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George Washington

Date de naissance: 22. février 1732
Date de décès: 14. décembre 1799

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George Washington, né le 22 février 1732 à Pope's Creek et mort le 14 décembre 1799 à Mount Vernon , est un homme d'État américain, chef d’État-major de l’Armée continentale pendant la guerre d’indépendance entre 1775 et 1783 et premier président des États-Unis, en fonction de 1789 à 1797.

Washington est l'un des planteurs les plus riches de la région avec son domaine de Mount Vernon. Grâce à sa participation à la guerre de Sept Ans qui se déroule entre 1756 et 1763, il devient rapidement célèbre des deux côtés de l'Atlantique et s'intéresse aux questions politiques. Son engagement dans la révolution américaine ainsi que sa réputation le portent au poste de commandant des troupes américaines, qu'il organise et mène à la victoire finale, avec l'aide des Français, sur la métropole britannique. Après le conflit, il participe à la rédaction de la Constitution américaine et fait l’unanimité lors de la première élection présidentielle. Pendant ses deux mandats, George Washington montre ses qualités d'administrateur habile, malgré les difficultés internes et les conflits en Europe. Il a laissé son empreinte sur les institutions du pays et sur l’histoire des États-Unis.

Considéré comme l'un des Pères fondateurs des États-Unis par les Américains, George Washington a fait l'objet de nombreux hommages depuis la fin du XVIIIe siècle : son nom a été donné à la capitale des États-Unis, à un État du nord-ouest de l'Union, ainsi qu'à de nombreux sites et monuments. Son effigie figure depuis 1932 sur la pièce de 25 cents ainsi que sur le billet d'un dollar.

Citations George Washington

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

— George Washington
Letter to his niece, Harriet Washington (30 October 1791)

„My first wish is to see this plague to mankind banished from off the Earth, and the sons and Daughters of this world employed in more pleasing and innocent amusements, than in preparing implements and exercising them for the destruction of mankind:“

— George Washington
Context: As the complexion of European politics seems now (from letters I have received from the Marqs. de la Fayette, Chevrs. Chartellux, De la Luzerne, &c.,) to have a tendency to Peace, I will say nothing of war, nor make any animadversions upon the contending powers; otherwise, I might possibly have said that the retreat from it seemed impossible after the explicit declaration of the parties: My first wish is to see this plague to mankind banished from off the Earth, and the sons and Daughters of this world employed in more pleasing and innocent amusements, than in preparing implements and exercising them for the destruction of mankind: rather than quarrel about territory let the poor, the needy and oppressed of the Earth, and those who want Land, resort to the fertile plains of our western country, the second Promise, and there dwell in peace, fulfilling the first and great commandment. Letter to David Humphreys (25 July 1785), published in The Writings of George Washington, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 28, pp. 202-3. The W. W. Abbot transcription (given at [http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-03-02-0142 Founders Online]) differs slightly: My first wish is, to see this plague to Mankind banished from the Earth; & the Sons & daughters of this World employed in more pleasing & innocent amusements than in preparing implements, & exercising them for the destruction of the human race.

„The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.“

— George Washington
Context: 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. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

„We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.“

— George Washington
Context: We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, & in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining & holding the highest offices that are known in the United States. Your prayers for my present and future felicity are received with gratitude; and I sincerely wish, Gentlemen, that you may in your social and individual capacities taste those blessings, which a gracious God bestows upon the righteous. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw2&fileName=gwpage039.db&recNum=111 Letter to the members] of The New Church in Baltimore (22 January 1793), published in The Writings Of George Washington (1835) by Jared Sparks, p. 201

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„Every day 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.“

— George Washington
Context: Every day 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. Satisfied, that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

„Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action“

— George Washington
Context: Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life. Address to Congress resigning his commission (23 December 1783)

„But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.“

— George Washington
Context: In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated. This has sometimes been misquoted as: Guard against the postures of pretended patriotism.

„The establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness by a reasonable compact in civil society“

— George Washington
Context: The establishment of our new government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness by a reasonable compact in civil society. It was to be in the first instance, in a considerable degree, a government of accommodation as well as a government of laws. Much was to be done by prudence, much by conciliation, much by firmness. Few, who are not philosophical spectators, can realize the difficult and delicate part, which a man in my situation had to act. All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external happiness of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it beyond the lustre, which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.

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„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. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.“

— George Washington
Context: The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. 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. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island (1790)

„Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.“

— George Washington
Context: Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue?

„Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows.“

— George Washington
Context: 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, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows. I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket upon my shoulders and entered the rank, or if I could have justified the measure of posterity, and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these, and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labor under. Could I have foreseen the difficulties which have come upon us, could I have known that such a backwardness would have been discovered in the old soldiers to the service, all the generals upon earth should not have convinced me of the propriety of delaying an attack upon Boston till this time. In a letter to Joseph Reed, during the siege of Boston (14 January 1776), quoted in History of the Siege of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill (1849) by Richard Frothingham, p. 286

„A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it.“

— George Washington
Context: A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it. I should be happy that my own experience had afforded fewer examples of the little dependence to be placed upon them. Letter to Major-General John Sullivan (15 December 1779), published in The Writings of George Washington (1890) by Worthington Chauncey Ford, Vol. 8, p. 139

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