Quotes From The American Revolution


(Editor’s Note: Some quotes pre-date the actual beginning of the revolution but were important and enough to be included.)

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” — John Adams

“[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” — John Adams, 1765

“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.” — John Adams in a letter in 1777

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” — Samuel Adams, 1779

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” — Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Ben Franklin, 1759

“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” — Ben Franklin, 1766

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” — Nathan Hale’s last words before being hanged by British

“There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!” — John Hancock after signing his name in large letters on the Declaration of Independence

“The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I Am Not A Virginian, But An American!” — Patrick Henry in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party.

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” — Patrick Henry

“The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable; and let it come! I repeat, Sir, let it come!” — Patrick Henry

“They tell us Sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power.” — Patrick Henry

“Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Beside, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of Nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.” — Patrick Henry

“That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1774

“Our properties within our own territories [should not] be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own.” — Thomas Jefferson, 1774

“I have not yet begun to fight!” — John Paul Jones

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” — John Paul Jones, 1778

“One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle.” — James Otis, 1761

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their county; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered yet we have this consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” — Tom Paine after the Declaration of Independence

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Tom Paine

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” — Tom Paine, 1776

“Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” — Captain John Parker, 1775

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes! Then fire low!” — Israel Putnam at the Battle Of Bunker Hill

“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.” — Benjamin Rush, 1773

“Yonder are the Hessians. They were bought for seven pounds and tenpence a man. Are you worth more? Prove it. Tonight the American flag floats from yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow!” — John Stark at the Battle of Bennington in 1777

“Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit — appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free.” — Joseph Warren, 1775

“We began a contest for liberty ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency. We expected to encounter many wants and distressed’ we must bear the present evils and fortitude'” — George Washington in 1781

“Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions — The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a free man contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” — George Washington, 1776

“The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.” — George Washington, 1776

“Unhappy it is, though, to reflect that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in a brother’s breast and that the once-happy plains of America are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?” — George Washington in a letter to a friend

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.” — George Washington to officers of the Continental Army who seemed to be plotting insurrection after Congress refused to give them aid. According to the book, “The Wars Of America,” many of the men were “overcome” and began “openly weeping.” They then agreed to “leave their problems in Washington’s hands.”

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