150 Woodrow Wilson Quotes

These Woodrow Wilson quotes will help you understand your past a little better, and at the same time, give you a different point of view for the way we see things today.

This collection offers bits and pieces of wisdom from America’s 28th president who witnessed firsthand some of the most tumultuous times in history, including the Civil War, Influenza, and World War I.

Start reading the full collection below.

Best Woodrow Wilson Quotes

1. “Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.”

2. “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

3. “The history of government is a history of resistance.”

4. “A conservative is a man who sits and thinks—mostly sits.”

5. “Some of us let these dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light, which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”

6. “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.”

7. “You have the greatest soul, the noblest nature, the sweetest, most loving heart I have ever known; and my love, my reverence, my admiration for you, you have increased in one evening as I should have thought only a lifetime of intimate, loving association could have increased them.”

8. “We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this.”

9. “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

10. “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.”

11. “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”

12. “The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

13. “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government.”

14. “Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately.”

15. “We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.”

16. “You are more wonderful and lovely in my eyes than you ever were before; and my pride, and joy, and gratitude that you should love me with such a perfect love are beyond all expression, except in some great poem which I cannot write.”

17. “The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it.”

18. “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons—a very much larger class of necessity in every society—to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”

19. “Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something.”

Woodrow Wilson Quotes on Power and Winning

20. “They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”

21. “I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose!”

22. “Let us give up saying that word as if it contained a slur. If you want to win in party action, I take it for granted that you want to lure the majority to your side.”

23. “The seed of revolution is repression.”

24. “War isn’t declared in the name of God; it is a human affair entirely.”

25. “But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts.”

26. “If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

27. “The whole business of adaptation has been theirs, and they have undertaken it with open minds, sometimes even with boldness and a touch of audacity.”

28. “Just what is it that America stands for? If she stands for one thing more than another, it is for the sovereignty of self-governing people.”

29. “When men take up arms to set other men free, there is something sacred and holy in warfare.”

30. “We know that there is a standard set for us in the heavens, a standard revealed to us in this book—the Bible—which is the fixed and eternal standard by which we judge ourselves.”

31. “A politician, a man engaged in party contests, must be an opportunist.”

32. “Once you lead the people into war, they will forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.”

33. “No man can rationally live, worship, or love his neighbour on an empty stomach.”

34. “We have not given science too big a place in our education, but we have made a perilous mistake in giving it too great a preponderance in method in every other branch of study.”

35. “America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.”

36. “How is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping?”

37. “If Germany won, it would change the course of our civilization and make the United States a military nation, and it would check his policy for a better international ethical code.”

38. “Caucasian laborers could not compete with the Chinese, could not live upon a handful of rice and work for a pittance, and found themselves being steadily crowded out from occupation after occupation by the thrifty, skillful Orientals, who, with their yellow skin and strange, debasing habits of life, seemed to them hardly fellow men at all, but evil spirit, rather.”

39. “America is the only idealistic nation in the world.”

40. “Golf is an ineffectual attempt to put an elusive ball into an obscure hole with implements ill-adapted to the purpose.”

41. “The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”

42. “I have come slowly into possession of such powers as I have. I receive the opinions of my day. I do not conceive of them. But I receive them into a vivid mind.”

43. “The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome.”

44. “Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American.”

45. “A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”

46. “Tell me what is right and I will fight for it.”

47. “Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life.”

48. “It is like writing history with lightning and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

49. “By radical, I understand one who goes too far; by conservative, one who does not go far enough; by reactionary, one who won’t go at all.”

Woodrow Wilson Quotes on Democracy and the Government

50. “The government, which was designed for the people, has gotten into the hands of the bosses and their employers—the special interests.”

51. “We forget, that in the resistance of the minority, some of the biggest things in our own history have been accomplished, and the man who looks on the Stars and Stripes and doesn’t hold a right to say nay to his neighbor, even if the neighbor is of the larger party, has forgotten the history of his country.”

52. “It is some poor farmer’s boy, or the son of some poor widow who will have to do the fighting and dying.”

53. “It is easy for me as President to declare war.”

54. “Nothing makes America great except her acceptance of those standards of judgement which are written large upon the pages of revelation.”

