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40 Inspiring Presidential Quotes That Will Make You Proud to Be an American

These iconic and motivational quotes from U.S. presidents will stand the test of time.

“believe You Can And You’re Halfway There.” —theodore Rooseveltrd.com, Getty Images

It’s almost Presidents’ Day, the day on which we honor everyone who has served as President of the United States. Looking back through history, there’s a lesson to be learned from each man who served in office—and these presidential quotes prove it. We rounded up the most motivational and uplifting quotes from past presidents about leadership, courage, and life. Get ready to get inspired by the words of some of the most notable leaders our country has ever had.

“a House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand.” —abraham Lincolnrd.com, Getty Images

Inspiring president quotes

1. “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” ―Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

2. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  ―Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865)

3. “If wrinkles must be written on our brow, let them not be written on our heart. The spirit should never grow old.” ―James Garfield (1881)

4. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ―Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909)

5. “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” ―Barack Obama (2009–2017)

6. “Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time.” —Gerald R. Ford (1974–1977)

7. “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” —Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

8. “Honor lies in honest toil.” ―Grover Cleveland (1893–1897)

9. “The cynics may be the loudest voices—but I promise you they will accomplish the least.” —Barack Obama (2009–2017)

10. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” —Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909)

In addition to these wise words, check out these fascinating facts about U.S. presidents you never knew.

“be Patient And Calm; No One Can Catch A Fish With Anger.” —herbert Hooverrd.com, Getty Images

Famous president quotes

11. “On matters of style, swim with the current; on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” ―Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

12. “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.” ―Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865)

13. “When our memories outweigh our dreams, it is then that we become old.” ―Bill Clinton (1993–2001)

14. “Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.” —George Washington (1789–1797)

15. “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” ―James Garfield (1881)

16. “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” —John F. Kennedy (1961–1963)

17. “Great lives never go out; they go on.” —Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893)

18. “There’s good in everybody. Boost. Don’t knock.” —Warren G. Harding (1921–1923)

19. “Be patient and calm; no one can catch a fish with anger.” —Herbert Hoover (1929–1933)

20. “It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.” —Martin Van Buren (1837–1841)

See how many of these presidential trivia questions you can answer correctly.

“the Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself.” —fdrrd.com, Getty Images

Presidential quotes about courage

21. “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” ―John Quincy Adams (1825–1829)

22. “One man with courage makes a majority.” ―Andrew Jackson (1829–1837)

23. “In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten; then he who continues the attack wins.” ―Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877)

24. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ―Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945)

25. “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight—it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ―Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961)

26. “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” ―John F. Kennedy (1961–1963)

27. “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” ―Richard M. Nixon (1969–1974)

28. “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.” ―Jimmy Carter (1977–1981)

29. “The bold enterprises are the successful ones. Take counsel of hopes rather than of fears to win in this business.” ―Rutherford B. Hayes (1877–1881)

30. “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ―Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

Here are more strength quotes that will give you courage and confidence.

“yesterday Is Not Ours To Recover, But Tomorrow Is Ours To Winrd.com, Getty Images

Presidential quotes on leadership

31. “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” ―John F. Kennedy (1961–1963)

32. “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ―Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921)

33. “A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.” ―James Monroe (1817–1825)

34. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” ―Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969)

35. “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” ―Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961)

36. “The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.” ―James Madison (1809–1817)

37. “Every expert was once a beginner.” ―Rutherford B. Hayes (1877–1881)

38. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” ―Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909)

39. “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” ―Ronald Reagan (1981–1989)

40. “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.” ―Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

Now that you’ve read up on these presidential quotes, check out these quotes from famous people throughout the decades.

Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who focuses on digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pick-up lines, and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists, and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.