Aspirations for America in Presidential Quotes

The blogosphere is all atwitter today over the “Pledge to America” issued by Congressional Republicans today. I think that Steven Taylor’s bullet-form remarks sums it up well: “Better than nothing…but just barely.”

Rather than analyze the pledge, critique it, or mock it, I think I’ll offer up my own aspirations for America in the form of quotes from some of our past presidents. These don’t reflect what I think perfectly or in entirety but they’re a good place to start.

Foreign Policy

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

John Quincy Adams


Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.

Theodore Roosevelt


Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

George Washington

Social Policy

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson


Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

Dwight Eisenhower

Economic Policy

After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.

Calvin Coolidge

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