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
Martin Luther King, Jr.I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
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.