In Their Own Words – Presidential Edition

February 19, 2018


“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.

- John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…” 

― Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of United States

FDR“Books can not be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory… In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.” 

― Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

“For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.”

George Washington, 1st President of the United States


“I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticise their own public officials. While exercising the great powers of the office I hold, I would regret in a crisis like the one through which we are now passing to lose the benefit of patriotic and intelligent criticism.”

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President 

When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking, or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States


“The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech.”

- Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

- Harry Truman, 33rd President of United States


“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

- James Madison 

4th President of the United States Author of the First Amendment

Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work in 2018 by visiting the Rewards Zone, making a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!

Tags: , , , ,