Presidential Wit and Wisdom

Forty-four Forty-three* men have held the office of President of the United States, and although the quality has varied, they’ve all managed to say at least something wise or witty.  So I give you Presidential Quotes!

(*President Obama is number 44 because Cleveland grabbed two, non-consecutive spots. Greedy.)

1. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington

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2. “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” John Adams
3. “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson
4. “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” James Madison
5. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.” James Monroe
6. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  John Quincy Adams
7a. “Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error” Andrew Jackson
8. “For myself, therefore, I desire to declare that the principle that will govern me in the high duty to which my country calls me is a strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution as it was designed by those who framed it.” Martin Van Buren
9. “There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.” William Henry Harrison
10. “I can never consent to being dictated to.” John Tyler
11. “Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the President of a party only, but of the whole people of the United States.” James Knox Polk
12. “Upon its preservation must depend our own happiness and that of countless generations to come. Whatever dangers may threaten it, I shall stand by it and maintain it in its integrity to the full extent of the obligations imposed and the power conferred upon me by the Constitution.” Zachary Taylor
13. “The man who can look upon a crisis without being willing to offer himself upon the altar of his country is not fit for public trust.” Millard Fillmore
14. “A Republic without parties is a complete anomaly. The histories of all popular governments show absurd is the idea of their attempting to exist without parties.” Franklin Pierce
15. “Whatever the result may be, I shall carry to my grave the consciousness that I at least meant well for my country.” James Buchanan
16. “Whatever you are, be a good one. ” Abraham Lincoln
17. “Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide.” Andrew Johnson
18. “Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor.” Ulysses S. Grant
19. ““Virtue is defined to be mediocrity, of which either extreme is vice. ” Rutherford Hayes
20. “”The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”” James Garfield
21. “The extravagant expenditure of public money is an evil not to be measured by the value of that money to the people who are taxed for it.” Chester Arthur
22. “A government for the people must depend for its success on the intelligence, the morality, the justice, and the interest of the people themselves.” Grover Cleveland
23. “The indiscriminate denunciation of the rich is mischievous…. No poor man was ever made richer or happier by it. It is quite as illogical to despise a man because he is rich as because he is poor. Not what a man has, but what he is, settles his class. We can not right matters by taking from one what he has honestly acquired to bestow upon another what he has not earned.” Benjamin Harrison
24. ““There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice” Grover Cleveland again, that presidential, non-sequentially serving anomaly.
25. “”Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve.”” William McKinley
26. “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” Theodore Roosevelt
27. “Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.” William Taft
28. “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.” Woodrow Wilson
29. “It is my conviction that the fundamental trouble with the people of the United States is that they have gotten too far away from Almighty God.” Warren Harding
30. “If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me I cannot see any way in which I would ever have made progress.” Calvin Coolidge
31. “Freedom requires that government keep the channels of competition and opportunity open, prevent monopolies, economic abuse and domination.” Herbert Hoover
32. “Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists” Franklin Roosevelt
33. “I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: ‘Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.’ I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have – When he gives everything that is in him to do the job he has before him. That is all you can ask of him and that is what I have tried to do.” Harry Truman
34. “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.”” Dwight Eisenhower
35. “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” John F. Kennedy
36. “The separation of church and state is a source of strength, but the conscience of our nation does not call for separation between men of state and faith in the Supreme Being.” Lyndon Johnson
37. “Government enterprise is the most inefficient and costly way of producing jobs.” Richard Nixon
38. “The Constitution is the bedrock of all our freedoms; guard and cherish it; keep honor and order in your own house; and the republic will endure.” Gerald Ford
39. “America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America.” James Carter
40. “Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put in this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.” Ronald Reagan
41. “We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.” George H.W. Bush
42. “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.” William Jefferson Clinton.
43. “The greatest source of America’s generosity is not our government; it’s the good heart of the American people.” George W. Bush
44. “As Americans, we can take enormous pride in the fact that courage has been inspired by our own struggle for freedom, by the tradition of democratic law secured by our forefathers and enshrined in our Constitution. It is a tradition that says all men are created equal under the law and that no one is above it.” Barack Obama
Here’s the list of presidential quotes from 2011. Enjoy your day of mattress and appliance buying!

One response to “Presidential Wit and Wisdom”

  1. […] if you want to be more indiscriminate in your presidential honoring, you can read a couple of posts of quotes from every president. You could also read the section of the Constitution describing the […]

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