Horrible Quotes

colonel-roosevelt Brian Moore is working on a series of “Horrible Quotes” from beloved figures.  His first two:

  • “There is an organized propaganda against the League of Nations and against the treaty proceeding from exactly the same sources that the organized propaganda proceeded from which threatened this country here and there with disloyalty, and I want to say, I cannot say too often, any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.” – Woodrow Wilson
  • “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.” – Theodore Roosevelt

It shouldn’t be difficult to find dozens, if not hundreds of these things.   Our social mores have changed tremendously on all manner of issues within my memory — going back 35 years or so — much less 100 or 150 years.  Things that were once perfectly normal views have become repugnant since.

UPDATEMatt Yglesias wonders why Wilson was beloved, given that he wasn’t a very good guy even by the standards of his day and wasn’t a very good president.  It’s an interesting point.  But, as Matt acknowledges, Wilson remains highly regarded:  “Gene Healy pointed out to me that of 13 surveys of scholars asking them to rank presidents, Wilson enters the top ten in 11 surveys, and is number 11 in the other two.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Abraham Lincoln (from one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates):

    I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.

    There are dozens of Lincoln quotes along these lines.

  2. Rick Almeida says:

    I agree with Wilson about hyphens.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I agree with Wilson about hyphens.

    Depends. Most Irish- and Italian-Americans, for example, are fiercely loyal to the USA and merely have a cultural pride for their ancestral homeland. There’s little danger there.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s little danger there

    Honestly, a good deal of the danger was to their “ancestral homelands”, at least in the case of the Irish. Quite a bit of the IRA’s financing was from nostalgic Irish-Americans.

  5. floyd says:

    “”Things that were once perfectly normal views have become repugnant since””
    Many things that were perfectly repugnant views for centuries have now become normal since, also.
    I guess that means moral relativism continues to make morality irrelevant?

  6. An Interested Party says:

    Many things that were perfectly repugnant views for centuries have now become normal since, also.

    Such as?

  7. PD Shaw says:

    The Prof. President polls well among academics? Who would have thunk?

    Wilson moved the Democratic Party away from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion, and made the Party the home for progressives going forward. That progressivism and science in the period harbored a lot of social darwinism is simply a fact.

  8. M. Bouffant says:

    Considering that the two Presidents always in the top five (or so) are Lincoln & FDR, both of whom were not just presidents in time of war, but when national survival was at stake, it’s not too surprising that Wilson, merely by being President in a time of war & not losing, is well regarded.

    (Even if he did single-handedly drag the country into WWI.)