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Founders' Quote Database

George Washington

letter to James Warren — 1779
Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!

George Washington

letter to Gouverneur Morris — 1795
Category: The Presidency
The executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity.

George Washington

letter to Benjamin Harrison — 1784
A people...who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all.

George Washington

letter to James Madison — 1788
Category: Public Service
The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations.

George Washington

Public Speaking — 1787
Category: Public Speaking
Speak seldom, but to important subjects, except such as particularly relate to your constituents, and, in the former case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject.

George Washington

Farewell Address — 1796
Category: Taxation
No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington

fragments of the Draft First Inaugural Address — 1789
The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.

George Washington

letter to George Chapman — 1784
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.

George Washington

letter to Francis Van der Kamp — 1788
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.

George Washington

letter to Pierre Auguste Adet — 1796
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.

George Washington

letter to Alexander Hamilton — 1796
The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.

George Washington

letter to Marquis de Lafayette — 1779
The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice.

George Washington

Circular to the States — 1753
Category: Power
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.

George Washington

letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham — 1790
Category: The Presidency
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 Benedict Arnold — 1775
Category: Public Service
Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.

George Washington

First Inaugural Address — 1789
Category: Public Service
I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.

George Washington

letter to Partick Henry — 1795
Category: International Relations
My ardent desire is, and my aim has been...to comply strictly with all our engagements foreign and domestic; but to keep the U States free from political connections with every other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.

George Washington

fifth annual address to Congress — 1793
Category: National Defense
If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; 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.

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