Stephen Ambrose Quotes

  1. Washington’s character was rock solid. He came to stand for the new nation and its republican virtues, which was why he became our first President by unanimous choice.
  2. The American Constitution is the greatest governing document, and at some 7,000 words, just about the shortest.
  3. Who today is willing to say that Texas and California and the remainder of the Southwest would be better off if they were governed by Mexico?
  4. The number one secret of being a successful writer is this: marry an English major.
  5. It does you no good to see the number two or number three man in the corporation-you have to get through to number one.
  6. Almost everything Truman did in foreign affairs I approve of.
  7. There are many more want-to-be writers out there than good editors.
  8. Eisenhower had the clearest blue eyes. He would fix them on you. In my every interview with him, he would lock his eyes on to mine and keep them there.
  9. Andrew Johnson was a Southerner generally who proclaimed that his native state of Tennessee was a country for white men.
  10. The great wars of the 20th Century made it into the worst Century ever.
  11. Jefferson owned slaves. He did not believe that all were created equal. He was a racist.
  12. Winning the Revolutionary War, or the Civil War, or World War II were the turning points in our history, the sine qua non of our forward progress.
  13. The war in Vietnam I thought a dreadful mistake.
  14. World War II, the atomic bomb, the Cold War, made it hard for Americans to continue their optimism.
  15. Washington and Jefferson were both rich Virginia planters, but they were never friends.
  16. I thought Nixon was the worst President we had ever had, save only perhaps Andrew Johnson.
  17. Eisenhower is my choice as the American of the 20th Century. Of all the men I’ve studied and written about, he is the brightest and the best.
  18. Dams have harmed our wildlife and made rivers less useful for recreation.
  19. American corporations hate to give away money.
  20. The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.
  21. Immigrants do more than help us win our wars, or set up cleaning shops or ethnic restaurants.
  22. I’ve always tried to be fair to my subjects. That’s easy when they are as likable and admirable as Lewis and Clark, or Eisenhower.
  23. As to the Indians, the guiding principle was, promise them anything just so long as they get out of the way.
  24. In America, Jefferson noted with approval, women knew their place.
  25. American is the first democratic nation-state.
  26. Reading your own material aloud forces you to listen.
  27. Nixon regarded himself as having been cheated by life. He never got my vote.
  28. The more sophisticated we get, the more advanced our buildings and vehicles become, the more vulnerable we are.
  29. Johnson had been the most powerful man in the world, yet the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong had resisted, overcome his power, broken his will.
  30. Washington, not Jefferson, freed his slaves upon his death.
  31. I was taught by professors who had done their schooling in the 1930s. Most of them were scornful of, even hated, big business.
  32. It would not be possible to praise nurses too highly.
  33. In 1945, there were more people killed, more buildings destroyed, more high explosives set off, more fires burning than before or since.
  34. I was too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam.
  35. The Canadians have managed to live peacefully with their Indians. It is disgrace that the United States has not done the same.
  36. We are part of a country that outshines those that have gone before us and most of those in existence today.
  37. To be a slaveholder meant one had to regard the African American as inferior in every way.
  38. Custer had dead heroes. Crazy Horse had only live ones.
  39. Neither Johnson nor his party nor the government as a whole were willing to raise, train, equip, and then send Vietnam sufficient manpower to do the job.
  40. My first book was the book that changed my life.
  41. The Holocaust was the most evil crime ever committed.
  42. Like their predecessors, the Presidents of today just throw up their hands.
  43. Crazy Horse saw history as integrated in the present, incorporated into daily life.
  44. You don’t hate history, you hate the way it was taught to you in high school.
  45. I’m no politician. I’m an historian who has learned through a lifetime of studying that nothing in the world beats universal education.
  46. My favorite book is the last one printed, which is always better than those that were published earlier.
  47. History is everything that has ever happened.
  48. Writing is not the easiest way to make a living. Your work long hours, usually all by yourself. It is not a way to make money.
  49. Trial by jury. Live wherever you can make a living. How could a government based on such principles fail?
  50. Even before Watergate and his resignation, Nixon had inspired conflicting and passionate emotions.

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