55. “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.”

56. “I do not have to fight, and neither do the gentlemen on the hill who now clamor for it.”

67. “There is more of a nation’s politics to be gotten out of its poetry, than out of all its systematic writers on public affairs and constitutions.”

58. “I come from the South and I know what war is, for I have seen its terrible wreckage and ruin.”

59. “The process of the formal amendment of the constitution was made so difficult by provisions of the constitution itself that it has seldom been feasible to use it; and the difficulty of formal amendment has undoubtedly made the courts more liberal, not to say lax, in their interpretation than they would otherwise have been.”

60. “We forget that there is much more patriotism in having the audacity to differ from the majority than in running before the crowd.”

61. “We know that our legislatures do not think alike, but we are not sure that our people do not think alike.”

62. “The old theory of the sovereignty of the States, which used so to engage our passions, has lost its vitality.”

63. “We have begun a fight that it may take many a generation to complete, but you know that men are not put into this world to go the path of ease; they are put into this world to go the path of pain and struggle.”

64. “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free, than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”

65. “We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations on which peace may be rebuilt.”

66. “Freedom exists only where people take care of the government.”

67. “The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can.”

68. “The chief instrumentality by which the law of the Constitution has been extended to cover the facts of national development has of course been judicial interpretation—the decisions of the courts.”

69. “The war between the states established, at least this principle, that the Federal Government is, through its courts, the final judge of its own powers.”

70. “We are impatient with state legislatures because they seem to us less representative of the thoughtful opinion of the country than Congress is.”

71. “You know how impossible it is, in short, to have a free nation, if it is a military nation and under military orders.”

72. “It is particularly true of constitutional government that its atmosphere is opinion.”

73. “America was born a Christian nation.”

74. “What we have to determine now is whether we are big enough, whether we are men enough, whether we are free enough, to take possession again of the government which is our own.”

75. “The immortality of Thomas Jefferson does not lie in any one of his achievements, or in the series of his achievements, but in his attitude towards mankind and the conception which he sought to realize in action of the service owed by America to the rest of the world.”

76. “It would be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs.”

77. “There are blessed intervals when I forget, by one means or another, that I am President of the United States.”

78. “Neutrality is a negative word. It does not express what America ought to feel.”

79. “That a peasant may become king does not render the kingdom democratic.”

Woodrow Wilson Quotes on Perseverance and Achieving Success

80. “The difference between a strong man and a weak one is that the former does not give up after a defeat.”

81. “We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

82. “We read, if we have the true reader’s zest and plate, not to grow more knowing, but to be less pent up and bound within a little circle, as those who take their pleasure, and not as those who laboriously seek instruction, as a means of seeing and enjoying the world of men and affairs.”

83. “We have given our lives to the enterprise, and that is richer and the moral is greater.”

84. “America was born to exemplify devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.”

85. “The world has a habit of going on.”

86. “There is a price which is too great to pay for peace, and that price can be put in one word.”

87. “If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you have lost something; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything.”

88. “But we shall not be poor if we love liberty, because the nation that loves liberty truly sets every man free to do his best and be his best.”

89. “The spirit of ruthless brutality will enter every fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street.”

90. “There is nothing that succeeds in life like boldness, provided you believe you are on the right side.”

91. “An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.”

92. “I have found one can never get anything in life that is worthwhile without fighting for it.”

93. “Generally, young men are regarded as radicals. This is a popular misconception.”

94. “If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it.”

95. “We can afford to exercise the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own strength and scorns to misuse it.”

96. “You devour a book meant to be read, not because you would fill yourself or have an anxious care to be nourished, but because it contains such stuff.”

97. “There must be, not a balance of power but a community power; not organized rivalries but an organized, common peace.”

98. “He is not a true man of the world who knows only the present fashions of it.”

99. “So far as the colleges go, the sideshows are swallowing up the circus.”

100. “Princeton is no longer a thing for Princeton men to please themselves with. Princeton is a thing with which Princeton men must satisfy the country.”

101. “The question of armaments, whether on land or sea, is the most immediately and intensely practical question connected with the future fortunes of nations and of mankind.”

102. “The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.”

