Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Rights

"It is a conscience very ill informed that violates the rights of one man, for the convenience of another." - James Boswell

"So let them ease their hearts with prate of equal rights, which man never knew." -

"To enforce one's rights when they are violated is never a legal wrong, and may often be a moral duty." -

"The great duty of God’s children is to love one another. This duty on earth takes the name and form of the law of humanity. We are to recognize all men as brethren, no matter where born, or under what sky, or institution or religion they may live. Every man belongs to the race, and owes a duty to mankind... Men cannot, by combining themselves into narrower or larger societies, sever the sacred, blessed bond which joins them to their kind... The law of humanity must reign; over the assertion of all human rights." - William Ellery Channing

"The sense of duty is the fountain of human rights. In other words, the same inward principle which teaches the former bears witness to the latter Duties and rights must stand and fall together." - William Ellery Channing

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Declaration of Independence NULL

"Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having." -

"The true source of rights is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek." -

"[Suicide note] - Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortune, or 'broken heart' is excuse for cutting off one's life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one." - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a.k.a. Charlotte Anna (nee Perkins), Charlotte Perkins Stetson

"There is nothing in life so irrational, that good sense and chance may not set it to rights; nothing so rational, that folly and chance may not utterly confound it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Men will sooner surrender their rights than their customs." - Moritz Güdemann

"We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Thomas Jefferson

"I want every American free to stand up for his rights, even if sometimes he has to sit down for them." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"The attempted transformation of the Indian by the white man and the chaos that has resulted are but the fruits of the white man’s disobedience of a fundamental and spiritual law. “Civilization” has been thrust upon me since the days of reservations, and it has not added one whit to my sense of justice, to my reverence for the rights of life, to my love of truth, honesty, and generosity, or to my faith in Wakan Tanka, God of the Lakotas. For after all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in fine books and embellished in fine language with finer covers, man - all man - is still confronted with the Great Mystery." - Chief Luther Standing Bear

"Self-respect is at the bottom of all good manners. They are the expression of discipline, of good-will, of respect for other people's rights and comfort and feelings." - Edward Sanford Martin

"The greatest danger that faces this country is the danger of moral lassitude - liberty turned to license, rights demanded and duties shirked, the moral sense deteriorating, the traditions and standards of the nation weakened, the spiritual forces within it losing ground." - Robert J. McCracken, D.D.

"The God-given rights of parents are not understood or are ignored by our secularist educators and by many school administrators who, in the delusion of sovereignty, act as though they, not the parents, have complete control of the education of the child." - John T. McNicholas, fully John Timothy McNicholas

"Nobody talks more passionately of his rights than he who, in the depths of his soul, is doubtful about harm." -

"Many who think that they are taking life seriously are actually only taking themselves seriously. Who takes himself seriously is overconscious of his rights; who takes life seriously is fully conscious of his obligations." - Joseph T. O'Callahan

"True liberty consists in the privilege of enjoying our own rights, not in the destruction of the rights of others." -

"Zeal is very blind, or badly regulated, when it encroaches upon the rights of others." - Pasquier Quesnel

"We hear in these days a great deal respecting rights - the rights of labor, the rights of property, and the rights of man. Rights are grand things, divine things in this world of God’s; but the way in which we expound these rights, alas! seems to me to be the very incarnation of selfishness. I can see nothing very noble in a man who is forever going about calling for his own rights. Alas! alas! for the man who feels nothing more grand in this wondrous, divine world than his own rights." -

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, the farm or office where he works. such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." -

"Never exceed your rights, and they will soon become unlimited." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Education as a political weapon could not exist if we respected the rights of children. If we respected the rights of children, we should educate them so as to give them the knowledge and the mental habits required for forming independent opinions; but education as a political institution endeavors to form habits and to circumscribe knowledge in such a way as to make one set of opinions inevitable." -

"The only true source of politeness is consideration, that vigilant moral sense which never loses sight of the rights, the claims, and the sensibilities of others." - William Gilmore Simms

"Socialists are filled with the enthusiasm of equality... Equality of possession or of rights and equality before the law are diametrically opposed to each other. The object of equality before the law is to make the state entirely neutral." - William Graham Sumner

"Qualities we look for in a liberally educated person: He is one who is deeply interested in life and enjoys it; who is sympathetic and generous in his attitude to other people, cultures, and countries, who accepts his world and himself as a growing, changing enterprise; who is sensitive to the beautiful and the ugly in actions and objects; who believes in human rights and freedom; who has a degree of knowledge and knows how to get the knowledge he does not have and who has at least a moderate skill in the art of living." -

"Freedom springs from within, whether in a man or in a people. To remove disabilities and confer the franchise is not enough. Men must be enabled to grow if they are to exercise their rights with dignity and effect. For this reason the widening of the franchise in democratic countries has always been accompanied or followed by the development of popular education." - Basil Alfred Yeaxlee

"Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature." - Samuel Adams

"Intellectual and spiritual leaders hailed the cause of civil rights and gave little thought to where the civil disobedience road might end. But defiance of the law, even for the best reasons, opens a tiny hole in the dike and soon a trickle becomes a flood... And while no thinking person denies that social injustice exits, no thinking person can condone any group, for any reason, taking justice into his own hands. Once this is permitted, democracy dies; for democracy is sustained through one great premise: the premise that civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities." - Spiro T. Agnew, fully Spiro Theodore Agnew

"I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, and receives new truth as an angel for Heaven." - William Ellery Channing

"Attack another's rights and you destroy your own." -

"Property has its duties as well as its rights." - Thomas Drummond

"Beneath a free government there is nothing but the intelligence of the people to keep the people’s peace. Order must be preserved, not by a military police or regiments of horse-guards, but by the spontaneous concert of a well-informed population, resolved that the rights which have been rescued from despotism shall not be subverted by anarchy." - Edward Everett

"Men are entitled to equal rights, but to equal rights in unequal things." - Charles James Fox

"The end of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression." - French National Assembly - Declaration of the Rights of Man NULL

"During war we imprison the rights of man." - Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux

"An old man forfeits one of the greatest of human rights: no longer is he judged by his peers." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"A state is a perfect body of free men, united together in order to enjoy common rights and advantages." - Hugo Grotius, also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot

"Beyond the limits of his confining skin, no man can own any thing. “Property” refers not to things owned but to the rights granted by society; they must periodically be re-examined in the light of social justice." - Garrett Hardin, fully Garrett James Hardin

"In the pioneer days of our history it was easy to love one's neighbor and respect his rights, when possibly the neighbor lived at a distance of four or five miles and the relations were not intimate enough to occasion a clash of interests. Now one finds that society rather than another individual is his neighbor." - John Grier Hibben

"Laws are the very bulwarks of liberty. They define every man’s rights, and stand between and defend the individual liberties of all men." -

"The moment that law is destroyed, liberty is lost, and men, left free to enter upon the domains of each other, destroy each other’s rights, and invade the field of each other’s liberty." -

"All men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." - Thomas Jefferson

"Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad... freedom of religion, freedom of the press; freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus; and trials by juries impartially selected, these principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation." - Thomas Jefferson

"Equal rights for all, special privileges for none." - Thomas Jefferson

"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in the punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government." - Thomas Jefferson