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Need a George Washington Quote?

Looking for a George Washington Quote? These quotes are from the period just before he assumes the presidency. They show that he really did not want to take the job, preferring to stay in retirement at his farm, Mount Vernon, but realizing that he must take the job if that was the desire of his country. Many of these quotes are taken from Washington's own personal letters and many come from his First Inaugural Address and the first draft he wrote. Each George Washington Quote is listed chronologically with links to more quotes at the bottom.

George Washington


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"But I trust in that Providence, which has saved us in six troubles yea in seven, to rescue us again from any imminent, though unseen, dangers. Nothing. However, on our part ought to be left undone." - Letter to Benjamin Lincoln, August 28, 1788

"The felicitations you offer on the present prospect of our public affairs are highly acceptable to me, and I entreat you to receive a reciprocation from my part. I can never trace the concatenation of causes, which led to these events, without acknowledging the mystery and admiring the goodness of Providence. To that superintending Power alone is our retraction from the brink of ruin to be attributed." - Letter to Annis Boudinot Stockton, August 31, 1788

"A good general government, without good morals and good habits, will not make us a happy People; and we shall deceive ourselves if we think it will." - Letter to Annis Boudinot Stockton, August 31, 1788

"While doing what my conscience informed me was right, as it respected my God, my Country and myself, I could despise all the party clamor and censure..." - Letter to Richard Henry Lee, September 22, 1788

"Though I prize, as I ought, the good opinion of my fellow citizens; yet, if I know myself, I would not seek Or retain popularity at the expense of one social duty or moral virtue." - Letter to Henry Lee, September 22, 1788

"How far I may ever be connected with its political affairs is altogether a matter of uncertainty to me. My heartfelt wishes, and, I would fain hope, the circumstances are opposed to it. I flatter myself my countrymen are so fully persuaded of my desire to remain in private life; that I am not without hopes and expectations of being left quietly to enjoy the repose, in which I am at present. Or, in all events, should it be their wish (as you suppose it will be) for me to come again on the Stage of public affairs, I certainly will decline it, if the refusal can be made consistently with what I conceive to be the dictates of propriety and duty. For the great Searcher of human hearts knows there is no wish in mine, beyond that of living and dying an honest man, on my own farm." - Letter to William Gordon, December 23, 1788

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George Washington Quote?

General George Washington


"For myself the delay (in assuming the office of the President) may be compared with a reprieve; for in confidence I assure you, with the world it would obtain little credit that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities and inclination which is necessary to manage the helm." - Letter to General Henry Knox, March, 1789

"Good company will always be found much less expensive than bad." - Letter to George Steptoe Washington, March 23, 1789

"A person who is anxious to be a leader of the fashion, or one of the first to follow it, will certainly appear in the eyes of judicious men to have nothing better than a frequent change of dress to recommend him to notice." - Letter to George Steptoe Washington, March 23, 1789

"Refrain from drink which is the source of all evil--and the ruin of half the workmen in this Country." - Letter to Thomas Green, March 31, 1789

"An aching head and trembling limbs, which are the inevitable effects of drinking, disincline the hands from work." - Letter to Thomas Green, March 31, 1789

"I rejoice in a belief that intellectual light will spring up in the dark corners of the earth; that freedom of enquiry will produce liberality of conduct; that mankind will reverse the absurd position that the many were, made for the few; and that they will not continue slaves in one part of the globe, when they can become freemen in another." - Draft of First Inaugural Address, April, 1789

"No compact among men... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." - Draft of First Inaugural Address, April, 1789

"The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting an inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other." - Draft of First Inaugural Address, April, 1789

"The mind is so formed in different persons as to contemplate the same object in different points of view. Hence originates the difference on questions of the greatest import, both human & divine. In all Institutions of the former kind, great allowances are doubtless to be made for the fallibility & imperfection of their authors. Although the agency I had in forming this system, and the high opinion I entertained of my Colleagues for their ability & integrity may have tended to warp my judgment in its favour; yet I will not pretend to say that it appears absolutely perfect to me, or that there may not be many faults which have escaped my discernment. I will only say, that, during and since the Session of the Convention, I have attentively heard and read every every oral & printed information on both sides of the question that could be procured. This long & laborious investigation, in which I endeavoured as far as the frailty of nature would permit to act with candour has resulted in a fixed belief that this Constitution, is really in its formation a government of the people; that is to say, a government in which all power is derived from, and at stated periods reverts to them--and that, in its operation, it is purely, a government of Laws made & executed by the fair substitutes of the people alone." - Draft of First Inaugural Address, April, 1789

How about another George Washington Quote?

"I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love." - First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." - First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

"The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world." - First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." - First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

"There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that 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." - First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

You can read the complete text of George Washington's First Inaugural Address of April 30, 1789 here.

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