Honesty, Integrity, and Public Discourse

The country is better off tranquilly considering its blessings and merits, and earnestly striving to secure more of them, than it would be in nursing hostile bitterness about its deficiencies and faults.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography


Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Adams, in Defense of the British Soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, December 4, 1770


Men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.

Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, December 1, 1862


I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801


It is a great advantage to a President, and a great source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.  When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography


A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1953


A man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard M. Johnson, 1808


It would be exceedingly easy to set the country all by the ears and foment hatreds and jealousies, which, by destroying faith and confidence, would help nobody and harm everybody.  The end would be the destruction of all progress.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography


I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances are.

Abraham Lincoln, letter to George E. Pickett, Feb. 22, 1841


Bemoaning the evil will not drive it back, and accusing fingers will not shrink government.

Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative


The right thing to do never requires any subterfuges, it is always simple and direct.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography


It is better not to press a candidacy too much, but to let it develop on its own merits without artificial stimulation.  If the people want a man they will nominate him, if they do not want him he had best let the nomination go to another.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography


The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

Frederick Douglass, speech on the twenty-third anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (April 1885)


I have seen a great many attempts at political strategy in my day and elaborate plans made to encompass the destruction of this or that public man.  I cannot now think of any that did not react with overwhelming force upon the perpetrators, sometimes destroying them and sometimes giving their proposed victim an opportunity to demonstrate his courage, strength and soundness, which increased his standing with the people and raised him to higher office.  There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed.

Calvin Coolidge, Autobiography