Quotes on U.S. Patriotism, Liberty, Freedom, & More

“My patriotic heart beats red, white, and blue.” (Author unknown)

Be patriotic, 1918, Paul Stahr

Poster by Paul Stahr, 1918. Available in photo prints HERE. Or as an 11×17 Poster HERE.

Constitution and Government

That government is best which governs the least because its people discipline themselves. — attributed to Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence, in line with his beliefs but not sourced. 

But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. A change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution. — John Adams, 2nd U.S. President. (From a letter to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818)

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people. — Alexander Hamilton, American political Thinker, Statesman, Lawyer, Soldier, and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States (Federalist Papers)

The people are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it. —  Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (From September 1859 speech during Lincoln’s Presidential campaign)

The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. — Samuel Adams, American Patriot and Politician of the American Revolution (Essay under the pseudonym “Candidus,” in The Boston Gazette, October 14, 1771)

Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency, but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. — Benjamin Franklin, American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Writer, and Inventor in the 18th Century. (from letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 1789)

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. — James Madison, 4th U.S. President (Federalist Papers, January 1788)

…the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation ALL the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it. — Mark Twain, American writer (from The Czar’s Soliloquy, 1905)

The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States, composing the respective states, who alone had the right.– James Madison, 4th U.S. President (From Madison Outline, 1829 Letters)

Abraham Lincoln, by Jean Louis Gerome, 1908

Abraham Lincoln, by Jean Louis Gerome, 1908

This country, with its institutions, belongs to its inhabitants. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. — Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (March 4, 1861, First Inaugural Speech)

The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed but for posterity — unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity. — Henry Clay, American Statesman and 7th Speaker of the House.

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms,” — Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence (From Jefferson’s draft of the Virginia Consitution)

Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind. — Hugo Black, Lawyer, Senator, and Supreme Court Justice (1937-1971)

Of all the supervised conditions for life offered man, those under USA’s Constitution have proved the best. Wherefore, be sure when you start modifying, corrupting or abrogating it. —  Martin H. Fischer, American scientist, Author

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.– Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, in a letter to Abigail Adams, February 1787.

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. — Robert M. Hutchins, American Educator and Activist in the mid-20th Century

A sense of this necessity, and a submission to it, is to me a new and consolatory proof that wherever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights. — Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President in a letter to Richard Price, January 1789.

To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race. — Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President, From Message to the National Security League in honor of Constitution Day, September 1923.

If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political Constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. – Daniel Webster, American Statesman and politician in the 19th Century

The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. — Billy Graham, American evangelist

I will always vote what I have promised, and always vote the Constitution, as well as I will not vote for one single penny that isn’t paid for, because debt is the monster, debt is what’s going to eat us up, and that is why our economy is on the brink. – Ron Paul, American physician and Congressman from Texas

Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government. — James Madison, 4th U.S. President

Experience hath shown that even under the best forms of government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. — Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. — John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can. — John Gardner, American writer, and politician

Liberty tree

Liberty Tree, Boston Common, 1876 engraving.

In a chariot of light from the regions of day,
The Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
And the plant she named Liberty Tree. 

— Thomas Paine, author, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Freedom and Liberty

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! – Patrick Henry

Liberty can not be preserved without a general knowledge among the people. — John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”. —Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin, American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Writer, and Inventor in the 18th Century.

Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people’s liberty’s teeth. — George Washington, American Commander in chief of the colonial armies in the American Revolution and 1st U.S. President

Keep him free, Harris and Ewing, 1939-40

By Harris and Ewing, 1939-40. 

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.– Martin Luther King, Jr., American Baptist Minister, and Civil-Rights Leader

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. — John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without Freedom of Speech — Benjamin Franklin, American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Writer, and Inventor in the 18th Century.

Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. — Albert Einstein, American Physicist, and Nobel Prize Winner

Over grown military establisOvergrown under any form of government inauspicious to liberty and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. — George Washington, American Commander in chief of the colonial armies in the American Revolution and 1st U.S. President

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. — Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. — Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. — John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. — Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery. — Wayne Dyer, American self-help advocate, author, and lecturer

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. — Malcolm X, African-American leader and activist in the early 1960s

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. — Eleanor Roosevelt, Diplomat, humanitarian, and wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. — Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and Founder of psychoanalysis

The best road to progress is freedom’s road. — John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. — Nelson Mandela, South African Statesman, first democratically elected State President, and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant, and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives. — Dorothy Thompson, influential American journalist

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity. – Irving Kristol, American columnist, journalist, and writer

We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home. Voting is the first duty of democracy. – Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. President

The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations. — Avram Noam Chomsky, American Linguist, and Activist

Yankee Doodle, 1776

Yankee Doodle, A.M. Willard, 1776. 

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, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty. — John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President

This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith. —  Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U.S. President

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. — James Madison, 4th U.S. President

Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty. – Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office. — Andrew Jackson

Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. — John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

Our heaven born banner painted by Wm. Bauly, 1861

Our heaven born banner painted by Wm. Bauly, 1861. 

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night, with the light from above,
From the mountains, to the prairies
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home,
God bless America! My Home Sweet Home!

— Irving Berlin, songwriter of God Bless America

Patriotism and National Honor

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. —  Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

— Lee Greenwood, American country music artist

From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.

–Samuel F. Smith,  song writer of “America”

It is the love of country that has lighted, and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism. — J. Horace McFarland, Proponent of civic improvement, environmental conservation, and beautification of America

A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle. — George William Curtis, American writer, and public speaker

When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect. —  Adlai Stevenson, American politician

National honor is national property of the highest value. —  James Monroe, 5th U.S. President

America is a passionate idea or it is nothing. America is a human brotherhood, or it is chaos. —  Max Lerner, American journalist, and educator

If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag. —  Author Unknown

He loves his country best who strives to make it best. —  Robert G. Ingersoll, American Statesman, and Orator

My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy! —  Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and Author of the Declaration of Independence

I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot. —  Gary Hart, American politician

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. — The Pledge Of Allegiance, by Francis Bellamy 1892

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. — Edward Abbey, American writer

We can’t all be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots. —  Charles F. Browne, American writer

Protect the nations honor, Acme Litho. Co

Protect the nations honor, Acme Litho. Co

Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be. — John Wayne, actor

The things that the flag stands for were created by the experiences of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives. The flag is the embodiment, not of sentiment, but of history.” — Woodrow Wilson, 28th U.S. President

We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! — John Adams and John Hancock, Founding Fathers

All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship.” – Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th U.S. President

I shall know but one country. The ends I aim at shall be my country’s, my God’s and Truth’s. I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American. — Daniel Webster, American Statesman and politician in the 19th Century

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

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Also See:

American History (main page)

Early American History

Declaration of Independence

Heroes and Patriots of America

Presidents of the United States of America

The United States Constitution – Document

The United States Constitution Information