Great conservative quotes are not hard to find. For centuries, some of the world's smartest political thinkers have promoted the value of what Russell Kirk called the “Permanent Things”--powerful principles and practices that transcend time and culture. Conservatives dedicate themselves to the preservation of these ideas, and, as these quotes show, they also have a lot to say about them.
- “God helps those who help themselves.” When Ben Franklin wrote this well-loved quote, he was articulating an idea central to modern conservative thought: Individuals better themselves and their circumstances through their own efforts. When society hands people the answers to their problems, society creates a helpless and dependent populace.
- “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” This great conservative quote comes from Thomas Jefferson, a man who was a political genius, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and second President of the Untied States. Jefferson understood that giving handouts to able-bodied people who were unwilling to work was essentially government subsidized theft.
- “Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.” John Adams, one of America's greatest Founding Fathers, was a lawyer by trade and deeply committed to the rule of law. In this stunning quote, Adams expressed a deep-seated conviction, common among conservatives, that commitment to principle is more important than any consequences that might follow.
- “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This quote from Irish statesman Edmund Burke shows that the conservative impulse has long been present in Europe as well as America. Like many great conservatives, Burke felt that evil must be actively resisted. This is one of the reasons conservatives often support a strong military.
- “All great peoples are conservative.” British writer, thinker, and historian Thomas Carlyle is responsible for the last great conservative quote to appear on this list. Since we are often judged by the company we keep, this quote is somewhat surprising. Carlyle was a long-time friend of political philosopher John Stuart Mill, a man who often referred to Britain's conservatives as “the Stupid Party.”