Home » George Washington Quotes: The Founding Father’s Wise Words

George Washington Quotes: The Founding Father’s Wise Words

George Washington is one of the most revered presidents in United States history. He was the first president and led the country through some of its most difficult times.

He was also known for his wisdom and ability to make tough decisions. In this blog post, we will explore George Washington’s best quotes. These quotes show why he is considered one of the wisest men in American history!

About George Washington

George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation’s War for Independence and played a key role in the adoption of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

As general and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he forced the British out of Boston in 1776 and led the victorious American troops at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton in 1776–1777. He oversaw the defeat of the British army at Yorktown in 1781, which brought an end to the war.

A firm believer in national unity, he helped guide Congress through the debate over the Articles of Confederation and championed ratification of the Constitution.

Upon taking office as president in 1789, he worked to unify rival factions in the young nation and revive respect for American institutions by modeling himself after Cincinnatus, a Roman statesman who had renounced power after leading his country to triumph in battle.

He created numerous programs designed to increase federal revenue but was unanimously reelected to a second term in 1792 after avoiding war with Great Britain. Washington reluctantly accepted the third term as president in 1796 but declined to run for a fourth term due to his declining health and advanced age.

His Farewell Address warned against partisan politics, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars. He retired from public office after two terms and returned to Mount Vernon, where he died four years later at age 67. Widely regarded as one of America’s greatest generals and presidents, he has been ranked among history’s finest leaders.

Here are the best George Washington Quotes

His leadership qualities—including integrity, industriousness, sacrifice, patience, frugality, temperance, courage, decisiveness, and charisma—earned him universal admiration among his contemporaries and posterity.

Embodying republicanism that emphasized civic virtue and singled him out as a man dedicated to SERVING THE COMMON GOOD more than any other American Founders, Washington has been hailed as “the father of his country.” Let’s  explore some of his most famous quotes:

1. “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for War.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

George Washington was a man of action and knew that to secure peace, one must be prepared for war. He recognized that if the United States desired to avoid being insulted, it must be able to defend itself. This is still true today.

If we want to maintain peace, we must be militarily strong and ready to fight if necessary. Other countries will respect us and be more likely to negotiate with us in good faith if they know we are not afraid to use force.

2.“I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

3. “Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

4. “To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

5. “Where are our Men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their Country?” — George Washington

george washington quotes

6. “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those be well-tried before you give them your confidence.” — George Washington

7. “We must consult our means rather than our wishes.” — George Washington

8. “Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.” — George Washington

9. “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” — George Washington

10. “It is better to be alone than in bad company.” — George Washington

There is a lot of truth to this simple quote by George Washington. Being around negative people can be draining, and it can be hard to stay positive in the face of constant negativity. On the other hand, being alone allows you to focus on your happiness and well-being.

It can be a chance to recharge and refocus on what is important to you. Additionally, being alone can help you appreciate the time you spend with others. When you are constantly surrounded by others, it is easy to take them for granted.

However, when you spend time by yourself, you can appreciate the value of human interaction. Therefore, while there are benefits to being alone and in a company, it is generally better to be alone than in a bad company.

11. “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” — George Washington

12. “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” — George Washington

13. “Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do, then do it with all your strength.” — George Washington

14. “Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” — George Washington

15. “99% of failures come from people who make excuses.” — George Washington

16. “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

17. “There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

18. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

19. “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

20. “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

George Washington’s quote urges people to never give up and have determination. He states that if people have these qualities, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

He is saying that throughout history, many examples of people have overcome incredible obstacles by being determined and persevering. This is a very inspiring message, and it reminds us that we should never give up on our dreams, no matter how difficult they may seem.

We should always strive to persevere and have faith in ourselves, and we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

21. “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.” — George Washington

22. “Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” — George Washington

23. “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” — George Washington

24. “A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.” — George Washington

25. “Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.” — George Washington

26. “Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.” — George Washington

27. “The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” — George Washington

28. “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.” — George Washington

29. “The turning points of lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.” — George Washington

30. “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” — George Washington

As the commander of the Continental Army, George Washington was well aware of the importance of discipline. In a letter to Brigadier General Alexander McDougall, he wrote that “discipline is the soul of an army” and that it was essential for ensuring success on the battlefield.

