Lincoln Steffens is a renowned American journalist, writer, and lecturer who made significant contributions to the field of investigative journalism. He was known for his in-depth reporting on political corruption and social issues during the early 20th century. Steffens’ works were highly influential in shaping public opinion and exposing corruption in government.
Throughout his career, Steffens had many memorable quotes that continue to inspire people today. From insightful observations about the nature of power to inspiring messages about the importance of democracy, Steffens’ words continue to resonate with readers around the world. In this article, we will explore some of Lincoln Steffen’s most famous quotes and examine their relevance to contemporary society.
About Lincoln Steffens
Lincoln Steffens was a well-known American most influential muckraker of his time. Born in San Francisco in 1866, Steffens attended the University of California, Berkeley before setting out on a career that would take him to some of the most important newspapers and magazines in the country. He began his career at the New York Evening Post before moving on to work for McClure’s Magazine, where he became famous for his reporting on political corruption. Steffens’ reputation as a muckraker was cemented with the publication of his book “The Shame of Cities” in 1904, which exposed corruption in several major American cities. The book was an instant sensation and helped to spark widespread reform efforts across the country.
Top Lincoln Steffens Quotes
Steffens’ writings were influential in bringing about reforms and changing public opinion. However, he was also a master of words and a gifted writer who left behind many memorable quotes. In this article, we will take a look at some of Lincoln Steffens’ most insightful and thought-provoking quotes on politics, society, and human nature. These timeless phrases continue to resonate with readers today, reminding us of the importance of speaking out against injustice and fighting for change.
“Morality is only moral when it is voluntary.”
“I have seen the future, and it works.”
“It is our knowledge – the things we are sure of – that makes the world go wrong and keeps us from seeing and learning.”
“In all cities, the better classes – the business men – are the sources of corruption, but they are so rarely pursued and caught that we do not fully realize whence the trouble comes.”
“Chicago will give you a chance. The sporting spirit is the spirit of Chicago.”
“The politer the society, the greater the lies it requires.”
Politeness is a cornerstone of most societies, and many people view it as an essential component of civilized behavior. Being polite means that we are courteous, respectful, and considerate towards others, even in the face of adversity or disagreement. However, while politeness may seem like a positive trait on the surface, it can often lead to dishonesty and deceit.
In a society where politeness is highly valued, people may feel pressure to avoid conflict or confrontation at all costs. This can lead them to tell lies or half-truths in order to spare someone’s feelings or avoid hurting their pride. For example, if someone asks for your opinion on their new haircut and you think it looks terrible, you might be tempted to say something kind instead of telling the truth.
“It is possible to get an education at a university. It has been done; not often.”
“Power is what men seek, and any group that gets it will abuse it. It is the same story.”
“The best picture has not yet been painted; the greatest poem is still unsung; the mightiest novel remains to be written; the divinest music has not been conceived, even by Bach. In science, probably ninety-nine percent of the knowable has not yet been discovered.”
“Whenever anything extraordinary is done in American municipal politics, whether for good or for evil, you can trace it almost invariably to one man. The people do not do it. Neither do the ‘gangs,’ ‘combines,’ or political parties.”
“The spirit of graft and of lawlessness is the American spirit.”
“You can’t control a young horse unless you control yourself.”
“You ask men in office to be honest; I ask them to serve the public.”
“The commercial spirit is the spirit of profit, not patriotism; of credit, not honor; of individual gain, not national prosperity; of trade and dickering, not principle.”
“The misgovernment of the American people is misgovernment by the American people.”
“We know that there is no absolute knowledge, that there are only theories; but we forget this. The better educated we are, the harder we believe in axioms.”
“Somebody must take a chance. There are monkeys who became men, and the monkeys who didn’t are still jumping around in trees making faces at the monkeys who did.”
“My father, the practical joker, did not care for practical jokes on himself; he did not encourage the practice in me.”
“If we would leave parties to the politicians and would vote not for the party, not even for men, but for the city, and the State, and the nation, we should rule parties, and cities, and States, and nation.”
“Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization.”
“The only thing worth having in an earthly existence is a sense of humor.”
Life is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. It can be difficult at times to navigate through the challenges that come our way. However, having a sense of humor can make all the difference in how we approach these obstacles. Life is too short to take everything seriously, and laughter truly is the best medicine. A good sense of humor helps us to keep things in perspective.
