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Founders' Quote Database

George Washington

First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: Virtue
[T]here exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Virtue
`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.

George Washington

letter to John Armstrong — 1788
Category: Character
[T]he first transactions of a nation, like those of an individual upon his first entrance into life make the deepest impression, and are to form the leading traits in its character.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Virtue
Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human Nature.

George Washington

letter to the Officers of the Army — 1783
Category: Poverty
Can you then consent to be the only sufferers by this revolution, and retiring from the field, grow old in poverty, wretchedness and contempt? 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? If you can--GO--and carry with you the jest of tories and scorn of whigs--the ridicule, and what is worse, the pity of the world. Go, starve, and be forgotten!

George Washington

letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia — 1789
Category: Religious Liberty
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 worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.

George Washington

letter to the Members of the New Church in Baltimore — 1793
Category: Religious Liberty
We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. 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.

George Washington

General Orders — 1783
Category: War for Independence
Happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabrick of Freedom and Empire on the broad basis of Independency; who have assisted in protecting the rights of humane nature and establishing an Asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions.

George Washington

First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: Virtue
There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that 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.

George Washington

First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: Virtue
[T]he 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.

George Washington

Circular letter to the States — 1783
Category: International Relations
[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just.

George Washington

letter to Robert Lewis — 1799
Category: Slavery
I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species...and to disperse the families I have an aversion.

George Washington

letter to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia — 1795
Category: Education
[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.

George Washington

letter to Marquis de Lafayette — 1786
Category: Slavery
[Y]our late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view to emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country; but I despair of seeing it.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: International Relations
Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

George Washington

Eighth Annual Message to Congress — 1796
Category: Agriculture
It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage.

George Washington

Message to the House of Representatives — 1793
Category: Budget
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.

George Washington

letter to Lawrence Lewis — 1797
Category: Slavery
I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see a policy of a gradual Abolition of Slavery.

George Washington

letter to Marquis de Lafayette — 1785
Category: Slavery
The scheme, my dear Marqs. which you propose as a precedent, to encourage the emancipation of the black people of this Country from that state of Bondage in wch. they are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your Heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work.

George Washington

letter to Robert Morris — 1786
Category: Slavery
[T]here is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of [slavery].

George Washington

letter to Charles Pettit — 1788
Category: Advice
[T]he great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm.

George Washington

letter to David Stuart — 1790
Category: Power
I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of every Power in Europe.

George Washington

letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island — 1790
Category: Citizenship
The citizens of the United States of America have the right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of citizens that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

George Washington

Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland — 1783
Category: Immigration
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.

George Washington

Circular to the States — 1783
Category: War for Independence
It is yet to be decided whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.

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