Washington

Words of wisdom from our first, great president

  • “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
  • “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”  
  • “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”
  • “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”  
  • “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to appellation.”  
  • “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”  
  • “In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.”  
  • “Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”  
  • “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”  
  • “99% of failures come from people who make excuses.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”  
  • “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”  
  • “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.” 
  • “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”  
  • “Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”  
  • “The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”  
  • “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”  
  • “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”  
  • “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.”  
  • “Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.” 
  • “As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” 

Did you know?


  • Washington was unanimously elected president … twice.He could have served a third term but set the precedent of the peaceful transition of power by stepping down after two terms. Only Franklin Delano Roosevelt served more than two terms, and the limit was formally established in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1951. 
  • His formal education ended at 15, but:
  • at 17, he became the official surveyor of Culpepper County, Virginia.
  • at 20, he was appointed Major in the Virginia militia.
  • at 23, he was made an honorary colonel in the British army and narrowly escaped injury in a battle during the French and Indian War although he had four balls pierce his coat and two horses shot from under him; that same year he also became commander of all Virginia troops.
  • at 26, he resigned from military duty and was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. 
  • Washington was one of the largest landowners who eventually owned about 50,000 acres. 
  • He was the first to sign the Constitution.
  • No, he didn't have any wooden teeth, but he did have dentures made from teeth from slaves, his pulled teeth, ivory, animal teeth, and assorted metals.


  • He never had any of his own children.
  • He was one of the largest presidents at 6’2” and 200 pounds—the average height of men at his time was only 5’8”. 
  • He never occupied the White House—until it was completed (after his death), the US capitol was in New York and then Philadelphia. 
  • He lost more battles than he won.After a series of lost battles, he turned the tide of the Revolution with his daring winter crossing of the ice-clogged Delaware and decisive battle.


  • He owned his first slave at the age of 11, and eventually owned about 300 slaves.He freed all his slaves through his will after his death. 
  • His wife, Martha, burned most of the letters they wrote each other, but a few survived. “I retain an unalterable affection for you, which neither time nor distance can change,” he wrote her.

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