When we are faced with difficult situations, it allows us to find the silver lining or see things from a different point of view. Humor also helps us cope with stress by releasing tension and giving us a momentary break from our problems. It has been said that laughter is contagious, and when we are able to share a laugh with others it creates bonds and strengthens relationships. In addition to its mental health benefits, having a sense of humor also has physical health benefits as well.
“My father required me to honor my father and my mother too much to put up games on them. I did on occasion.”
“So youve been over into Russia? said Bernard Baruch, and I answered very literally, I have been over into the future and it works.”
“First in violence, deepest in dirt, lawless, unlovely, ill-smelling, irreverent, new; an overgrown gawk of a – village, the “tough” among cities, a spectacle for the nation.”
“My summary of all our experiences was that it showed that heaven and hell are one place, and we all go there. To those who are prepared, it is heaven; to those who are not fit and ready, it is hell.”
“If my father could watch my son for a while, he might realize his own immortality.”
“I let my boy go and do and say pretty much as he likes, as, and perhaps because, my father kept no string on me.”
“It is privilege that causes evil in the world, not wickedness, and not men.”
“I hunted far enough to suspect that the Fathers of the Republic who wrote our Sacred Constitution of the United States not only did not but did not want to, establish a democratic government.”
“My father seemed always to know not only what I was doing, but what I was being.”
“Why is it that the less intelligence people have, the more spiritual they are? They seem to fill all the vacant, ignorant spaces in their heads with soul. Which explains how it is that the less knowledge they have, the more religion.”
“In science, probably ninety-nine percent of the knowable has to be discovered. We know only a few streaks about astronomy. We are only beginning to imagine the force and composition of the atom. Physics has not yet found any indivisible matter, or psychology a sensible soul.”
“My father would invite me sweetly to come and sit on a stool at his feet, and, as I let myself trustingly down, he would gently kick the seat from under me – and laugh.”
“My mother would thump me sharply on the head with a thimble or a spoon if I became too noisy with the whistle when I was playing I was a steamboat captain. She had no sense of the dignity of command.”
“Revolt is not reform, and one revolutionary administration is not good government.”
Revolt is a powerful tool, but it’s not always the best way to create meaningful change. While revolution may be necessary for some circumstances, history has shown that it’s often accompanied by violence, instability, and chaos. In many cases, revolutions have resulted in one oppressive regime being replaced by another. Furthermore, the mere act of overthrowing a government doesn’t guarantee that what follows will be an improvement.
The success of any administration depends on its ability to govern effectively and deliver positive outcomes for its citizens. This requires more than just a change in leadership; it demands a comprehensive plan for reform and sustained effort to implement it. While revolutionary movements can be inspiring and bring attention to important issues, they should not be seen as an end goal in themselves. Instead, true progress comes from thoughtful planning and continuous work toward building better institutions within existing frameworks.
“The Soviet government sprouted and grew out of the habits, the psychology, and the condition of the Russian people. It fitted them. They understand it.”
“We need some great failures. Especially we ever-successful Americans – conscious, intelligent, illuminating failures.”
“I am really puzzled to understand myself.”
“Boston has carried the practice of hypocrisy to the n-th degree of refinement, grace, and failure.”
“My father made with me one serious mistake which I see parents about me making. He got himself somehow into the awkward position of an authority; I thought he knew and was right on everything – for a while.”
“One improvement I have learned from my childhood experience with my father: I do not threaten punishment in the morning. That was awful. Late into the night I would lie awake tossing and wondering what he was going to do to me. Usually he did nothing. A quiet, impressive ‘talking to’ was all I got.”
“My father was slower, but he was severer than my mother, who was quick but light and irregular in discipline.”
“The unknown is the province of the student; it is the field for his lifes adventure, and it is a wide field full of beckonings.”
How city officials worked in league with big business to maintain power while corrupting the public treasury.
Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)
Let’s Wind Up…
Lincoln Steffens was a journalist who believed in the power of exposing corruption and shedding light on societal issues. His quotes still resonate today, reminding us of the importance of holding those in power accountable and never becoming complacent. The legacy Steffens left behind serves as a reminder that a free press is essential for democracy to thrive. As we navigate through difficult times, we must remember his words and continue to strive for transparency and truth. Let us take inspiration from his life’s work and remain vigilant in our pursuit of justice and equality for all.