American History Quotes

Quotes tagged as "american-history" (showing 1-30 of 250)
James Ellroy
“America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can't lose what you lacked at conception.”
James Ellroy

Todd Garlington
“Once people said: Give me liberty or give me death. Now they say: Make me a slave, just pay me enough.”
Todd Garlington

Bill Bryson
“People in the West like to shoot things. When they first got to the West they shot buffalo. Once there were 70 million buffalo on the plains and then the people of the West started blasting away at them. Buffalo are just cows with big heads. If you've ever looked a cow in the face and seen the unutterable depths of trust and stupidity that lie within, you will be able to guess how difficult it must have been for people in the West to track down buffalo and shoot them to pieces. By 1895, there were only 800 buffalo left, mostly in zoos and touring Wild West shows. With no buffalo left to kill, Westerners started shooting Indians. Between 1850 and 1890 they reduced the number of Indians in America from two million to 90,000.

Nowadays, thank goodness, both have made a recovery. Today there are 30,000 buffalo and 300,000 Indiands, and of course you are not allowed to shoot either, so all the Westerners have left to shoot at are road signs and each other, both of which they do rather a lot. There you have a capsule history of the West.”
Bill Bryson

Joseph J. Ellis
“Lincoln once said that America was founded on a proposition that was written by Jefferson in 1776. We are really founded on an argument about what that proposition means.”
Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

David McCullough
“The source of our suffering has been our timidity. We have been afraid to think....Let us dare to read, think, speak, write.”
David McCullough, John Adams

Grover Cleveland
“Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative positions to be assumed by man and woman in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence than ours.”
Grover Cleveland

Eric Jay Dolin
“The heroic and often tragic stories of American whalemen were renowned. They sailed the world’s oceans and brought back tales filled with bravery, perseverance, endurance, and survival. They mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, sang, spun yarns, scrimshawed, and recorded their musings and observations in journals and letters. They survived boredom, backbreaking work, tempestuous seas, floggings, pirates, putrid food, and unimaginable cold. Enemies preyed on them in times of war, and competitors envied them in times of peace. Many whalemen died from violent encounters with whales and from terrible miscalculations about the unforgiving nature of nature itself. And through it all, whalemen, those “iron men in wooden boats” created a legacy of dramatic, poignant, and at times horrific stories that can still stir our emotions and animate the most primal part of our imaginations. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme,” proclaimed Herman Melville, and the epic story of whaling is one of the mightiest themes in American history.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Perhaps there has been, at some point in history, some great power whose elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to discover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse America, because America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen's claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not to inquire too much. And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

George Packer
“The attacks of 9/11 were the biggest surprise in American history, and for the past ten years we haven't stopped being surprised. The war on terror has had no discernible trajectory, and, unlike other military conflicts, it's almost impossible to define victory. You can't document the war's progress on a world map or chart it on a historical timetable in a way that makes any sense. A country used to a feeling of being in command and control has been whipsawed into a state of perpetual reaction, swinging wildly between passive fear and fevered, often thoughtless, activity, at a high cost to its self-confidence.”
George Packer

Eric Jay Dolin
“American whale oil lit the world. It was used in the production of soap, textiles, leather, paints, and varnishes, and it lubricated the tools and machines that drove the Industrial Revolution. The baleen cut from the mouths of whales shaped the course of feminine fashion by putting the hoop in hooped skirts and giving form to stomachtightening
and chest-crushing corsets. Spermaceti, the waxy substance from the heads of sperm whales, produced the brightest- and cleanest-burning candles the world has ever known, while ambergris, a byproduct of irritation in a sperm whale’s bowel, gave perfumes great staying power and was worth its weight in gold.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Timothy James Dean
I was on one of my world 'walkabouts.' It had taken me once more through Hong Kong, to Japan, Australia, and then Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific [one of the places I grew up]. There I found the picture of 'the Father.' It was a real, gigantic Saltwater Crocodile (whose picture is now featured on page 1 of TEETH).

