140 George Washington Quotes on Life’s Guiding Principles

These George Washington quotes are little nuggets of wisdom about leadership and politics that are as important today as they were during his time.

You wouldn’t want to miss out on our collection featuring 140 quotes on patriotism, independence, and the common good.

George Washington had a clear goal as to what he hoped America would become, and a lot of what he established before are still being used as guides today.

Due to this, he’s regarded as the highest ranking U.S. officer of all time—the General of the Armies of the United States.

Learn more about his contributions through the list below.

And make sure to read these Benjamin Franklin quotes and Harriet Tubman quotes.

Best George Washington Quotes

George Washington Quotes on Failure

1. “99% of failures come from people who make excuses.”

2. “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

3. “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

4. “Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

George Washington Quotes on Education

5. “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government.”

6. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

7. “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few; and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

8. “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

9. “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military supplies.”

George Washington Quotes About His Mother

10. “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am, I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.”

11. “There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature.”

12. “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

13. “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue, enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles—the character of an honest man.”

14. “Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”

George Washington Quotes - Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.

15. “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”

16. “A sensible woman can never be happy with a fool.”

17. “True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to appellation.”

18. “Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation.”

19. “Knowledge is in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.”

George Washington Quotes - Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

20. “Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”

Also read: Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

George Washington Quotes on Citizenship and Patriotism

21. “To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.”

22. “The government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that those who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

23. “Citizens, by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.”

24. “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion.”

George Washington Quotes About Citizens

25. “The great mass of our citizens require only to understand matters rightly to form right decisions.”

26. “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

27. “The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”

28. “We began a contest for liberty, ill provided with the means for the war, relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency.”

29. “Men may speculate as they will; they may talk of patriotism; they may draw a few examples from ancient stories of great achievements performed by its influence; but whoever builds upon it as a sufficient basis for conducting a long and bloody war can never be supported on this principle alone.”

George Washington Quotes About Christians

30. “To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”

31. “The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward—that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend.”

32. “Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for.”

33. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

34. “Where are our men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their country?”

George Washington Quotes - Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance.

35. “Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect.”

36. “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 meditated against them.”

37. “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

38. “The government sometimes participates in the national propensity and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives.”

39. “I’ll die on my feet before I’ll live on my knees!”

George Washington Quotes About the United States

40. “Someday, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe.”

41. “The animosities of elections should have no place in our government, for the government must concern itself alone with the common weal.”

42. “Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.”

George Washington Quotes on Religion and Faith

43. “Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause; and I was not without hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy of the present age would have put an effective stop to contentions of this kind.”

44. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.”

George Washington Quotes About America

45. “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable strangers, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”

46. “I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of society.”

47. “They came with a Bible and their religion, stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now, tell us we should be thankful to the ‘Lord’ for being saved.”

48. “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”

49. “Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

George Washington Quotes About Christ

50. “If Christ were here now, there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.”

51. “If to please the people we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of God.”

52. “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own— a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.”

53. “Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?”

54. “Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do, then do it with all your strength.”

George Washington Quotes on Faith

55. “Faith, as well-intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction—faith in fiction is a damnable false hope”.

56. “It is impossible to reason without arriving at a supreme being.”

George Washington Quotes on the Constitution and Independence

57. “All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.”

58. “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government.”

59. “It is vain to exclaim against the depravity of human nature on this account. The fact is so, the experience of every age and nation has proved it and we must in a great measure, change the constitution of man, before we can make it otherwise.”

George Washington Quotes on Independence

60. “The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.”

61. “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.”

62. “The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government.”

63. “As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government.”

64. “I hope to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”

George Washington Quotes on Military Establishments

65. “Overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.”

66. “The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.”

67. “Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts. No recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.”

68. “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”

69. “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”

George Washington Quotes on Society

70. “Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest.”

71. “In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”

72. “Harmony—liberal intercourse with all nations—is recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.”

73. “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.”

74. “There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well prepared to meet the enemy.”

George Washington Quotes - Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.

75. “Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.”

76. “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

77. “The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels the government to war, contrary to the best calculations of policy.”

78. “In proportion, as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

79. “One of the expedients of a party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.”

George Washington Quotes - A brother's sword has been sheathed in a brother's breast.

80. “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.”

