We are lucky that those who founded America cared deeply about free speech and valued the importance of knowledge and information. But this commitment to free expression didn’t stop with the founding fathers, it has been protected and exalted by American Presidents and leaders throughout history. Read their own words as a reminder why these freedoms can’t be taken for granted, and also to appreciate the great intellects that the United States has had the privilege of benefitting from.
Happy President’s Day.
“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
“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 criticize 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 of the United States
The full quote:
“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
“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
“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