Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

American 40th President of the United States, Governor of California and Radio, Film and Television Star

"Education is not the means of showing people how to get what they want. Education is an exercise by means of which enough men, it is hoped, will learn to want what is worth having."

"If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are."

"We have the means to change the laws we find unjust or onerous. We cannot, as citizens, pick and choose the laws we will or will not obey."

"People don’t start wars, governments do."

"In an atmosphere of liberty, artists and patrons are free to think the unthinkable and create the audacious; they are free to make both horrendous mistakes and glorious celebrations."

"There can be no greater good than the quest for peace, and no finer purpose than the preservation of freedom."

"Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first."

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

"Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government, has a monopoly on truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put here for a reason and has something to offer."

"In this [economic] crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts."

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: `I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’"

"The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other."

"A bird on a tether, no matter how long the rope, can always be pulled back."

"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that's true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not."

"A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist."

"A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah."

"A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation."

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."

"A strong American economy is essential to the well-being and security of our friends and allies."

"A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets tough."

"A picture is worth 1,000 denials."

"A people free to choose will always choose peace."

"Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born."

"A tree's a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"

"Admittedly, there is a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face."

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have."

"A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill."

"All systems are capitalist. It's just a matter of who owns and controls the capital -- ancient king, dictator, or private individual. We should properly be looking at the contrast between a free market system where individuals have the right to live like kings if they have the ability to earn that right and government control of the market system such as we find today in socialist nations."

"America has begun a spiritual reawakening. Faith and hope are being restored. Americans are turning back to God. Church attendance is up. Audiences for religious books and broadcasts are growing. And I do believe that he has begun to heal our blessed land."

"America is too great for small dreams."

"America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, 'You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won't become a German or a Turk.' But then he added, 'Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.'"

"America's view of apartheid is simple and straightforward. We believe it is wrong. We condemn it. And we are united in hoping for the day when apartheid will be no more."

"An actor knows two important things -- to be honest in what he is doing and to be in touch with the audience. That's not bad advice for a politician either."

"And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don't agree, if you don't think this course that we've been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have."

"America was founded by people who believe that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side."

"An economist is someone who sees something that works in practice and wonders if it would work in theory."

"And there's purpose and worth to each and every life."

"Anyone that's ever had their kitchen done over knows that it never gets done as soon as you wish it would."

"Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last."

"As government expands, liberty contracts."

"As long as there are guns, the individual that wants a gun for a crime is going to have one and going to get it. The only person who’s going to be penalized and have difficulty is the law-abiding citizen, who then cannot have [it] if he wants protection -- the protection of a weapon in his home."

"But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret."

"Being free and prosperous in a world at peace. That's our ultimate goal."

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement."

"Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?"

"Coercion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him."

"Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty."

"Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in"

"Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So we cut the people's tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before."