The 15 Most Memorable Presidential Quotes of All Time

With a few notable exceptions, the Presidents of the United States of America have been impressive men (soon enough we hope to be able to say “men and women”) to whom we do well to turn when looking for words of wisdom, inspiration, and solace. Though most presidential speeches are soon forgotten, a handful of great presidential quotes live on for years. Many of these memorable quotes are moving, some are amusing, some are prescient, and some are unforgettable.

Related Guides

Today, we’re looking at 15 memorable things presidents have said over the years. Yes, there is a time for the “ask nots” and the “only thing we have to fears” and such, but today is the time for presidential flexes.

George Washington

“Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.”

Thomas Jefferson

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Andrew Jackson

“Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”

Zachary Taylor

“I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me.”

Abraham Lincoln

“I can’t spare this man; he fights.”

Rutherford Hayes

“Every expert was once a beginner.”

Theodore Roosevelt

circa 1905: Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919), the 26th President of the United States (1901-09) sitting at his desk working. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Woodrow Wilson

circa 1916: Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) the 28th President of the United States of America. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

“I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticize their own public officials.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images

“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”

Harry Truman

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight — it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

John F. Kennedy

Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

Jimmy Carter

Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

Ronald Reagan

Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images

“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.”

Barack Obama

Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.”

Editors' Recommendations