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Quotes About George Washington

Wikipedia Summary for George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Previously, he led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War for Independence. He presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the U.S. Constitution and a federal government. Washington has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

Washington's first public office was serving as official Surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia, from 1749 to 1750. Subsequently, he received his initial military training and a command with the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War. He was later elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was named a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he was appointed Commanding General of the Continental Army. He commanded American forces, allied with France, in the defeat and surrender of the British during the Siege of Yorktown. He resigned his commission after the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Washington played a key role in adopting and ratifying the Constitution and was then twice elected president by the Electoral College. He implemented a strong, well-financed national government while remaining impartial in a fierce rivalry between cabinet members Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During the French Revolution, he proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty. He set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title "Mr. President", and his Farewell Address is widely regarded as a pre-eminent statement on republicanism.

Washington owned slaves, and, to preserve national unity, he supported measures passed by Congress to protect slavery. He later became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed his slaves in a 1799 will. He endeavored to assimilate Native Americans into the Anglo-American culture but combated indigenous resistance during instances of violent conflict. He was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, and he urged broad religious freedom in his roles as general and president. Upon his death, he was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". He has been memorialized by monuments, art, geographical locations, including the national capital, stamps, and currency, and many scholars and polls rank him among the greatest U.S. presidents. On March 13, 1978, Washington was promoted to General of the Armies.


Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man.



And let us with Caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.



The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.



Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.



The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.



Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.



If you need to start by focusing on how your attitude appears, then appear relaxed and carefree, as if you have time to stop and listen to others.



By appearing relaxed and carefree, you not only make other people feel welcome and valuable, but you also radiate the message, 'Of course, I don't look busy. I did it right the first time.'



The great mass of our citizens require only to understand matters rightly, to form right decisions.



It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.



We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity, representing our liberty.



99 Percent of failures come from people who make excuses.



Honesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a nation be just.



When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.



To be prepared for war is one of the most effective ways of preserving peace.



Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.



Our Constitution gives to bigotry no sanction.



There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and renders him fit for command, like a support that renders him independent of everybody but the State he serves.



Let no one go hungry away. If any of the kind of people should be in want of corn, supply their necessities, provided it does not encourage them in idleness.



We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.



System in all things should be aimed at; for in execution it renders every thing more easy.



Liberty is indeed little less than a name, where the Government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of society within the limits prescribed by the law, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyme.



But if we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little.



We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency. We expected to encounter many wants and distressed we must bear the present evils and fortitude.



Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.



A man's intentions should be allowed in some respects to plead for his actions.



George Washington did NOT say, I'll die on my feet before I'll live on my knees!
There is no known source of Washington saying this. Zapata, FDR, yes; not Washington.
I have a rundown of sources on this on my blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub.



Experience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the best calculated for their own good without the intervention of a coercive power.



If there was the same propensity in mankind for investigating the motives, as there is for censuring the conduct, of public characters, it would be found that the censure so freely bestowed is oftentimes unmerited and uncharitable.



A lottery is the perfect tax...laid only upon the willing.



To place any dependence upon militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff.

Longer Version:

To place any dependence upon Militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff ... If I was called upon to declare upon Oath , whether the Militia have been most serviceable or hurtful upon the whole; I should subscribe to the latter.



Men's minds are as variant as their faces. Where the motives of their actions are pure, the operation of the former is no more to be imputed to them as a crime, than the appearance of the latter; for both, being the work of nature, are alike unavoidable.



To secure respect to a neutral flag requires a naval force organized and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression.



The signal instances of Providential goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labors with complete success demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all good.



Patience is a noble virtue, and, when rightly exercised, does not fail of its reward.



The U.S. is a Government which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.



I consider it an indubitable mark of mean-spiritedness and pitiful vanity to court applause from the pen or tongue of man.



When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.



Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.



Purity of morals is the only sure foundation of public happiness in any country.



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.



As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.



Our conflict is not likely to cease so soon as every good man would wish. The measure of iniquity is not yet filled; and unless we can return a little more to first principles, and act a little more upon patriotic ground, I do not know when it will.

Longer Version:

Our conflict is not likely to cease so soon as every good man would wish. The measure of iniquity is not yet filled; and unless we can return a little more to first principles, and act a little more upon patriotic ground, I do not know when it will-or-what may be the issue of the contest. Speculation-peculation-engrossing-forestalling-with all their concomitants, afford too many melancholy proofs of the decay of public virtue; and too glaring instances of its being the interest and desire of too many, who would wish to be thought friends, to continue the war.



