The Founding Fathers of the United States were those political leaders who participated in the American revolutionary war. The Founding Fathers are quoted by Americans all across the political spectrum, because the opinions of 18th century slave-owners are central to modern American politics.
George Washington was the first among equals when it came to the Founding Fathers of the United States. The first President of the USA, you can find the man's image today on the American dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. He never told a lie and fought fiercely for his country (actually, for both of them - he fought as a British Officer against the French and the Indians before fighting for the rebels against British Officers). He abhorred injustice, always ensuring that his slaves were treated tolerably well on his plantation at Mount Vernon, Virginia. And he got along well with others. Everybody (on his own side of the Atlantic, at least) liked him; Americans elected him to the post of President on two separate occasions, and begged him to stay on for a third (he declined, either afraid of being made into a king, or aware of what lay ahead).
George Washington grew up in the colonies (Virginia, to be exact), a child of a privileged and prominent landholding family, but he still knew how to relate to people and was a natural-born leader. He shunned things that were overly English, declining to obtain an education in England; at the same time, however, he embraced the best of the British way of life, even going so far as to accept a commission in the British Army. Until it became time to mow them down. Indeed, throughout his life, George Washington did a variety of incredible things like lead armies, chop down cherry trees, sleep, and wear wooden false teeth. During that time he said some interesting things.
Washington on character
- "I cannot tell a lie because otherwise my nose grows long and sprouts leaves."
- "Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder, and there is no woman born yet who does."
- "Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected, excepting where loose women are concerned."
- "Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light. It will not, however, set you free. Whoever tells you that is a liar."
Washington on government
- "God Save the King... er, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."
- "That's Mister President to you."
- "Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. No, really."
- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are like my teeth - made of wood."
- "Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe. It will be called the "European Union," and it will suck. Big time."
- "After myself and my pillar, the administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government."
- "The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But don't tell that to Abraham Lincoln."
- "The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves. Well, not for the actual slaves - their lot is fixed."
Washington on war
- "These are the times that try men's souls. The women be dammed."
- "Discipline is the soul of an army; corporal punishment, its body."
- "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace, so I'm not really sure at all how we won the War of Colonial Aggression."
- "War - An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will. And what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, uhhh."
- "When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen. The draft is therefore unconstitutional."
Washington on other stuff
- "Martha, pray tell where is the wood polish? I have to brush my teeth."
- "It is better to be alone than in bad company, and it is better to listen to Metallica than Bad Company."
- "Be courteous to all, but intimate with few - Hey, I'm talking to you, Benjamin; stay away from my wife."
- "Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow my wife without asking first."
- "I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the freedom of my slaves as soon as I am dead and gone."
- "My final and dying wish is never to be depicted on currency of any manner. Such monarchical foolish has no place in a republic."
Quoting Thomas Jefferson is generally a good idea. Virtually any article, paper, essay, column or argument that begins with, or even contains, a Jefferson quote thereby gains heft. As you become more proficient at it, you will eventually overuse the word "freedom" until it loses all meaning.
Jefferson on Freedom
- "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is best planted in indirect sunlight. Ideally soil should be slightly alkaline, but it has been known to flourish at a lower pH. Water regularly, but do not over water, as the roots are very vulnerable to fungal infection."
- "All a tyranny needs to succeed are some cool uniforms."
- "I have sworn, upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. So have my slaves."
- "Tyranny, war, and over-bearing government are all quite bad. Therefore, I shall take a huge sum of taxpayers' money, and give it all to Napoleon."
- "That we hold these truths to be self evident...all men are created equal, except the dark-skinned ones we own outright."
- "I would rather have newspapers without a government than newspapers without Krazy Kat."
Considered to be perhaps the most erudite and wise of the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin is quoted constantly by U.S. historians, political scientists, and professional wrestling impresarios. The inability to stop quoting Benjamin Franklin (the psychological disorder called benjivitis) has inevitably led to an enormous number of false quotes, some of which are completely indistinguishable from the actual words of wisdom uttered by the famous statesman, journalist, entrepreneur, inventor, and exotic dancer.
Franklin on People
- "John Adams? I remember him not. Samuel Adams I'm quite familiar with."
- "People who are wrapped up in themselves have small packages."
- "Dishonesty is the second-best policy."
- "Those who are feared are also hated. Eh, did I just say 'hated'? I meant to say 'smarter than you.'"