From that moment, 'the Father' began to swim through the murky recesses of my mind. Imagine! I thought, men confronting the world’s largest reptile on its own turf! And what if they were stripped of their firearms, so they must face this force of nature with nothing but hand weapons and wits?

We know that neither whales nor sharks hunt individual humans for weeks on end. But, Dear Reader, crocodiles do! They are intelligent predators that choose their victims and plot their attacks. So, lost on its river, how would our heroes escape a great hunter of the Father’s magnitude? And what if these modern men must also confront the headhunters and cannibals who truly roam New Guinea?

What of tribal wars, the coming of Christianity and materialism (the phenomenon known as the 'Cargo Cult'), and the people’s introduction to 'civilization' in the form of world war? What of first contact between pristine tribal culture and the outside world? What about tribal clashes on a global scale—the hatred and enmity between America and Japan, from Pearl Harbor, to the only use in history of atomic weapons? And if the world could find peace at last, how about Johnny and Katsu?”
Timothy James Dean, Teeth

Suzy Witten
“Something terrible happened in Salem in 1692 . . . but it isn't what you think!”
Suzy Witten

Eric Jay Dolin
“Over time, it is all too common for people to lose touch with their heritage, as the thrill and immediacy of the present crowds out the echoes and lessons of the past. It would be a shame if that were to happen with respect to the fur trade. It is a seminal part of who we are as a nation, and how we came to be.”
Eric Jay Dolin, Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

John  Smith
“Nay, so great was our famine that a Salvage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and eat him; and so did divers one another, boyled and stewed with roots and herbs. And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her, before it was knowne, for which hee was executed, as hee well deserved. Now whether shee was better roasted, boyled, or carbonado'd I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.”
John Smith, Pocahontas: My Own Story

Amy Hill Hearth
“Their story, as the Delany sisters like to say, is not meant as "black" or "women's" history, but American history. It belongs to all of us. (From the Preface of "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years)”
Amy Hill Hearth

Ron Chernow
“He wondered why he cared so desperately about the fate of his adopted country and others seemingly so little.

"To see the character of the government and the country so sported with, exposed to so indelible a blot, puts my heart to the torture. Am I then more of an American than those who drew their first breath on American ground? Or what is it that thus torments me at a circumstance so calmly viewed by almost everybody else? Am I a fool, a romantic Quixote, or is there a constitutional defect in the American mind? Were it not for yourself and a few others, I . . . would say . . . there is something in our climate which belittles every animal, human or brute. . . . I disclose to you without reserve the state of my mind. It is discontented and gloomy in the extreme. I consider the cause of good government as having been put to an issue and the verdict against it.”
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

“Those who suffer terrible wars have a finer sense of when they begin and when they end.”
Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History

Thomas Paine
“...the so much boasted constitution of England...is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise...”
Thomas Paine

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“This outlook, one that said that American history must be the history of nature speaking through men, not of men shaping nature, became the single most powerful force in American intellectual life in the nineteenth century and shaped some of America's greatest works of literature, such as Moby Dick, Leaves of Grass and Walden, as well as generating an American school of philosophy , to be furthered by William James and John Dewey.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Other Essays

Brooke Gladstone
“Getting history right is pretty much the most important thing a citizen can do in a nation at war with itself--as ours was. And is.”
Brooke Gladstone

Alexis de Tocqueville
“Americans owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands. Thus democracy throws [a man] back forever upon himself alone, and threatens in the end to confine him entirely within the solitude of his own heart.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

“In 1960, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked into an idealistically-driven Cold War, pitting the Capitalistic West against the Communistic East. Cuba, unable to be self-sufficient, had to pick a side. With the United States putting economic pressure onto the relatively small country, Castro did the only thing his pride would allow. Voicing disdain for his neighbor to the north, Castro proclaimed that his ideological views paralleled those of the USSR. Meeting with the Soviet Premier Anastas Mikoyan, Castro agreed to provide the USSR with food and sugar, in return for a monetary infusion amounting to a $100 million loan, as well as industrial goods, crude oil and fertilizers. Castro’s first public admission that his revolution was socialistic was during his speech honoring the people killed in the air strikes of April 15, 1961, during the Bay of Pigs operation. The Cuban government then took over all the banks, except two Canadian ones.”
Captain Hank Bracker, "The Exciting Story of Cuba"

