Through the history of the United States, many of the presidents that the American people elected were eloquent speakers. (Or, if they weren’t confident public speakers, they could express themselves articulately in writing.) And presidents certainly have lots of opportunities to deliver speeches, write letters, make remarks, and — at least for the most recent presidents — send tweets.
Ahead, check out one of the most famous quotes by every American president.
1. George Washington
George Washington | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”
George Washington said the words above in his first annual address on January 8, 1790, according to the library at Mount Vernon. The Huffington Post reports that in that address, Washington established “a theme that has endured across four centuries.” In many inaugural addresses, presidents have talked about the importance of education, making the connection between better schools and better training and better job opportunities.
Next: This president commented on the nature of facts.
2. John Adams
| The White House Historical Association
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
The John Adams quote above originates in Adams’ argument in defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, on December 4, 1770. The Bill of Rights Institute reports that Adams’ dedication to the principle of justice “was put to the test in the 1770 Boston Massacre.” Adams defended the British soldiers believed responsible for the violence.
Next: This president shared 10 rules for life.
3. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson | Wikimedia Commons
“1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
Thomas Jefferson called the list above “A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life,” according to the Jefferson library at Monticello. Some of the rules were his own invention, but others were derived from classical and literary sources. NPR reports that throughout the 19th century, the list was “printed and reprinted in newspapers and magazines.” The publication adds, “All across the country, the rules were recited and debated and taken to heart. And, this being America, the rules were eventually satirized.”
Next: This president wrote a famous passage about power.
4. James Madison
James Madison | The White House Historical Association
“In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example … of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.”
The Bill of Rights Institute reports that James Madison wrote the words above in his Essays for the National Gazette in1792. The passage continued, “We look back, already, with astonishment, at the daring outrages committed by despotism, on the reason and the rights of man; We look forward with joy, to the period, when it shall be despoiled of all its usurpations, and bound for ever in the chains, with which it had loaded its miserable victims.”
Next: This president shared his thoughts on national unity.
5. James Monroe
James Monroe | The White House Historical Association
“Our free Government, founded on the interest and affections of the people, has gained and is daily gaining strength. Local jealousies are rapidly yielding to more generous, enlarged, and enlightened views of national policy. For advantages so numerous and highly important it is our duty to unite in grateful acknowledgements to that Omnipotent Being from whom they are derived, and in unceasing prayer that He will endow us with virtue and strength to maintain and hand them down in their utmost purity to our latest posterity.”
The Berkley Center at Georgetown University reports that James Monroe said the words above in his 1817 State of the Union Address, sharing his thoughts on the importance of national unity. At the time, a British newspaper called the Evening Star gave the address a positive review, characterizing it as “a document altogether highly honourable to the character of the new President — sincere, and independent in its sentiments — beneficent, and conciliatory in its views.”
Next: This president had some wise words on voting.
6. John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams | The White House Historical Association
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
The Constitution Center reports that John Quincy Adams uttered the words above. In Adams’ time, the most contentious issues that divided voters included slavery, states’ rights, regionalism, and the economy. But Adams voted followed his own advice to vote according to principle. He became the only ex-president to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became the first House member to champion abolition and emancipation, according to the Constitution Center.
Next: This president had a unique life philosophy.
7. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson | Wikimedia Commons
“I try to live my life as if death might come for me at any moment.”
Mental Floss counts the quip above as one of Andrew Jackson’s most memorable lines. But as the publication adds, “Though that may have been true, he was also prepared to fight death tooth and nail. When an assassin tried to kill him in 1835, Jackson beat him in the face with his cane.”
Next: This president didn’t follow his own advice.
8. Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren | The White House Historical Association
“It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”
Forbes attributes the quote above to Martin Van Buren. But did he follow his own advice? CNN puts Van Buren on the list of presidents whom nobody remembers, and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia reports that scholars often characterize Van Buren’s presidency as “lacking and troubled,” particularly his ineffective response to an economic depression. Conversely, scholars consider his contributions to the development of the American political system “singular and significant,” as it was Van Buren who reconstructed the party of Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic-Republicans, into a more effective Democratic Party.
