Posts tagged ‘american revolution’



The Americans are a curious, original people. They know how to govern themselves, but nobody else can govern them.

A British officer in the American Revolution, noting the atmosphere of peace and order that settled in the new nation; quoted by Stanley Weintraub in General Washington’s Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming (1783)


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.


immigrants and revolutionists

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution” (1938)


enthusiastic zeal

…no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as among Americans.

Mercy Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution (1805)


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)


that miraculous year

From the last week of August to the last week of December, the year 1776 had been as dark a time as those devoted to the American cause had ever known–indeed, as dark a time as any in the history of the country. And suddenly, miraculously it seemed, that had changed because of a small band of determined men and their leader.

David McCullough, 1776 (2005)


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)


so small a number

It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater and more lasting effects upon the history of the world.

George Otto Trevelyan, The American Revolution, vol. 2 (1905)*

*The three-volume set was published in 1905; Volume 2 may have been published earlier on its own.


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)

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