Government Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old government quotes, government sayings, and government proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

Too bad all the people who know how to run this country are busy running taxicabs or cutting hair.     

George Burns

People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.     

Alan Moore

Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.     

Ronald Reagan

The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.     


A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.     

Gerald R. Ford

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.     

Edward R. Murrow

To form a new government requires infinite care and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid, the superstructure must be bad.     

George Washington

As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles.     

Bertrand Russel

Governments have a tendency not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.     

Ronald Reagan

When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are something to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honors are something to be ashamed of.     


That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.     

Thomas Jefferson

It is not the function of the government to stop the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.     

Justice Robert Jackson

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured (and) commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.     

Pierre Joseph Prouhon

Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.     

Derrick Jensen

Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other.     

Thomas Jefferson

The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.     

Thomas Jefferson

Government is nothing more than the combined force of society, or the united power of the multitude, for the peace, order, safety, good and happiness of the people.     

John Adams

Governments should fear weariness above all. Once it sets in, it is hard to dispel and almost invariably presages decline and eventual defeat.     

The Economist

Governments need armies to protect them from their enslaved and oppressed subjects.     


Everyone wants to live at the expense of the State. They forget that the State wants to live at the expense of everyone.     

Fredrick Bastiat

When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsiblitiy for themselves.     

George Pataki

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.     

Thomas Paine

Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.     

John Perry Barlow

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.     

George Washington

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.     

Thomas Jefferson

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.     

Abraham Lincoln

Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.     

Ronald Reagan

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.     

Alexander Hamilton

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.     

John Quincy Adams

The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.     


Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.     

Benjamin Franklin

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.     

Edward Abbey

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.     

John Adams

As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it.     

John Adams

A government, for protecting business only, is but a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay.     

A. Bronson Alcott

The best government rests on the people and not on the few, on persons and not on property, on the free development of public opinion and not on authority     

George Bancroft

The government cannot afford to have a country made up entirely of rich people, because rich people pay so little tax that the government would quickly go bankrupt. This is why government men always tell us that labor is man's noblest calling. Government needs labor to pay its upkeep.     

Russell Baker

The art of governmentis the organization of idolatry.     

George Bernard Shaw

The final end ofgovernment is not to exert restraint but to do good.     

Rufus Choate

What is government but an arrangement by which the many accept the authority of the few?     

Barbara Tuchman

When there is a lack of honor in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned.     

Herbert Hoover

You can't run a government solely on a business basis ... Government should be human. It should have a heart.     

Herbert Henry Lehman

A government is the only known vessel that leaks from the top.     

James Reston

Wherever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.     

Harry S. Truman

Good government is no substitute for self-government.     

Mahatma Gandhi

Which is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.     

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Government is an evil; it is only the thoughtlessness and vices of men that make it a necessary evil. When all men are good and wise, government will of itself decay.     

Percy Bysshe Shelley

An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.     


The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.     


While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.     

John Adams

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.     

David Hume