A great deal can be understood about our country's history by reading our founding fathers quotes. Quotes from the founding fathers are relevant even today.
"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" - Thomas Jefferson
If you have a favorite Founding Father quote that you'd like to add, please use the "Add Your Quote" form at the bottom of the page.
Those words could have been written for the new Tea Party movement that is resisting the policies of the Obama administration. Founding fathers quotes are often used on signs during protests and at tea party rallies. So many quotations from our founders could so easily apply to today's world.
"A people... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.' - George Washington
Washington's words above express, to me, the essence of America - the freedom to achieve our dreams by determination and hard work, through commerce. Over the years, Americans have contributed so many new ideas, products and technologies that all started with one persons dream, followed by hard work and the freedom to pursue that dream.
The founding fathers quotes listed below illustrate how little has changed in American since her founding. Their words, spoken and written so eloquently, are as important today as they were in the late 1700's. Founding fathers quotes are timeless and inspirational, and wise quotes from American history will remain so for years to come.
John Hancock, president of the Continental
Congress at the time, was the first to sign the Declaration
of Independence. He signed his name very large and
prominently on the document, leading to the commonly used phrase "Put your John Hancock here" when referring to signing your name.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." - Samuel Adams
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States." - Noah Webster
"Give me liberty or give me death." - Patrick Henry
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." - Patrick Henry
"The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men." - Samuel Adams
"The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions. " - John Hancock
"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." - James Madison
"A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation." - Thomas Paine
"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired." - Alexander Hamilton
"It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions" - Samuel Adams
"A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support." - Thomas Paine
"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." - Samuel Adams
"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character...." - Noah Webster
"It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused." - John Jay
"(T)he foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; ...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
"By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime." - Benjamin Rush
"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." - Thomas Jefferson
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government." - Patrick Henry
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson
"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." - John Adams
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." - Thomas Jefferson
"I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy." - Thomas Jefferson
"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare... they may appoint teachers in every state... The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America." - James Madison
"A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins" - Benjamin Franklin
"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." - Thomas Jefferson
"The Tenth Amendment is the foundation of the Constitution." - Thomas Jefferson
"The ultimate authority...resides in the people alone." - James Madison
"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." - Thomas Jefferson
"I hope a tax will be preferred [to a loan which threatens to saddle us with a perpetual debt], because it will awaken the attention of the people and make reformation and economy the principle of the next election. The frequent recurrence of this chastening operation can alone restrain the propensity of governments to enlarge expense beyond income." - Thomas Jefferson
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." - Ben Franklin
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Startling Founding Fathers Quotes
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What a poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass is Tom Paine's Common Sense.
-- John Adams
"(Paine's idea of government) is so democratical,...