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Thoughts for the Day

What some of our Presidents have said about “character:”

1. I had laid it down as a law to myself, to take no notice of the thousand calumnies issued against me, but to trust my character to my own conduct, and the good sense and candor of my fellow citizens. --THOMAS JEFFERSON, To Wilson Cary Nicholas, June 13, 1809; Writings, IX, 253

2. Respect for character, though often a salutary restraint, is but too often overruled by other motives. When numbers of men act in a body, respect for character is often lost, just in proportion as it is necessary to control what is not right. JAMES MADISON, Speech to Virginia State Convention, Dec. 2, 1829; Letters, IV, 52

3. Friends, I am a thorough believer in the American test of character. He will not build high who does not build for himself. BENJAMIN HARRISON, At Indianapolis, Ind., July 4, 1888; Speeches, p. 39

4. In acquiring knowledge there is one thing equally important, and that is character. Nothing in the . . . world is worth so much, will last so long, and serve its possessor so well as good character. WILLIAM MCKINLEY At Savannah, Ga., Dec. 18, 1898; Speeches and Addresses, p. 177

5. It is character that counts in a nation as in a man. It is a good thing to have a keen, fine intellectual development in a nation, to produce orators, artists, successful business men; but it is an infinitely greater thing to have those solid qualities which we group together under the name of character—sobriety, steadfastness, the sense of obligation toward one’s neighbor and one’s God, hard common sense, and, combined with it, the lift of generous enthusiasm toward whatever is right. These are the qualities which go to make up true national greatness. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Address at Galena, I11., Apr. 27, 1900; Works, XIII, 437

6. A sound body is good; a sound mind is better; but a strong and clean character is better than either. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Groton, Mass., May 24, 1904; Presidential Addresses, 111, 14

7. No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Autobiography, p. 84

8. Character is a by-product; it is produced in the great manufacture of daily duty. WOODROW WILSON, Address at Arlington, Va., May 31, 1915; Public Papers, III, 337

9. The one continuing, unchanging and unchangeable thing is character. A business built with conscience as its architect and character as its cornerstone, is destined to stand foursquare and firm. WARREN G. HARDING

10. Character is the only secure foundation of the State. CALVIN COOLIDGE, Address in New York, N.Y., Feb. 12, 1924; Messages and Papers, p. 9378

11. National character cannot be built by law. It is the sum of the moral fiber of its individuals. When abuses which rise from our growing system are cured by live individual conscience, by initiative in the creation of voluntary standards, then is the growth of moral perception fertilized in every individual character. . . .HERBERT HOOVER, Address, May 7, 1924; Memoirs, II, 171

12. Character is the most precious asset of our country. HERBERT HOOVER, Remarks, Nov. 11, 1948; Addresses, p. 171

13. It is not our nature to shirk our obligations. We have a heritage that constitutes the greatest resource of this nation. I call it the spirit and character of the American people. HARRY S. TRUMAN