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


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 luster which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.

letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, January 9, 1790


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

Circular to the States, May 9, 1753


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?

letter to the Officers of the Army, March 12, 1783


Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.

Farewell Address, September 19, 1796


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


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 worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.

letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789


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


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


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


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


Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.

First Annual Message, January 8, 1790


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

The Rules of Civility, Circa 1748


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


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


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


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


No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

Farewell Address, September 19, 1796


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.

letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795


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


To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

First Annual Message, January 8, 1790


In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.

letter to the Members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793


We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.

letter to John Jay, August 15, 1786