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Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson (1743-1826), born in Goochland, Virginia, was a philosopher, architect, statesman, and third president of the United States. He also served as governor of Virginia, minister to France, secretary of state, and vice president. Jefferson is best known for being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and for the Louisiana purchase, which doubled the size of the country. He spent his years after the presidency establishing the University of Virginia.

  1. 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.

  2. Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.

  3. No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it.

  4. Information is the currency of democracy.

  5. The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do.

  6. When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, one hundred.

  7. Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.

  8. I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

  9. Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.

  10. It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate - to surmount every difficulty by resolution and contrivance.


John F. Kennedy

While it was brief, Kennedy's (1917-1963) time on the world stage as US President captivated the nation, and in some ways the world, as none other ever has.

  1. It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities. For there is a new world to be won. (July 4, 1960)

  2. The New Frontier I speak of is not a set of promises--it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intent to ask of them.

  3. For those to whom much is given, much is required. (Jan 9, 1961)

  4. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

  5. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. (Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961)

  6. All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin. (Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961)

  7. And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. (Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961)

  8. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. (Address to Nobel Prizewinners, 4/62)

  9. Every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. this is not the case. (June 12, 1963)


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Minister, speaker, and civil rights activist, King (1929-1968) founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and effectively promoted the cause of equal rights through nonviolent demonstration. Some 200,000 people joined him in the "March on Washington" in 1963. He was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

  1. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

  2. Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

  3. Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

  4. Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

  5. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

  6. We must use time creatively -- and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.

  7. We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.

  8. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.

  9. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.


Abraham Lincoln

Born in the backwoods of Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln (1809-1865) worked as a rail splitter, boatman, postmaster, surveyor, storekeeper, lawyer, state legislator, and congressman before gaining national attention during debates for election to the US Senate. When he was elected the 16th US President, seven states had already seceded from the Union, to be followed by four more. He guided the US through five years of traumatic civil war and issued the Emancipation Proclimation to outlaw slavery in the United States. His Gettysburg Address, written on the train ride to the battlefield, is still considered a masterpiece.

  1. Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

  2. The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.

  3. I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

  4. What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself

  5. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tired on him personally.

  6. If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

  7. I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.

  8. Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.

  9. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.

  10. Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.

  11. It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.

  12. No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.

  13. When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run.

  14. Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

  15. Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . We here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth


Vince Lombardi

Vincent Thomas Lombardi (1913-1970), born in New York City, exemplified the drive and determination he instilled in his players. He played college and professional football and coached at the high school, college, and professional level. Under his leadership the Green Bay Packers won five national championships in US professional football in the 1960's, dominating the sport.

  1. The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.

  2. Football is a game that requires the constant conjuring of animosity. - New York Times, 12/10/67

  3. If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.

  4. Some people try to find things in this game that don't exist but football is only two things—blocking and tackling.

  5. It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up.

  6. The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.

  7. Winning is a habit. Unfortuantely, so is losing.

  8. The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.

  9. Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all-the-time thing.

  10. A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.

  11. Football is like life -- it requires perserverence, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.


Golda Meir

Meir (1898-1978), born in Kiev, Russia, was a founder of the state of Israel and served as its labor minister, foreign minister, and then prime minister from 1969-1974. While in office she strove for diplomatic settlements to arab/israeli conflicts.

  1. It's no accident many accuse me of conducting public affairs with my heart instead of my head. Well, what if I do? ... Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either.

  2. You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

  3. I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.

  4. Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil! - New York Times, 6//10/73

  5. We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel.

  6. Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you're aboard ther's nothing you can do.

  7. A leader who does not hesitate before he sends his nation into battle is not fit to be a leader.


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