In Their Own Words
'Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.'Skip to next paragraph
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- Abraham Lincoln, 1860
'[The veto] is a power which ought to be most cautiously exerted, and perhaps never except in a case eminently involving the public interest or one in which the oath of the President, acting under his conviction, both mental and moral, imperiously requires its exercise. In such a case he has no alternative.'
- John Tyler, nicknamed Old Veto because of his frequent use of this presidential power, 1841
'I shall on all subjects have a policy to recommend, but none to enforce against the will of the people.'
- Ulysses S. Grant
'...If your imperial majesty were so far to change the ancient laws as to allow a free trade between the two countries it would be extremely beneficial to both.
If your imperial majesty is not satisfied that it would be safe altogether to abrogate the ancient laws which forbid foreign trade, they might be suspended for five or ten years, so as to try the experiment. If it does not prove as beneficial as was hoped, the ancient laws can be restored.'
- Millard Filmore in a letter to the Japanese emperor, 1852
'The Presidency is more than executive responsibility. It is the symbol of America's high purpose. The President must represent the Nation's ideals....'
- Herbert Hoover, 1932
'The initiative in foreign affairs, which the President possesses without any restriction whatever, is virtually the power to control them absolutely. The President cannot conclude a treaty with a foreign power without the consent of the Senate, but he may guide every step of diplomacy, and to guide diplomacy is to determine what treaties must be made.'
- Woodrow Wilson, 1908
'When I ran for the Presidency of the United States, I knew that this country faced serious challenges, but I could not realize - nor could any man realize who does not bear the burdens of this office - how heavy and constant would be those burdens.'
- John F. Kennedy
'He'll sit here and he'll say, "Do this! Do that!" And nothing will happen. Poor Ike - it won't be a bit like the Army. He'll find it very frustrating.'
- Harry Truman, warning his successor, Dwight Eisenhower