Archive for ‘1700s’


impudent and atrocious

A more impudent, false, and atrocious proclamation was never fabricated by the hands of man.    

Ambrose Serle, secretary to the British army, his diary, referring to the Declaration of Independence.
Quoted in David McCullough’s 1776 (1776)

Note: I myself, an ardent American, do not agree with this quote. But there’s something about it that I still kinda love.


the sword

I shall constantly bear in mind that as the sword was the last resort for the preservation of our liberties, so it ought to be the first thing laid aside when those liberties are firmly established.

George Washington, letter to Congress (1776)



A people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove.

George Washington, in a letter, quoted in David McCullough’s 1776. (1776)


particular care

If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

Abigail Adams, letter to John Adams (1776)



I cannot desert a man…who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that a large part of it wants spirit to defend itself.

Colonel William Tudor, referring to George Washington in letter to his wife (1776)


some lucky chance

I agree with you that it is in vain to ruminate upon, or even reflect upon the authors of our present misfortune. We should rather exert ourselves, and look forward with hopes, that some lucky chance may yet turn up in our favor.

George Washington, in a letter to Robert Morris just before the Delaware crossing (1776)


stand it now

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 country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Thomas Paine, “The Crisis” (1776)


fraternal affection

One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.

George Washington, “Farewell Address” (1796)


democracy & discipline

…where the principles of democracy so universally prevail, where so great an equality and so thorough a leveling spirit predominates, either no discipline can be established, or he who attempts it must become odious and detestable, a position which no one will choose.

Joseph Reed, letter to his wife, quoted in David McCullough’s 1776 (1776)


a moral and religious people

…we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams, letter to the Massachusetts militia (October 11, 1798)


above every blessing

The great being who watches the hearts of the children of men knows I value you above every blessing

Henry Knox, letter to his wife Lucy, quoted in David McCullough’s 1776 (1776)


such a sort of government

Upon the whole, I cannot help saying—although I have never entered into the mysteries of government, having applied myself to my shop and my business—that it always seemed strange to me that people who contend so  much for civil and religious liberty should be so ready to deprive others of their natural liberty…

If one set of private subjects may at any time take upon themselves to punish another set of private subjects just when they please, it’s such a sort of government as I never heard of before; and according to my poor notion of government, this is one of the principle things which government is designed to prevent.

Theophilus Lillie (Loyalist and shopkeeper), quoted in David McCullough, 1776, p. 101. (1776)


this world

This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

Horace Walpole, a letter to the Countess of Ossory (1776)

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