Presidential Quotes About Education

What Presidents Have Said About Education

Obama Participates In 'Virtual Field Trip' With Middle School Students
Pool / Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Education has always been a key issue in presidential campaigns and speeches. From George Washington to Barack Obama, American presidents have written and spoken countless words on the importance of education and how America can better educate its youth. Following are selected quotes from presidents over the years about education and learning.

  • "Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness." - George Washington
  • "Promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened." - George Washington
  • "There are two types of education... One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live." - John Adams
  • "A system of general instruction, which shall reach every description of our citizens, from the richest to the poorest, as it was the earliest, so it shall be the latest of all the public concerns in which I shall permit myself to take an interest." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "If a nation expects to be free and ignorant at the same time, it expects what never was and never will be. Where the press is free and every man is able to read, there, and there alone, democracy is safe." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "...a popular government without popular education is but the prelude of a farce or a tragedy - perhaps both." - James Madison
  • "Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained." - James Garfield
  • "Nor must we be unmindful of the need of improvement among our own citizens, but with the zeal of our forefathers encourage the spread of knowledge and free education. Illiteracy must be banished from the land if we shall attain that high destiny as the foremost of the enlightened nations of the world which, under Providence, we ought to achieve." - William McKinley
  • "But at the basis of all prosperity, for that as well as for every other part of the country, lies the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Universal suffrage should rest upon universal education. To this end, liberal and permanent provision should be made for the support of free schools by the State governments, and, if need be, supplemented by legitimate aid from national authority." - Rutherford B. Hayes
  • "Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." - Theodore Roosevelt
  • "Education should be the handmaid of citizenship." - Calvin Coolidge
  • “Without a strong educational system democracy is crippled. Knowledge is not only key to power. It is the citadel of human freedom." - Harry S Truman
  • "Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation." - John F. Kennedy
  • "The American people have always recognized that education is one of the soundest investments they can make. The dividends are reflected in every dimension of our national life - from the strength of our economy and national security to the vitality of our music, art, and literature." - Jimmy Carter
  • "Education is not the means of showing people how to get what they want. Education is an exercise by means of which enough men, it is hoped, will learn to want what is worth having." - Ronald Reagan
  • "The countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow." - Barack Obama
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Kelly, Melissa. "Presidential Quotes About Education." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2017, Kelly, Melissa. (2017, February 21). Presidential Quotes About Education. Retrieved from Kelly, Melissa. "Presidential Quotes About Education." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 23, 2018).