In his address of 19 September 1796, given as he prepared to leave office, President George Washington spoke about the importance of morality to the country's well-being: Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. . . . Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue?
George Washington (1732 - 1799)
Source: William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1993, pp. 794-95
The new constitution established a president with powers unheard of in the republican United States. Some even wanted him to be king, a thought that GW found ludicrous: What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable and tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & fallacious!
On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. Of this he wrote to James Madison: As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.
McClellan tells his wife, I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet, Gen. Scott, and all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land.
Abraham Lincoln truly inspired me. It wasn't just the freeing of the slaves, he kept the Union together. Some people even forget that today. What I think inspired me was the fact that in spite of being the President of the United States he retained a certain down-to-earth quality. He never got to be a big shot, and he cared about people.
It's family, and it's faith, and it's friends, and it's not the glamour of the Presidency, or the wonder of going to receive the Nobel Prize. All those are important, of course. But maybe it's just that I'm 71 years old now. It's family, and it's faith, and it's friends. I would tell them that. Don't forget that. In your brilliance, don't turn your back on your friends. Don't think you're entitled to something, you're smarter than the next guy.
General Turgidson rants about the tremendous 'overkill' potential of the nuclear offensive while minimizing the Soviet retaliatory counter-attack casualty statistics: "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks."
George C. Scott (1927 - 1999)
Source: As General Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964