Quotations about America (the common short way to say The United States of America). What does America mean to different people, in different places, in different times? What does it mean to you?

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The American way of life is not sustainable. It doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.

— Arundhati Roy

Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.

— Abraham Lincoln

In America, anybody can be president. That’s one of the risks you take.

— Adlai E. Stevenson II

What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too is my relation to all life, my religion. And this is not so easy to talk about. Religious experience is highly intimate and, for me, ready words are not at hand.

— Adlai Stevenson

The flag that was the symbol of slavery on the high seas for a long time was not the Confederate battle flag, it was sadly the Stars and Stripes.

— Alan Keyes

The South, which is peopled with ardent and irascible beings, is becoming more irritated and alarmed.

— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

… being American is …
the past we step into
and how we repair it.

— Amanda Gorman

The Constitution has become a convenient tool and talking point for politicians that get paid by the NRA. The same goes for Americans who just love their guns, so suddenly they’re Constitutional scholars who care about what our founding fathers allegedly wanted.

— Ana Kasparian

An immigrant, living in the slums of New York City, once said of himself and others of the sweatshop community to which he belonged, “We live under America, not in America.”

— Anna Garlin Spencer

As a general point, the United States has an extreme budget commitment to prisons, guns, warplanes, armored vehicles, detention facilities, courts, jails, drones, and patrols – to law and order, meted out discriminately.

— Annie Lowrey

There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream.

— Archibald MacLeish

When you live in the United States, with the roar of the free market, the roar of this huge military power, the roar of being at the heart of empire, it’s hard to hear the whispering of the rest of the world. And I think many US citizens want to. I don’t think that all of them necessarily are co-conspirators in this concept of empire. And those who are not, need to listen to other stories in the world – other voices, other people.

— Arundhati Roy, The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile

The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.

— Barack Obama

Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be—that is our power. That’s our strength.

— Barack Obama

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

— Barack Obama

What the people want is very simple—they want an America as good as its promise.

— Barbara Jordan

You know what the issue is? Do you want to know? It’s what these guys have decided to call America. They have the audacity to say, ‘There, you sons of bitches, don’t lay a finger on it. That is a finished product.’

But any country is still in the making. Always. That’s just history, people have to see that.

— Barbara Kingsolver

It is important for this country to make its people so obsessed with their own liberal individualism that they do not have time to think about a world larger than self.

— bell hooks, Black Genius: African-American Solutions to African-American Problems

American families have always shown remarkable resiliency, or flexible adjustment to natural, economic, and social challenges. Their strengths resemble the elasticity of a spider web, a gull’s skillful flow with the wind, the regenerating power of perennial grasses, the cooperation of an ant colony, and the persistence of a stream carving canyon rocks. These are not the strengths of fixed monuments but living organisms. This resilience is not measured by wealth, muscle or efficiency but by creativity, unity, and hope. Cultivating these family strengths is critical to a thriving human community.

— Ben Silliman, Family Life Specialist with the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Extension Service

We can never surrender to democracy’s enemies. We can never allow America to be defined by forces of division and hatred. We can never go backward in the progress we have made through the sacrifice and dedication of true patriots. We can never and will never relent in our pursuit of a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all Americans.

— Bennie Thompson

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.

— Bill Vaughan

Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.

— Brené Brown

America Is A Gun
England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.
Brazil is football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.
Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.
Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.

— Brian Bilston

Every Black person you meet is a miracle… We are valuable because of our humanity and declared valuable because our ancestors declared our worth when they fought for us to live.

— Brittany Packnett

The peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’

— Carl Schurz

The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, ‘My country, right or wrong.’ In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.

— Carl Schurz, Senate speech, Feb. 29, 1872

I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’

— Carl Shurz, Speech, Oct. 17, 1899

In New York City, everyone is an exile, none more so than the Americans.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.

— Colin Kaepernick
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