- Revolutions are not made; they come. A revolution is as natural a growth as an oak. It comes out of the past. Its foundations are laid far back.
- Speech (8 January 1852)[specific citation needed]
- The best use of laws is to teach men to trample bad laws under their feet.
- Speech (12 April 1852)[specific citation needed]
- Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
- What the Puritans gave the world was not thought, but action.
- Speech (21 December 1855)[specific citation needed]
- Every man meets his Waterloo at last.
- Whether in chains or in laurels, Liberty knows nothing but victories.
- Truth is one forever absolute, but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition of the spectator.
- Idols (4 October 1859)[specific citation needed]
- Difference of religion breeds more quarrels than difference of politics.
- Speech (7 November 1860)[specific citation needed]
- Revolutions never go backward.
- Speech (17 February 1861)[specific citation needed]
- He who stifles free discussion, secretly doubts whether what he professes to believe is really true.
- Oration delivered at Daniel O'Connell celebration, Boston (6 August 1870), published in Wendell Phillips: The Agitator (1890) by William Carlos Martyn, p. 563
- Take the whole range of imaginative literature, and we are all wholesale borrowers. In every matter that relates to invention, to use, or beauty or form, we are borrowers.
- Lecture: The Lost Arts, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
- Write on my gravestone: "Infidel, Traitor" — infidel to every church that compromises with wrong; traitor to every government that oppresses the people.
- As quoted in Bulletin, Vol. 8, Issues 11-18, p. 69
Quotes about Phillips
- "It's just what Wendell Phillips said," she declared. "'The Puritan's idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business.'"