Wikiquote:Respectfully Quoted

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Following are quotes from Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989), a public domain compilation of quotes in the book produced by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, and containing quotes for which research was requested by members of Congress. These quotes generally need to be formatted and integrated into the appropriate articles. The headers were selected by the Library of Congress, and editors may well feel that some quotes do not fit neatly into the topic provided.

Past, present, and future[edit]

  • There must be what Mr. Gladstone many years ago called "a blessed act of oblivion". We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.
    • Winston Churchill, speech at Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland, September 19, 1946. The Sinews of Peace: Post-War Speeches by Winston S. Churchill, p. 200 (1949).
  • The question Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water…. I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, "that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living:" that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison (September 6, 1789); in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (1958), vol. 15, p. 392. In an editorial note, Boyd states that "This concept of political relativism was the one great addition to Jefferson's thought that emerged from his years of residence at the center of European intellectual ferment" (p. 384).
  • Like my three brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard. Sustained by their memory of our priceless years together I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, to excellence, to courage that distinguished their lives.
    • Ted Kennedy, speech, Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, August 21, 1968, as reported by The New York Times, August 22, 1968, p. 22.
  • The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
    • President Abraham Lincoln, annual message to Congress, December 1, 1862; in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 5, p. 537. This passage was quoted in the preamble to the 1968 Republican party platform.
  • Our duty is to preserve what the past has had to say for itself, and to say for ourselves what shall be true for the future.
    • Attributed to John Ruskin. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come
    In yours and my discharge.
    • William Shakespeare, The Tempest, act II, scene i, lines 253–54. Antonio is speaking. "What's past is prologue" is carved on the National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.
  • More and more Emerson recedes grandly into history, as the future he predicted becomes a past.
    • Robert Penn Warren, speech upon receipt of the 1970 National Medal for Literature, New York City (December 2, 1970); transcript, p. 2.
  • There is nothing new under the sun.
    • Various authors. Some sources give as a first source the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun". However, Marcus Aurelius said in his Meditations, "Consider for example, and thou wilt find that almost all of the transactions in the time of Vespasian differed little from those of the present day. Thou there findest marrying and giving in marriage, educating children, sickness, death, war, joyous holidays, traffic, agriculture, flatterers, insolent pride, suspicions, laying of plots, longing for the death of others, newsmongers, lovers, misers, men canvassing for the consulship and for the kingdom;—yet all these passed away, and are nowhere". Craufurd Tait Ramage, Familiar Quotations from Greek Authors, p. 47 (1895, reprinted 1968). For a range of variations of the above quotation, see The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, p. 164–65 (1982).


  • We have to go along a road covered with blood. We have no other alternative. For us it is a matter of life or death, a matter of living or existing. We have to be ready to face the challenges that await us.
    • Gamal Abdel Nasser, speech to Egypt's National Assembly, Cairo, November 6, 1969, as reported by The Washington Post, November 7, 1969, p. 1.
  • And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaign speech, Boston, Massachusetts, October 30, 1940. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940, p. 517 (1941).
  • Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave. Therefore do not take lightly the perils of war.
    • Thucydides, "The Funeral Speech", The Speeches of Pericles, trans. H. G. Edinger, p. 39 (1979).
  • They said we were soft, that we would not fight, that we could not win. We are not a warlike nation. We do not go to war for gain or for territory; we go to war for principles, and we produce young men like these. I think I told every one of them that I would rather have that medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor, than to be President of the United States.
    • Harry S. Truman, remarks at presentation of the Congressional Medal of Honor to fourteen members of the Navy and Marine Corps, October 5, 1945. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1945, p. 375.
  • … I saw these terrible things,
    and took great part in them.
    • (… quaeque ipse miserrima vidi
      et quorum pars magna fui.)
    • Virgil, The Aeneid (29-19 BC), trans. James H. Mantinband, book 2, lines 5–6, p. 25 (1964). This sentence has also been translated as: "All of which misery I saw, and a great part of which I was". Aeneas was describing the sack of Troy.
  • The War That Will End War.
    • H. G. Wells, book title, 1914. While the phrase "The war to end war" is often associated with Woodrow Wilson, its authorship was claimed by Wells in an article in Liberty, December 29, 1934, p. 4. Bertrand Russell also credited Wells in Portraits from Memory, p. 83 (1956). A cynical version attributed to David Lloyd George is: "This war, like the next war, is a war to end war". See William Safire, Safire's Political Dictionary, p. 777 (1978), for contemporary uses of the phrase.
  • A time will come when a politician who has wilfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own.
    • H. G. Wells, The Salvaging of Civilization (1921), chapter 1, conclusion, p. 40.
  • War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.
    • Attributed to various Frenchmen including Talleyrand, Clemenceau, and Briand. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989). Often heard, "… entrusted to generals".

World War II[edit]

  • The time has come when we must proceed with the business of carrying the war to the enemy, not permitting the greater portion of our armed forces and our valuable material to be immobilized within the continental United States.
    • George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff, as reported by the Washington, D.C., Times-Herald, March 3, 1942, p. 1.
  • Our spirit of enjoyment was stronger than our spirit of sacrifice. We wanted to have more than we wanted to give. We tried to spare effort, and met disaster.
    • Henri Pétain. Attributed to him in a caption, which said, "Frenchmen … heard Marshal Pétain pronounce this requiem over a lost France". The caption accompanies an article, "Danger: Men Not at Work!" by Hatton W. Summers, Nation's Business, May 1941, p. 15.
  • The frontier of America is on the Rhine.
    • Attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, by a member or members of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, meeting in executive session at the White House, January 31, 1939. Whitney H. Shepardson and William O. Scroggs, The United States in World Affairs, p. 104 (1940). Reports of this remark caused an outcry by American isolationists and in the German press, while they gave courage to the British and French. Roosevelt vehemently denied the remark, calling it a "deliberate lie" at his press conference on February 3. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1939, p. 113 (1941). Representative John A. Martin referred to this in remarks in the House during a discussion of building military airplanes: "A controversy has been raging over an alleged private remark of the President that the frontier of America is on the Rhine. Whether he said it or not, the frontier of America has been on the Rhine, and beyond. An American Army has trod the soil of Germany. The American frontier has been on the coasts of Europe, of Africa, and of Asia, when those coasts were vastly more distant from ours than they are today". Congressional Record, February 14, 1939, vol. 84, p. 1394.
  • In time of this grave national danger, when all excess income should go to win the war, no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, message to Congress, April 27, 1942. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942, p. 221 (1950).
  • Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, address to a joint session of Congress asking that a state of war be declared between the United States and Japan, December 8, 1941. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941, p. 514 (1950).
  • There is no doubt that the absence of a second front in Europe considerably relieves the position of the German Army, nor can there be any doubt that the appearance of a second front on the Continent of Europe—and undoubtedly this will appear in the near future—will essentially relieve the position of our armies to the detriment of the German Army.
    • Joseph Stalin, radio address from Moscow, November 6, 1941. Vital Speeches of the Day, December 1, 1941, p. 102.
  • What place does the possibility of a second front occupy in the Soviet estimates of the current situation? A most important place; one might say a place of first-rate importance.
    • Joseph Stalin, letter to Henry C. Cassidy, representative of The Associated Press in Moscow, October 4, 1942. The New York Times, October 5, 1942, p. 1.


  • It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
  • And we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient—that we are only 6 percent of the world's population—that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind—that we cannot right every wrong or reverse every adversity—and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.
    • John F. Kennedy, address at the University of Washington's 100th anniversary program, Seattle, Washington (November 16, 1961); in The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, p. 726.