Presidents’ Day

The Lincoln Memorial, decorated for President's Day.

The Lincoln Memorial, decorated for President’s Day.

Presidents’ Day is celebrated variously as the birthday of George Washington, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, some other combination of presidents, or all the presidents at once.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, here are a few presidential quotes from the presidents most usually honored on Presidents’ Day:

George Washington:

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

…but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.

Abraham Lincoln:

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!  . .  if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over board land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

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