Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Public

"The price of power is responsibility for the public good." - Winthrop Williams Aldrich

"Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to think other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits." - Walter Bagehot

"Public reformers had need first practice on their own hearts that which they purpose to try on others." - Charles I NULL

"Humanity is much more shown in our conduct towards animals, where we are irresponsible except to heaven, than towards our fellow-creatures, where we are restrained by the laws, by public opinion, and fear of retaliation." - Paul Chatfield, pseudonym for Horace Smith

"Morality regulates the acts of man as a private individual; honor, his acts as a public man." - Esteban Echevernia

"No man on earth is truly free. All are slaves of money or necessity. Public opinion or fear of prosecution forces each one, against his conscience, to conform." - Euripedes NULL

"Though a hundred crooked paths may conduct to a temporary success, the one plain and straight path of public and private virtue can alone lead to a pure and lasting fame and the blessings of posterity." - Edward Everett

"We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues." - William H. P. Faunce

"He who serves the public is a poor animal; he worries himself to death and no one thanks him for it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Corrupt as men are, they are yet so much the creatures of reflection, and so strongly addicted to sentiments of right and wrong, that their attachment to a public cause can rarely be secured, or their animosity be kept alive, unless their understandings are engaged by some appearance of truth and rectitude." - Robert Hall

"No public man can be a little crooked. There is no such thing as a no-man's-land between honesty and dishonesty." - Herbert Hoover, fully Herbert Clark Hoover

"So long as we are on a search for pain-free human relationships, or shifting responsibility for all our hurt and all our fears of abandonment, or seeking ourselves in others, we have not yet found the thread that will lead us toward God, or ourselves. When we learn to accept ourselves - not just our public achievements and private successes, not just the divine being we are evolving into, but also our failures, inadequacies, cowardices and fears - then we will be able to embrace the strangers among us, because we will, finally, have embraced the stranger inside ourselves." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations. The same motives always produce the same actions: the same events follow the same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been from the beginning of the world, and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises, which have ever been observed among mankind." - David Hume

"The only difference betwixt the natural vices and justice lies in this, that the good, which results from the former, arises from every single act, and is the object of some natural passion: whereas a single act of justice, consider’d in itself, may often be contrary to the public good; and ‘tis only the concurrence of mankind, in a general scheme or system of action, which is advantageous." - David Hume

"I never did, or countenanced, in public life, a single act inconsistent with the strictest good faith; having never believed there was one code of morality for a public, and another for a private man." - Thomas Jefferson

"The only effect of public punishment is to show the rabble how bravely it can be borne." - Walter Savage Landor

"The most effective way of attacking vice is to expose it to public ridicule. People can put up with rebukes but they cannot bear being laughed at: they are prepared to be wicked but they dislike appearing ridiculous." - Molière, pen name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin NULL

"A career is born in public - talent in privacy." - Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Baker

"There is nothing a man can less afford to leave at home than his conscience or his good habits; for it is not to be denied that travel is, in its immediate circumstances, unfavorable to habits of self-discipline, regulation of thought, sobriety of conduct, and dignity of character. Indeed, one of the great lessons of travel is the discovery how much our virtues owe to the support of constant occupation, to the influence of public opinion, and to the force of habit; a discovery very dangerous, if it proceed from an actual yielding to temptations resisted at home, and not from a consciousness of increased power put forth in withstanding them." - Richardson Pack or Packe

"Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than partyline line or public opinion; when the mood of Beethoven or Bach will be the mood of your total existence; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians." - Wilhelm Reich

"If the intellectual has any function in society, it is to preserve a cool and unbiased judgment in the face of all solicitations to passion... During the war, the ordinary virtues, such as thrift, industry, and public spirit, were used to swell the magnitude of the disaster by producing a greater energy in the work of mutual extermination." -

"There is no real love of virtue without the knowledge of public good." - Lord Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury

"A moral decision is the loneliest thing that exists. Knowledge is shed abroad everywhere. Anybody may dip his cup into that great sea and take out what he can. It is a public appropriation from a public store. But what the man himself must do as a moral being, what ordering he shall make of his life, what allegiance he shall choose, what cause he shall cleave to - this is decided in that solitude where his soul in authentic presence lives with no other companion than the Final Authority which he recognizes as supreme." - William L. Sullivan

