Remember when we had U.S. presidents who were thoughtful and intelligent enough to actually quote? Those were the days. Even if we disagreed with their politics, most of us could find at least some redeemable quality about either their character or brains to assign them a degree of respect. Ah, those were simper times. But regardless of who is currently sitting in the Oval Office (cough, cough), we have a great country and a rich history that deserves to be celebrated. This 4th of July we need that reminder more than ever, and there's nothing like inspirational quotes from presidents past to make us proud to be an American once again.
These words might be simply for your private contemplation, or maybe they'll make an appearance in your festive 4th of July decorations. But whether your holiday plans include attending a parade, hosting a neighborhood backyard barbecue, or something else entirely, the following quotes will remind you that the legacy of the White House is really a pretty good one — imperfect, yes, but something to be grateful for nonetheless.
And, hey, let's look on the bright side: Pretty soon it'll be time to vote someone new into the seat. Preferably someone whom we can quote again.
1. John Adams
Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."
2. John Quincy Adams
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader"
3. Franklin Pierce
While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles."
4. Woodrow Wilson
The object of love is to serve, not to win.”
5. Harry S. Truman
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
6. Ronald Reagan
Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means."
7. George H. W. Bush
No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit."
8. Barack Obama
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
9. James Madison
The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted."
10. Millard Fillmore
An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory."
11. James Abram Garfield
I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came."
12. Woodrow Wilson
If you want to make enemies, try to change something."
13. John F. Kennedy
If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."
14. Bill Clinton
We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American dream will wither."
15. George W. Bush
Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential. We are not limited by what we have done, or what we have left undone. We are limited only by what we are willing to do."
16. Jimmy Carter
You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can."
17. Calvin Coolidge
Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good."
18. Thomas Jefferson
I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
19. Abraham Lincoln
I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better."
20. Theodore Roosevelt
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."