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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1081
AUTHOR: Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924)
QUOTATION: I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty. But we shall not be poor if we love liberty, because the nation that loves liberty truly sets every man free to do his best and be his best, and that means the release of all the splendid energies of a great people who think for themselves. A nation of employees cannot be free any more than a nation of employers can be.
ATTRIBUTION: President WOODROW WILSON, address on Latin American policy to the fifth annual convention of the Southern Commercial Congress, Mobile, Alabama, October 27, 1913.—The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, ed. Arthur S. Link, vol. 28, p. 451 (1978).

The first sentence is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.