40 Classic Conservative Quotes


Note: Not everyone on this list could fairly be called a “conservative,” but all of the quotes represent classic examples of conservative thinking.

1) 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

2) I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University. — William F. Buckley

3) All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. — Edmund Burke

4) The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. — Winston Churchill

5) Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong! — Steven Decatur

6) Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history. — Will And Ariel Durant

7) “The America Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

8) It is not strange… to mistake change for progress. — Millard Fillmore

9) 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

10) I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. — Barry Goldwater

11) Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have. — Barry Goldwater

12) The prudent capitalist will never adventure his capital… if there exists a state of uncertainty as to whether the Government will repeal tomorrow what it has enacted today. — William Henry Harrison

13) 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

14) I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. — Thomas Jefferson

15) That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves. — Thomas Jefferson

16) I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. — Martin Luther King

17) If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting. — Curtis LeMay

18) Compassion is defined not by how many people are on the government dole but by how many people no longer need government assistance. — Rush Limbaugh

19) The world’s biggest problem is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn’t have food shortages. — Rush Limbaugh

20) From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking. — Niccolo Machiavelli

21) I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. — James Madison

22) If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too. — Somerset Maugham

23) War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. — John Stuart Mill

24) People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. — George Orwell

25) 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

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

27) Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one. — Tom Paine

28) History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. — Ronald Reagan

29) Millions of individuals making their own decisions in the marketplace will always allocate resources better than any centralized government planning process. — Ronald Reagan

30) We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much. — Ronald Reagan

31) The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I’m here to help. — Ronald Reagan

32) I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts. — Ronald Reagan

33) Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far. — Teddy Roosevelt

34) 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

35) War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. — Gen William T. Sherman

36) There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. — Thomas Sowell

37) …Conservatives have excellent credentials to speak about human rights. By our efforts, and with precious little help from self-styled liberals, we were largely responsible for securing liberty for a substantial share of the world’s population and defending it for most of the rest. — Margaret Thatcher

38) To be free is better than to be unfree – always. Any politician who suggests the opposite should be treated as suspect. — Margaret Thatcher

39) Yet the basic fact remains: every regulation represents a restriction of liberty, every regulation has a cost. That is why, like marriage (in the Prayer Book’s words), regulation should not ‘be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly’ — Margaret Thatcher

40) Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. — George Washington

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