Next: This president warned about the effects of unlimited power.
9. William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.”
Inc. puts the passage above on its list of notable presidential quotes. But Harrison didn’t seem to believe that checks and balances were enough, on their own. He said in his inaugural address, “The spirit of liberty is the sovereign balm for every injury which our institutions may receive. On the contrary, no care that can be used in the construction of our Government, no division of powers, no distribution of checks in its several departments, will prove effectual to keep us a free people if this spirit is suffered to decay.”
Next: This president didn’t want his Cabinet bossing him around.
10. John Tyler
John Tyler | National Archive/ Newsmakers/ Getty Images
“I am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to avail myself of your counsel and advice. But I can never consent to being dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as president, shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me. When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.”
Politico reports that John Tyler uttered the warning above in 1841, when he was informed that a Cabinet majority had served to dictate policy in the prior Harrison administration. As Politico reports, “All the members of Tyler’s Cabinet resigned save for except Daniel Webster, the secretary of state, who left in 1842.”
Next: This president didn’t seem to consider the consequences of manifest destiny.
11. James Polk
James K. Polk | Wikimedia Commons
“One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a shield against such oppression.”
According to the Avalon Project at the Lillian Goldman Law Library of the Yale Law School, James Polk included the passage above in his inaugural address delivered in 1845. However, History reports that Polk “was a champion of manifest destiny — the belief that the United States was fated to expand across the North American continent.” Rapid expansion under the standard of manifest destiny resulted “in the dislocation and brutal mistreatment of Native American, Hispanic and other non-European occupants of the territories now being occupied by the United States.”
Next: This president wanted to escape the control of the two-party system.
12. Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor | National Archive/ Getty Images
“I am not a party candidate, and if elected cannot be President of a party, but the President of the whole people.”
Biography reports that though Zachary Taylor “was a member of the Whig Party, he identified himself more as an independent or nationalist. He appealed to Northerners for his long military record and was popular with Southerners for owning slaves.” Historians have noted Taylor’s “fight to escape the controlling influence of the party machine and to be an independent candidate and president.” However, as the Miller Center reports, “Most historians believe that he was too nonpolitical in a day when politics, parties, and presidential leadership demanded close ties with political operatives.”
Next: This president didn’t want to win by cheating.
13. Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore | The White House Historical Association
“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”
The 10th volume of the Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society reports that Millard Fillmore said the words above when he was running as a Whig candidate for Governor of New York in 1844. He said at the time that he hoped no friend of his, “however warm his attachment might be,” would be guilty of “any dishonorable act” to get him elected.
Next: This president didn’t do much to prevent civil war.
14. Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce | The White House Historical Association
“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.”
Psychology Today puts this line from Franklin Pierce on its list of the most inspirational quotes by American presidents. It’s a feel-good sentiment, but it didn’t do much to hold together a nation that was on the path to civil war. But as the Miller Center reports, “It could be said that Franklin Pierce had little business being President, but in a nation fragmenting over slavery, only a bland, affable political lightweight was palatable to the electorate.”
Next: This president didn’t take a firm stand on the issue of slavery.
15. James Buchanan
James Buchanan | The White House Historical Association
“The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among free men.”
James Buchanan uttered the words above, and he may have had high-minded ideas about people’s ability to resolve their differences. But as the Miller Center notes, Buchanan “failed entirely” to keep the Union from breaking apart and the nation from sliding toward civil war. “By refusing to take a firm stand on either side of the slavery issue, Buchanan failed to resolve the question, leaving his nation’s gravest crisis to his successor,” the Miller Center explains. “Indeed, Buchanan’s passivity is considered by most historians to have been a prime contributing factor in the coming of the Civil War.”
Next: This iconic president was known for his introversion.
16. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln | The White House Historical Association
“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”
The Stamford Advocate reports that Abraham Lincoln knew the power of silence, as demonstrated by his words above. As the publication explains, “Historian William E. Gienapp wrote: ‘Slow and deliberate, Lincoln carefully thought through problems, weighing alternatives in his mind, before reaching a decision. (Secretary John G.) Nicolay reported that “he would sometimes sit for an hour in complete silence, his eyes almost shut,” pondering some question.’”
Next: This president failed at filling Lincoln’s shoes.
17. Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson | Library of Congress/ Handout/ Getty Images
“I feel incompetent to perform duties so important and responsible as those which have been so unexpectedly thrown upon me.”
As The New York Times reports, Andrew Johnson included the remarks above in his inaugural address, delivered shortly after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. If Johnson didn’t feel that he could fill Lincoln’s shoes, historians later agreed with him. The Miller Center reports, “For the most part, historians view Andrew Johnson as the worst possible person to have served as President at the end of the American Civil War.” The organization adds, “Because of his gross incompetence in federal office and his incredible miscalculation of the extent of public support for his policies, Johnson is judged as a great failure in making a satisfying and just peace.”
Next: This president committed to a course of action.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant | The White House Historical Association
“Whatever happens, there will be no turning back.”
According to the library at the College of St. Scholastica, Ulysses S. Grant said the famous words above on the site of the Battle of the Wilderness. Henry Wing, a reporter for The New York Tribune, was there, but Grant refused to allow any reports to be sent to news outlets. Wing told Grant he was leaving to file a story in person. Grant asked him if he was going to Washington, D.C. When Wing said yes, Grant asked him, if he saw the president, to tell Lincoln “Whatever happens, there will be no turning back,” signaling that Grant didn’t plan to retreat to Washington.
Next: This president wanted people to look beyond political parties.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes | The White House Historical Association
“He serves his party best who serves the country best.”
According to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, Hayes delivered his most famous quote during his inaugural address in 1877. He explained, “The President of the United States of necessity owes his election to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party, the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential importance the principles of their party organization; but he should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves the country best.”
Next: This president might have advanced the cause of civil rights if he had survived longer.
20. James Garfield
James Garfield | The White House Historical Association
“With unquestioning devotion to the Union, with a patience and gentleness not born of fear, [African Americans] have ‘followed the light as God gave them to see the light.’ They are rapidly laying the material foundations of self-support, widening their circle of intelligence, and beginning to enjoy the blessings that gather around the homes of the industrious poor. They deserve the generous encouragement of all good men. So far as my authority can lawfully extend they shall enjoy the full and equal protection of the Constitution and the laws.”
The Berkeley Center at Georgetown University reports that James Garfield talked about racial equality during his inaugural address in 1881. But as the Miller Center reports, Garfield — who was murdered soon after his inauguration — “served as President too briefly for him to have left much of an impact.” The group notes that Garfield “might have advanced the cause of civil rights, but without again stationing federal troops in the South, his options were limited.”
Next: This president surprised historians by rising to the occasion in the Oval Office.
21. Chester Arthur
Chester Arthur | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“Men may die, but the fabrics of our free institutions remain unshaken. No higher or more reassuring proof could exist of the strength and permanence of popular government than the fact that though the chosen of the people be struck down his constitutional successor is peacefully installed without shock or strain except the sorrow which mourns the bereavement.”
The Independent reports that Chester Arthur shared the thoughts above about the permanence of the government. As the Miller Center reports, “Arthur stands as an important transitional figure in the reunification of the nation after the bitter turmoil of the Civil War and Reconstruction.” He also “demonstrated how the office of President could bring out the very best in its occupants.”
Next: This president questioned his own abilities.
22. Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland | The White House Historical Association
“I know that I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well; but the question is whether I know enough to accomplish what I desire.”
