“If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
— Thomas Paine
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.”
― Patrick Henry
“Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
— The last words of John Adams, 90, on July 4, 1826
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
— Frederick Douglass
“I would have the Constitution torn in shreds and scattered to the four winds of heaven. Let us destroy the Constitution and build on its ruins the temple of liberty. I have brothers in slavery. I have seen chains placed on their limbs and beheld them captive.”
— William Wells Brown, author and former slave
“Cock-tail, then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters; it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.” — Harry Croswell, who defined the word cocktail on May 6, 1806, in the “Balance and Columbian Repository” newspaper
“On perusing this work, I was struck with the unspeakable advantages that might accrue to this country, and indeed to the human race at large, from the discovery of a mild distemper that would ever after secure the constitution from that terrible scourge, the smallpox.”
— Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, in his essay "A Prospect of Exterminating the Smallpox, Part 1"
“Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.”
— Carl Friedrich Gauss, German mathematician who said: "Mathematics is the queen of the sciences."
“Nothing has given me so much chagrin as the Intelligence that the Federal party were thinking seriously of supporting Mr. Burr for president.”
— Alexander Hamilton
“Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pits of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top.”
— Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism
“Conscription is a necessity; the conscription is a law; the conscription is just. It is the justest mode of raising an army—just to the people of every class and condition, poor and rich, lack and white. No class of citizens is exempt from its operation-even poor clergymen, if drafted, being compelled to shoulder their musket.”
— The New York Times, July 15, 1863, in response to Lincoln issuing the first US draft
“We are free, but the white people here won’t let us be so; and the only way is to raise up and fight the whites.”
— Freed slave Denmark Vesey, who planned the Vesey Rebellion for July 14, 1822
“The two locomotives were raised high in the air, face-to-face against each other, like giants grappling…The front (car) of our train was jammed into a space less than six feet. The two cars behind it were almost as badly wrecked. There were bodies impaled on iron rods and splintered beams. Headless trunks were mangled between the telescoped cars.”
— Frank Evans, a Union guard describing the scene the Great Shohola train wreck, on July 15, 1864
“No nation, perhaps, had ever before the opportunity offered them of deliberately deciding on the spot where their capital city should be fixed.… And, although the means now within the power of the country are not such as to pursue the design to any great extent, it will be obvious that the plan should be drawn on such a scale as to leave room for that aggrandizement and embellishment which the increase of the wealth of the nation will permit it to pursue at any period, however remote. Viewing the matter in this light, I am fully sensible of the extent of the undertaking.”
— From a letter by Pierre L'Enfant to George Washington on September 11, 1789
“Dear Wife i have enlisted in the army i am now in the state of Massachusetts but before this letter reaches you i will be in North Carlinia and though great is the present national dificulties yet i look forward to a brighter day When i shall have the opertunity of seeing you in the full enjoyment of fredom i would like to no if you are still in slavery if you are it will not be long before we shall have crushed the system that now opreses you for in the course of three months you shall have your liberty. great is the outpouring of the colered peopl that is now rallying with the hearts of lions against that very curse that has seperated you an me yet we shall meet again and oh what a happy time that will be when this ungodly rebellion shall be put down and the curses of our land is trampled under our feet i am a soldier now and i shall use my utmost endeavor to strike at the rebellion and the heart of this system that so long has kept us in chains … remain your own afectionate husband until death, Samuel Cabble.”
Note: Samuel Cabble returned to Missouri for his wife, and together they moved to Denver, CO. Click here to discover more about Cabble.
— Volunteers have brought to light records that reveal fascinating details and stories behind the names of the soldiers who fought during the Civil War. Samuel Cabble, for example, was a private in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry, and was a slave before joining the Army at age 21. Among the documents in his file was this letter to his wife, dated 1863.
In Freedom we’re born and in Freedom we’ll live.
Our purses are ready. Steady, friends, steady;
Not as slaves, but as Freemen our money we’ll give.
