Wise quotes on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from every US president

  • In honour of Presidents Day, we collected some of the finest aphorisms to come from the Oval Office.
  • From Thomas Jefferson’s leadership advice to Abraham Lincoln’s reflections on character, each president’s legacy is reflected in the many speeches they gave during their time in office.
  • These leaders all had one of the toughest, most important jobs in the world. Here are a few of the things they learned.


George Washington (1789–1797)

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John Adams (1797–1801)

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Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

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James Madison (1809–1817)

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James Monroe (1817–1825)

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John Quincy Adams (1825–1829)

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Andrew Jackson (1829–1837)

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Martin Van Buren (1837–1841)

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William Henry Harrison (1841)

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John Tyler (1841–1845)

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James Polk (1845–1849)

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Zachary Taylor (1849–1850)

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Millard Fillmore (1850–1853)

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Franklin Pierce (1853–1857)

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James Buchanan (1857–1861)

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Abraham Lincoln (1861–1965)

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Andrew Johnson (1865–1869)

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Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877)

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Rutherford B. Hayes (1877–1881)

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James Garfield (1881)

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Chester Arthur (1881–1885)

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Grover Cleveland (1885–1889) (1893–1897)

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Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893)

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William McKinley (1897–1901)

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Teddy Roosevelt (1901–1909)

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William Taft (1909–1913)

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Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921)

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Warren G. Harding (1921–1923)

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Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

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Herbert Hoover (1929–1933)

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Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945)

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Harry S. Truman (1945–1953)

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Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961)

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John F. Kennedy (1961–1963)

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Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969)

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Richard Nixon (1969–1974)

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Gerald Ford (1974–1977)

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Jimmy Carter, Jr. (1977–1981)

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Ronald Reagan (1981–1989)

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George H. W. Bush (1989–1993)

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Bill Clinton (1993–2001)

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George W. Bush (2001–2009)

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Barack Obama (2009–2017)

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Donald Trump (2017–present)

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Drake Baer contributed to an earlier version of this article.

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