Founding Fathers Blog

Labor Day Quotes from Founding Fathers

September 3rd, 2010

With Labor Day quickly approaching, I thought maybe you’d enjoy some favorite quotes from some of the Founding Fathers (and a few others) relating to labor.

“Well done is better than well said.” Benjamin Franklin

“Success has ruined many a good man.” Benjamin Franklin

“The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.” Benjamin Franklin

“Commerce and industry are the best mines of a nation.” George Washington

“The private virtues of economy, prudence, and industry are not less amiable, in civil life, than the more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and enterprise, in public life.” George Washington

“It is a point conceded, that America, under an efficient government, will be the most favorable country of any in the world, for persons of industry and frugality, possessed of moderate capital.” George Washington

“I flatter myself, that opportunities will not be wanting, for me to show my disposition to encourage the domestic and public virtues of industry, economy, patriotism, philanthropy, and that righteousness which exalteth a nation.” George Washington

“I never in my life believed that I had any talents beyond mediocrity. I have always be sensible (sensitive), to my mortification, that all I have done has been accomplished by the severest and most incessant labor.” John Adams

“But to teach that all men are born with equal powers and faculties, to equal influence to life, is as gross a fraud, as glaring an imposition on the credibility of people as was ever practised.” John Adams

“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” Patrick Henry

“A mind always employed is always happy. . . .It is our own fault if we ever know what ennui (the condition of being bored) is, or if we are ever driven to the miserable resources of gaming, which corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind.” Thomas Jefferson

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” Thomas Jefferson

“Our wish . . . is that the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public good, that . . . equality of rights [be] maintained, and that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of his fathers.” Thomas Jefferson

And Thomas Jefferson about James Madison: “[Madison] acquired a habit of self-possession, which placed at ready command the rich resources of his luminous and discriminating mind, and of his extensive information, and rendered him the first of every assembly afterwards, of which he became a member.

“Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor.” Ulysses S. Grant

“As labor is the common burden of our race, so the effort of some to shift their share of the burden onto the shoulders of others is the great durable curse of the race.” Abraham Lincoln

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