Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Woodrow Wilson, fully Thomas Woodrow Wilson

American Politician, President of the United States, Governor of New Jersey, President of Princeton University

"Gossips are only sociologists upon a mean and petty scale."

"He is not a true man of the world who knows only the present fashions of it."

"How is the schoolmaster, the nation, to know which boy needs the whipping?"

"Government, in its last analysis, is organized force."

"I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

"Hunger does not breed reform; it breeds madness, and all the ugly distempers that make an ordered life impossible."

"I always remember that America was established not to create wealth—though any nation must create wealth which is going to make an economic foundation for its life—but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal. America has put itself under bonds to the earth to discover and maintain liberty now among men, and if she cannot see liberty now with the clear, unerring vision she had at the outset, she has lost her title, she has lost every claim to the leadership and respect of the nations of the world."

"I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men."

"I am inclined to follow the course suggested by a friend of mine who says that he has always followed the rule never to murder a man who is committing suicide, and clearly this misdirected gentleman is committing suicide slowly but surely."

"I am not one of those who believe that a great standing army is the means of maintaining peace, because if you build up a great profession, those who form parts of it want to exercise their profession."

"I am the friend of peace and mean to preserve it for America so long as I am able. . . . No course of my choosing or of their (nations at war) will lead to war. War can come only by the willful acts and aggressions of others."

"I believe in Democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

"I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it."

"I am not sure that it is of the first importance that you should be happy. Many an unhappy man has been of deep service to himself and to the world."

"I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticise their own public officials. While exercising the great powers of the office I hold, I would regret in a crisis like the one through which we are now passing to lose the benefit of patriotic and intelligent criticism."

"I have always been among those who believe that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."

"I come from the South and I know what war is, for I have seen its terrible wreckage and ruin. It is easy for me as President to declare war. I do not have to fight, and neither do the gentlemen on the Hill who now clamor for it. It is some poor farmer's boy, or the son of some poor widow - who will have to do the fighting and dying."

"I have a sense of power in dealing with men collectively which I do not always feel in dealing with them singly... One feels no sacrifice of pride necessary in courting the favor of an assembly of men such as he would have to make in seeking to please one man."

"I fancy that it is just as hard to do your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shooting at you."

"I will not speak with disrespect of the Republican Party. I always speak with respect of the past."

"I would… rather lose in a cause that I know some day will triumph than triumph in a cause that I know some day will lose."

"I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it."

"I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty."

"I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail."

"I have always in my own thought summed up individual liberty, and business liberty, and every other kind of liberty, in the phrase that is common in the sporting world, "A free field and no favor.""

"I have come slowly into possession of such powers as I have. I receive the opinions of my day. I do not conceive them. But I receive them into a vivid mind."

"I not only use all the brains I have but all I can borrow."

"I have long enjoyed the friendship and companionship of Republicans, because I am by instinct a teacher and I would like to teach them something."

"I should be afraid to go forward if I did not believe that there lay at the foundation of all our schooling, and of all our thought, this incomparable, and unimpeachable word of God."

"If every nation is going to be our rival, if every nation is going to dislike and distrust us, and that will be the case, because having trusted us beyond measure the reaction will occur beyond measure (as it stands now they trust us they look to us, they long that we shall undertake anything for their assistance rather than that any other nation should undertake it)— if we say, "No, we are in this world to live by ourselves, and get what we can out of it by any selfish processes," then the reaction will change the whole heart and attitude of the world toward this great, free, justice-loving people, and after you have changed the attitude of the world, what have you produced? Peace? Why, my fellow citizens, is there any man here or any woman, let me say is there any child here, who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry? The real reason that the war that we have just finished took place was that Germany was afraid her commercial rivals were going to get the better of her, and' the reason why some nations went into the war against Germany was that they thought Germany would get the commercial advantage of them. The seed of the jealousy, the seed of the deep-seated hatred was hot, successful commercial and industrial rivalry."

"If I said what I thought about those fellows in Congress, it would take a piece of asbestos two inches thick to hold it."

"If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you have lost something; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything."

"If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience."

"If monopoly persists, monopoly will always sit at the helm of government. I do not expect monopoly to restrain itself. If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it."

"If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now."

"If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig."

"If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing."

"If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it; what we have to determine now is whether we are big enough, whether we are men enough, whether we are free enough, to take possession again of the government which is our own."

"become a selfish pig."

"I'm a vague, conjunctured personality, more made up of opinions and academic prepossessions than of human traits and red corpuscles."

"In the last analysis, my fellow countrymen, as we in America would be the first to claim, a people are responsible for the acts of government"

"In most parts of our country men work, not for themselves, not as partners in the old way in which they used to work, but generally as employees,—in a higher or lower grade,—of great corporations. There was a time when corporations played a very minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations."

"Interest does not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite them."

"Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?"

"In the Lord's Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach."

"It has never been natural, it has seldom been possible, in this country for learning to seek a place apart and hold aloof from affairs. It is only when society is old, long settled to its ways, confident in habit, and without self-questioning upon any vital point of conduct, that study can affect seclusion and despise the passing interests of the day."

"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts--for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."

"It is easier to change the location of a cemetery, than to change the school curriculum."

"It is... particularly true of constitutional government that its atmosphere is opinion... It does not remain fixed in any unchanging form, but grows with the growth and is altered with the change of the nation's needs and purposes."

"It is like writing history with lightning and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."