103. “There can be no equality or opportunity if men, and women, and children are not shielded in their lives from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control, or singly cope with.”

104. “In the Lord’s prayer, the first petition is for daily bread.”

105. “You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light. You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape.”

106. “Golf is a game in which one endeavors to control a ball with implements ill-adapted for the purpose.”

107. “Prosperity is necessarily the first theme of a political campaign.”

108. “Caution is the confidential agent of selfishness.”

109. “Every man who takes office in Washington either grows or swells, and when I give a man an office, I watch him carefully to see whether he is growing or swelling.”

Woodrow Wilson Quotes on Friendship and Relationships

110. “Some people have a large circle of friends, while others have only friends that they like.”

111. “Only peace between equals can last.”

112. “The thing to do is to supply light and not heat.”

113. “If a man is a fool, the best thing is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.”

114. “One cannot pay the price of self-respect.”

115. “Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education, I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”

116. “My urgent advice to you would be, not only always to think first of America, but always, also, to think first of humanity. You do not love humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps. Humanity can be welded together only by love, by sympathy, by justice, not by jealousy and hatred.”

117. “To work for the common good is the greatest creed.”

118. “There is no higher religion than human service.”

119. “Property as compared with humanity, as compared with the red blood in the American people, must take second place, not first place.”

Woodrow Wilson Quotes on Politics and Affairs of State

120. “I never heard of any man in his senses who was fishing for a minority.”

121. “No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation.”

122. “No society is renewed from the top, and every society is renewed from the bottom.”

123. “It does not remain fixed in any unchanging form, but grows with the growth and is altered with the change of the nation’s needs and purposes.”

124. “We can have no sympathy with those who seek the power of government to advance their own personal interests or ambitions.”

125. . “All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.”

126. “Let no man suppose that progress can be divorced from religion, or that there is any other platform for the ministers of reform than the platform written in the utterances of our Lord and Savior.”

127. “Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.”

128. “Thomas Jefferson was a great leader of men because he understood and interpreted the spirits of men.”

129. “If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me, they ought to correct it.”

130. “Many an unhappy man has been of deep service to himself and to the world.”

131. “We will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.”

132. “We wish companionship and renewal of spirit, enrichment of thought and the full adventure of the mind; and we desire fair company, and a larger world in which to find them.”

133. “Never attempt to murder a man who is committing suicide.”

134. “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

135. “One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels.”

136. “At every crisis in one’s life, it is absolute salvation to have some sympathetic friend to whom you can think aloud without restraint or misgiving.”

137. “A conservative is someone who makes no changes and consults his grandmother when in doubt.”

138. “There is little for the great part of the history of the world, except the bitter tears of pity and the hot tears of wrath.”

139. “Interest does not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite them.”

140. “America is not anything if it consists of each of us. It is something only if it consists of all of us.”

141. “I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans because I am by instinct a teacher, and I would like to teach them something.”

142. “The awakening of the people of China to the possibilities under free government is the most significant, if not the most momentous, event of our generation.”

143. “If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing.”

144. “I am not sure that it is of the first importance that you should be happy.”

145. “Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership.”

146. “America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal—to discover and maintain liberty among men.”

147. “As compared with the college politician, the real article seems like an amateur.”

148. “I will not speak with disrespect of the Republican Party. I always speak with respect to the past.”

149. “The world is not looking for servants, there are plenty of these; but for masters, men who form their purposes and then carry them out, let the consequences be what they may.”

150. “Politics, I conceive to be nothing more than the science of the ordered progress of society along the lines of greatest usefulness and convenience to itself.”

Did These Quotes Make You Want to Win In Life?

In life, we face many challenges. And sometimes, we don’t know if our hardships will ever end. However, the most important thing is to face them one at a time and never give up. They may seem never-ending, but at some point, if we just keep pushing through, we’ll eventually see the light and succeed. During his lifetime, Woodrow Wilson bore responsibilities and faced challenges most of us can’t even imagine. He fought on—for himself, for his nation, and for peace in the world. In the end, he received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work in the end of the world war and creating the League of Nations.

How are these quotes relevant to what you’re facing right now? Did they inspire you in some way? Let us know how these affected you in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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