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Quotations about Patriotism


Our heart's where they rocked our cradle,
      Our love where we spent our toil,
And our faith and our hope and our honour
      We pledge to our native soil!...
~Rudyard Kipling

Patriotism, or the peculiar relation of an individual to his country, is like the family instinct. In the child it is a blind devotion; in the man an intelligent love. ~George William Curtis, "Patriotism," an oration delivered before the graduating class at Union College, Schenectady, New York, 1857

It is glorious to serve one's country by deeds; even to serve her by words is a thing not to be despised... ~Sallust (c.86–c.35 BCE), translated by J. C. Rolfe, 1920

Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you, that by striving to perfect yourselves therein, you may prepare to ascend to him. ~Giuseppe Mazzini, 1848

God gave all men all earth to love,
      But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
      Beloved over all...
~Rudyard Kipling

There are instincts that are deeper than anything else — deeper than death — and of these the strongest is the instinct of country that men call patriotism. Perhaps patriotism is the splendid spur by which the gods achieve their ends. I don't know. But nothing is so dominating, so powerful, as this patriotism. ~Shaw Desmond

Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country. ~Calvin Coolidge, 1923

I think there's one higher office than president, and I would call that patriot... ~Gary Hart

Thus, gentlemen, we see that a man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle: a patriotism is loyalty to that principle. ~George William Curtis, "Patriotism," an oration delivered before the graduating class at Union College, Schenectady, New York, 1857

—Man, through all ages of revolving time,
Unchanging man, in every varying clime,
Deems his own land of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside;
His home the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
~James Montgomery, "The West Indies," written in honour of the abolition of the African slave trade by the British legislature in 1807

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, 1952

Men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own. ~Seneca

We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us. We must get away from the idea that America is to be the leader of the world in everything. The old "manifest destiny" idea ought to be modified so that each nation has the manifest destiny to do the best it can — and that without cant, without the assumption of self-righteousness, and with a desire to learn to the uttermost from other nations. ~Francis J. McConnell, Memorial Day Address, 1926

You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders. ~Mark Twain

Patriotism knows neither latitude nor longitude. It is not climatic. It thrives on the cold and rugged mountain tops of our extremest East; it flourishes on the fertile field and abounding prairies of the West; it flowers out and blossoms into splendid fruitage on the plantations of the South. Think of your country and live for your children. It is worthy of it all. Young man, never fall into the error of supposing that interest in these great questions must be beneath you. It cannot. The man who thinks himself above politics is making a double mistake. He is overestimating himself, and is underestimating all that magnificent science which should determine how best the interests of 50,000,000 of people might be promoted. Young men, I honor your ambitions, and I honor all your dreams. I honor every vision that you see in the greatness of our country in the future, and your honorable and distinguished part in it. ~Emery A. Storrs (1835–1885)

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us, than are those of the whole human race. Hence, we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury. The Prince of Peace, under whose stainless banner we rally, came not to destroy, but to save, even the worst of enemies. ~William Lloyd Garrison, 1838

The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens. ~Bahá’u’lláh,

But the glory of the United States must rest and has rested upon a firmer foundation than that of her purely material resources. It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism. ~J. Horace McFarland, 1908

National honor is national property of the highest value. ~James Monroe, 1817

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is owed also to justice and to humanity, owed to our fellow-men in other countries as well as in our own. Doubtless we are called upon to think first and feel first for those whom we know best and for whom we are most directly responsible, our own fellow-citizens. But we are not therefore to forget that we have duties to the other peoples also, and those duties are doubly urgent if in any case we think that justice is as much on their side as on ours. True patriotism consists not in waving a flag, not in shouting "our country, right or wrong," but in so valuing our country and respecting its best traditions as to desire and to strive that our country shall be righteous as well as strong. A State is none the less strong for being resolved to use its strength in a temperate and pacific spirit and for putting justice and honour above all its other interests. ~James Bryce, "Allegiance to Humanity," 1909

Patriotism is the willingness to act intelligently for the benefit of one's national group, even at personal sacrifice. ~Carl Russell Fish (1876–1932)

To-day we reverently thank the abolitionists. Earth has produced no grander men, no nobler women. They were the real philanthropists, the true patriots... heroes. He loves his country best who strives to make it best. Mere politicians wish the country to do something for them, true patriots desire to do something for their country... [P]atriotism without principle is the prejudice of birth — the animal attachment to place. ~Robert G. Ingersoll, 1882

A real patriot is one who is willing to do more for the Government than he expects the Government to do for him. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

...patriotism, as I see it, is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles. ~George Jean Nathan, Testament of a Critic, 1931

...for after all patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched. ~Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893), "My Uncle Sosthenes"

The stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the everlasting things that matter for a nation — the great peaks we had forgotten, of Honor, Duty, Patriotism, and, clad in glittering white, the towering pinnacle of Sacrifice pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven. As long as the men and women of this generation last, they will carry in their hearts the image of those mighty peaks whose foundations are not shaken, though the country rock and sway in the convulsions of a catastrophe. ~David Lloyd George, "Through Terror to Triumph!," 1914  [altered —tg]

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography. ~George Santayana

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot we must become the enemy of the rest of mankind. ~Voltaire, translated by William F. Fleming

To be a good patriot is to wish our own country enriched by commerce, and powerful by arms; but such is the condition of mankind, that to wish the greatness of our own country is often to wish evil to our neighbors. ~Voltaire, translated by William F. Fleming

...marching in line and file to the strains of music... This heroism on command, this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism — how intensely I despise them! War is low and despicable, and I had rather be smitten to shreds than participate in such doings. ~Albert Einstein

Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide on way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head. ~Mark Twain

You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. ~Bernard Shaw

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
~Marya Mannes, "Gaza Strip," 1955

      [P]rovincialism... a wretched survival of belated racial egoism — one of the deadliest forms of selfishness known to men. This does not mean that a man should not love his own people best of all. A man should love his own people, as his own mother, with a unique devotion. Ties of nature are there which it is folly to deny... What is true of mothers is true of motherlands. We are bone of their bone, blood of their blood, bred in their traditions...
      One primary effect, however, of such devotion to one's own mother should be the making of all motherhood everywhere infinitely sacred. He is a poor son whose sonship does not make him desire to serve all men's mothers. He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flags and their fatherland. Local patriotism should be the open door into universal sympathy. Nationalism should not hold back from but lead to internationalism. He who thinks that loyalty to his family means dislike of his village is a fool...
      Such a victory over his own provincialism is one of the first necessities for the man who seeks to be useful to his generation's deepest need and greatest task. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick, "Cooperation," The Meaning of Service, 1920

Do not, therefore, regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo? ~Adlai E. Stevenson

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