81. “Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all cases, of passion admit reason to govern.”

82. “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.”

83. “Those who have committed no faults want no pardon. We are only defending what we deem our indisputable rights.”

84. “My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.”

George Washington Quotes on Perspective and Knowledge

George Washington Quotes on Happiness

85. “Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.”

86. “Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.”

87. “The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”

88. “I conceive a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.”

89. “To persevere in one’s duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.”

George Washington Quotes on Not Looking Back

90. “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”

91. “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone.”

92. “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

93. “No punishment, in my opinion, is too great for the man who can build his greatness upon his country’s ruin.”

94. “Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.”

George Washington Quotes About Death

95. “Death—the abyss from where no traveler is permitted to return.”

96. “A bad war is fought with a good mind.”

97. “We expected to encounter many wants and distresses. We must bear the present evils and fortitude.”

98. “Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?”

99. “Wherein you reprove another, be unblameable yourself, for example, is more prevalent than precepts.”

George Washington Quotes - A man ought not to value himself of his achievements.

100. “A man ought not to value himself of his achievements or rare qualities of wit, much less of his riches, virtue or kindred.”

101. “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong—because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

102. “Much was to be done by prudence, much by conciliation, much by firmness.”

103. “Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.”

104. “Do not spare any reasonable expense to come at early and true information; always recollecting, and bearing in mind, that vague and uncertain accounts of things are more disturbing and dangerous than receiving none at all.”

George Washington Quotes - Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

105. “Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.”

106. “Sometimes, we will be rising toward the heights—then all will seem to reverse itself and start downward.”

107. “Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.”

108. “We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederation.”

109. “A small knowledge of human nature will convince us that, with far the greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle; and that almost every man is more or less, under its influence.”

George Washington Quotes on Motives of Public

110. “Motives of public virtue may, for a time, or in particular instances, actuate men to the observance of a conduct purely disinterested; but they are not of themselves sufficient to produce persevering conformity to the refined dictates and obligations of social duty.”

111. “Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all, and this, my dear friend, being the order for my march, I will move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers.”

112. “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pain to bring it to light.”

113. “Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.”

114. “The turning points of lives are not the great moments.”

George Washington Quotes on Decision Making

115. “Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process.”

116. “Everyday, the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more—that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.”

117. “Things in life will not always run smoothly.”

118. “Nature still offers her bounty, and human efforts have multiplied it.”

George Washington Quotes on the Common Good

119. “The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved.”

George Washington Quotes - If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it.

120. “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.”

121. “Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have—to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.”

122. “We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”

123. “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs—that honesty is always the best policy.”

124. “The nation, which indulges towards another habitual hatred, or habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave.”

George Washington Quotes - It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection

125. “It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection—either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”

126. “Be not glad at the misfortune of another, though he may be your enemy.”

127. “Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.”

128. “Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.”

129. “Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.”

George Washington Quotes - It is necessary for me to have persons that can think for me.

130. “It is absolutely necessary for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders.”

131. “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

132. “No people can be bound to acknowledge the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.”

133. “If the cause is advanced, indifferent is it to me where or in what quarter it happens.”

134. “The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.”

George Washington Quotes About Settlements

135. “The gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage and the wolf to retire—both being beasts of prey, though they differ in shape.”

136. “Experience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures best calculated for their own good, without the intervention of a coercive power.”

137. “Speak not injurious words neither in jest or earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.”

138. “Few men are capable of making a continual sacrifice of all views of private interest, or advantage, to the common good.”

139. “The hour is fast approaching on which the honor and success of this army and the safety of our bleeding country depend.”

George Washington Quotes About Business

140. “System to all things is the soul of business. To execute properly and act maturely is the way to conduct it to your advantage.”

Did These George Washington Quotes Inspire You to Live a Value-Based Life?

We regard history as a narrative of facts, figures, numbers, and dates. But really, history is much richer than that. It contains valuable life lessons we can use to improve the way we live our lives. George Washington, a prominent figure in history, provides life lessons and bits of inspiration for everyone to live a life with purpose—with a goal. He reminds us that having a strong moral character and a life based on virtues will eventually lead to accomplishments and respect.

How are these quotes from George Washington relevant to you? Which ones hit home the most? Comment them down below.