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Quotations for U.S. Presidents Day

Anyway, it's funny how great men always get born on holidays, like Washington and Lincoln. ~Percy Keese Fitzhugh, Roy Blakeley: Lost, Strayed or Stolen, 1921

      I consider it a particular favour of Providence that I am permitted to partake in paying the tribute of honour and gratitude to the memory of your immortal George Washington.
      Across the seas, the monument erected in memory of architect Christopher Wren is inscribed with these words: "You seek his monument — look around."
      Let him who looks for a monument of Washington, look around the United States. The whole country is a monument to him. Your freedom, your independence, your national power, your prosperity, and your prodigious growth, is a monument to Washington. ~Lajos Kossuth (1802–1894)  [altered —tg]

I... speak with sincere Approbation & great Applause of your Conduct, and join in giving you the Character of one of the greatest Captains of the Age. ~Benjamin Franklin, to George Washington, 1780

Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on. ~Abraham Lincoln, 1842

Not in vain has Lincoln lived, for he has helped to make this republic an example of justice, with no caste but the caste of humanity. ~George Bancroft, 1866

His grave a nation's heart shall be;
His monument, a people free!
~Caroline A. Mason (1823–1890), "President Lincoln's Grave"

Lincoln was not a type. He stands alone — no ancestors, no fellows, and no successors. ~Robert G. Ingersoll (1833–1899), "Abraham Lincoln"

Abraham Lincoln... is one of those giant figures, of whom there are very few in history, who lose their nationality in death. They are no longer Greek or Hebrew, English or American: they belong to mankind... Lincoln belongs to the common people in every land. He is of their race, of their kin, of their blood, of their nation — the race of the common people... Everywhere they love that haggard face with the sad but tender eyes gleaming through it. There is a worship in their regard; there is a faith and a hope in that worship... The qualities that enabled the American nation to bring forth, to discern, to appreciate and to follow as leaders such men are needed now more than ever in the settlement of the world. May I respectfully but earnestly say... This torn and bleeding earth is calling to-day for the help of the America of Abraham Lincoln. ~David Lloyd George, 1920

Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all,
That which is gendered in the wilderness
From lonely prairies and God's tenderness.
Imperial soul, star of a weedy stream,
Born where the ghosts of buffaloes still dream,
Whose spirit hoof-beats storm above his grave,
Above that breast of earth and prairie-fire—
Fire that freed the slave.
~Vachel Lindsay, "Lincoln," General William Booth Enters into Heaven and Other Poems, 1913

A sage in wisdom, worthy of the best of the ancients; a man such as Diogenes would have been delighted to find; a statesman of the school of sound common sense, and a philanthropist of the most practical type; a patriot without a superior — his monument is a country preserved. His name will always be enrolled among the heroes and saviors of mankind. ~C. S. Harrington, 1880, about Abraham Lincoln

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined here alone. ~John F. Kennedy, 1962

The presidency itself is not a partisan institution. It’s the one office in this nation that represents everyone and it demands a duty of care for all Americans. ~Joseph R. Biden, Jr., 2020

George Washington was a gentleman,
A soldier and a scholar;
He crossed the Delaware with a boat,
The Potomac, with a dollar.
The British faced him full of joy,
And departed full of sorrow;
George Washington was a gentleman.
His birthday is tomorrow.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Washington's Birthday Eve"

George Washington was a gentleman,
His birthday is tomorrow.
He filled his country's friends with joy,
His country's foes, with sorrow.
And so my dears, his grateful land
In robes of glory clad him.
George Washington was a gentleman.
I'm glad his parents had him.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Washington's Birthday Eve"

I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him "father." ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

You know, America celebrating for Washington — a man who was so truthful — seems kinder sacrilegious. A lot of lying Americans get together and celebrate. Americans celebrating a truthful man's birthday always reminds me of a snake charmer celebrating St. Patrick's Day. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

Did you read what this writer dug up in George Washington's diary? I was so ashamed I sat up all night reading it. This should be a lesson to Presidents to either behave themselves or not to keep a diary. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

[W]ell I know that no man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. ~Thomas Jefferson, letter, 1796

George Washington is the only president who didn't blame the previous administration for his troubles. ~Joke from the 1960s

      Individual incumbents are remembered individually according to the challenges and responses of their tenure. But the office itself has long since come to transcend its occupants. The Presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was; and no matter how big, not big enough for its demands. It has served as symbol of the spirit, purposes and aspirations of the American nation in this land and in lands far beyond these shores...
      [I]t has been the will of the people that the office of the American Presidency be used in the work of perfecting our national unity, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity by seeking a world of peace, freedom, and opportunity.
      The office of the Presidency is, as one President described it, "pre-eminently the people's office." The President himself is, in the words of another President, "the steward of the public welfare." While it has become custom, outside the original concept of the Constitution, for Presidents to be chosen from candidacies offered by political parties, the office itself and the conduct of that office remain today, as at the inception, national and not partisan, serving all the people without regard to party affiliations or philosophical persuasions. ~Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 April 30th, "Commemoration of the Beginnings of the Office of the Presidency of the United States"

The man with the best job in the country is the vice President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, "How's the President?" ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

Ohio claims they are due a president as they haven’t had one since Taft. Look at the United States, they have not had one since Lincoln. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

Did you know that the Washington Monument was named after Abraham Lincoln? Yup, Lincoln was named in 1809, the Washington Monument wasn't named until 1885. ~Robert Brault,

February gave birth to both the tallest and shortest U.S. Presidents. Lincoln stood 6 feet four, making him the tallest, while William Henry Harrison served only one month, making him the shortest. ~Robert Brault,

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published 2002 Dec 12
revised Feb 2021, Sep 2021
last saved 2023 Aug 15