Washington's Birthday

George Washington Quotes

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquenceóit is force."

"I conceive that a knowledge of books is the basis on which all other knowledge rests."

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

"Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder."

"I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."

"Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go."

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States."

"I am just going. Have me decently buried and do not let my body be into a vault in less than two days after I am dead. Do you understand me? . . . 'Tis well." (Washington's last words)

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."

"My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth."

"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible."

"Shift that fat ass, Harry. But slowly, or you'll swamp the damned boat." (Washington to General Henry Knox while entering the boat that was to cross the Delaware River)

"Precedents are dangerous things; let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the Constitution be reprehended: If defective let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence."

"I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent."

"There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy."

"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company."

"It is easy to make acquaintances but very difficult to shake them off, however irksome and unprofitable they are found after we have once committed ourselves to them. Be courteous to all but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth."

"As the sword was the last resort for the preservation of our liberties, so it ought to be the first to be laid aside when those liberties are firmly established."

"Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of international error, I am, nevertheless, too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors . . ."

"There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery]. But there is only one proper way and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by legislative authority; and for this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting."

"Relying on its [Congress'] kindness in this, as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate, with pleasing expectations that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free governmentóthe ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours, and dangers."

"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness."