George Washington Quotes

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. We must consult our means rather than our wishes. Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all. 99% of failures come from people who make excuses. Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. 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. To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country. Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those be well-tried before you give them your confidence. It is better to be alone than in bad company. Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice. But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with. I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built. 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, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to appellation. Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages. There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality. If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. Worry is the intrest paid by those who borrow trouble. Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company. Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world. A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country? Real men despise battle, but will never run from it. In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy. My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her. Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession. The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved. A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies. A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool. To persevere in one's duty, and be silent is the best answer to calumny. We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.

George Washington

1732 - 1799