Quotations about   people

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The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Cooper Union, New York City (27 Feb 1860)
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On preventing the spread of slavery to new states and territories. Sometimes paraphrased, "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution."
Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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People don’t alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
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Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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Agitation is the marshalling of the conscience of a nation to mold its laws.

Robert Peel (1788-1850) British statesman, Prime Minister (1834-35, 1841-46)
(Attributed)
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Sometimes quoted as "conscience of a people." Widely quoted without source in the late 19th Century (earliest ref. 1881).
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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But in the main, I feel like a brown bag of miscellany propped against a wall. Against a wall in company with other bags, white, red and yellow. Pour out the contents, and there is discovered a jumble of small things priceless and worthless. A first-water diamond, an empty spool, bits of broken glass, lengths of string, a key to a door long since crumbled away, a rusty knife-blade, old shoes saved for a road that never was and never will be, a nail bent under the weight of things too heavy for any nail, a dried flower or two still a little fragrant.

In your hand is the brown bag. On the ground before you is the jumble it held — so much like the jumble in the bags, could they be emptied, that all might be dumped in a single heap and the bags refilled without altering the content of any greatly. A bit of colored glass more or less would not matter. Perhaps that is how the Great Stuffer of Bags filled them in the first place — who knows?

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
“How It Feels to Be Colored Me”, The World Tomorrow (May 1928)
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Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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“There are two types of people in this world,” Pete volunteers helpfully, “those who think there are only two types of people in the world, and everybody else.” He sips his wine thoughtfully. “But the first kind don’t put it that way. They usually think in terms of the saved and the damned, with themselves sitting pretty in the lifeboat.”

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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GERVAIS: Whenever I do a thing about animals, there’s always someone that goes, “What about children dying in Syria?” Yeah, that’s bad, too — can’t we care about both? Sometimes I go, “You carry on all your good work for the fucking children in Syria, and I’ll do this.” I love the fact that there’s a hierarchy of things that you’ve got to care about. I tweeted “I love humans — they’re just not my favorite animal.” That was to annoy people.

GQ: True, though?

GERVAIS: No, I’m not a maniac. Of course humans are my favorite animal. [pauses] But I’ve never met an animal who was a cunt.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
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Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, ch. 19 (1980)
Added on 19-Sep-16 | Last updated 19-Sep-16
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Morale is the greatest single factor in successful war.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Crusade in Europe (1948)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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Popular reason does not always know how to act right, nor does it always act right when it knows.

Fisher Ames (1758-1808) American politician, orator
“No Revolutionist,” The Palladium (Nov 1801)
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Added on 5-May-16 | Last updated 5-May-16
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What is wrong then? The system. But when you’ve said that you’ve said nothing. The system, after all, is only the outcome of the human psyche, the human desires. We shout and blame the machine. But who on earth makes the machine, if we don’t? And any alterations in the system are only modifications in the machine. The system is in us, it is not something external to us. The machine is in us, or it would never come out of us. Well then, there’s nothing to blame but ourselves, and there’s nothing to change except inside ourselves.

David Herbert "D. H." Lawrence (1885-1930) English novelist
“Education of the People,” Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine (1925)
Added on 16-Feb-16 | Last updated 16-Feb-16
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I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

Eisenhower - people want peace - wist_info quote

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Broadcast with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, London (31 Aug 1959)
Added on 2-Feb-16 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn: We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Lewis - ordinary people - wist_info quote

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“The Weight of Glory,” sermon, Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (8 Jun 1941)
Added on 23-Dec-15 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voices of the people themselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow Is Now (1963)
Added on 15-Apr-15 | Last updated 15-Apr-15
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The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don’t want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Homage to an Exile” (1955)

Published as an essay in Actuelles III, originally a speech (7 Dec 1955) at a banquet in honor of President Eduardo Santos, editor of El Tiempo, driven out of Columbia by a dictatorship". Reprinted in Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1960).
Added on 5-Jan-15 | Last updated 5-Jan-15
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BAKUNIN: Left to themselves people are noble, generous, uncorrupted. They’d create a completely new kind of society if only people weren’t so blind, stupid and selfish.
HERZEN: Is that the same people or different people?
BAKUNIN: The same people.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
The Coast of Utopia: Salvage (2002)
Added on 7-Nov-14 | Last updated 7-Nov-14
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All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people. Power in the people is like light in the sun: native, original, inherent, and unlimited by anything human. In governors it may be compared to the reflected light of the moon, for it is only borrowed, delegated, and limited by the intention of the people; whose it is, and to whom governors are to consider themselves as responsible, while the people are answerable only to God; — themselves being the losers, if they pursue a false scheme of politics.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
Political Disquisitions, Book 1 “Of Government, briefly” (1774)
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Added on 6-Nov-14 | Last updated 6-Nov-14
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Drove up a newcomer in a covered wagon: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a lowdown, lying, thieving gossiping, backbiting kind lot of people.”
“Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”
And the dusty gray stranger had just about blended into the dusty gray cottonwoods in a clump on the horizon when another newcomer drove up: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a decent, hard-working, law-abiding, friendly lot of people.” “Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American poet, biographer
The People, Yes, Poem #52 (1936)
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 5-Nov-14
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God writes a lot of comedy, Donna; the trouble is, he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
Happy to be Here (1983)
Added on 25-Sep-14 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome direction, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to William C. Jarvis (28 Sep 1820)
Added on 17-Aug-09 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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A slave has but one master; an ambitious man has as many masters as there are people who may be useful in bettering his position.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères] (1688)
Added on 25-Jul-08 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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