That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.
A gun gives you the body, not the bird.
Goodness is the only investment that never fails.
The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the characters of individuals.
Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.
Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at least which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
Somehow strangely the vice of men gets well represented and protected but their virtue has none to plead its cause -- nor any charter of immunities and rights.
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls -- the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?
Others -- as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders -- serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few -- as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men -- serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part ...
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison ... the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.
If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good, you should run for your life.
Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe -- 'That government is best which governs not at all'; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have.
Law never made men a whit more just.
Why does it [government] always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?
Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe... till we come to the hard bottom of rocks in place, which we can call reality.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Things do not change, we change.