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Quotations on America and Americans

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This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing goverment, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

~ Abraham Lincoln

- First Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1861

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

- The Building of the Ship, 1849

The country's honor must be upheld at home and abroad.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only hundred percent Americanism.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

- speech, July 19, 1918

The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.

~ Thomas Jefferson

- letter to Chandler Price, Feb. 28, 1807

Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.

~ Thomas Jefferson

- Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-1785

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville

I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken a stronger hold on the affections of men.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville

- Democracy in America, 1835-39

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell the truth.

~ H.L. Mencken

- quoted in Alistair Cooke, ed., The Vintage Mencken, 1955

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

~ H.L. Mencken

I think we Americans tend to put too high a price on unanimity, as if there were something dangerous and illegitimate about honest differences of opinion honestly expressed by honest men.

~ J. William Fulbright

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.

~ John F. Kennedy

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.

~ John F. Kennedy

America is a country of young men.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Old Age in Society and Solitude, 1870

The less America looks abroad, the grander its promise.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

We must be the great arsenal of democracy.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

- radio speech, Dec. 29, 1940

America.... It is a fabulous country, the only fabulous country; it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time.

~ Thomas Wolfe

America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

~ Arnold Joseph Toynbee

Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich.

~ Robert Frost

There is a New America every morning when we wake up. It is upon us whether we will it or not.

~ Adlai E. Stevenson

Americans are suckers for good news.

~ Adlai E. Stevenson

- speech, June 8, 1958

I've said many a time that I think the Un-American Activities Committee in the House of Representatives was the most un-American thing in America!

~ Harry S. Truman

If she [America] forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution.

~ Carl Sandburg

Of nothing [in the U.S.] are you allowed to get the real odor or savor. Everything is sterilized and wrapped in cellophane.

~ Henry Miller

- Dr. Souchon: Surgeon-Painter in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, 1945

America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.

~ Woodrow Wilson

The interesting and inspiring thing about America is that she asks nothing for herself except what she has a right to ask for humanity itself.

~ Woodrow Wilson

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.

~ Bill Vaughan

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

~ Bill Clinton

America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

~ Louis D. Brandeis

Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.

~ Carl Schurz

I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.

~ Samuel Johnson

- in James Boswell, Life of Johnson, April 15, 1778

For the American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.

~ Will Rogers

The chief business of the American people is business.

~ Calvin Coolidge

- speech, Jan 17, 1925

American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver's license age than at voting age.

~ Marshall McLuhan

America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.

~ Georges Clemenceau

There are no second acts in American lives.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

- The Last Tycoon, notes, 1941

America is a willingness of the heart.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

If when the chips are down the United States acts like a pitiful helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.

~ Richard M. Nixon

- speech, Apr. 30, 1970

The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic.

~ Horace Walpole

- letter to Horace Mann, Nov. 24, 1774

God bless the USA, so large
So friendly, and so rich.

~ W.H. Auden

- On the Circuit, 1941

Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
Time's noblest offspring is the last.

~ George Berkeley

- Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America, 1752

They knew they were pilgrims.

~ William Bradford

- History of the Plymouth Plantation, written 1630-51

The American system of rugged individualism.

~ Herbert Hoover

- speech, Oct. 22, 1928

America ... a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.

~ Herbert Hoover

Let our object be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.

~ Daniel Webster

I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American.

~ Daniel Webster

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can describe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizen to confess by word or act their faith therein.

~ Robert H. Jackson

- Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia Department of Education v. Barnette, 1943

Americans are impatient with memory.

~ Jamaica Kincaid

- Alien Soil in The New Yorker, June 21, 1993

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, a killer.

~ D.H. Lawrence

- Cooper's Leatherstocking Novels in Studies in Classic American Literature, 1922

Every time Europe looks across the Atlantic to see the American Eagle, it observes only the rear end of an ostrich.

~ H.G. Wells

If there is a country in the world where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America.

~ Thomas Paine

We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny.

~ William Mckinley

- remark to his presidential aide George Cortelyou, 1898

Don't sell America short.

~ J.P. Morgan

- popularized version of one of his favorite sayings, 1980s

Our manifest destiny is to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.

~ John L. O'Sullivan

- United States Magazine, July-Aug. 1845

In America, public opnion is the leader.

~ Francis Perkins

- People at work, 1934

Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris.

~ Thomas Gold Appleton

Whoever wants to know the hearts and minds of America had better learn baseball.

~ Jacques Barzun

When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, 'Ours'.

~ Vine Deloria, Jr.

The true America is the Middle West, and Columbus discovered nothing at all except another Europe.

~ W.L. George

The greatest American superstition is a belief in facts.

~ Hermann Keyserling

You will find the Americans much like the Greeks found the Romans: great, big, vulgar, bustling people more vigorous than we are and also more idle, with more unspoiled virtues but also more corrupt.

~ Harold Macmillan

America and its demons; Europe and its ghosts.

~ Le Monde

Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.

~ Lewis Mumford

In America there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. This is what makes America what it is.

~ Gertrude Stein

America has meant to the world a land in which the common man who means well and is willing to do his part has access to all the necessary means of a good life.

~ Alvin Saunders Johnson

America, thou half-brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land.

~ Philip James Bailey

Americans never quit.

~ Douglas MacArthur

If there is one word that describes our form of society in America, it may be the word - voluntary.

~ Lyndon Baines Johnson

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest that's sleeping in the unplowed ground.

~ Lyndon Baines Johnson

America is not merely a nation but a nation of nations.

~ Lyndon Baines Johnson

America is the country where you buy a lifetime supply of aspirin for one dollar and use it up in two weeks.

~ John Barrymore

The metaphor of the melting pot is unfortunate and misleading. A more accurate analogy would be a salad bowl, for, though the salad is an entity, the lettuce can still be distinguished from the chicory, the tomatoes from the cabbage.

~ Carl N. Degler

I would rather see the United States respected than loved by other nations.

~ Henry Cabot Lodge

But America is a great, unwieldy Body. Its Progress must be slow.... Like a Coach and six - the swiftest Horses must be slackened and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even Pace.

~ John Quincy Adams

Ideals are the 'incentive payment' of practical men. The opportunity to strive for them is the currency that has enriched America through the centuries.

~ Robert E. Hannegan

Why is it, whenever a group of internationalists get together, they always decide that Uncle Sam must be the goat?

~ Bertrand H. Snell

If the American dream is for Americans only, it will remain our dream and never be our destiny.

~ René de Visme Williamson

Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every country.

~ Sinclair Lewis

I am certain that, however great the hardships and the trials which loom ahead, our America will endure and the cause of human freedom will triumph.

~ Cordell Hull

Before you guys came along, we hunted and fished when we wanted to, the women did all the work, and we paid no taxes. And you thought you could improve on this system? Indians have to deal with four "B.C."s: Before Christ, Before Columbus, Before Custer, and before Costner."

~ Adam Fortunate Eagle

- Native American Artist, World Affairs Conference, U. of Colorado 1993

You cannot conquer America.

~ William Pitt

- Earl of Chatham, speech Nov. 18, 1777

All races and religions: that's America to me.

~ Earl Robinson

- quoted in The New York Time, obituary, July 23, 1991

The Constitution does not provide for first- and second-class citizens.

~ Wendell Willkie

- An American Program, 1944

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.

~ John Winthrop

- sermon on board the Arbella, 1630

America is God's crucible, the great melting pot.

~ Israel Zangwill

- The Melting Pot, 1908

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