George Washington Quotes 1–30 of 264 Quotes

George Washington (22 February 1732 – 14 December 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who also served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War of Independence, and he presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government. He has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

Below are 30 of 264 sourced George Washington quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to Governor Dinwiddie (29 May 1754)

“Tis true, I profess myself a Votary to Love — I acknowledge that a Lady is in the Case — and further I confess, that this Lady is known to you. — Yes Madam, as well as she is to one, who is too sensible of her Charms to deny the Power, whose Influence he feels and must ever Submit to. I feel the force of her amiable beauties in the recollection of a thousand tender passages that I coud wish to obliterate, till I am bid to revive them. — but experience alas! sadly reminds me how Impossible this is. — and evinces an Opinion which I have long entertaind, that there is a Destiny, which has the Sovereign controul of our Actions — not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature. You have drawn me my dear Madam, or rather have I drawn myself, into an honest confession of a Simple Fact — misconstrue not my meaning — ’tis obvious — doubt it not, nor expose it, — the World has no business to know the object of my Love, declard in this manner to — you when I want to conceal it — One thing, above all things in this World I wish to know, and only one person of your Acquaintance can solve me that, or guess my meaning. — but adieu to this, till happier times, if I ever shall see them.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to Mrs. George William Fairfax (Sally Cary Fairfax) (12 September 1758)

“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter of Instructions to the Captains of the Virginia Regiments (29 July 1759)

“The General is sorry to be informed —, that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore little known in an American army, is growing into a fashion; — he hopes the officers will, by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms, if we insult it by impiety and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Extract from the Orderly Book of the army under command of Washington, dated at Head Quarters, in the city of New York (3 August 1770); reported in American Masonic Register and Literary Companion, Volume 1 (1829), p. 163

“Unhappy it is though to reflect, that a Brother's Sword has been sheathed in a Brother's breast, and that, the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with Blood, or Inhabited by Slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous Man hesitate in his choice?”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to Mr. George William Fairfax (31 May 1775) George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

“As to pay, Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept this arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Acceptance speech after being "elected" by the Continental Congress as commander of the yet-to-be-created Continental Army (15 June 1775)

“But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Washington's formal acceptance of command of the Army (16 June 1775), quoted in The Writings of George Washington : Life of Washington (1837) edited by Jared Sparks, p. 141

“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: George Washington to New York Legislature (26 June 1775)

“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to Benedict Arnold (14 September 1775)

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“To expect … the same service from raw and undisciplined recruits, as from veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did and perhaps never will happen. Men, who are familiarized to danger, meet it without shrinking; whereas troops unused to service often apprehend danger where no danger is.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to the President of Congress (9 February 1776)

“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: General Orders, Headquarters, New York (2 July 1776)

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: General Order (9 July 1776) George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 3g Varick Transcripts

“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)

“There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and renders him fit for command, like a support that renders him independent of everybody but the State he serves.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to the president of Congress, Heights of Harlem (24 September 1776)

“To place any dependence upon militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life - unaccustomed to the din of arms - totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, which being followed by a want of confidence in themselves when opposed to troops regularly trained, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge, and superior in arms, makes them timid and ready to fly from their own shadows.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to the president of Congress, Heights of Harlem (24 September 1776)

“My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than can be reasonably expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably can never do under any other circumstances.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Encouraging his men to re-enlist in the army (31 December 1776)

“Parade with me my brave fellows, we will have them soon!”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Rallying his troops at the Battle of Princeton (3 January 1777)

“The Marquis de Lafayette is extremely solicitous of having a command equal to his rank. I do not know in what light Congress will view the matter, but it appears to me, from a consideration of his illustrious and important connexions, the attachment which he has manifested for our cause, and the consequences which his return in disgust might produce, that it will be advisable to gratify him in his wishes; and the more so, as several gentlemen from France, who came over under some assurances, have gone back disappointed in their expectations. His conduct with respect to them stands in a favorable point of view; having interested himself to remove their uneasiness, and urged the impropriety of their making any unfavorable representations upon their arrival at home; and in all his letters he has placed our affairs in the best situation he' could. Besides, he is sensible; discreet in his manners; has made great proficiency in our language; and, from the disposition he discovered at the battle of Brandywine, possesses a large share of bravery and military ardor.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to the Continental Congress (1 November 1777), as quoted in Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States Vol. 23, Issue 2 (1835), p. 665