Grover Cleveland wrote the lines above in a letter to his brother on the day of an election for the governor of New York — an election that Cleveland won. He explained, “The thought that has troubled me is, ‘Can I well perform my duties and in such a manner as to do some good to the people of the State?’ I know there is room for it, and I know that I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well, but the question is whether I know enough to accomplish what I desire.”
Next: This president played an important role in foreign affairs.
23. Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.”
Biography counts the line above as one of Benjamin Harrison’s most famous quotes. As the Miller Center reports, Harrison is largely remembered as a mediocre president. But “In foreign affairs, Harrison is now credited with having done more to move the nation along the path to world empire than any previous President, serving as a model for the young Theodore Roosevelt to admire and emulate.” From commercial reciprocity treaties to support for the annexation of Hawaii to his push for a trans-isthmus canal in Central America, Harrison “set the agenda for the next thirty years of American foreign policy.”
Next: This president wanted to stay committed to his principles.
24. Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland | National Archive/ Newsmakers/ Getty Images
“It is better to be defeated standing for a high principle than to run by committing subterfuge.”
Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in the Oval Office, gets a second entry for his second term. Psychology Today puts the quote above on its list of the most inspirational things said by American presidents — and we have to agree.
Next: This president tried to avoid war.
25. William McKinley
William McKinley | Photos.com/ Getty Images
“War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed; peace is preferable to war in almost every contingency. Arbitration is the true method of settlement of international as well as local or individual differences.”
The Lillian Goldman Law Library at the Yale Law School notes that William McKinley included the lines above in his first inaugural address, delivered in 1897. The Miller Center reports that in recent interpretations of McKinley’s presidency, “Regarding the Spanish-American crisis over Cuba, he is now viewed as a President who tried mightily to avoid war — in spite of public pressure and flash points such as the sinking of the Maine — who acted decisively when all the diplomatic cards had been played, and who asserted great presidential authority over his cabinet and generals.”
Next: This president made a famous speech about failure.
26. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done 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 up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
The Theodore Roosevelt Association characterizes the quote about as one of Roosevelt’s most famous quotes. It originated in a speech that Roosevelt delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910. As the Miller Center reports, Roosevelt “made the President, rather than the political parties or Congress, the center of American politics. Roosevelt did this through the force of his personality and through aggressive executive action.”
Next: This president disliked many of the features of politics.
27. William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft | The White House Historical Association
“Machine politics and the spoils system are as much an enemy of a proper and efficient government system of civil service as the boll weevil is of the cotton crop.”
Our White House counts the line above as one of William Howard Taft’s most notable quotes. Taft may have had strong opinions, but he wasn’t decisive enough to put many of them into action. As the Miller Center explains, “Taft seldom took any initiative in legislative matters, and he had little talent for leadership. He tended to ponder at great length all sides of a question. In essence, he was not decisive.”
Next: This president revealed some of his racist views in one of his most famous quotes.
28. Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson | Topical Press Agency/ Getty Images
“The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.”
This quote from Woodrow Wilson — referring to the founders of the Ku Klux Klan — isn’t exactly inspirational. But as Vox notes, it’s notable because it reveals in no uncertain terms that Wilson “was a racist by current standards, and he was a racist by the standards of the 1910s, a period widely acknowledged by historians as the ‘nadir’ of post–Civil War race relations in the United States.” As the publication notes, “Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office.”
Next: This president goes down in history as one of the worst commanders-in-chief of all.
29. Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding | The White House Historical Association
“America’s present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration.”
Warren G. Harding said the line above as part of a speech delivered in 1920. The sentiment may be admirable, but the Miller Center reports that historians generally consider Harding the worst president of all time. While he did have progressive views on race and civil rights, Harding failed “to impact the nation simply because he saw the role of President as largely ceremonial. He saw himself as neither a caretaker nor as a leader. He just avoided issues whenever possible.”
Next: This president became known for his taciturn demeanor.
30. Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge | The White House Historical Association
“No man ever listened himself out of a job.”