"We are too much inclined to underrate the power of moral influence, the influence of public opinion, and the influence of the principles to which great men - the lights of the world, and of the present age - have given their sanction." - Daniel Webster

"When any person of really eminent virtue becomes the object of envy, the clamor and abuse by which he is assailed is but the sign and accompaniment of his success in doing service to the public. And if he is truly a wise man, he will take no more notice of it than the moon does of the howling of the dogs. Her only answer to them is to shine on." - Richard Whately

"Bureaucracies are designed to perform public business. But as soon as a bureaucracy is established, it develops an autonomous spiritual life and comes to regard the public as its enemy." - Brooks Atkinson, fully Justin Brooks Atkinson

"Public opinion is no more than this. What people think that other people think." - Alfred Austin

"The best government rests on the people, and not on the few, on persons and not on property, on the free development of public opinion and not on authority." - George Bancroft

"The law of the Sabbath is the keystone of the arch of public morals; take it away, and the whole fabric falls." - William Garden Blaikie

"Today education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." - Brown v. Board of Education NULL

"We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment." - Brown v. Board of Education NULL

"For the mass public, it is easier to understand problems if they are reduced to black/white dichotomies. It is easier to understand policies if they are attached to individuals who are simplistically labeled as hawks or doves. Yet in today’s world any attempt to reduce its complexities to a single set of ideological propositions, to a single personality, or to a single issue is in itself a distortion. Such a distortion also raises the danger that public emotions could become so strong as to make the management of a genuinely complex foreign policy well-nigh impossible." -

"Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on." - Samuel Butler

"The history of the world is the record of the weakness, frailty and death of public opinion." - Samuel Butler

"The public buys its opinions as it buys its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered." - Samuel Butler

"Public sentiment will come to be, that the man who dies rich dies disgraced." - Andrew Carnegie

"At the bottom of a good deal of bravery that appears in the world there lurks a miserable cowardice. Men will face powder and steel because they cannot face public opinion." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Minds do not act together in public; they simply stick together; and when their private activities are resumed, they fly apart again." - Frank Moore Colby

"Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before in public. Never clothe them in vulgar and shoddy attire." - George W. Crane

"Man-made barriers, laws, social customs and prejudices continue to keep a majority of women in an inferior position without full control of our lives and bodies. From infancy throughout life, in personal and public relations, in the family, in the schools, in every occupation and profession, too often we find our individuality, our capabilities, our earning powers diminished by discriminatory practices and outmoded ideas of what a woman is, what a woman can do, and what a woman must be... We lack effective political and economic power We have only minor and insignificant roles in making, interpreting and enforcing our laws, in running our political parties, businesses, unions, schools and institutions, in directing the media, in governing our country, in deciding issues of war or peace. We do not seek special privileges, but we demand as a human right a full voice and role for women in determining the destiny of our world, our nation, our families and our individual lives." - Declaration of American Women NULL

"No man should be in public office who can't make more money in private life." - Thomas E. Dewey, fully Thomas Edmund Dewey

"Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation." -

"There is far more danger in public than in private monopoly, for when Government goes into business it can always shift its losses to the taxpayers. Government never makes ends meet - and that is the first requisite of business." -

"The pervasive nature of pollution, its disregard of political boundaries including state lines, the national character of the technical, economic and political problems involved, and the recognized Federal responsibilities for administering vast public lands which can be changed by pollution, for carrying out large enterprises which can produce pollutants, for preserving and improving the nation’s natural resources, all make it mandatory that the Federal Government assume leadership and exert its influence in pollution abatement on a national scale." - Environment Pollution Panel NULL

"We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been at the repression of faults rather than creation of virtues." - William P. Faunce

"To regard teachers - in our entire educational system from the primary grades to the university - as priests of our democracy is therefore not to indulge in hyperbole. It is the special task of teachers to foster those habits of open-mindedness and critical inquiry which alone make for responsible citizens, who in turn, make possible an enlightened and effective public opinion." - Felix Frankfurter

"Public opinion cannot do for virtue what it does for vice. It is the essence of virtue to look above opinion. Vice is consistent with, and very often strengthened by, entire subservience to it." - Benjamin Franklin

"Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know... Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech, a thing terrible to traitors." - Benjamin Franklin

"Public smoking, like public spitting, is becoming a socially unacceptable habit." - Ellen Goodman