Top 50+James Garfield Quotes


Who is James Garfield

James A. Garfield, in full James Abram Garfield, (born November 19, 1831, near Orange [in Cuyahoga county], Ohio, U.S.—died September 19, 1881, Elberon [now in Long Branch], New Jersey), 20th president of the United States (March 4–September 19, 1881), who had the second shortest tenure in U.S. presidential history. When he was shot and incapacitated, serious constitutional questions arose concerning who should properly perform the functions of the presidency.

The last president born in a log cabin, Garfield was the son of Abram Garfield and Eliza Ballou, who continued to run the family’s impoverished Ohio farm after her husband’s death in 1833. Garfield dreamed of foreign ports of call as a sailor but instead worked for about six weeks guiding mules that pulled boats on the Ohio and Erie Canal, which ran from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. By his own estimate, Garfield, who did not know how to swim, fell into the canal some 16 times and contracted malaria in the process. Always studious, he attended Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) at Hiram, Ohio, and graduated (1856) from Williams College. He returned to the Eclectic Institute as a professor of ancient languages and in 1857, at age 25, became the school’s president. A year later he married Lucretia Rudolph (Lucretia Garfield) and began a family that included seven children (two died in infancy). Garfield also studied law and was ordained as a minister in the Disciples of Christ church, but he soon turned to politics.

James Garfield Quotes

1. Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.

2. A brave man is a man who dares to look the Devil in the face and tell him he is a Devil.

3. Ideas are the great warriors of the world, and a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality.

4. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.

5. Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.

6. A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.

7. The President is the last person in the world to know what the people really want and think.

8. Territory is but the body of a nation. The people who inhabit its hills and valleys are its soul, its spirit, its life.

9. If wrinkles must be written on our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.

10. The sin of slavery is one of which it may be said that without the shedding of blood there is no remission.

11. Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.

12. I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came.

13. He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.

14. The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis until it is regulated by law.

15. Few men in our history have ever obtained the Presidency by planning to obtain it.

16. If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it’s the best possible substitute for it.
17. I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not a fool, which is a matter of no small difficulty.

18. The chief duty of government is to keep the peace and stand out of the sunshine of the people.

19. Things don’t turn up in this world until somebody turns them up.

20. The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.

21. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States.

22. I love to deal with doctrines and events. The contests of men about men I greatly dislike.

23. Poverty is uncomfortable; but nine times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim.

24. All free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.

25. Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis.

26. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.

27. I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else.

28. A law is not a law without coercion behind it….

29. Poverty is uncomfortable; but 9 times out of 10 the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and be compelled to sink or swim.

30. I have had many troubles, but the worst of them never came.

31. I believe in God, and I trust myself in His hands.

32. Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear, like owls and bats, before the light of day.

33. [I]t would be unjust to our people and dangerous to our institutions to apply any portion of revenues of the nation or of the States to the support of sectarian schools.

34. When the shadow of the Presidential and Congressional election is lifted we shall, I hope to be in a better temper to legislate.

35. Mankind have been slow to believe that order reigns in the universe-that the world is a cosmos and a chaos.

36. The chief instrument of American statistics is the census, which should accomplish a two-fold object. It should serve the country by making a full and accurate exhibit of the elements of national life and strength, and it should serve the science of statistics by so exhibiting general results that they may be compared with similar data obtained by other nations.

37. The worst days of darkness through which I have ever passed have been greatly alleviated by throwing myself with all my energy into some work relating to others.

38. No man can make a speech alone. It is the great human power that strikes up from a thousand minds that acts upon him, and makes the speech.

39. I will not vote against the truths of the multiplication table.

40. The prosperity which now prevails is without parallel in our history. Fruitful seasons have done much to secure it, but they have not done all. The preservation of the public credit and the resumption of specie payments, so successfully attained by the Administration of my predecessors, have enabled our people to secure the blessings which the seasons brought.

41. It would convert the Treasury of the United States into a manufactory of paper money. It makes the House of Representatives and the Senate, or the caucus of the party which happens to be in the majority, the absolute dictator of the financial and business affairs of this country. This scheme surpasses all the centralism and all the Caesarism that were ever charged upon the Republican party in the wildest days of the war or in the events growing out of the war.

42. The refunding of the national debt at a lower rate of interest should be accomplished without compelling the withdrawal of the national-bank notes, and thus disturbing the business of the country.
43. Commerce links all mankind in one common brotherhood of mutual dependence and interests.

44. Swift defined observation to be an old man’s memory.

45. The possession of great powers no doubt carries with it a comtempt for mere external show

46. The people are responsible for the character of their Congress.

47. Tortured for the Republic.

48. Great ideas travel slowly, and for a time noiselessly, as the gods whose feet were shod with wool.

49. [Science] is the literature of God written on the stars-the trees-the rocks-and more important because [of] its marked utilitarian character.

50. I admitted, that the world had existed millions of years. I am astonished at the ignorance of the masses on these subjects. Hugh Miller has it right when he says that ‘the battle of evidences must now be fought on the field of the natural sciences.’

51. Liberty is no negation. It is a substantive, tangible reality.

52. Most human organizations that fall short of their goals do so not because of stupidity or faulty doctrines, but because of internal decay and rigidification.

53. Statistics has been the handmaid of science, and has poured a flood of light upon the dark questions of famine and pestilence, ignorance and crime, disease and death.

54. They grow stiff in the joints. They get in a rut. They go to seed.

55. History is but the unrolled scroll of prophecy.

56. [The President is] the last person in the world to know what the people really want and think.

57. For honest merit to succeed amid the tricks and intrigues which are now so lamentably common, I know is difficult; but the honor of success is increased by the obstacles which are to be surmounted. Let me triumph as a man or not at all.

58. To all our means of culture is added the powerful incentive to personal ambition, no post of honor is so high but the poorest may hope to reach it.

59. The divorce between church and state should be absolute.

60. In my judgment, while it is the duty of Congress to respect to the uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of every citizen … not any ecclesiastical organization can be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree the functions and powers of the national government.


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