- "He that lieth down with dogs is a sick puppy."
- "There are two kinds of women, wives and whores. And there really isn't that much difference between them."
- "A man who loves himself will have no children"
Franklin on his inventions
- "God is proof that Beer happies us and wants us to be love."
- "Beer is proof that God wants us to be inotoxicated."
Franklin on economics
- "An investment in knowledge is the least interesting."
- "A billion-dollar bill saved is a billion-dollar bill earned."
- "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound, which in turn is worth two hundred forty pence."
- "To each his own what? Wouldn't it be better if you just gave it all to me?"
- "A penny saved isn't very much."
- "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, give a man a poisoned fish, feed him for the rest of his life"
Franklin on God
- "God helps those who help themselves to their neighbors' possessions."
- "There is no God, and I am his prophet."
- "It's true that I was never especially religious, but I was never especially sober, either, and nobody seemed to mind."
Franklin on America
- "I believe, with all my heart, that one day, upon this great land, our new nation will rise to such great heights of power and prestige that its leaders won't even have to have working brains for the government to function."
- "I'm proud to be an American. I'm even prouder to have an nine-inch penis, but they wouldn't let me put that in the Declaration of Independence."
Franklin on France
- "I must confess that a major, if not the principal, reason for my affection for the French is how exceedingly poor they are at money-management."
- "Wine and women as far as the eye can see, both in glorious abundance and both attracted to me as if by a sort of magnetic force. A finer land mine eyes have never beheld."
- "In other countries drunkenness is a vice. In France, it's a hobby."
- "To be a British patriot is to follow your king. To be an American patriot is to stand for both personal liberty and national unity. To be a French patriot is to hate the British and your own king in equal measure and with equal ferocity because they are the British and he is the king."
- "They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but I submit that a hungry French peasant is a close second."
- "The primary issue I've discovered in the manners of France's nobility is that the women, including the Queen, all appear to have deceased animals of some kind on their head in place of a wig and not expressing this sentiment I have found requires extraordinary willpower."
- "Early to bed and early to rise makes a Frenchman sober and thus somewhat unhappy."
Franklin on alliance with France
- "And so, your Most Christian Majesty, I come to you with a proposition. We can offer no land nor money nor goods nor any sort of favorable trade settlement, nor have we a substantial army or navy and I must imagine our staunchly republican ideals may seem disagreeable to a man of your means and position; but what I do offer is the chance to strike back at the British, whose tyranny and arrogance I'm sure you agree with me must be ended; your country, as well as mine, has suffered extensively at their hands. I do not ask much of you, Your Majesty; simply several fleets, an entire army, and all of your money. And I do mean all of it."
Franklin on food
- "Well done is better than medium rare.!"
- "Eat to shit; don't shit to eat. Of course, if you're really stupid, just try to remember not to eat shit."
Franklin on honesty
- "Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that haven't enough wit to make up their own quotes."
- "There is much difference between imitating a good man and counterfeiting his hundred-dollar bills."
- "Glass, china, and reputation are all easily cracked, and never well-mended. That super glue stuff they have now works pretty good, though."
- "Tongue-double brings trouble! So, by extension, tongue-quadruple brings double-trouble, and so on, to the point where infinite tongue brings infinite trouble."
Franklin on mistakes
- "Time is an herb that cures all diseases. Hemp is very useful too..."
- "In many cases, neglect kills injuries, whereas revenge only increases them. Luckily, there are plenty of drugs around to make you just not care."
Franklin on life
- "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man get the same amount of sleep as he would have gotten anyways, so why bother?"
- "'Tis easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all the hot European aristo-babes who follow after finding out from the first one that you're a total sex mo-sheen."
- "It's easy to see, but hard to foresee. And don't even mention C-plus-plus."
- "There are three things that are extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and knowing oneself. Ehhh, I guess there are actually four things."
Other Founding Fathers
Several more minor characters in the War for American Independence can be used to add salt and/or pepper to modern conversations to which they do not relate. By comparison, the Founding Mothers and Founding Babies are rarely quoted.
- Patrick Henry
- "As for me, give me liberty or give me death. No, never mind. Put that away! I was just kidding!"
- Thomas Paine
- "When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary, while syphilis is."
- General John Stark
- "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils. Skiing in New Hampshire probably is."
- Alexander Hamilton
- "I challenge anyone who doesn't agree with me to a duel. Go on, I challenge you."