Quotes on Character by the authors of Character Above All
"Character is a word that seems to define almost all
human activity and then some..."
"Power is what you do and character is what you are..."
" All leaders must face some crisis where their own
strength of character is the enemy."
" ... what's in a person's heart and soul will not likely
be changed by the ability to command a helicopter to land
on the South Lawn."
"The (ancient) Greeks believed that character was formed
in part by fate and in part by parental training, and that
character was exemplified not only by acts of bravery in
battle but in the habits of daily conduct."
" From the beginning we in this nation have had the good
fortune to find the right leader, often from an unexpected
quarter, whose character, ability, and experience fit the
tide of history."
"A person's character is what it is. It's a little like
a marriage-- only without the option of divorce. You can
work on it and try to make it better, but basically you
have to take the bitter with the sweet."
"In a president, character is everything. A president
doesn't have to be brilliant... He doesn't have to be
clever; you can hire clever... You can hire pragmatic, and
you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you can't buy
courage and decency, you can't rent a strong moral sense.
A president must bring those things with him... He needs to
have, in that much maligned word, but a good one
nonetheless, a "vision" of the future he wishes to create..
But a vision is worth little if a president doesn't have
the character-- the courage and heart-- to see it through."
Quotes on Character from Various Sources
Attributed to THOMAS EDISON -- inventor
"What a man's mind can create, man's character can control."
"PRESIDENT ANDREW SHEPHERD" (portrayed by Michael Douglas)
in the film "The American President"
"I can tell you without hesitation being
president of this country is entirely about character."
AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-1914) -- American short story writer
"The partisan strife in which the people of the country are permitted to periodically engage does not tend to the development of ugly traits of character, but merely discloses those that preexist."
Referring to election campaigns, November 8, 1884.
MARK TWAIN (1835 - 1910) -- American writer
"To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man's
character one must judge it by the standards of his time,
SUSAN ESTRICH -- lawyer, Democratic strategist
"The politics of crime is not about a party's record or a candidates proposals, but about perceived character and values."
JUDITH LICHTENBERG -- American political scientist
"The politics of character tend to drive out the politics of substance."
RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882) -- American writer and philosopher
"The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops - no, but the kind of man the country turns out."
"Our people are slow to learn the wisdom of sending character instead of talent to Congress. Again and again they have sent a man of great acuteness, a fine scholar, a fine forensic orator, and some master of the brawls has crunched him up in his hands like a bit of paper."
WILLIAM J. BENNETT-- writer and former Secretary of Education
"It is our character that supports the promise of our future - far more than particular government programs or policies."
CHARLES DE GAULLE (1890-1970) -- French military leader and statesman
"Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back upon himself."
OTTO VON BISMARCK (1815-1898) -- Chancellor of Germany in the late 19th century
"Politics ruins the character."
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (1856-1915) -- African-American educator
"Character is power."
HELEN KELLER (1880-1968) American blind and deaf writer/lecturer
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only
through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be
strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and
MARGARET CHASE SMITH (1897-1995) -- US Senator (R-Maine) from 1949-1973
"The Senate has been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity."
Quoted in reference to Senator Joseph McCarthy in the New York Times June 2, 1950.
EURIPIDES (484?-406 BC) Ancient Greek dramatist
Character is "a stamp of good repute on a
WALTER LIPPMANN (1889-1974) American writer
"Between ourselves and our real natures we interpose
that wax figure of idealizations and selections which we
call our character."
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1929-1968) Civil Rights leader
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
ABIGAIL VAN BUREN ("Dear Abby") advice columnist
"The best index to a person's character is (a) how he
treats people who can't do him any good, and (b) how he
treats people who can't fight back."
HERACLITUS (c. 540 - c. 480 BC) -- Greek philosopher
"A man's character is his fate."
ARISTOTLE (c. 384 - c. 322 BC) Greek philosopher
"Character is that which reveals moral purpose,
exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids."
"A good character carries with it the highest power of
causing a thing to be believed."
LORD CHESTERFIELD (1694-1773) -- English statesman
"Mankind is made up of inconsistencies, and no man acts
invariably up to his predominant character. The wisest man
sometimes acts weakly, and the weakest sometimes wisely."
SAM SHEPARD -- American actor/playwright
"Character is an essential tendency. It can be covered
up, it can be messed with, it can be screwed around with,
but it can't be ultimately changed. It's the structure of
our bones, the blood that runs through our veins."
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY (1800-1859) -- British writer and politician
"The measure of a man's character is what he would do
if he knew he never would be found out."
P.J. O'ROURKE -- American political commentator/novelist
"Every person in America has done or said something
that would keep him or her from being president. Maybe a
nation that consumes as much booze and dope as we do and
has our kind of divorce statistics should pipe down about
"... in our brief national history we have shot four
of our presidents, worried five of them to death, impeached
one and hounded another out of office. And when all else
fails, we hold an election and assassinate their
HORACE GREELEY (1811-1872) -- New York newspaper editor
"Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident,
riches take wing, and only character endures."
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