If the first 42 Presidents had tweeted…
With it being Presidents’ Day weekend, I found myself thinking about famous Presidential quotes. In reviewing many of these quotes, I was struck by their brevity and power. Sometimes insightful, at other times irreverent or self-deprecating, we call them quotes. For the era of radio and television, they have been used as sound bites. Today, they might simply appear as tweets. Below you will find a selection of some of my favorite Presidential quotes followed by the number of characters these “tweets” would represent. Another thing struck me… many of their messages- from the Founding Fathers to the more recent Presidents- still resonate today.
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” (78 characters)- George Washington
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (120 characters)- John Adams
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” (87 characters)- Thomas Jefferson
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (53 characters)- James Madison
“One man with courage makes a majority.” (38 characters)- Andrew Jackson
“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” (98 characters)- Abraham Lincoln
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” (52 characters)- Theodore Roosevelt
“America lives in the heart of every man everywhere who wishes to find a region where he will be free to work out his destiny as he chooses.” (139 characters)- Woodrow Wilson
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (46 characters)- Franklin D. Roosevelt
“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” (107 characters)- John F. Kennedy
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (35 characters)- Ronald Reagan
I limited myself to one-fourth of the U.S. Presidents and at that only one quote per President. The one that was too long to use was the first sentence of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” (175 characters). It should be noted that Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan get my Brevity Award (38 and 35 characters respectively for their quotes) while Woodrow Wilson just made it in with his powerful 139-character quote on the concept of America. And on this Presidents’ Day weekend, it is President Wilson’s message that is louder than ever as it reverberates around the world (without even having to be retweeted).
What are your favorite Presidential quotes? How would they fare with a 140-character limit?