Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


I consider biennial elections as a security that the sober, second thought of the people shall be law.
Fisher Ames—Speech. Jan., 1788.

Man is by nature a civic animal.
Aristotle—Polit. I. 2.

All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
Attributed to John Arbuthnot, M.D. In “Life of Emerson.” P. 165.

Listen! John A. Logan is the Head Centre, the Hub, the King Pin, the Main Spring, Mogul, and Mugwump of the final plot by which partisanship was installed in the Commission.
Isaac H. Bromley—Editorial in the New York Tribune. Feb. 16, 1877.

It is necessary that I should qualify the doctrine of its being not men, but measures, that I am determined to support. In a monarchy it is the duty of parliament to look at the men as well as at the measures.
Lord Brougham—In the House of Commons. Nov., 1830.

We are Republicans, and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.
Samuel D. Burchard—One of the Deputation visiting Mr. Blaine. Oct. 29, 1884.

You had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers draws out the harmony of the universe.
Burke—Reflexions on the Revolution in France. Vol. III. P. 277.

Of this stamp is the cant of, not men, but measures.
Burke—Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontent. Earl of Shelburne quotes the phrase in a letter, July 11, 1765, before Burke’s use of it.

Protection and patriotism are reciprocal.
Calhoun—Speech delivered in the House of Representatives. (1812).

Away with the cant of “Measures, not men!”—the idle supposition that it is the harness and not the horses that draw the chariot along. No Sir, if the comparison must be made, if the distinction must be taken, men are everything, measures comparatively nothing.
Canning—Speech against the Addington Ministry. (1801).

The Duty of an Opposition is to oppose.
Quoted by Randolph Churchill.

One of the greatest of Romans, when asked what were his politics, replied, “Imperium et libertas.” That would not make a bad programme for a British Ministry.
Randolph Churchill—Speech. Mansion House, London. Nov. 10, 1879.

Here the two great interests IMPERIUM ET LIBERTAS, res olim insociabiles (saith Tacitus), began to incounter each other.
Sir Winston Churchill—Divi Britannici. P. 849. (1675).

Nam ego in ista sum sententia, qua te fuisse semper scio, nihil ut feurit in suffragiis voce melius.
I am of the opinion which you have always held, that “viva voce” voting at elections is the best method.
Cicero—De Legibus. III. 15. Philippics. IV. 4. Tacitus—Agricola. Ch. III.

It is a condition which confronts us—not a theory.
Grover Cleveland—Annual Message. (1887).

Party honesty is party expediency.
Grover Cleveland—Interview in New York Commercial Advertiser. Sept. 19, 1889.

Laissez faire, laissez passer.
Let it alone. Let it pass by.
Colbert, according to Lord John Russell. See report of his speech in the London Times, April 2, 1840. Attributed to Gournay, Minister of Commerce, at Paris, 1751. Also to Quesnay. Quoted by Adam Smith—Wealth of Nations.

Free trade is not a principle, it is an expedient.
Benj. Disraeli—On Import Duties. April 25, 1843.

The Right Honorable gentleman [Sir Robert Peel] caught the Whigs bathing and walked away with their clothes.
Benj. Disraeli—Speech. House of Commons, Feb. 28, 1845.

Party is organized opinion.
Benj. Disraeli—Speech. Oxford, Nov. 25, 1864.

Principle is ever my motto, no expediency.
Benj. Disraeli—Sybil. Bk. II. Ch. II.

Information upon points of practical politics.
Benj. Disraeli—Vivian Gray. Ch. XIV. Given by Walsh as first appearance of the phrase “practical politics.”

All the ten-to-oners were in the rear, and a dark horse, which had never been thought of, and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph.
Benj. Disraeli—The Young Duke. Bk. II. Ch. V.

Damned Neuters, in their Middle way of Steering,
Are neither Fish, nor Flesh, nor good Red Herring.
Dryden—Duke of Guise. Epilogue. Phrase used by Dr. Smith. Ballet. Ch. IX. In Musarum Deliciæ.

What is a Communist? One who has yearnings
For equal division of unequal earnings.
Ebenezer Elliot—Epigrams.

All political power is a trust.
Charles James Fox. (1788).

Oh! we’ll give ’em Jessie
When we rally round the polls.
Popular song of Fremont’s Supporters in the Presidential Campaign of 1856.

I always voted at my party’s call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
W. S. Gilbert—H. M. S. Pinafore.

Measures, not men, have always been my mark.
Goldsmith—Good-Natured Man. Act II.

Who, born for the universe, narrow’d his mind,
And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
Goldsmith—Retaliation. L. 31.

Who will burden himself with your liturgical parterre when the burning questions [brennende Fragen] of the day invite to very different toils?
Hagenbach—Grundlinien der Liturgik und Homiletik. (1803). “Burning question” used by Edward Miall, M.P., also by Disraeli in the House of Commons, March, 1873.

He serves his party best who serves the country best.
Rutherford B. Hayes—Inaugural Address. March 5, 1877.

The freeman casting, with unpurchased hand,
The vote that shakes the turrets of the land.
Holmes—Poetry. A Metrical Essay. L. 83.

Non ego ventosæ plebis suffragia venor.
I court not the votes of the fickle mob.
Horace—Epistles. I. 19. 37.

Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen foreheads of the defamers of his country, and the maligners of his honor.
Robert G. Ingersoll—The Plumed Knight. Speech in nomination of Blaine for President in the Republican Convention. Cincinnati, June 15, 1876.

Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.
Thos. Jefferson—Letter to Coxe. (1799).

If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few; by resignation, none.
Usually quoted, “Few die and none resign.” Thos. Jefferson—Letter to Elias Shipman and Merchants of New Haven. July 12, 1801.

