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FAVORITE QUOTES

QUOTATIONS ABOUT WAR BY AMERICAN PRESIDENTS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, JOHN ADAMS, U.S. GRANT, TEDDY ROOSEVELT PLUS LOUISA MAY ALCOTT,  WINSTON CHURCHILL, HERMANN GOERING, SIGMUND FREUD, AND MANY MORE
Collected by Gene Griessman, Ph.D., Editor, The AchievementDigest®

Links to more great quotes at the bottom of this page

Click here for Contemporary War Quotes


HISTORIC QUOTES


Ulysses S. Grant
“Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history.   Better for him, individually, to advocate 'war, pestilence, and famine,' than to act as obstructionist to a war already begun."
     (18th President of the United States and Civil War general who also fought in the Mexican War in
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant.  Vol. 1, p. 68.  Abraham Lincoln, incidentally, opposed the Mexican War, and it almost ended his political career.)

"It is to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico, and while practically holding the country in our possession, so that we could have retained the whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid a round of sum for the additional territory taken; more than it was worth, or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire of incalculable value; but it might have been obtained by other means.

"The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War.  Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.  We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times."
     (Written in the 1885 as Grant reflected on a war in which he fought in the 1840s.
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. Vol. 1, pp. 55, 56.)

John Adams
"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war." 
          (In letter to his wife Abigail. During the 1790s war with the French seemed all but inevitable, and Adams was under strong pressure to declare war against them.)

"War necessarily brings with it some virtues, and great and heroic virtues, too....What horrid creatures we men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another."
(From a letter to his long-time friend Benjamin Rush)

Abraham Lincoln
"Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.  This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."  (Italics Lincoln's; Speech August 26, 1852)

Louisa May Alcott 
“I’ve often longed to see a war, and now I have my wish.” (Best known for writing "Little Women," Alcott was an avid  abolitionist; she became a nurse during the Civil War.)  

Robert E. Lee
"It is well that war is so terrible -- we should grow too fond of it!"  (Comment by famed Confederate general to an aide as they watched the slaughter of over 12,000 Union soldiers in a single day at Fredericksburg.)

Theodore Roosevelt
"No triumph of peace is quite so great as the supreme triumph of war.  (From a speech when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the Naval War College in 1897; Roosevelt fervently and successful advocated a war with Spain; he subsequently became a hero in that war.)

Hermann Goering

Goering: "...It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship."
Gilbert: "There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
Goering: "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

          (Nazi leader Hermann Goering was interviewed by Gustave Gilbert, the prison psychologist who observed and interviewed the Nuremberg prisoners.  The quote above is from Gilbert's book Nuremberg Diary.)

William Tecumseh Sherman
"In our Country...one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out."  (Civil War general, best known for his March to the Sea, from Atlanta to Savannah)

Sigmund Freud
"A belligerent state permits itself every such misdeed, every such act of violence, as would disgrace the individual."
"(War) strips us of the later accretions of civilization and lays bare the primal man in each of us.  It compels us once more to be heroes who cannot believe in their own death; it stamps strangers as enemies, whose death is to be brought about or desired; it tells us to disregard the death of those we love."
(Psychologist, 1856-1939; Written in 1915 during WWI)

Boake Carter
"In time of war, the first casualty is truth."
    (American radio commentator; 1900-1944)

Winston Churchill
"To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war."
(Prime Minister of Great Britain; statement made during a visit to Washington, DC in 1956)

Benjamin Franklin
"After much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare, and the little or no advantage obtained even by those nations who have conducted it with the most success, I have been apt to think that there has never been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a good war, or a bad peace." (Letter to his old friend Jonathan Shipley during Franklin's negotiations that led to the Paris Pact which ended hostilities between the United States and Great Britain in 1782)

Thomas Mann
"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."
          (1875-1955;German author)

Robert Lynd
"The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions."
     (1879-1949;Anglo-Irish essayist, journalist)

Will Rogers
"There's the one thing no nation can ever accuse us of and that is secret diplomacy.  Our foreign dealings are an open book, generally a check book."         (October 21, 1923  American humorist  1879-1935)

John-Paul Sartre
"When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die."
      (1905-1980 French novelist, playwright, exponent of      existentialism)

Sir Walter Scott
"Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
     To all the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious strife
     Is worth an age without a name."
          (1771-1832: English poet and author)

Shakespeare
"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he today that sheds his blood with me;
Shall be my brother."   ("Henry V")

Nikita Khruschev
 "They talk about who won and who lost.  Human reason won.  Mankind won."
     (Soviet premier,1894-1971, when asked who won the Cuban missile crisis)

Herodotus
"In peace, sons bury their fathers.  In war, fathers bury their sons." 
  (Greek historian: called the Father of History; 484?–425? B.C)

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
Unlike virtually every war leader in history, Lincoln did not demonize his opponents.  He found plenty to blame on both sides. Delivered on March 4, 1865 after a series of major successes by Union forces, the War’s end was in sight.  Considered by many to be one of the most eloquent statements ever written in the English language, the words were repeated eight weeks to the day at Lincoln’s funeral. 

"....On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil-war.  All dreaded it—all sought to avert it….Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish.  And the war came.

….Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained…Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.

      Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.  It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.  The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.  The Almighty has His own purposes.  'Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!'  If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came,  shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?  Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

     With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Click below for more informative and interesting pages:
Index to all pages
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Time Management:  How To Create A Time-Effective Organization
Abraham Lincoln: quotes
More About Abraham Lincoln: Resources For Further Study
Is George W. Bush the next Abraham Lincoln?  Lincoln-Bush compared
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt quotes and commentary on leadership style
The Lincoln-Roosevelt Connection
War quotes
Ronald Reagan quotes; exclusive interview: his big break
"The Diversity Creed"; Why I Wrote "The Diversity Creed"
Remarkable Similarities Between President Abraham Lincoln And  Benjamin Franklin
Civil War Quotes: U.S. Grant's Leadership Style
How To Do Business With Americans:  Forgive Their Blunders
The Americans:  Who Are They And How Did They Get This Way?  

 

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