American proverbs, quotes, and sayings

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

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I have picked a number of quotes by and about Americans, some American proverbs and thrown in a few observations of my own. I hope you find them enjoyable and interesting.

1) “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

--James Baldwin, notes of a Native son

a) This is a sentiment that I have run across often. It seems a civic duty to be aware of our countries virtues and faults to keep it free and on track.

2) “Folks like the truth that hits their neighbor.”

--American proverb

a) Seems almost a contradiction of the previous quote, but it is human nature.

3) “These American systems of ours, call it American ism, call it capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.”

--Al Capone (1899-1947)

a) Cynical as it seems Al Capone thought of himself as a businessman.

4) “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people.”

--Henry Louis Menken (1880-1956)

a) Well, talk about cynicism. Mencken was noted for it. In a political season, it is hard to argue with his observation.

5) “Only in American banks can you find the pens chained to the counter and doors wide open.” -- Branden Kerr

a) America is full of seeming contradictions. I think it is because we are made up of many bit of different cultures and preserve bits and pieces of them. The end result does not always seem to make sense.

6) “The right to freedom being the “gift of God” it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.” --Samuel Adams

a.)Freedom is a “gift of god” and, I think, we turn our back on god by not using our freedom responsibly.

7) “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” –John Fitzgerald Kennedy

a) How idealistic we were in those days. These words from a past president call up the fact that we are all in this society together and we must all contribute to its success or we will lose it. If we are not patriotic and caring about our country it can be taken away from us. We are the ones that can save us from tyrants.

8) “Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then-we elected them.” –Lily Tomlin

a) I’m afraid this is more truth than poetry.

9)” What we call the market is really a democratic process involving millions, and in some markets billions, of people making personal decisions that express their preferences. When you hear someone say that he doesn’t trust the market, and wants to replace it with government edicts, he’s really calling for a switch from a democratic process to a totalitarian one.” — Walter Williams

a.) This is the reason also that the economy gets in such a mess when the government tries to control it.

10) “A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but wont cross the street to vote in a national election. –Bill Vaughan

a) Is this the reason it is such a burden to ask people to actually show they are entitled and qualified to vote?

I hope that you found these quotes to be worthwhile and useful. Quotes are interesting because the ones worth repeating are ones that carry an element of truth gained from the observation and experience of the person who made the observation.


© 2012 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 27 comments

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Thank you Dahoglund. This is a nice collection of quotes, and might help remind us what our government is supposed to be about.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Thank you for these very eloquent quotes, Don. Some I am familiar with and those that are new I will add to my collection. You mentioned Al Capone. It's true that he did not seem to identify with being called a criminal. He believed he was a businessman because he supplied his customers' needs (alcohol during Prohibition).

You might like to read my hub, 'Interview with Al Capone,' since I found him to be a most interesting subject.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

drjb, I'm glad you liked the quotes. I'll go take a look at your Al Capone hub.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

FitnezzJim, glad you like the quotes. I did hope that it would get some folks to think about the values of the country.


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

Your quotes have made my day.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

Some I had seen and some I had not. Great writing though friend.

The Frog


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Lipnancy, glad you liked the quotes.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you frog. I appreciate the compliment.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I enjoyed reading these quotes and your responses. The ones in the video were also great. It would seem that our early Presidents did not want our government getting to be too big and too powerful from their statements. They would probably be horrified to see how far down that road we have gone.

I have a plaque on an easel in our living room which has a sculptural side image of George Washington on it. There is also a quote which says "Nothing but harmony, honesty, industry and frugality are necessary to make us a great and happy people." It belonged to my grandparents and I now have it.

Up votes and sharing.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy, your George Washington plaque tells it all. How far we have strayed and called it progress. Thanks for you comment, votes and share.


tsadjatko profile image

tsadjatko 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

Excellent food for thought! Here are a couple I'm so glad you didn't mention "America's Chickens have come home to roost" Rev. Wright and

“No, no, no. Not God bless America...God damn America!” The Rev.

“No, no, no. Don't boo. Vote... Voting is the best revenge.” The Pres. BO

Compare? Hard to tell the difference between Wright and BO.

Well that said, you can add my quote to your list:

"America's Eagles will come home to rule the roost!" or as Mitt says

"Vote for love of country" and May God Bless America.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

You are most welcome Don. I'll be watching the election results tonight with some trepidation. It is supposedly going to be very close! We will soon know the results.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

tsadjatko, thanks for reading and adding you quotes. Sometimes we can learn from the observations of the past.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy, I don't know how soon we will have the results. It could drag out awhile.


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi dahoglund, and what an interesting article this is.

Voted up and interesting

John


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi John, every once in a while I get the urge to express myself through other peoples thoughts. It is kind of interesting to pick qoutes and then elaborate on them. I'm glad you like the the result. Thanks for the votes.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago

I love your Hub. It is great. The quotes are very cool. I especially like the one from Walter Williams. Well done!

James


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks James for the comment. What little I know about economics I've learned from Walter Williams columns.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I loved your quote from Al Capone and your response to it. He was a businessman....but I guess he carried his business out in a, well, unorthodox way to put it mildly. And the other quotes have much truth. Thanks for sharing, and I'm passing it on!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi midget. I recall quite a discussion of Capone in a Criminology course long ago. Of coarse, he couldn't call the cops when he thought someone did him wrong. Thanks for commenting.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 2 years ago from Texas

There are few places in history if anywhere the government's intervention in matters has improved the situation. We look back on some of them with a warped sense of history and tell ourselves that success was achieved and then go on living that lie for ages to come. One which comes to mind is "Roosevelt saving us out of the Great Depression". It is just accepted as a "historical fact". In actuality, history can really only give Roosevelt credit for trying as he tried and failed for 12 years with various government programs. Ultimately, World War II pulled the U.S. out of economic doldrums and set us on the road to an industrialized nation. The people bear the responsibility to speak out and to criticize especially in those instances in which the government totally runs off the track in terms of its Constitution limits on the various branches. Ultimately, when that occurs, we walk the tightrope of tyranny bringing damage to our system and depriving citizens of their established rights under the Constitution. Our founders expected the people to ultimately be in charge and guard against those who would attempt to rise to power and dismantle our system. We are closer to that point today than ever in our history. Good write, Don---makes ya think a bit. ~ WB


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting, Wayne.

I was brought up in a working class, union family. My dad had about a sixth grade education but was in a skilled trade and a strong union member. However, my college history professors said about the same as you do about the depression and FDR. On the other hand his seeking power, much like the current occupant of the White House, led to term limits.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 2 years ago from Texas

I grew up in a similar situation, Don--only without the union in the deep south. You were in school at a lucky time---they told you the truth! I think it would be hard to find a college professor today that would tell you that. Regardless of circumstance I think what you and our both learned in the process was a high regard for the work ethic and dependence on ourselves and a love of our nation. Both have served us well, my friend! ~WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 2 years ago from Texas

Walter Williams is a very knowledge man and very pragmatic. I admire him greatly. ~WB


Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

Thanks for putting together a great line of quotes. I enjoyed reading them, and myself an American had to smile.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Wayne, I also admire Walter Williams.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Colleen. Glad you enjoyed these quotes.

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