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Quotations about Property



...no man but feels more of a man in the world if he have a bit of ground that he can call his own. However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property. ~Charles Dudley Warner, "Preliminary," My Summer in a Garden, 1870


Property is dear to man, not only because it assures him of a sustenance while he lives, but also because it is a safeguard to those he must leave behind him when he quits the earth. ~James Henry Potts, "Ownership," Every Life a Delight, 1914


As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce. ~Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations


The first person, who, having inclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, battles and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes would not that man have saved mankind, who should have pulled up the stakes, or filled up the ditch, crying out to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and that the earth itself belongs to nobody." ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)


Why should we envy the rich?... They are no happier than I am. You see, after all, few rich men own their property. The property owns them. ~Robert G. Ingersoll, speech, 1896


What we call real estate — the solid ground to build a house on — is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of this world rests. A man will commit almost any wrong — he will heap up an immense pile of wickedness, as hard as granite, and which will weigh as heavily upon his soul, to eternal ages — only to build a great, gloomy, dark-chambered mansion, for himself to die in, and for his posterity to be miserable in. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne


No man acquires property without acquiring with it a little arithmetic, also. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. ~G. K. Chesterton


...it is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly. The State and Property are the great embodiments of possessiveness; it is for this reason that they are against life, and that they issue in war. Possession means taking or keeping some good thing which another is prevented from enjoying... ~Bertrand Russell, Why Men Fight: A Method of Abolishing the International Duel, 1917


Well! some people talk of morality, and some of religion, but give me a little snugPROPERTY. ~Maria Edgeworth


Fully ninety-nine hundredths of the laws of that time concerned the definition and protection of private property and the relations of buyers and sellers... Formerly, society was a pyramid poised on its apex. All the gravitations of human nature were constantly tending to topple it over, and it could be maintained upright, or rather upwrong (if you will pardon the feeble witticism) by an elaborate system of constantly renewed props and buttresses and guy-ropes in the form of laws. A central Congress and forty state legislatures turning out some twenty thousand laws a year, could not make new props fast enough to take the place of those which were constantly breaking down or becoming ineffectual through some shifting of the strain. ~Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000–1887, 1888


For all being Kings as much as he, every Man his Equal and the greater Part no strict Observers of Equity and Justice, the enjoyment of the Property he has in this State, is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit this Condition, which however free, is full of Fears and continual Dangers: And 'tis not without Reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in Society with others, who are already united, or have a Mind to unite, for the mutual Preservation of their Lives, Liberties, and Estates, which I call by the general Name, Property. The great and chief End therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property. ~John Locke


      No man should be allowed to own any land that he does not use. Everybody knows that — I do not care whether he has thousands or millions... And why? Don't you know that if people could bottle the air, they would? Don't you know that there would be an American Air-bottling Association? And don't you know that they would allow thousands and millions to die for want of breath, if they could not pay for air? I am not blaming anybody. I am just telling how it is. Now, the land belongs to the children of Nature... It seems to me that every child of Nature is entitled to his share of the land, and that he should not be compelled to beg the privilege to work the soil.... it is not to our interest to have a few landlords and millions of tenants.
      The tenement house is the enemy of modesty, the enemy of virtue, the enemy of patriotism. Home is where the virtues grow.... every man [should] have a home. Then we will have a nation of patriots. ~Robert G. Ingersoll, 1885


As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter, and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


      The true Indian sets no price upon either his property or his labor. His generosity is only limited by his strength and ability. He regards it as an honor to be selected for difficult or dangerous service, and would think it shame to ask for any reward, saying rather: "Let him whom I serve express his thanks according to his own bringing up and his sense of honor!"
      Nevertheless, he recognizes rights in property. To steal from one of his own tribe would be indeed disgrace, and if discovered, the name of "Wamanon," or Thief, is fixed upon him forever as an unalterable stigma. The only exception to the rule is in the case of food, which is always free to the hungry if there is none by to offer it. ~Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), The Soul of the Indian: An Interpretation, 1912


Just as man can't exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one's rights into reality — to think, to work and to keep the results — which means: the right of property. The modern mystics of muscle who offer you the fraudulent alternative of "human rights" versus "property rights" as if one could exist without the other, are making a last, grotesque attempt to revive the doctrine of soul versus body. Only a ghost can exist without material property... ~Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged


The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything. ~Fight Club, 1999, screenplay by Jim Uhls, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk


Collis P. Huntington... maintained a rigid code of ethics of his own framing. It was, however, a code of power, currently described about as follows: "Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry loose is not nailed down." ~David Starr Jordan


In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. ~James Madison, 1792


An argument fatal to the communist theory, is suggested by the fact, that a desire for property is one of the elements of our nature. ~Herbert Spencer


I am what is mine. Personality is the original personal property. ~Norman O. Brown


Professors in every branch of the sciences prefer their own theories to truth: the reason is, that their theories are private property, but the truth is common stock. ~C. C. Colton


...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them; and the bad neighborhood to be avoided is our own scurvy selves. ~Henry David Thoreau, "Economy," Walden


...yet I am, and have always been, and shall now always be, a revolutionary writer, because our laws make law impossible; our liberties destroy all freedom; our property is organized robbery; our morality is an impudent hypocrisy; our wisdom is administered by inexperienced or malexperienced dupes, our power wielded by cowards and weaklings, and our honor false in all its points. ~Bernard Shaw, 1906


For the recognition of private property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. ~Oscar Wilde


PROPERTY, n.  Any material thing, having no particular value, that may be held by A against the cupidity of B. Whatever gratifies the passion for possession in one and disappoints it in all others. The object of man's brief rapacity and long indifference. ~Ambrose Bierce


We take care of our health; we lay up money; we make our roof tight, and our clothing sufficient; but who provides wisely that he shall not be wanting in the best property of all, — friends? ~Ralph Waldo Emerson





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