Ronald Reagan Quotes

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President Reagan at a rally for Senator Durenberger

This article lists a collection of Ronald Reagan quotes. Reagan (1911–2004) served as the 40th President of the United States of America from 1981 to 1989. He was the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975), following a successful career in film and television. A conservative, Reagan has been widely recognized as one of the greatest American Presidents.


  • "Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face."
  • "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." - March 30, 1961
  • "If Fascism Ever Comes to America, It Will Come in the Name of Liberalism" - Interview with Mike Wallace, 60 minutes, 1975[1]
  • "We're not cutting the budget simply for the sake of sounder financial management. This is only a first step toward returning power to the States and communities, only a first step toward reordering the relationship between citizen and government. We can make government again responsive to people not only by cutting its size and scope and thereby ensuring that its legitimate functions are performed efficiently and justly."[2][3]
  • "We don't have inflation because we are living too well. We have it because government is living too well." [4]
  • "I won the nickname the great communicator. But I never thought it was my style that made a difference - it was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full blown from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation, from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in the principles that have guided us for two centuries."[5]
  • "Socialists ignore the side of man that is of the spirit. They can provide shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans, treat you when you are ill, all the things that are guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave. They don't understand that we dream - yes, even of some time owning a yacht."[6]
  • "The house we hope to build is not for my generation but for yours. It is your future that matters. And I hope that when you are my age, you will be able to say as I have been able to say: We lived in freedom. We lived lives that were a statement, not an apology." - January 20, 1981
  • "We don't intend to turn the Republican Party over to the traitors in the battle just ended. We will have no more of those candidates who are pledged to the same goals of our opposition and who seek our support. Turning the party over to the so-called moderates wouldn't make any sense at all."[8]
  • "The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan."
  • "Peace is the highest aspiration of the American People. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, we will never surrender for it, now or ever." - January 20, 1981
  • "We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look." - January 20, 1981
  • "I'm convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: a better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority. There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails, they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power. So, as government has failed to control crime and violence with the means given it by the Constitution, they seek to give it more power at the expense of the Constitution. But in doing so, in their willingness to give up their arms in the name of safety, they are really giving up their protection from what has always been the chief source of despotism: government. Lord Acton said power corrupts. Surely then, if this is true, the more power we give the government, the more corrupt it will become. And if we give it the power to confiscate our arms, we also give up the ultimate means to combat that corrupt power. In doing so, we can only assure that we will eventually be totally subject to it. When dictators come to power, the first thing they do is take away the people's weapons. It makes it so much easier for the secret police to operate, it makes it so much easier to force the will of the ruler upon the ruled." - Guns and Ammo, September, 1975[9]
  • "I've learned in Washington, that that's the only place where sound travels faster than light." - December 12, 1983
  • "The challenge of statesmanship is to have the vision to dream of a better, safer world and the courage, persistence, and patience to turn that dream into reality." - March 8, 1985
  • "I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers: Go ahead, make my day." - March 13, 1985, in a speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes.[10]
  • "A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough." - December 5, 1990
  • "If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." —Speech at the Berlin Wall, June 12, 1987[10]
  • "...I know it's hard when you're up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp." - February 10, 1982
  • "There is no question that we have failed to live up to the dreams of the Founding Fathers many times and in many places. Sometimes we do better than others. But all in all, the one thing we must be on guard against is thinking that because of this, the system has failed. The system has not failed. Some human beings have failed the system." - June 21, 1973
  • "We have some hippies out there in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, one of them the other day was given some advice to his companions, he says: "you know, your parents take care of you until you're 21, the government takes care of you after you're 65, you've only got 44 lousy years you gotta look out for yourself.
This fellow that was doing the talking had a haircut like tarzan, he walked like Jane, and smelled like cheeta."[11]
  • "The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represents the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth." - October 16, 1973
  • "Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients"
  • "If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last."
  • "In America, our origins matter less than our destination, and that is what democracy is all about." - August 17, 1992[12]
  • "These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war."[13]
  • "Latinos are Republicans - they just don't know it yet."[14]
  • "It is freedom itself that still hangs in the balance, and freedom is never more than one generation from extinction." - Commencement address to The Citadel, 1993
  • "I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born."[15]
  • "Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?", Let Them Go Their Way
  • "Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them."
  • "If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under" - Aug. 23, 1984[16]
  • "If you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat." [17]
  • "I, too, have always believed that God's greatest gift is human life and that we have a duty to protect the life of an unborn child." [18]
  • "Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty." [19]
  • "The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
  • "Criminals are not bigoted and they are color blind; they roam and rob and maim and murder without reference to race, religion or neighborhood boundaries. We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."[20]
  • "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help"[22]
  • "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."
  • "How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."
  • "Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
  • "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."[23]
  • "Man is not free unless government is limited."
  • "You won't get gun control by disarming law abiding citizens. There's only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up, and if you don't actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time."[24]
  • "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting."
  • "No arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."
  • "Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."
  • "Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."
  • "This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well let me tell you something, I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine, and governor, you're no Thomas Jefferson."[25]
  • "When it comes to the canal, we built it, we paid for it, it's ours, and we are going to keep it."[26]
  • "The march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people."[27]
  • "The British people know that, given strong leadership, time and a little bit of hope, the forces of good ultimately rally and triumph over evil. Here among you is the cradle of self-government, the Mother of Parliaments. Here is the enduring greatness of the British contribution to mankind, the great civilized ideas: individual liberty, representative government, and the rule of law under God."[27]
  • "No Republican, no matter how liberal, is going to woo a Democratic vote; but a Republican bucking the giveaway trend might re-create some voters who have been staying home."[28]
  • "Those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun control laws. I happen to know this from personal experience."[29]
  • "The Constitution does not say Government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."[30]
  • "“Let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discover the joy of knowing God…But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world”. - March 8, 1983