Our worthy forefathers, let’s give them a cheer,
To climates unknown did courageously steer;
Thro’ oceans to deserts for Freedom they came,
And dying, bequeath’d us their freedom and fame.
— Sung to the tune of the Royal Navy's song, the chorus of "Heart of Oak"
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
— Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement
Year of Meteors • By Walt Whitman
YEAR of meteors! brooding year! I would bind in words retrospective, some of your deeds and signs; I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad; I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the
scaffold in Virginia; (I was at hand–silent I stood, with teeth shut close–I watch’d; I stood very near you, old man, when cool and indifferent, but trembling with age and your unheal’d wounds, you mounted the scaffold).
I would sing in my copious song your census returns of The States, The tables of population and products–I would sing of your ships and their cargoes, The proud black ships of Manhattan, arriving, some fill’d with immigrants, some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold; Songs thereof would I sing–to all that hitherward comes would I welcome give; And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you from me, sweet boy of England!
Remember you surging Manhattan’s crowds, as you pass’d with your cortege of nobles? There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment; I know not why, but I loved you… (and so go forth little song, Far over sea speed like an arrow, carrying my love all folded,
And find in his palace the youth I love, and drop these lines at his feet;) Nor forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she swam up my bay, Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay, she was 600 feet long, Her, moving swiftly, surrounded by myriads of small craft, I forget not to sing; Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north, flaring in heaven; Nor the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and clear, shooting over our heads, (A moment, a moment long, it sail’d its balls of unearthly light over our heads, Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
Of such, and fitful as they, I sing–with gleams from them would I gleam and patch these chants; Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good! year of forebodings! year of the youth I love! Year of comets and meteors transient and strange!–lo! even here, one equally transient and strange! As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone, what is this book, What am I myself but one of your meteors?
— "Year of the Meteor," a poem by Walt Whitman
“Wild Bill was a strange character, add to this figure a costume blending the immaculate neatness of the dandy with the extravagant taste and style of a frontiersman, you have Wild Bill, the most famous scout on the Plains.”
— General George Custer, writing about Wild Bill Hickok
“Logic, sometimes has very little to do with political action.”
— Canadian adventurer Alexander Mackenzie
“Please do not even divulge the fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the Type-Writer, for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to anybody without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only describe the machine but state what progress I had made in the use of it, etc., etc. I don’t like to write letters, and so I don’t want people to know that I own this curiosity-breeding little joker.”
— Letter from Mark Twain, March 19, 1875
“This is the place, drive on.”
— Brigham Young, upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, 1847
“So many tales have grown up around Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo that it is hard to disentangle the fabulous from the factual. There seems to be a consensus that Anglos drove him from a rich mining claim, and that, in rapid succession, his wife was raped, his half-brother lynched, and Murrieta himself horse-whipped. He may have worked as a monte dealer for a time; then, according to whichever version one accepts, he became either a horse trader and occasional horse thief, or a bandit.”
— Historian Susan Lee Johnson
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“We received an invitation last Friday from a gentleman who is giving much attention to electric vehicles — Mr. P.W. Pratt of Boston — to take a ride on an electric tricycle that had just been completed for him by a well-know electrical manufacturing concern of this city.”
— editor of "Modern Light and Heat" magazine, August 2, 1888
“Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.”
— Victor Hugo (Feb 2, 1802 – May 22, 1885), a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement
“A gold palmetto tree [pin] beneath her beautiful chin, a Rebel soldier’s belt around her waist, and a velvet band across her forehead with the seven stars of the Confederacy shedding their pale light therefrom … the only additional ornament she required to render herself perfectly beautiful was a Yankee halter [noose] encircling her neck.”
— The New York Tribune describing the attire of renown Confederate spy Belle Boyd, 1862
“Although it would be most agreeable to me that this race should be for a cup of limited value … I am willing to stake upon the issue any sum not to exceed 10,000 guineas.”
— John Cox Stevens, founder of Commodore of the New York Yacht Club; member of the America syndicate, which, in 1851 won the trophy that would become the America's Cup
“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.