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Founders' Quote Database

George Washington

General Orders — 1776
Category: War for Independence
[T]he hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty - that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.

George Washington

letter to Chevalier de LaLuzerne — 1786
Category: Constitution
[T]he foundation of a great Empire is laid, and I please myself with a persuasion, that Providence will not leave its work imperfect.

George Washington

letter to Philip Schuyler — 1777
Category: Advice
We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Patriotism
The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.

George Washington

General Orders — 1776
Category: Patriotism
Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions - The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

George Washington

letter to Gouverneur Morris — 1795
Category: International Relations
My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfil our own engagements. To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so.

George Washington

as quoted by Gouverneur Morris in Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 — 1787
Category: Constitutional Convention
It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.

George Washington

General Orders — 1776
Category: Courage
We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our won Country's Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Education
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.

George Washington

circular letter of farewell to the Army — 1783
Category: God
I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

George Washington

to the Annual meeting of Quakers — 1789
Category: Religious Liberty
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.

George Washington

Thanksgiving Proclamation — 1789
Category: God
It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.

George Washington

letter to Catherine MacAuly Graham — 1790
Category: Political Leaders
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 lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.

George Washington

letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport — 1790
Category: God
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

George Washington

draft of First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: Equality
I rejoice in a belief that intellectual light will spring up in the dark corners of the earth; that freedom of enquiry will produce liberality of conduct; that mankind will reverse the absurd position that the many were, made for the few; and that they will not continue slaves in one part of the globe, when they can become freemen in another.

George Washington

letter to Burwell Bassett — 1785
Category: Marriage
I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one's life, the foundation of happiness or misery.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Patriotism
Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Politics and Parties
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.

George Washington

letter to David Humphreys — 1785
Category: Immigration
[L]et the poor the needy and oppressed of the Earth, and those who want Land, resort to the fertile plains of our western country, the second land of Promise, and there dwell in peace, fulfilling the first and great commandment.

George Washington

letter to John Adams — 1794
Category: Immigration
[T]he policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws: in a word, soon become one people.

George Washington

General Orders — 1776
Category: Patriotism
The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty - that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.

George Washington

First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: The People
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Liberty
Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

George Washington

letter to Edward Carrington — 1796
Category: Opinion
It is on great occasions only, and after time has been given for cool and deliberate reflection, that the real voice of the people can be known.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Opinion
In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

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