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George Washington: Quotations and
Observations on the
Leadership Style of George
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"We have now a National
character to establish, and it is of the utmost importance to stamp
favorable impressions upon it." (p. 133)
exceed a decent warmth, and submit your sentiments with diffidence. A
dictatorial stile, though it may carry conviction, is always accompanied
with disgust." (p. 65)
"You are wrong. My
countenance never yet betrayed my feelings."
Response to Henrietta Lipton, wife of the British ambassador, who stated
that she could see the pleasure he expected from retirement in his face. (p.
"If I were to wish the
bitterest curse to an enemy on this side of the grave, I should put him in
my situation....In confidence I tell you that I never was in such an
unhappy, divided state since I was born."
After his defeats at Long Island and Kip's Bay
"When men are irritated and the Passions inflamed, they fly hastily and
cheerfully to Arms; but, after the first emotions are over, to expect, among
such People, as compose the bulk of an Army, that they are influenced by any
other principles than those of Interest, is to look for what never did, and
I fear never will happen."
Letter to the President of Congress from Harlem
(pp. 25, 26)
"...if the laws are to be
so trampled upon with impunity, and a minority...is to dictate to the
majority, there is an end put at one stroke to republican government...for
some other man or society may dislike another law and oppose it with equal
propriety until all laws are prostrate, and everyone will carve for
Washington's observation about the Whiskey Rebellion
"The Nation, which
indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is to
some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its
affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and
The Farewell Address (p.101)
are from Richard Brookhiser, Founding Father.
NY: The Free Press, 1996)
"To be prepared for war
is the most effectual means to promote peace."
(Quoted in Edmund Morris, The Rise Of Theodore Roosevelt.
NY: The Modern Library, p. 593)
"Do not look for a perfect felicity before you consent to wed. Nor conceive,
from the fine tales the poets and lovers of old have told us of the
transports of mutual love, that heaven has taken its abode on earth. Nor do
not deceive yourself in supposing that the only means by which these are to
be obtained is to drink deep of the cup and revel in an ocean of love. Love
is a mighty pretty thing, but, like all other delicious things, it is
cloying; and when the first transports of a passion began to subside, which
it assuredly will do, and yield, oftentimes too late, to more sober
reflections, it serves to evince that love is too dainty a food to live on
alone, and ought not to be considered further than as a necessary ingredient
for that matrimonial happiness which results from a combination of causes:
none of which are of greater importance than that the object on whom it is
placed should possess good sense, a good disposition, and the means of
supporting you in the way you have been brought up. Such qualifications
cannot fail to attract (after marriage) your esteem and regard into which or
into disgust, sooner or later love naturally resolves itself ....be assured,
and experience will convince you that there is no truth more certain than
that all our enjoyments fall short of our expectations, and to none does it
apply with more force than to the gratification of the passions."
(Advice about marriage to his step-granddaughter, quoted in James Thomas
Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man.
Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1979, pp. 41, 42)
Quotations About George Washington's
"His eyes retire inward
and have nothing of fire or animation or openness in their expression.
If this circumspection is accompanied by discernment and penetration, as I
am informed it is...he possesses the two great requisites of a statesman,
the faculty of concealing his own sentiments and of discovering those of
(Observation by the secretary of a British diplomat
Richard Brookhiser, pp. 78,79)
"(He) possessed the gift of silence."
(Comment by President John Adams quoted in
Richard Brookhiser, p. 79)
"Thousands have learned
to restrain their passions, though few among them had to contend with
passions so violent."
Gouveneur Morris quoted in
Richard Brookhiser, p.6)
"If you are a prodigy or
a genius, an Alexander or a Caesar, then you bring victory from whatever you
touch. Washington was not in that class. But a successful
general does not have to be the best general in the world. All he has
to be...is better than the generals he faces."
Richard Brookhiser p. 34)
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