Frank Chodorov
“To the early American his state government was at least on a par with the federal government in his esteem. Illustrative is the following incident:
President Washington was about to arrive at Boston on a visit, and Governor Hancock was perturbed over a matter of protocol; would he be compromising the dignity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts if he went to meet the “father of his country” on arrival, or would it be more proper that the President call at the state Capitol? The Governor finally settled the problem by pleading illness…. The sequel to that incident is worth noting. President Washington was asked to review the Massachusetts militia; he refused on the ground that the militia was the military arm of the state, not the federal government; after all, the tacit understanding in those days was that the militia might be called upon to face the federal army.”
Frank Chodorov, The Income Tax: Root of All Evil

Colin Woodard
“There is no question that the Deep South seceded and fought the civil war to defend slavery. And its leaders made no secret of this motive. Slavery they argued Ad nauseam was the foundation for a virtuous biblically sanctioned social system superior to that of the free states. When 19th century deep southerners spoke of defending their “traditions”, “heritage”, and way of life they proudly identified the enslavement of others as the center piece of all three. Indeed, many of their leaders even argued that all lower class people should be enslaved regardless of race for their own good.
In response to Yankee and midland abolitionist the Deep South’s leaders developed an elaborate defense for human bondage. James Henry Hammond, former governor of South Carolina, published a seminal book arguing that enslaved laborers where happier, fitter and better looked after than their free counter parts in Brittan and the North, who were ruthlessly exploited by industrial capitalists. Free societies were therefore unstable as there was always a danger that the exploited would rise up creating a fearful crisis in republican institutions. Salves by contrast were kept in their place by violent means and denied the right to vote, resist or testify, ensuring the foundation of every well designed and durable republic.
Enslavement of the white working class would be in his words a most glorious act of emancipation. Jefferson’s notion all men are created equal, he wrote, was ridiculously absurd. In the deep southern tradition, Hammond’s republic was modeled on those of ancient Greece and Rome. Featuring rights and democracy for the elite, slavery and submission for inferiors. It was sanctioned by the Christian god whose son never denounced the practice in his documented teachings. It was a perfect aristocratic republic, one that should be a model for the world.
George Fitzhugh endorsed and expanded upon Hammond’s argument to enslave all poor people. Aristocrats, he explained, were really the nations Magna Carta because they owned so much and had the affection which all men feel for what belongs to them. Which naturally lead them to protect and provide for wives, children and slaves. Fitzhugh, whose books were enormously popular declared he was quite as intent on abolishing free society as you northerners are on abolishing slavery.”
Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

“The greatest lie ever sold to mankind is that it needs to be better, stronger, faster and more powerful than it already was intended to be when it was created in the beginning.”
Chris Morgan (SON)

“The most formidable enemy we face is far more destructive and even more successful than any acts of terrorism—liberalism, which has become a cancer to America and to western civilization at large. Over the past one hundred years, liberalism has done more damage to the American cause of Liberty and our prosperity than any attack by any group in any war ever could have hoped for.”
Daniel Rundquist

“Nowhere did our Founders lay out a plan for our government to attempt to ensure equal outcomes for citizens at the expense of those who excelled in the American environment of freedom and liberty. It was not their intent to create a system that allowed government to punish one class in order to unjustly reward another class to “level the playing field“ while at the same time buying votes.”
Daniel Rundquist

“I believe that the attitudes and actions that will restore America now are the very things that originally formed America.”
Daniel Rundquist

“All of these things about America—the independent spirit; freedom and liberty to think, express, and act; the promise of the potential for prosperity—have all been delivered to American citizens by our Founders and Framers, and secured by American soldiers, sailors, and airmen.”
Daniel Rundquist

Benjamin Franklin
“Human felicity is produc’d not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.”
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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