Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Wendell Phillips

American Orator, Abolitionist, Reformer, Advocate for Native Americans and Lawyer

"Great political questions stir the deepest nature of one half the nation, but they pass far above and over the heads of the other half."

"Governments exist to protect the rights of minorities. The loved and the rich need no protection: they have many friends and few enemies."

"Health lies in labor, and there is no royal road to it but through toil."

"How prudently we proud men compete for nameless graves, while now and then some starveling of late forgets himself into immortality"

"Hearts are stronger than swords."

"If there is anything in the universe that can't stand discussion, let it crack"

"Infidelity in woman is a masculine trait."

"Insurrection of thought always precedes insurrection of arms."

"If you want to be an orator, first get your great cause."

"Justice and humanity have been fighting their way, like a thunderstorm, against the organized selfishness of human nature. God has given manhood but one clue to success—utter and exact justice."

"No free people can lose their liberties while they are jealous of liberty. But the liberties of the freest people are in danger when they set up symbols of liberty as fetishes, worshipping the symbol instead of the principle it represents."

"Let us always remember that he does not really believe his own opinion, who dares not give free scope to his opponent."

"Liberty knows nothing but victories. Soldiers call Bunker Hill a defeat; but liberty dates from it though Warren lay dead on the field."

"Let me make the newspapers, and I care not what is preached in the pulpit or what is enacted in Congress"

"Law is nothing unless close behind it stands a warm, living public opinion."

"Many know how to flatter, few know how to praise."

"No matter whose lips that would speak, they must be free and ungagged. The community which dares not protect its humblest and most hated member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves. If there is anything in the universe that can’t stand discussion, let it crack."

"Opinionated assurance."

"One on God’s side is a majority."

"Our self-made men are the glory of our institutions."

"Physical bravery is an animal instinct; moral bravery is a much higher and truer courage."

"Popular opinion is oftenest, what Carlyle pronounced it to be, a lie!"

"Political convulsions, like geological upheavings, usher in new epochs of the world's progress."

"Revolutions are not made, they come. A revolution is as natural a growth as an oak. It comes out of the past. Its foundations are laid far back."

"Peace, if possible, but justice at any rate."

"Politics is but the common pulse-beat, of which revolution is the fever-spasm."

"Seldom ever was any knowledge given to keep, but to impart; the grace of this rich jewel is lost in concealment."

"Right is the eternal sun; the world cannot delay its coming."

"Revolutions never go backward."

"Sin is not taken out of man, as Eve was out of Adam, by putting him to sleep."

"Take the whole range of imaginative literature, and we are all wholesale borrowers. In every matter that relates to invention, to use, or beauty or form, we are borrowers."

"The best use of laws is to teach men to trample bad laws under their feet."

"Statutes are mere milestones, telling how far yesterday's thought had travelled; and the talk of the sidewalk today is the law of the land. - With us, law is nothing unless close behind it stands a warm, living public opinion."

"The community which does not protect its humblest and most hated member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves. If there is anything in the universe that can't stand discussion, let it crack."

"The heart is the best reflective thinker."

"The labor movement means just this: It is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth."

"The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day, or it is rotten. The living sap of to-day outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand intrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can a Democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity."

"The keener the want the lustier the growth"

"The paleontological evidence before us today clearly demonstrates ordered progressive change with the successive development of new faunal and floral assemblages through the changing epochs of our earth's history. There should be no real conflict between science, which is the search for truth. It is only when scientists remove God from creation that the Christian is faced with an irreconcilable situation."

"The old Hindoo saw, in his dream, the human race led out to its various fortunes. - First, men were in chains that went back to an iron hand - then he saw them led by threads from the brain, which went upward to an unseen hand. The first was despotism, iron, and ruling by force. - The last was civilization, ruling by ideas."

"The press is the exclusive literature of the million; to them it is literature, church, and college."

"The Puritan did not stop to think; he recognized God in his soul, and acted."

"The slowest of us cannot but admit that the world moves."

"There is no Canaan in politics. - As health lies in labor, and there is no royal road to it but through toil, so there is no republican road to safety but in constant distrust."

"To be fossilized is to be stagnant, unprogressive, dead, frozen into a solid. It is only liquid currents of thought that move men and the world."

"There is no republican road to safety but in constant distrust."

"To be as good as our fathers we must be better, imitation is not discipleship."

"To suppress minority thinking and minority expression would tend to freeze society and prevent progress. Now more than ever, we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening"

"To hear some men talk of the government, you would suppose that Congress was the law of gravitation, and kept the planets in their places."

"Today it is not big business that we have to fear. It is big government."