Patriotism is support of and devotion to one’s country. For some, that means asserting one’s country can do no wrong. For others, it means to work to make the country the best it can be. Here you’ll find some quotations on patriotism from many perspectives and authors.

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My religion is the best — my nation is the best — my language is the best — my skin color is the best — and so on. One may feel proud saying all these things, but that very pride ends up becoming the cause of all interhuman conflicts in the human society.

— Abhijit Naskar, Build Bridges not Walls

Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. . . . Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.

— Abigail Adams

What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility … a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

— Adlai Stevenson

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

— Amanda Gorman

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

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

— Barbara Ehrenreich

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

— Barry Goldwater

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

Patriotism kills.

— Betty Williams

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

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

My Country! When right keep it right; when wrong, set it right!

— Carl Schurz

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

What could I do but go with them [soldiers of the Civil War], or work for them and my country? The patriot blood of my father was warm in my veins.

— Clara Barton

I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American!

— Daniel Webster, July 1850 speech

The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.

— David Hume

I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

— Edith Cavell

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

— Edward R. Murrow

Patriotism … is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

— Emma Goldman

Love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.

— Erich Fromm

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

— Eugene V. Debs

In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.

— Eugene V. Debs

Beware of capitalism’s politicians and preachers! They are the lineal descendants of the hypocrites of old who all down the ages have guarded the flock in the name of patriotism and religion and secured the choicest provender and the snuggest booths for themselves by turning the sheep over to the ravages of the wolves.

— Eugene V. Debs

Love of country is like love of woman — he loves her best who seeks to bestow on her the highest good.

— Felix Adler

The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

— Frederick Douglass

“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”

— G. K. Chesterton

Some see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’

— George Bernard Shaw, paraphrase of Shaw, often attributed to Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy, who used it in a speech which his brother, Edward F. (Teddy) Kennedy quoted at RFK’s funeral

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.

— George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is a arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.

— George Jean Nathan

A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.

— George Santayana

I do not mean to exclude altogether the idea of patriotism. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest. But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.

— George Washington

A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.

— George William Curtis

Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.

— Guy de Maupassant

In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.

— H. L. Mencken

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

— H. L. Mencken

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.

— Harry Emerson Fosdick

Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.

— Henry Steele Commager

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

— Howard Thurman

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

— Howard Zinn

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.

— Howard Zinn

Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your own mind. Something you dream about and sing about. Maybe it’s not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visit, full of books and films you’ve been to. I’m not afraid of being homesick and having no language to live in. I don’t have to be like anyone else. I’m walking on the wall and nobody can stop me.

— Hugo Hamilton

I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

— James Baldwin

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

— James Waterman Wise, frequently misattributed to Upton Sinclair, was not a direct Sinclair quote but a description of Sinclair’s point about nationalism and religion

Unless our conception of patiotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.

— Jane Addams

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the sound of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

— Jawaharlal Nehru

It is no longer appropriate to think only in terms of even my nation or my country, let alone my village. If we are to overcome the problems we face, we need what I have called a sense of universal responsibility rooted in love and kindness for our human brothers and sisters. In our present state of affairs, the very survival of humankind depends on people developing concern for the whole of humanity, not just their own community or nation. The reality of our situation impels us to act and think more clearly. Narrow-mindedness and self-centered thinking may have served us well in the past, but today will only lead to disaster. We can overcome such attitudes through the combination of education and training.

— Joanna Macy

Patriotism ruins history.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

— John F. Kennedy
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