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Read a George Washington Quote

Find a George Washington Quote from 1788, the time when the states were considering whether or not to ratify the new US Constitution. These quotes are taken from Washington's own personal letters. Many of them are from correspondence between he and James Madison and the Marquis de Lafayette. He shares his opinions about the new Constitution and his hopes that it will be adopted by the states. Other topics covered include religious tolerance, what makes for good character and his desire for peace among nations. Each George Washington Quote is listed in chronological order and there are links to more before and after this time period below.

George Washington

George
Washington

Read a George Washington Quote

"I have the pleasure, however, to inform you, that there is the greatest prospect of its being adopted by the people. It has its opponents, as any system formed by the wisdom of man would undoubtedly have; but they bear but a small proportion to its friends, and differ among themselves in their objections." - Letter to William Gordon, January 1, 1788

"To know the affinity of tongues seems to be one step towards promoting the affinity of nations. Would to god, the harmony of nations was an object that lay nearest to the hearts of Sovereigns; and that the incentives to peace (of which commerce and facility of understanding each other are not the most inconsiderable) might be daily encreased! Should the present or any other efforts of mine to procure information respecting the different dialects of the Aborigines in America, serve to reflect a ray of light on the obscure subject of language in general, I shall be highly gratified. For I love to indulge the contemplation of human nature in a progressive state of improvement and melioration; and if the idea would not be considered visionary and chimerical, I could fondly hope, that the present plan of the great Potentate of the North might, in some measure, lay the foundation for that assimilation of language, which, producing assimilation of manners and interests, which, should one day remove many of the causes of hostility from amongst mankind." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, January 10, 1788

"It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the Delegates from so many different States... should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well founded objections." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

"The government... can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, and oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any other despotic or oppressive form so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

"It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction of tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted, than any government hitherto instituted among mortals hath possessed." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

"We are not to expect perfection in this world; but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made some progress in the science of government." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

"I would not be understood my dear Marquis to speak of consequences which may be produced, in the revolution of ages, by corruption of morals, profligacy of manners, and listlessness for the preservation of the natural and unalienable rights of mankind; nor of the successful usurpations that may be established at such an unpropitious juncture, upon the ruins of liberty, however providently guarded and secured, as these are contingencies against which no human prudence can effectually provide. It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed Constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction of Tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted, than any Government hitherto instituted among mortals, hath possessed. We are not to expect perfection in this world; but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made some progress in the science of government. Should that which is now offered to the People of America, be found n experiment less perfect than it can be made, a Constitutional door is left open for its amelioration." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

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General George Washington

George
Washington

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." - Letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788

"The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations." - Letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788

"So far as I am capable of judging, the principles upon which the society is founded and the rules laid down for its government, appear to be well calculated to promote so laudable and arduous an undertaking, and you will permit me to add that if an event so long and so earnestly desired as that of converting the Indians to Christianity and consequently to civilization, can be effected, the Society of Bethlehem bids fair to bear a very considerable part in it." - Letter to Rev. John Ettwein of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to the Heathen, May 2, 1788

"I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong." - Letter to Francis Van der Kamp, May 28, 1788

"Next Monday the Convention in Virginia will assemble; we have still good hopes of its adoption here: though by no great plurality of votes. South Carolina has probably decided favourably before this time. The plot thickens fast. A few short weeks will determine the political fate of America for the present generation, and probably produce no small influence on the happiness of society through a long succession of ages to come." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, May 28, 1788

"Men of real talents in Arms have commonly approved themselves patrons of the liberal arts and friends to the poets, of their own as well as former times. In some instances by acting reciprocally, heroes have made poets, and poets heroes." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, May 28, 1788

"Mr. Barlow is considered by those who are good Judges to be a genius of the first magnitude; and to be one of those Bards who hold the keys of the gate by which Patriots, Sages and Heroes are admitted to immortality. Such are your Antient Bards who are both the priest and door-keepers to the temple of fame. And these, my dear Marquis, are no vulgar functions. Men of real talents in Arms have commonly approved themselves patrons of the liberal arts and friends to the poets of their own as well as former times. In some instances by acting reciprocally, heroes have made poets, and poets heroes. Alexander the Great is said to have been enraptured with the Poems of Homer and to have lamented that he had not a rival muse to celebrate his actions. Julius Caesar is well known to have been a man of a highly cultivated understanding and taste. Augustus was the professed and magnificent rewarder of poetical merit, nor did he lose the return of having his achievements immortalized in song. The Augustan age is proverbial for intellectual refinement and elegance in composition; in it the harvest of laurels and bays was wonderfully mingled together. The age of your Louis the fourteenth, which produced a multitude of great Poets and great Captains, will never be forgotten; nor will that of Queen Ann in England, for the same cause, ever cease to reflect a lustre upon the kingdom. Although we are yet in our cradle, as a nation, I think the efforts of the human mind with us are sufficient to refute, by incontestable facts, the doctrines of those who have asserted that every thing degenerates in America." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, May 28, 1788

How about another George Washington Quote?

"It is a wonder to me, there should be found a single monarch, who does not realize that his own glory and felicity must depend on the prosperity and happiness of his People. How easy is it for a sovereign to do that which shall not only immortalize his name, but attract the blessings of millions." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, June 18, 1788

"There seems to be a great deal of bloody work cut out for this summer in the North of Europe. If war, want and plague are to desolate those huge armies that are assembled, who that has the feelings of a man can refrain from shedding a tear over the miserable victims of Regal Ambition? It is really a strange thing that there should not be room enough in the world for men to live, without cutting one anothers throats." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, June 18, 1788

"I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, June 19, 1788

"If I was a young man, just preparing to begin the world, or if advanced in life, and had a family to make a provision for, I know of no country where I should rather fix my habitation than in some part of that region (the West)." - Letter to Richard Henderson, June 19, 1788

"How pitiful, in the eye of reason and religion, is that false ambition which desolates the world with fire and sword for the purposes of conquest and fame; when compared to the milder virtues of making our neighbours and our fellow men as happy as their frail conditions and perishable natures will permit them to be." - Letter to Rev. John Lathrop, June 22, 1788

"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass." - Letter to Benjamin Lincoln, June 29, 1788

"We may, with a kind of grateful and pious exultation, trace the finger of Providence through those dark and mysterious events, which first induced the States to appoint a general Convention and then led them one after another into an adoption of the system recommended by that general Convention; thereby in all human probability, laying a lasting foundation for tranquility and happiness." - Letter to Jonathan Trumbull, July 20, 1788

"The great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm." - Letter to Charles Pettit, August 16, 1788

"Every real patriot must have lamented that private feuds and local politics should have unhappily insinuated themselves into, and in some measure obstructed the discussion of a great national question. A just opinion, that the People when rightly informed will decide in a proper manner, ought certainly to have prevented all intemperate or precipitate proceedings on a subject of so much magnitude; nor should a regard to common decency have suffered the zealots in the minority to stigmatize the authors of the Constitution as Conspirators and Traitors." - Letter to Charles Pettit, August 16, 1788

"For myself, I expected not to be exempted from obloquy any more than others. It is the lot of humanity. But if the shafts of malice had been aimed at me in ever so pointed a manner on this occasion, shielded as I was by a consciousness of having acted in conformity to what I believed my duty, they would have fallen blunted from their mark." - Letter to Charles Pettit, August 22, 1788

"I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain, what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man." - Letter to Alexander Hamilton, August 28, 1788


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