Quotations by Past Political
Leaders of Massachusetts


Samuel Adams
(1722-1803)
Governor

Freedom of thought and the right to private judgment, in matters of conscience, driven from every corner of the earth, direct their course to this happy country as their last asylum. Let us cherish the noble guests, and shelter them under the wings of universal toleration.



John Adams
(1735-1826)
U.S. President

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemmorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illustrations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

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.

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.



Calvin Coolidge
(1872-1933)
U.S. President

The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.

The government of the United States is a device for maintaining in perpetuity the rights of the people, with the ultimate extinction of all privileged classes.

Men speak of natural rights, but I challenge any one to show where in nature any rights existed or were recognized until there was established for their declaration and protection a duly promulgated body of corresponding laws.

There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.

We draw our Presidents from the people. It is a wholesome thing for them to return to the people. I came from them. I wish to be one of them again.

Civilization and profits go hand in hand.

The business of America is business.

Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.

It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.



James Michael Curley
(1874-1958)
Mayor of Boston, Governor, U.S. Congressman

Every time you do a favor for a constituent, you make nine enemies and one ingrate.

Vote early and vote often.



John F. Kennedy
(1917-1963)
U.S. President

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.

When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were.

There is a a terrific disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. . . . Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn’t any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.

The United States has to move very fast to even stand still.

No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America—there are no “white” or “colored” signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

We believe that if men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.

I’m always rather nervous about how you talk about women who are active in politics, whether they want to be talked about as women or as politicians.



Henry Cabot Lodge
(1850-1924)
US. Senator

The American idea is a free church in a free state, and a free and unsectarian public school in every ward and every village with its door wide open to children of all races and every creed.

Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance, this great land of ordered liberty, for if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.

Let every man honor and love the land of his birth and the race from which he springs and keep their memory green. If a man is going to be an American at all, let him be so without any qualifying adjectives; and if he is going to be something else, let him drop the word American from his personal description.



Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
(1902-1986)
U.S. Senator

The fact that talk may be boring or turgid or uninspiring should not cause us to forget the fact that it is preferable to war.

It has been well said that a hungry man is more interested in four sandwiches than four freedoms.

Ultimately we will win the world struggle on a spiritual basis or victory will elude us. We have the most glorious purposes of any nation in history.

You may as well know that one American national trait which irritates many Americans and must be convenient for our critics is that we relentlessly advertise our imperfections.



John W. McCormack
(1891-1980)
U.S. Congressman

You don't compromise principles, but you harmonize tactics to preserve unity.



John Quincy Adams
(1767-1848)
U.S. President

To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is . . . the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself and enlarges the sphere of existence.

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.

I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement battered by the winds and broken in on by the storms, and, from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair.



Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill, Jr.
(1912-1994)
U.S. Congressman

Power is the perception of power.



Daniel Webster
(1782-1852)
U.S. Senator

Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.

There is no refuge from confession but suicide, and suicide is confession.

Philosophic argument, especially that drawn from the vastness of the universe, in comparison with the apparent insignificance of this globe, has sometimes shaken my reason for the faith that is in me; but my heart has always assured and reassured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be Divine Reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be a mere human production. This belief enters into the very depth of my conscience. The whole history of man proves it.

When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.



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