The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens. As Americans, we are blessed with circumstances that protect our human rights and our religious freedom, but for many people around the world, deprivation and persecution have become a way of life.
The name of peace is sweet, and the thing itself is beneficial, but there is a great difference between peace and servitude. Peace is freedom in tranquillity, servitude is the worst of all evils, to be resisted not only by war, but even by death.
The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.
The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. ... The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. (Announcing blockade of Cuba)
The primacy of the word, basis of the human psyche, that has in our age been used for mind-bending persuasion and brain-washing pulp, disgraced by Gobbles and debased by advertising copy, remains a force for freedom that flies out between all bars.
The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power's sake... but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one's own rules.
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. . . .If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
There are days when solitude, for someone my age, is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.