Woodrow Wilson Quotes

The flower does not bear the root, but the root the flower.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

The most conservative persons I ever met are college undergraduates. The radicals are the men past middle life.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in New York, 1905)

Never... murder a man who is committing suicide.

Woodrow Wilson (Letter to Bernard Baruch, 1916)

And there will be no greater burden in our generation than to organize the forces of liberty in our time, in order to make conquest of a new freedom for America.

Woodrow Wilson (Campaign Speech in Indianapolis, 1912)

You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light. You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Paris, 1919)

It must be a peace without victory. . . . Only a peace between equals can last. Only a peace the very principle of which is equality and a common participation in a common benefit.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to Senate, 1917)

The right is more precious than peace.

Woodrow Wilson

The world must be made safe for democracy.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to Joint Session of Congress asking for declaration of war, 1917)

The only reason I read a book is because I cannot see and converse with the man who wrote it.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Kansas, 1905)

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in New York, 1912)

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.

Woodrow Wilson

There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Philadelphia, 1915)

The man who reads everything is like the man who eats everything: he can digest nothing, and the penalty of crowding one's mind with other men's thoughts is to have no thoughts of one's own.

Woodrow Wilson (Letter to Ellen Axson, 1884)

Science ... has won for us a great liberty in the physical world, a liberty from superstitious fear and from disease, a freedom to use nature as a familiar servant; but it has not freed us from ourselves.

Woodrow Wilson (Inaugural Address in Princeton, 1902)

We are not put into this world to sit still and know; we are put into it to act.

Woodrow Wilson (Inaugural Address in Princeton, 1902)

You deal in the raw material of opinion, and, if my convictions have any validity, opinion ultimately governs the world.

Woodrow Wilson (Adress to the Associated Press, 1915)

The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to the Italian Parliament, 1919)

The great malady of public life is cowardice. Most men are not untrue, but they are afraid. Most of the errors of public life, if my observation is to be trusted, come not because men are morally bad, but because they are afraid of somebody. God knows why they should be: it is generally shadows they are afraid of.

Woodrow Wilson

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in New York, 1918)

Liberty is its own reward.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in New York, 1912)

The object of education is not merely to draw out the powers of the individual mind: it is rather its right object to draw all minds to a proper adjustment to the physical and social world in which they are to have their life and their development: to enlighten, strengthen and make fit.

Woodrow Wilson (Princeton In The Nation's Service, 1896)

Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.

Woodrow Wilson (Letter to Winterton C. Curtis, 1922)

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Washington, 1916)

The right is more precious than peace.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to Joint Session of Congress asking for declaration of war, 1917)

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.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Syracuse, 1912)

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

Woodrow Wilson

No man that does not see visions will ever realize any high hope or undertake any high enterprise.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Philadelphia, 1915)

The question upon which the whole future peace and policy of the world depends is this: Is the present war a struggle for a just and secure peace, or only for a new balance of power? There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized common peace.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to the Senate, 1917)

American industry is not free, as once it was free; American enterprise is not free; the man with only a little capital is finding it harder to get into the field, more and more impossible to compete with the big fellow. Why? Because the laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the weak.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

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

Woodrow Wilson (Speech, 1895)

Freedom exists only where the people take care of the government.

Woodrow Wilson

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.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Alabama, 1913)

It is true that in order to learn men must for a little while withdraw from action, must seek some quiet place of remove from the bustle of affairs, where their thoughts may run clear and tranquil, and the heats of business be for the time put off; but that cloistered refuge is no place to dream in.

Woodrow Wilson (Inaugural Address in Princeton, 1902)

The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.

Woodrow Wilson

No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting.

Woodrow Wilson

All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.

Woodrow Wilson (The Fourteen Points Speech, 1918)

The rule for every man is, not to depend on the education which other men have prepared for him,—not even to consent to it; but to strive to see things as they are, and to be himself as he is. Defeat lies in self-surrender.

Woodrow Wilson

Open covenants of peace must be arrived at.

Woodrow Wilson (The Fourteen Points Speech, 1918)

I believe in human liberty as I believe in the wine of life. There is no salvation for men in the pitiful condescension of industrial masters. Guardians have no place in a land of freemen.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed. 

Woodrow Wilson

Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.

Woodrow Wilson (Letter to Mary Allen Hulbert Peck, 1913)

A man may be defeated by his own secondary successes.

Woodrow Wilson

And let me again remind you that it is only by working with an energy which is almost superhuman and which looks to uninterested spectators like insanity that we can accomplish anything worth the achievement.

Woodrow Wilson (The Ideal Statesman)

A nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

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

Woodrow Wilson (Speech to the National Press Club, 1914)

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.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Pittsburgh, 1914)

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to be supplied is light, not heat.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Pittsburgh, 1916)

The basis of neutrality is sympathy for mankind.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in New York, 1915)

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. . . . To such a task we dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.

Woodrow Wilson (Address to Joint Session of Congress asking for declaration of war, 1917)

The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

It is the object of learning, not only to satisfy the curiosity and perfect the spirits of ordinary men, but also to advance civilization.

Woodrow Wilson

Democracy is not so much a form of government as a set of principles.

Woodrow Wilson (Quoted in the Atlantic Monthly, 1901)

America is not anything if it consists of each of us. It is something only if it consists of all of us. 

Woodrow Wilson

We are participants, whether we would or not, in the life of the world.... We are partners with the rest. What affects mankind is inevitably our affair as well as the nations of Europe and Asia.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Washington D. C., 1916)

At every crisis in one's life, it is absolute salvation to have some sympathetic friend to whom you can think aloud without restraint or misgiving.

Woodrow Wilson (Letter to Mary Allen Hulbert Peck, 1909)

We are expected to put the utmost energy, of every power that we have, into the service of our fellow men, never sparing ourselves, not condescending to think of what is going to happen to ourselves, but ready, if need be, to go to the utter length of self-sacrifice.

Woodrow Wilson (Address at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1914)

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.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Omaha, 1919)

Again and again mothers who lost their sons in France have come to me, and, taking my hand, have not only shed tears upon it, but they have added, "God bless you, Mr. President!" Why should they pray God to bless me? I advised the Congress to create the situation that led to the death of their sons. I ordered their sons overseas. I consented to their sons' being put in the most difficult part of the battle line, where death was certain... Why should they weep upon my hand and call down the blessings of God upon me? Because they believe that their boys died for something that vastly transcends any of the immediate and palpable objects of the war. They believe, and rightly believe, that their sons saved the liberty of the world.

Woodrow Wilson (Speech in Pueblo, 1919)

A man's rootage is more important than his leafage.

Woodrow Wilson

The welfare, the happiness, the energy and spirit of the men and women who do the daily work ... is the underlying necessity of all prosperity.... There can be nothing wholesome unless their life is wholesome; there can be no contentment unless they are contented.

Woodrow Wilson (The New Freedom, 1913)

Nothing is easier than to falsify the past. Lifeless instruction will do it. If you rob it of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise.

Woodrow Wilson (Princeton In The Nation's Service, 1896)

The seed of revolution is repression.

Woodrow Wilson

The wisest thing to do with a fool is to encourage him to hire a hall and discourse to his fellow-citizens. Nothing chills nonsense like exposure to the air.

Woodrow Wilson (Constitutional Government, 1908)

Woodrow Wilson Biography

Born: December 28, 1856
Died: February 3, 1924

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States. He is best remembered for his important role in the first world war.

Notable Works

The New Freedom (1913)
The Fourteen Points Speech (1918)