Quotations – the 1780s


This page contains a collection of American Revolution quotations from revolutionary leaders, contemporary figures and prominent historians, pertaining to the crisis and reforms of the 1780s. These quotations have been gathered and compiled by Alpha History authors. We are adding new quotations to this page in October-December 2015. If you would like to contribute an interesting or useful quotation, please contact Alpha History.

“The States separately have very inadequate ideas of the present danger. Party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day, whilst the concerns of the nation are secondary.”
George Washington, 1778

“Our countrymen have all the folly of the ass and all the passiveness of the sheep.”
Alexander Hamilton, 1780

“Congress is responsible for everything and unable to do anything, hated by the public creditors, insulted by the soldiers and unsupported by the citizens.”
Benjamin Hawkins, 1783


“A disunited people till the end of time, suspicious and distrustful of each other, [the Americans] will be divided and subdivided into little commonwealths… with no center of union and no common interest.”
Josiah Tucker, Dean of Gloucester, 1783

“We must all hang together or assuredly, we will hang separately.”
Benjamin Franklin

“Those that give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin

“The greatest and completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily accomplished.”
Thomas Paine, 1783

“I fear we may live to see another revolution.”
John Marshall of Virginia, 1786

“Even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror.”
George Washington, 1786

“The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge right or make good decision.”
Alexander Hamilton, 1787

“Elections to office, which are the great objects of ambition, I look at with terror!”
John Adams, 1787

“The American war is over but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government.”
Dr Benjamin Rush, 1787

“It would be a foetus of monarchy!”
Edmund Randolph on the presidency, 1787

“Away with your president! We shall have a king… the army will salute him as monarch; your militia will leave you and assist in making him king and fight against you. And what have you to oppose this force? What will then become of you and your rights?”
Patrick Henry, 1788

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1789