Of the various executive abilities, no one excited more anxious concern than that of placing the interests of our fellow-citizens in the hands of honest men, with understanding sufficient for their stations. No duty is at the same time more difficult to fulfil. The knowledge of character possessed by a single individual is of necessity limited. To seek out the best through the whole Union, we must resort to the information which from the best of men, acting disinterestedly and with the purest motives, is sometimes incorrect.
Thos. Jefferson—Letter to Elias Shipman and Merchants of New Haven. July 12, 1801. Paraphrased, “Put the right man in the right place” by McMaster—History of the People of the U.S. Vol. II. P. 586.

We are swinging round the circle.
Andrew Johnson—Of the Presidential “Reconstruction.” August, 1866.

I have always said the first Whig was the Devil.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Johnson. (1778).

Skilled to pull wires he baffles nature’s hope, who sure intended him to stretch a rope.
Lowell—The Boss. (Tweed.)

Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.
Macaulay—On Mitford’s History of Greece.

Factions among yourselves; preferring such
To offices and honors, as ne’er read
The elements of saving policy;
But deeply skilled in all the principles
That usher to destruction.
Massinger—The Bondman. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 210.

Agitate, agitate, agitate.
Lord Melbourne. In Torrens—Life of Lord Melbourne. Vol. I. P. 320, and in Walpole’s History of England from Conclusion of the Great War. Vol. III. P. 143.

Every time I fill a vacant office I make ten malcontents and one ingrate.
Molière. Quoting Louis XIV, in Siècle de Louis Quatorze.

Those who would treat politics and morality apart will never understand the one or the other.
John Morley—Rousseau. P. 380.

Car c’est en famille, ce n’est pas en public, qu’un lave son linge sale.
But it is at home and not in public that one should wash ones dirty linen.
Napoleon—On his return from Elba. Speech to the Legislative Assembly.

Better a hundred times an honest and capable administration of an erroneous policy than a corrupt and incapable administration of a good one.
E. J. Phelps—At Dinner of the N. Y. Chamber of Commerce. Nov. 19, 1889.

The White Plume of Navarre.
Name given to N. Y. Tribune during the Civil War. See Wendell Phillips—Under the Flag. Boston, April 21, 1861.

A weapon that comes down as still
As snowflakes fall upon the sod;
But executes a freeman’s will,
As lightning does the will of God;
And from its force, nor doors nor locks
Can shield you; ’tis the ballot-box.
Pierpont—A Word from a Petitioner.

Party-spirit, which at best is but the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
Pope—Letter to Blount. Aug. 27, 1714.

Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
And totter on in business to the last.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. I. L. 228.

Party is the madness of many for the gain of a few.
Pope in Thoughts on Various Subjects, written by Swift and Pope. Evidence in favor of Pope.

A mugwump is a person educated beyond his intellect.
Horace Porter—A Bon-Mot in Cleveland Blaine Campaign. (1884).

Abstain from beans.
Pythagoras. Advice against political voting, which was done by means of beans. See Lucian Gallus. IV. 5. Vitarum Auctio. Sect. 6. The superstition against beans was prevalent in Egypt however. See Herodotus. II. 37, also Sextus Empiricus. Explanations to abstain from beans from lost treatise of Aristotle in Diog. Laertes. VIII. 34. Beans had an oligarchical character on account of their use in voting. Plutarch gives a similar explanation in De Educat. Ch. XVII. Caution against entering public life, for the votes by which magistrates were elected were originally given by beans. Pythagoras referred to by Jeremy Taylor—Holy Living. Sect. IV. P. 80.

I will drive a coach and six through the Act of Settlement.
Stephen Rice—Quoted by Macaulay—History of England. Ch. XII. Familiarly known as “Drive a coach and six through an Act of Parliament.”

There is a homely old adage which runs: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
Roosevelt. Address at Minnesota State Fair, Sept 2, 1901.

The first advice I have to give the party is that it should clean its slate.
Lord Rosebery (Fifth Earl)—Speech. Chesterfield. Dec. 16, 1901.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Hamlet. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 90.

Get thee glass eyes;
And, like a scurvy politician, seem
To see the things thou dost not.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 174.

O, that estates, degrees, and offices
Were not deriv’d corruptly, and that clear honour
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
Merchant of Venice. Act II. Sc. 9. L. 41.

Persuade me not; I will make a Star-chamber matter of it.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 1.

When I first came into Parliament, Mr. Tierney, a great Whig authority, used always to say that the duty of an Opposition was very simple—it was to oppose everything and propose nothing.
Lord Stanley—Debate, June 4, 1841. See Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates.

Who is the dark horse he has in his stable?
Thackeray—Adventures of Philip.

As long as I count the votes what are you going to do about it? Say.
Wm. M. Tweed—The Ballot in 1871.

Defence, not defiance.
Motto adopted by the “Volunteers,” when there was fear of an invasion of England by Napoleon. (1859).

The king [Frederick] has sent me some of his dirty linen to wash; I will wash yours another time.
Voltaire—Reply to General Manstein. CXI.

The gratitude of place expectants is a lively sense of future favours.
Ascribed to Walpole by Hazlitt—Wit and Humour. Same in La Rochefoucauld—Maxims.

I am not a politician, and my other habits air good.
Artemus Ward—Fourth of July Oration.

Politics I conceive to be nothing more than the science of the ordered progress of society along the lines of greatest usefulness and convenience to itself.
Woodrow Wilson. To the Pan-American Scientific Congress. Washington, Jan. 6, 1916.

Tippecanoe and Tyler too.
Political slogan, attributed to Orson E. Woodbury. (1840).