Quotations on Patriotism

“I do not mean to exclude altogether the idea of patriotism. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest. But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.”

-George Washington. Letter, April 21, 1778.

“True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them—-the desire to do right—-is precisely the same.”

-Robert E. Lee, letter to General P. G. T. Beauregard, October 3, 1865

There seems no reason why patriotism and narrowness should go together, or why intellectual fairmindedness should be confounded with political trimming,* or why serviceable truth should keep cloistered because not partisan.+

-Herman Melville (1819–1891)
*trimming= opportunism
+i.e. truth should not be hidden away just because it does not support the American cause.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

-Mark Twain

“How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be ‘American’ before (or in contradistinction to) being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, & having the same intellectual discipline as other civilized countries? It is really too easy a disguise for our shortcomings to dress them up as a form of patriotism!”

-Edith Wharton

“My patriotism is not an exclusive thing. It is all-embracing and I should reject that patriotism which sought to mount the distress or exploitation of other nationalities.”

-Mohandas K. Gandhi

“I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility which will enable America to remain master of her power—-to walk with it in serenity and wisdom, with self-respect and the respect of all mankind; a patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. These are words that are easy to utter, but this is a mighty assignment. For it is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.”

– Adlai Stevenson

“We do not consider patriotism desirable if it contradicts civilized behavior.”

-Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921–1990)

“It seems that American patriotism measures itself against an outcast group. The right Americans are the right Americans because they’re not like the wrong Americans, who are not really Americans.” –

-Eric J. Hobsbawm

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

-Howard Zinn

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