Quotes on History

On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p322.

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

— Winston Churchill

A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The history of the world is but the biography of heroes.

— Thomas Carlyle

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.

— Charles Austin Beard, The Blue Press

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.

— Charles-Louis De Secondat

History teaches us many things; we learn very few of them.

— Will Spencer

The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.

— Stephen Ambrose

If we’re ignorant of the historical sacrifices that made our liberties possible, we will be less likely to make the sacrifices again so that those liberties are preserved for future generations. And, if we’re ignorant, we won’t even know when government infringes on our liberties. Moreover, we’ll happily cast our votes for those who’d destroy our liberties.

— Walter E. Williams

If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.

— Baruch Spinoza

Wise men say, and not without reason, that whosoever wished to foresee the future might consult the past.

— Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince