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James Garfield quotes

November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881; 20th President of the United States

I love agitation and investigation and glory in defending unpopular truth against popular
error.
James Garfield

The worst days of darkness through which I have ever passed have been greatly alleviated
by throwing myself with all my energy into some work relating to others.
James Garfield

I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not be a fool, which, if I may judge by
the exhibitions around me, is a matter of no small difficulty.
James Garfield

I mean to make myself a man, and if I succeed in that, I shall succeed in everything else.
James Garfield

If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it's the best possible substitute for it.
James Garfield

The chief duty of government is to keep the peace and stand out of the sunshine of the
people.
James Garfield

There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they
are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very
little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a
family. They teach the truth by living it.
James Garfield

Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither
freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.
James Garfield

Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve
in yourself; that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for
the place you occupy, you are too small for it.
James Garfield

The men who succeed best in public life are those who take the risk of standing by their own
convictions.
James Garfield

Nine times out of ten the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed
overboard and compelled to sink or swim.
James Garfield

We may divide the whole struggle of the human race into two chapter: first, the fight to get
leisure; and then the second fight of civilization - what shall we do with our leisure when we
get it.
James Garfield

I have had many troubles, but the worst of them never came.
James Garfield

I have always said that my whole public life was an experiment to determine whether an
intelligent people would sustain a man in acting sensibly on each proposition that arose, and
in doing nothing for mere show or demagogical effect.
James Garfield

Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and
commerce... when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or
another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of
inflation and depression originate.
James Garfield

Things don't turn up in this world until somebody turns them up.
James Garfield

I love to deal with doctrines and events. The contests of men about men I greatly dislike.
James Garfield

If there be one thing upon this earth that mankind love and admire better than another, it is
a brave man - it is a man who dares to look the Devil in the face and tell him he is a Devil.
James Garfield

The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most
important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. No
thoughtful man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people.
James Garfield

The lesson of History is rarely learned by the actors themselves.
James Garfield

I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as
falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.
James Garfield

A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.
James Garfield

I am an advocate of paper money, but that paper must represent what it professes on its
face. I do not wish to hold in my hands the printed lies of the government.
James Garfield

Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis.
James Garfield

All free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.
James Garfield

If wrinkles must be written on our brow, let them not be written on our heart. The spirit
should not grow old.
James Garfield

I am receiving what I suppose to be the usual number of threatening letters on the subject.
Assassination can be no more guarded against than death by lightning; it is best not to worry
about either.
James Garfield

The possession of great powers, no doubt, carries with it a contempt for mere external show.
James Garfield

The world's history is a divine poem, of which the history of every nation is a canto, and
every man a word.
James Garfield

The sin of slavery is one of which it may be said that without the shedding of blood there is
no remission.
James Garfield