The pure and benign light of revelation has had a meliorating influence on mankind.



It is ... the citizens choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptable and miserable as a Nation. This is the time of their political probation; this is the moment when the eyes of the World are turned upon them.



Even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror.



There is no restraining men's tongues or pens when charged with a little vanity.





I never say anything of a man that I have the smallest scruple of saying to him.







Death...the abyss from where no traveler is permitted to return.



The last official act of any government is to loot the treasury.



Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.



Without virtue, and without integrity, the finest talents and the most brilliant accomplishments can never gain the respect, and conciliate the esteem, of the truly valuable part of mankind.



It's wonderful what we can do if we're always doing.





Peace with all the world is my sincere wish. I am sure it is our true policy, and am persuaded it is the ardent desire of the government.



Unhappy it is, though, to reflect that a brother's sword has been sheathed in a brother's breast and that the once-happy plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?



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.



Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government ... can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppresive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.



The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreebly to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.



Diffidence in an officer is a good mark because he will always endeavor to bring himself up to what he conceives to be the full line of his duty.



Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action: natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punishment.



No measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to its intrinsic importance, or to the general sentiment and wish of the Nation than to establish a systematic and effectual arrangement for the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt.



The situation of the general government, if it can be called a government, is shaken to its foundation, and liable to be overturned by every blast.



Being no bigot myself, I am disposed to indulge the professors of Christianity in the church that road to heaven which to them shall seem the most direct, plainest, easiest and least liable to exception.



Let me ask you, sir, when is the time for brave men to exert themselves in the cause of liberty and their country, if this is not?





A people contending for life and liberty are seldom disposed to look with a favorable eye upon either men or measures whose passions, interests or consequences will clash with those inestimable objects.



To anticipate and prevent disasterous contingencies would be the part of wisdom and patriotism.



Integrity and firmness is all I can promise; these, be the voyage long or short, never shall forsake me though I be deserted by all men. For of the consolations which are to be derived from these (under any circumstances) the world cannot deprive me.



Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all cases of passion admit reason to govern.





One of his officers, Henry Lee, summed up contemporary public opinion of Washington: First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.



The friendship I have conceived will not be impaired by absence; but it may be no unpleasing circumstance to brighten the chain by a renewal of the covenant.



To the efficacy and permanency of your union a government for the whole is indispensable.



We should amuse our evening hours of life in cultivating the tender plants, and bringing them to perfection, before they are transplanted to a happier clime.



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.



The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity.



Nothing is too extravagant to expect from men who conceive they are ungratefully and unjustly dealt by.



The executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity.



To constitute a dispute there must be two parties. To understand it well, both parties and all the circumstances must be fully heard; and to accommodate the differences, temper and mutual forbearance are requisite.



Our country's honor calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.



To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.



All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external happiness of elevated office.



A bad war is fought with a good mind.





The States separately have very inadequate ideas of the present danger. Party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day, whilst the concerns of the nation are secondary.





Longer Version:

I regret exceedingly that the disputes between the protestants and Roman Catholics should be carried to the serious alarming height mentioned in your letters. Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause; and I was not without hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy of the present age would have put an effectual stop to contentions of this kind.

Letter to Sir Edward Newenham, 22 June 1792.



My ardent desire is, and my aim has been, to comply strictly with all our engagements, foreign and domestic, but to keep the United States free from political connections with every other country; to see that they may be independent of all and under the influence of none.







Do not let anyone claim tribute of American patriotism if they even attempt to remove religion from politics.



I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should compel it, to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.





There is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money.



Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.





The liberality of sentiment toward each other, which marks every political and religious denomination of men in this country, stands unparalleled in the history of nations.





It is much easier at all times to prevent an evil than to rectify mistakes.





I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares.



Do not conceive that fine clothes make fine men any more than fine feathers make fine birds.

Longer Version:

Do not conceive that fine Clothes make fine Men, any more than fine feathers make fine Birds. A plain genteel dress is more admired and obtains more credit than lace and embroidery in the Eyes of the judicious and sensible.





The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.



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.



There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate, upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.



The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy.



I am for free commerce with all nations; political connection with none; and little or no diplomatic establishment.



No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm.



The foundation of a great Empire is laid, and I please myself with a persuasion, that Providence will not leave its work imperfect.



Father I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet.



In the appointments to the great offices of the government, my aim has been to combine geographical situation, and sometimes other considerations, with abilities and fitness of known characters.





It is an old adage that honesty is the best policy-this applies to public as well as private life-to States as well as individuals.



The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.



The foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principle of private morality.

Longer Version:

The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.


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