QUOTES FROM PRESIDENTS
To use in Family Discussions
The following are quotes from some of our Presidents. Each one is worth thinking about. They are available to you to use during Discussion Time at your family evening meal. Choose a quote to read and ask each one in the family to expound on it and share how it relates to us today. If you have little children, you can simplify the statement to give them understanding.
George Washington, 1st President
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports… And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
John Adams, 2nd President
“The Declaration of Independence will be the most measurable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”
“But a constitution of government once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever.”
“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought if or us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right… and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an undisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers.”
“Virtue is not hereditary.”
“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice t protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”
“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”
“I had heard my father say that he never knew a piece of land run away or break.”
“The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical counsel, an oligarchical junta, and a single emperor.”
“Statesmen… may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”
John Adams aspiration was “to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and the prospect of two r three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them.
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President
“When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.”
“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are… the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
“We shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life (expectancy) of the majority.”
“The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.”
James Madison, 4th President
“What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external or internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficult lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
James Monroe, 5th President
“Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all - liberty!”
John Quincy Adams, 6th President
"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."
“The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”
“Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual power, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its number the most powerful nation.”
Andrew Jackson, 7th President
“All who profess Christianity believe in a Savior, and that by and though Him we must be saved.”
“There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection and, as Heaven does it rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.”
Martin Van Buren, 8th President
"It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't."
"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."
"There is a power in public opinion in this country—and I thank God for it: for it is the most honest and best of all powers—which will not tolerate an incompetent or unworthy man to hold in his weak or wicked hands the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens."
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President
“All history has proved that only those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
“That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
“Property is the fruit of labor… property is desirable … is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and built one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”
“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."
Andrew Johnson, 17th President
“Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribe for our motto: ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever,’ and exclaim: Christ first, our country next.”
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President
“Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President
“I am a firm believer in the Divine teachings, perfect example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I believe also in the Holy Scriptures as the revealed Word of God to the world for its enlightenment and salvation.”
William McKinley, 25th President
"Unlike any other nation, here the people rule, and their will is the supreme law.” ~ William McKinley
Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, 26th President
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
“In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at, or ignored their Christian duties, is a community on the rapid down-grade.”
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done."
"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger."
Woodrow Wilson, 28h President
“The Bible… is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God and spiritual nature and need of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation.” “Without God the world would be a maze without a clue.”
Warren Gamaliel Harding, 28th President
“I have always believed in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, whereby they have become the expression to man of the Word and Will of God. “
“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.”
Calvin Coolidge, 30th President
“We do not need more intellectual power; we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand.”
“The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”
Herbert Hoover, 31st President
“Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is the Bible; on the political side, the Constitution.”
"A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents."
Harry S. Truman, 33rd President
“The basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and S. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a… government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”
“A person who is fundamentally honest doesn’t need a code of ethics. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are all the ethical code anybody needs.”
Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President
“Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th President
“Today, prayer is still a powerful force in America, and our faith in God is a mighty source of strength. Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are ‘one nation under God,’ and our currency bears the motto, ‘In God we Trust.’ The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril.”
“The frustrating thing is that those who attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom, and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.”
“How can limited government and fiscal restraint be equated with lack of compassion for the poor? How can a tax break that puts a little more money in the weekly paychecks of working people be seen as an attack on the needy? Since when do we in America believe that our society is made up of two diametrically opposed classes—one rich, one poor--both in a permanent state of conflict and neither able to get ahead except at the expense of the other? Since when do we in America accept this alien and discredited theory of social and class warfare? Since when do we in America endorse the politics of envy and division?”
“Government is like a big baby—an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”
“Freedom 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.”
"If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."
“The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas--a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are... I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”