  1. Ronald Reagan: ‘If Fascism Ever Comes to America, It Will Come in the Name of Liberalism’
  3. Remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference Dinner, March 20, 1981
  4. Televised Campaign Address "A Vital Economy: Jobs, Growth, and Progress for Americans", October 24, 1980
  5. Reagan: The great communicator, BBC
  6. (2001) Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan ; Edited with an Introduction and Commentary by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, Martin Anderson ; Foreword by George P. Shultz. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416584506. 
  7. Chapter 9 Page 160 The United States Congress by Ross M. English
  8. The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order: 1964-1980
  9. The Deepest and Noblest Aspirations
  10. 10.0 10.1 Phrases that defined a career, MSNBC
  11. Ronald Reagan slams the hippies
  13. Watch: Reagan delivers famous 'Boys of Pointe du Hoc' D-Day speech
  14. How Romney could win over Latinos, Los Angeles Times
  15. Presidential Debate in Baltimore (Reagan-Anderson), September 21, 1980
  16. Treasury of Presidential Quotations, William J. Federer, ed. p 373
  17. Ronald Reagan: how an ordinary man became an extraordinary leader‎, by Dinesh D'Souza, Page 93
  18. Ronald Reagan by Office of the Federal Register
  19. War and conflict quotations P.105, by Michael C. Thomsett, Jean F. Thomsett
  20. The Presidential Nominating Conventions, 1968
  21. Reagan’s Newspaper, Human Events
  22. The Nine Most Terrifying Words
  23. Ronald Reagan "Outlaws Russia" on August 11 1984
  24. Remarks at a California Republican Party Fund-raising Dinner in Long Beach, June 30, 1983
  25. Ronald Reagan - Governor, You're No Thomas Jefferson
  26. Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s
  27. 27.0 27.1 20 Years Later: Reagan's Westminster Speech, Heritage Foundation
  28. On the Record ; Text of 1960 Reagan Letter
  29. 1983 NRA speech
  30. 1983 NRA speech