101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know About American History


73 “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if 1 could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do that. … I have here stated my purpose according to my official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free.” (Abraham Lincoln, replying to the appeal of editor Horace Greeley [August 1862] that he emancipate the slaves.)


74 “It is well that war is so terrible—we should grow too fond of it.” (Gen. Robert E. Lee, speaking to Gen. James Longstreet during the Battle of Fredericksburg, 1863.)

75 “The man of wealth [should] consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer … to produce the most beneficial results for the community—the man of wealth thus becoming the mere trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.” (Andrew Carnegie, “Wealth,” 1889.)

76 “To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say, ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’ ” (Booker T. Washington, speaking at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition, 1895.)

77 “… Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, he belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambitions of our brighter minds. … The way for people to gain their reasonable rights is not by voluntarily throwing them away.” (W. E. B. Du Bois, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” 1903.)


78 “The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” (“X” [George F. Kennan], “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” 1947.)

79 “In tne counci’s of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” (President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961.)

80 “I am not a crook.” (President Richard M. Nixon, 1974.)


81 “Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third [The Speaker: Treason!’]. …” (Patrick Henry attacking the Stamp Act in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1765.) Henry did say something like this, though no copy of his speech exists. But he almost surely did not add “ may profit by this example . If this be treason, make the most of it.” The evidence that he said that consists of the recollections of eyewitnesses recorded nearly half a century later. The only contemporary account claims that “henery,” when interrupted by the Speaker, “said that if he had affronted the speaker, or the house, he was ready to ask pardon, and he would show his loyalty to his majesty, King G. the third, at the Expense of the last drop of his blood.”

82 “Entanglingalliances.” A phrase often incorrectly said to come from George Washington’s Farewell Address. Washington warned not against “entangling” alliances but against both “passionate attachments” and “inveterate antipathies” to particular foreign countries. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, in his first Inaugural, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”

83 “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was supposed to have said this in 1797 when he and two other American diplomats who were trying to negotiate a commercial treaty with the French were asked for a bribe by agents of the foreign minister Talleyrand. What Pinckney did say was, “No! No! Not a sixpence!”

84 “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Attributed to Gen. Philip Sheridan, who in fact said something only slightly less objectionable: “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”

85 “Lafayette, we are here” was not said by General Pershing upon setting foot on French soil at the head of the first contingents of the American Expeditionary Forces in 1917. It was said by an aide, Charles E. Stanton.

86 “Prosperity is just around the corner.” Though often attributed to Herbert Hoover, the former President always denied having used the phrase. Actually there was nothing fatuous in the statement, even if Hoover had made it. Well into 1931 most people believed the Depression would be short. Hoover claimed that his enemies were twisting a statement he made in 1930: “I am convinced we have passed the worst and with continued effort we will rapidly recover.”

87 “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” What Charles E. Wilson, former head of General Motors, actually said in testifying before the Senate committee considering his nomination in 1953 to be secretary of defense was a bit different: “I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”