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When the President of the United States Talks …

What’s in a quote? Plenty — if you are the president of the United States. Chicago-based author Pierce Word has collected a vast assemblage of presidential utterings in his new book, “Wisdom From the Oval Office.” Its 40 chapters deal with some of the major themes of life, and he bills it as “the first comprehensive book that reveals how America’s presidents weighed in on major issues, such as honesty, love, commitment, evil, tyranny, freedom, etc.” The book, published by the History Publishing Co., is slated for a hardcover release this spring. Here is an excerpt of selected quotes from the book:

CHAPTER 5: Constitution

George Washington: “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”

— Statement to the Boston Selectmen, Mount Vernon. July 28, 1795.

Andrew Johnson: “Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects. “

— Speech to House of Representatives. March 2, 1867.

Bill Clinton : “We don’t need a constitutional amendment; we need action.”

— Address before a joint session of the Congress on the State of the Union. Feb. 4, 1997.

CHAPTER 6: Country

Thomas Jefferson: “If God is just, I tremble for my country.”

— In his “Notes on Virginia,” 1782.

Abraham Lincoln: “This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.”

—First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1861.

CHAPTER 8: Economy

Lyndon B. Johnson: “Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.”

— Comment to economist J. K. Galbraith, in “A Life in Our Times” (1981).

Ronald Reagan: “The government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

— Remarks to state chairpersons of the National White House Conference on Small Business. Aug. 15, 1986.

CHAPTER 9: Education

George W. Bush: “Education should prepare children for jobs, and it also should prepare our children for life.”

— Remarks at the White House Conference on Character and Community. June 19, 2002.

Barack Obama: “We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible.”

— “Black Issues in Higher Education,” Oct. 7, 2004.


John Adams: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”

— Letter to Abigail Adams. May 12, 1780.

Theodore Roosevelt: “If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.”

— Address at the Cambridge Union. May 26, 1910.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: “War settles nothing.”

— From Quote magazine, April 4, 1965.

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