By instilling discipline in his troops, Washington was able to turn a ragtag group of soldiers into a formidable fighting force. The Continental Army’s victories at Boston, Trenton, and Princeton were due in large part to their discipline and orderliness.

In addition to discipline, Washington believed that morale was crucial to an army’s success. He did everything he could to boost his troops’ morale, including writing them encouraging letters and leading them in person into battle. By instilling discipline and morale in his army, George Washington helped ensure its eventual victory in the Revolutionary War.

31. “To persevere in one’s duty, and be silent is the best answer to calumny.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

32. “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

33. “There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

34. “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

35. “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

36. “No punishment, in my opinion, is too great for the man who can build his greatness upon his country’s ruin.” — George Washington

37.  “The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”— George Washington

38. “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.” — George Washington

39. “Overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.” — George Washington

40. “If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of God.” — George Washington

Many people believe that to be successful, politicians must always pander to the masses, offering whatever policies are popular at the moment, regardless of their convictions. However, George Washington warned against this approach, arguing that defending any actions taken while pandering to the people would be impossible.

Instead, Washington argued that politicians should strive to set a high standard and let the people decide for themselves which policies they want to support. This may not always result in popularity, but it will at least ensure that any actions taken are defensible. In the end, Washington believed that success or failure was ultimately up to God.

41. “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” — George Washington

42. “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government.” — George Washington

43. “Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.” — George Washington

44. “Be not glad at the misfortune of another, though he may be your enemy.” — George Washington

45. “It is absolutely necessary… for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders.” — George Washington

46. “[Death] … the abyss from where no traveler is permitted to return.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

47.“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

48. “A bad war is fought with a good mind.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

49. “A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

50. “Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

George Washington’s quote is often cited when discussing the balance between individual liberty and societal order. In essence, Washington is saying that individuals must be willing to sacrifice some of their freedom to live in a society where there are laws and rules.

Without this sacrifice, society would be in chaos. This quote is particularly relevant in today’s world, where there is often a debate between those who believe that the government should have more control to maintain order and those who believe that individuals should have more liberty.

Finding a balance between these two things is essential to create a functioning society. George Washington’s quote is a reminder of this important truth.

51. “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government.” — George Washington

52. “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” — George Washington

53. “One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.” — George Washington

54. “The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” — George Washington

55. “Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process.” — George Washington

56. “Wherein you reprove another be unblameable yourself, for example, is more prevalent than precepts.” — George Washington

57.  “Much was to be done by prudence, much by conciliation, much by firmness.” — George Washington

58. “Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe.” — George Washington

59.“No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay being more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.” — George Washington

60. “George Washington famously warned against … ‘ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.” — George Washington

61. “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

When it begins to take root, Liberty is a plant of rapid growth. This is because liberty is the natural state of humankind. When people are free to pursue their interests and follow their conscience, they unleash a powerful force for good.

The result is a thriving society in which people can reach their full potential. This was the vision of George Washington, and it is a vision that is still relevant today. In an increasingly divided world, the idea of liberty offers a way forward.

By respecting the rights of others and working together for the common good, we can create a more just and prosperous world for all.

62. “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

63. “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

64. “Every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

65. “The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produce many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.” — George Washington

george washington quotes

66. “Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all cases of passion admit reason to govern.” — George Washington

67. “A man ought not to value himself of his achievements or rare qualities of wit, much less of his riches, virtue or kindred.” — George Washington

68. “If the cause is advanced, indifferent is it to me where or in what quarter it happens.” — George Washington

69. Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.” — George Washington

The above quote by George Washington emphasizes the importance of having a harmonious relationship with all nations. He believes this is good for diplomacy and relations between countries and for the humanitarian treatment of people.

Furthermore, he argues that having a peaceful and friendly world order is in everyone’s best interest. By maintaining harmony with other nations, we can create a more stable and prosperous world for all.

Let’s Wind Up…

George Washington was one of the most brilliant minds in United States history. Not only did he lead America to victory during the Revolutionary War, but his wisdom and quotes are still relevant centuries later.

We hope you enjoyed these quotes and that they inspire you to be the best person you can be! If you have any favorite quotes from America’s first president that we missed, please let us know in the comments below!