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“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: General Orders (2 May 1778); published in Writings of George Washington (1932), Vol.XI, pp. 342-343

“It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years' manoeuvring and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, that perhaps ever attended any one contest since the creation, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and that which was the offending party in the beginning is now reduced to the use of the spade and pickaxe for defence. The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. But it will be time enough for me to turn preacher, when my present appointment ceases…”

— George Washington

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More on this quote: Letter to Brigadier-General Nelson, 20 August 1778, in Ford's Writings of George Washington (1890), vol. VII, p. 161. Part of this is often attached to a fragment of a letter to John Armstrong of 11 March 1782; it is also often prefaced with the spurious "governing without God" sentence, as this 1867 example from Henry Wilson (Testimonies of American Statesmen and Jurists to the Truths of Christianity) shows:
 • It is impossible to govern the world without God. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly implore his protection and favor. I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency which was so often manifested during the revolution; or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of Him, who is alone able to protect them. He must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.

“It gives me very sincere pleasure to find that there is likely to be a coalition of the Whigs in your State (a few only excepted) and that the Assembly of it, are so well disposed to second your endeavors in bringing those murderers of our cause—the Monopolizers—forestallers—& Engrossers—to condign punishment. It is much to be lamented that each State, long ’ere this, has not hunted them down as the pests of Society, & the greatest enemies we have, to the happiness of America. I would to God that one of the most attrocious in each State was hung in Gibbets, up on a gallows five times as high as the one prepared by Haman—No punishment, in my opinion, is too great for the Man, who can build “his greatness upon his Country’s ruin.””

— George Washington

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Quote source: George Washington to Joseph Reed, 12 December 1778, Founders Online, National Archives. Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 18, 1 November 1778 – 14 January 1779, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 396–398. Page images at American Memory (Library of Congress)

“In the last place, though first in importance I shall ask—is there any thing doing, or that can be done to restore the credit of our currency? The depreciation of it is got to so alarming a point—that a waggon load of money will scarcely purchase a waggon load of provision.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to John Jay, 23 April 1779, Founders Online, National Archives. Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 20, 8 April–31 May 1779, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, p. 177. Also found in The Life John Jay With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers. by His Son, William Jay in Two Volumes, Vol. II., 1833

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”

— George Washington

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More on this quote: Letter to Major-General Robert Howe (17 August 1779), published in "The Writings of George Washington": 1778-1779, edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (1890)
• Paraphrased variants:
• Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
• Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder

“Know my good friend that no distance can keep anxious lovers long asunder, and that the wonders of former ages may be revived in this — But alas! will you not remark that amidst all the wonders recorded in holy writ no instance can be produced where a young Woman from real inclination has prefered an old man — This is so much against me that I shall not be able I fear to contest the prize with you — yet, under the encouragement you have given me I shall enter the list for so inestimable a jewell.”

— George Washington

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Quote source: Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette (30 September 1779)

“A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it. I should be happy that my own experience had afforded fewer examples of the little dependence to be placed upon them.”

— George Washington

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Washington, George. “George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#27

Quote source: Letter to Major-General John Sullivan (15 December 1779), published in The Writings of George Washington (1890) by Worthington Chauncey Ford, Vol. 8, p. 139

“[F]ree Negroes who have served in this army are very much dissatisfied at being discarded. As it is to be apprehended that they may seek employ in the Ministerial Army, I have … given license for their being enlisted.”

— George Washington

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Washington, George. “George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#28

Quote source: 1770s, Letter to John Hancock (1775) To John Hancock (31 December 1775)

“Mrs. Phillis: Your favour of the 26th of October did not reach my hands 'till the middle of December. Time enough, you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming, but not real neglect.”

— George Washington

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Washington, George. “George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#29

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Washington, George (2021, August 5) George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#29

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Washington, George. “George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 5 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#29

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Washington, George. “George Washington Quotes: 1–30 of 264 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/George-Washington-quotes.html#29

Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "George Washington" (Quotes, 1770s, Letter to Phyllis Wheatley (1776):
Letter to Phyllis Wheatley (28 February 1776))

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