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Woodrow Wilson Quotes About Leadership, Humanity, and Progress

President Woodrow Wilson was America’s 28th president. Wilson served two terms in the presidential office and guided American citizens through some pretty progressive changes. Here are some of our favorite Woodrow Wilson quotes.

Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia shortly before the Civil War and grew up in Georgia during Reconstruction.

As an adult, Wilson began his career as a professor of political science at Princeton University. In 1910, Wilson ran for Governor of New Jersey and won. Two years after that he ran for president and served two terms.

We hope you enjoy this collection of Woodrow Wilson quotes.

A Picture of Woodrow Wilson

Don’t forget to also check out these Lyndon B. Johnson quotes about government, civil rights and more.

Woodrow Wilson quotes about government

1. “The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.” — Woodrow Wilson

2. “[We are] no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” — Woodrow Wilson

3. “A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.” — Woodrow Wilson

4. “There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized peace.” — Woodrow Wilson

5. “The truth is we are all caught in a great economic system which is heartless.” — Woodrow Wilson

6. “We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world.” — Woodrow Wilson

7. The world must be made safe for democracy.” — Woodrow Wilson

8. “There was a time when corporations played a minor part in our business affairs, but now they play the chief part, and most men are the servants of corporations.” — Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson quotes about freedom

9. “I do not want a government that will take care of me, I want a government that will make other men take their hands off me so I can take care of myself.” — Woodrow Wilson

10. “I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.” — Woodrow Wilson

11. “We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make.” — Woodrow Wilson

12. “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government.” — Woodrow Wilson

13. “The history of liberty is a history of resistance.” — Woodrow Wilson

14. “The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.” — Woodrow Wilson

15. “I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.” — Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson quotes about leadership

16. “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country.” — Woodrow Wilson

17. “Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” — Woodrow Wilson

18. “Power consists in one’s capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.” — Woodrow Wilson

19. “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” — Woodrow Wilson

20. “The seed of revolution is repression.” — Woodrow Wilson

21. “When I give a man an office, I watch him carefully to see whether he is swelling or growing.” — Woodrow Wilson

22. “Men grow by having responsibility laid upon them.” — Woodrow Wilson

23. “The man who has no vision will undertake no great enterprise.” — Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson quotes about progress

24. “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” — Woodrow Wilson

25. “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.” — Woodrow Wilson

26. “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” — Woodrow Wilson

27. “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.” — Woodrow Wilson

28. “We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.” — Woodrow Wilson

29. “It is the object of learning, not only to satisfy the curiosity and perfect the spirits of ordinary men but also to advance civilization.” — Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson quotes about humanity

30. “My urgent advice to you would be, not only always to think first of America, but always, also, to think first of humanity. ” — Woodrow Wilson

31. “You do not love humanity if you seek to divide humanity into jealous camps.” — Woodrow Wilson

32. “Humanity can be welded together only by love, by sympathy, by justice, not by jealousy and hatred.” — Woodrow Wilson

33. “I am sorry for the man who seeks to make personal capital out of the passions of his fellowmen.” — Woodrow Wilson

34. “America was created to unite mankind.” — Woodrow Wilson

35. “No people are true Christians who do not think constantly of how they can lift their brother and sister, how they can assist their friends, how they can enlighten mankind, how they can make virtue the rule of conduct in the circle in which they live.” — Woodrow Wilson

36. “We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this.” — Woodrow Wilson

37. “Character, my friends, is a byproduct. It is produced in the great manufacture of daily duty.” — Woodrow Wilson

38. “The difference between a strong man and a weak one is that the former does not give up after a defeat.” — Woodrow Wilson

39. “If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you have lost something; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything.” — Woodrow Wilson

More Woodrow Wilson quotes

40. “The object of love is to serve, not to win.” — Woodrow Wilson

41. “Responsibility is proportionate to opportunity.” — Woodrow Wilson

42. “Understanding is the soil in which grow all the fruits of friendship.” — Woodrow Wilson

43. “America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of the Holy Scripture.” — Woodrow Wilson

44. “Big business is not dangerous because it is big, but because its bigness is an unwholesome inflation created by privileges and exemptions which it ought not to enjoy.” — Woodrow Wilson

45. “As a matter of fact and experience, the more power is divided the more irresponsible it becomes.” — Woodrow Wilson

46. “I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose.” — Woodrow Wilson

47. “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” — Woodrow Wilson

48. “There is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” — Woodrow Wilson

49. “I not only use all the brains that I have but all that I can borrow.” — Woodrow Wilson

50. “The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.” — Woodrow Wilson

51. “Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.” – Woodrow Wilson

You might also like these Harry Truman quotes from the unpopular president.

What did you learn from these Woodrow Wilson quotes?

Wilson is most famous for being the president who both led us into World War I and led us out of it.

After initially claiming neutrality, Wilson later saw no choice but to join the war in order to make the world “safe for democracy.”

After the war, Wilson worked with the European Nations to create the League of Nations to ensure world peace.

During his presidency, Wilson also saw the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, Child Labor Reform Act, and the 19th Amendment, which allowed women the right to vote.

Wilson is typically rated as one of the United States’ better presidents, however, he receives strong criticism for being pro-segregation.

What did you think of these Woodrow Wilson quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Sckylar Gibby-Brown
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