Reader’s Digest counts the quote above as one of the times when “the president was the funniest person in America.” As The Daily Beast reports, “Ingrained in our anti-monarchistic democracy is a populist pleasure in hearing our presidents make self-deprecating jokes, while comedically jousting with political foes.” The publication adds, “Coolidge earned his laughter by way of restraint. Rather than be saddled with a comic persona foisted upon him by others, Coolidge fostered his own: a lackadaisical loafer largely disinterested in his own presidency. It was a high-wire act to be sure, but Calvin Coolidge managed to pull it off.”
Next: This president increased the deficit.
31. Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover | Central Press/ Getty Images
“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”
Lapham’s Quarterly reports that Herbert Hoover uttered the quote above in 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression. As The Atlantic notes, Hoover “raised both spending and government deficits by rather a lot, and quite bravely considering that his critics — a group led by a fellow named Franklin Delano Roosevelt — ‘accused the president of “reckless and extravagant” spending” and “charged that Hoover was ‘leading the country down the path of socialism.’”
Next: This president delivered one of the most famous quotes of the World War II era.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Roosevelt | Keystone Features/ Stringer/ Getty Images
“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”
As USA Today reports, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered this famous quote during a fireside chat on December 29, 1940. The publication counts the line as one of the most famous quotes of the World War II era, with Roosevelt stating that the United States needed to provide additional support to Great Britain, and noting that appeasing Adolf Hitler and the Nazi government in Germany wasn’t a rational policy. “No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.”
Next: This president formally announced Germany’s surrender.
33. Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman | Fox Photos/ Getty Images
“We must work to bind up the wounds of a suffering world — to build an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law.”
Biography reports that this notable line from Harry S. Truman originated in an announcement that the president made on May 8, 1945. In his speech, Truman formally told the American people that days after Adolph Hitler committed suicide, Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 7.
Next: This president believed that isolated decisions matter less than people think they do.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower | Fox Photos/ Getty Images
“Now I realize that on any particular decision a very great amount of heat can be generated. But I do say this: life is not made up of just one decision here, or another one there. It is the total of the decisions that you make in your daily lives with respect to politics, to your family, to your environment, to the people about you. Government has to do that same thing. It is only in the mass that finally philosophy really emerges.”
According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home, Eisenhower said the lines above during his remarks at a “luncheon meeting of the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Finance Committee” on February 17, 1955.
Next: This president included a now-famous line in his inaugural address.
35. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy | National Archive/ Newsmakers/ Getty Images
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Most Americans need little introduction to the John F. Kennedy quote above, which Town & Country characterizes as one of JFK’s most famous lines. The quote, delivered in Kennedy’s inaugural address, “challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good,” his presidential library and museum reports.
Next: This president had a difficult relationship with the press.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson | Wikimedia Commons
“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: President Can’t Swim.”
Reader’s Digest puts this Lyndon B. Johnson line on the media and its biases on its list of the times when the president “was the funniest person in America.” As MPR News notes, the quote shows that the relationship between the president and the media that covers the White House “can often be adversarial, with some leaders chafing under the scrutiny of reporters.”
Next: This president delivered an emotional farewell speech to his staff.
37. Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon | AFP/ Getty Images
“Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
CNN reports that Richard Nixon included the line above in his final remarks at the White House, delivered on August 9, 1974. History noted in that farewell speech, Nixon bid “a humble and tearful farewell to his staff and the White House Cabinet in the wake of the Watergate scandal that forced his resignation.”
Next: This president tried to help the nation move on after Watergate.
38. Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford | STR/ AFP/ Getty Images
“Our long national nightmare is over . . . Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men.”
Gerald Ford wasn’t elected president or even vice president by the American public, and instead ascended to the office after Nixon resigned. As the Miller Center reports, “Ford understood that his most pressing task was to help the country move beyond the despair, disgust, and distrust generated by the Watergate crisis.” His speech upon assuming the presidency, including the lines above, “was met with almost universal applause.”
Next: This president wanted Americans to look beyond their differences.
39. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter | Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
“We have a tendency to condemn people who are different from us, to define their sins as paramount and our own sinfulness as being insignificant.”
Bustle counts the line above as one of Jimmy Carter’s most famous quotes. Carter said the line not in a speech or an official address, but in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle in 1997. Speaking about same-sex marriage, abortion, and the death penalty, Carter added, “I had to deal with matters of this kind in a legal way when I was governor and when I was president. But I was sworn to uphold the laws of my country and laws of the state. So, those kind of things are societal challenges.” He explained, “I think these are things that each individual worshiper has to interpret: What would Christ do, what would Christ want me to do?”
Next: This president made clear his disdain for the state of politics at the time.
40. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan | Michael Evans/ The White House/ Getty Images
“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’”
Inc. counts the joke above as one of Ronald Reagan’s most famous quotes. In an address before a joint session of the Tennessee State Legislature in 1982, Reagan explained, “For too long, too many of our leaders have been afraid to trust the people who sent them to office.” He added, “The naysayers, those who are resisting our drive to return our government and our economy to the people, are defending the status quo, and as we all know, that is a Latin phrase-status quo—for ‘the mess we’re in.’”
Next: This president advised people to find a way to serve others.
41. George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush | J. David Ake/ AFP/ Getty Images
“There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others. Find something to do. Get off the bench. Don’t sit there whining, sucking your thumb, get in the game.”
Entrepreneur reports that George H.W. Bush included the advice above in the remarks he delivered at a 2011 ceremony to honor former President Ronald Reagan with the George Bush Award For Excellence In Public Service. Bush knows a thing or two about service. He served as a U.S. Navy pilot during WWII, became a Texas Representative to Congress, served as United Nations Ambassador, and became Republican National Committee Chairman and C.I.A. director. He served as vice president for eight years and then served four years as president.
Next: This president believed in learning from mistakes.
42. Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton enjoy the applause from the crowd in 2004. | Paul J. Richards/ AFP/ Getty Images
“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”
Psychology Today puts this advice from Bill Clinton in its list of the most inspirational quotes from presidents. The Miller Center notes that the way Clinton handled adversity during his presidency will likely earn him mixed reviews from historians in the future. “Future historians will likely evaluate not just what Clinton did, but also what he did not accomplish, because he was tied-up in a second-term struggle for political survival. It is this consideration of ‘what might have been’ that may be Clinton’s greatest obstacle to gaining historical stature,” the group explains.
43. George W. Bush
George W. Bush | Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images
“These stories about my intellectual capacity really get under my skin. For a while I even thought my staff believed it. There on my schedule, first thing every morning, it said ‘Intelligence Briefing.’”
Politico reports that when George W. Bush delivered the line above at his first Gridiron Club dinner in 2001, he used the kind of self-deprecating humor that not every president has mastered. (That includes Bush’s successor, Barack Obama.) And it wasn’t the last time that Bush made fun of himself. He said near the end of his tenure that he was considering “something really fun and creative” for his memoirs. “You know, maybe a pop-up book.”
Next: This president often delivered inspirational speeches.
44. Barack Obama
Barack Obama | Alex Wong/ Getty Images
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Business Insider puts the lines above on its list of Barack Obama’s most inspirational quotes. “Hailed as one of the greatest presidential orators in modern history (although the title is quite contentious), Obama has a knack for public speaking even his political opponents can recognize,” the publication reports.
Next: Donald Trump has uttered a famous quote or two, as well.
45. Donald Trump
Donald Trump | Jim Watson/ AFP/ Getty Images
“Without passion you don’t have energy, with out energy you have nothing.”
Psychology Today counts the quote above — a tweet that appeared on Donald Trump’s Twitter account — as the most inspirational quote from our current president. The Telegraph collected other quotes that illustrate Trump’s philosophy and perspective on life, such as “As long as your going to be thinking anyway, think big,” and “It’s always good to be underestimated.”
Read more: These Are the Best Times Presidents (Including Donald Trump) Reminded Us They’re Human
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