment of a prin­ciple of defen­sive design. 8. The quote attrib­uted to Silent Cal may be apoc­ryphal but I like it. 9. How can some­one be a fan of both Emerson and Mencken? I don’t know, but it is pos­sible. You might ask a sim­i­lar ques­tion about Voltaire and C.S. Lewis, but I’m not actually a fan of Voltaire. Liking a par­ticular quote doesn’t imply endorse­ment of the man’s whole philos­ophy. This also applies to Paine and Jefferson, and even more so to Shaw, who had some really kooky ideas.