Ronald Reagan Quotes 1–30 of 305 Quotes

Ronald Wilson Reagan (6 February 1911 – 5 June 2004) was an American politician and actor, who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he served as the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader. He was the husband of Jane Wyman (1940–1949) and Nancy Davis (married in 1952).

Below are 30 of 305 sourced Ronald Reagan quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“God made all his creations in different colors. It would be pretty boring if we all looked the same.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Reagan to his daughter, according to her. As quoted in "Daughter of Ronald Reagan breaks silence on ‘monkeys’ remark" (2 August 2019), by Zachary Halaschak, The Washington Examiner

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream.  The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well fought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same.  And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

— Ronald Reagan

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More on this quote: Address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (30 March 1961)
  • California Gubernatorial Inauguration Speech (5 January 1967)

“Back in 1927, an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said that the American people would never vote for socialism but he said under the name of liberalism the American people would adopt every fragment of the socialist program.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (1961 LP)

“Shouldn't someone tag Mr. Kennedy's "bold new imaginative" program with its proper age? Under the tousled boyish haircut it is still old Karl Marx — first launched a century ago. There is nothing new in the idea of a government being Big Brother to us all. Hitler called his "State Socialism" and way before him it was "benevolent monarchy."”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: In a 1960 letter to the GOP presidential candidate Richard Nixon, quoted in Matthew Dallek's The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan's First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (2000), p. 38

“But at the moment I'd like to talk about another way because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent. One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. . . . Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We have an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (1961 LP)

“The doctor begins to lose freedom. . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally divided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it's only a short step to dictating where he will go. . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it's a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won't decide, when he's in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (1961 LP)

“We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Televised speech (27 October 1964), cited in Reagan's Reign of Error (1983) by Mark Green

“It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: As quoted in The Fresno Bee (10 October 1965)

“I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at the point of a bayonet, if necessary.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: As quoted in The Los Angeles Times (20 October 1965)

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“Every morning Nancy and I turn to see what he has to say about people of our respective birth signs.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Regarding his friend Hollywood astrologer Carroll Righter, in Where's the Rest of Me? (1965)

“I would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: As quoted in Los Angeles Times (17 June 1966)

“A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Opposing expansion of Redwood National Park, as quoted in Sacramento Bee (3 March 1966)

“Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: As quoted in Sacramento Bee (28 April 1966)

“Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.”

— Ronald Reagan

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More on this quote: Joke during his 1965 campaign for Governor of California, as quoted by Leo E. Litwak in The New York Times Magazine (14 November 1965), p. 174.
• Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
 • As quoted in The Reagan Wit (1981) by Bill Adler, p. 30

“Americans don't go around carrying guns with the idea they're using them to influence other Americans. There's no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: California Legislature Stunned By Invasion Of Armed "Black Panthers", Gettysburg Times (3 May 1967)

“I have a feeling that we are doing better in the war [in Vietnam] than the people have been told.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: As quoted in Los Angeles Times (16 October 1967)

“We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: Speech at the Republican National Convention, Platform Committee Meeting, Miami, Florida" (31 July 1968)

“No Republican, no matter how liberal, is going to woo a Democratic vote; but a Republican bucking the giveaway trend might re-create some voters who have been staying home.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Quote source: 1960 Letter from Reagan to Richard Nixon, As quoted in The New York Times (27 October 1984) http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/27/us/on-the-record-text-of-1960-reagan-letter.html

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“As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down — up to a man's age-old dream; the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us that they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he will forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple.”

— Ronald Reagan

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More on this quote: 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign. In some published transcripts or quotations of this speech a variant of this statement appears immediately before the quote by Churchill below, but was not said during Reagan's televised address on (27 October 1964). Though he did make variations of the speech elsewhere it is unclear exactly when and where he may have said used these precise words:
They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.
  • California Gubernatorial Inauguration Speech (5 January 1967)

“Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Let's set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“Admittedly there is a risk in any course we follow other than this [surrender], but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he would rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy?”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

“The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits — not animals." And he said, "There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."”

— Ronald Reagan

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Ronald Reagan" (Quotes, 1960s, A Time for Choosing (1964):
A Time for Choosing (27 October 1964) This was a televised speech in support of the presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater; often referred to as "The Speech" which launched Reagan's career as a politician. Reagan gave other versions of this speech throughout the country, at various points during the Goldwater campaign.)

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