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United States

  • There is a sound reason why one and a half billion dollars are spent for cosmetics in your country every year, and only half that sum for education: There are no naturally pretty girls in the United States.

  • ... Americans tend to believe they can do anything with or without any training or experience.

  • A long while ago an eager group of reformers wrote to me asking if I could suggest anything that would improve the morals of the American people. I replied that the trouble with the American people in general was not lack of morals but lack of brains ...

  • I think Americans love success — but hate the people who have it.

  • Gushing seems to be our great national fault. We hear people gushing about the things they have done, and the things they intend to do—about the parties they have had, and the people they have met, and the opinions they have formed. We hear people gushing when they view a beautiful scene, or a work of art, not realizing that they are merely showing their enthusiasm—certainly not their appreciation. It takes time to form an opinion or judgment and to give an appreciation.

  • No one in the United States has the right to own millions of acres of American land, I don't care how they came by it.

  • In its effect on family relationships, in its facilitation of parental withdrawal from an active role in the socialization of their children, and in its replacement of family rituals and special events, television has played an important role in the disintegration of the American family.

  • Our Republic is not a pastoral, not a military, not an agricultural, not a nomadic, not a clerical, but a business civilization. Nor is there anything random, casual or accidental about the United States as a business society. It is thoroughly well integrated — organized from top to bottom for the maximum efficiency of commerce and industry, for the maximum efficiency of making money.

  • There are ... other business societies — England, Holland, Belgium and France, for instance. But ours [the United States] is the only culture now extant in which business so completely dominates the national scene that sports, crime, sex, death, philanthropy and Easter Sunday are money-making propositions.

  • ... the psychological attitudes which are indispensable in the American market place are disastrous to family life. Family life ... requires yieldingness, generosity, sympathy, altruism, tenderness—all the qualities, in fact, which lead straight to bankruptcy. ... the American family is tragically out of gear with the profit structure which has mushroomed up around it.

  • ... the American family is failing in its job of turning out stable human beings. ... It is failing because Americans do not dare to cultivate in themselves those characteristics which would make family life creative and rewarding. To do so, would ruin them financially.

  • ... American business, while it does not frown on helping the human race, frowns on people who start right in helping the human race without first proving that they can sell things to it.

  • If American men are obsessed with money, American women are obsessed with weight. The men talk of gain, the women talk of loss, and I do not know which talk is the more boring.

  • We pity or condemn the communist peoples of the world for being bound in the chains of doctrine. So are we. Our doctrine runs as follows: Our Way is the Only Way.

  • I distrust the rash optimism in this country that cries, 'Hurrah, we're all right! This is the greatest nation on earth,' when there are grievances that call loudly for redress.

  • The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor.

  • America, which has the most glorious present still existing in the world today, hardly stops to enjoy it, in her insatiable appetite for the future.

  • Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.

  • Most Americans have never seen the ignorance, degradation, hunger, sickness, and futility in which many other Americans live. Until a problem reaches their doorsteps, they're not going to understand. They won't become involved in economic or political change until something brings the seriousness of the situation home to them.

  • America has the laws and the material resources it takes to insure justice for all its people. What it lacks is the heart, the humanity ...

  • I don't measure America by its achievement, but by its potential.

  • From the vantage point of the continent's original residents, or, for example, the captive African laborers who made America a great agricultural power, our 'traditional values' have always been bigotry, greed, and belligerence, buttressed by wanton appeals to a God of love.

  • Since the Americans have ceased to have dyspepsia, they have lost the only thing that gave them any expression.

  • The American landscape has no foreground and the American mind has no background.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • 1905, in Richard Warrington Baldwin Lewis, Edith Wharton: A Biography ()
  • Americans had a passion ... for this year's model. ... Advertisements jumped out from the magazines, through radio and television. Daily life spun round on a commercial carousel. You brushed your teeth to its music in the morning, ate your lunch and dinner to it, and went to bed full of advertising. It was an instant civilization with everything immediately to hand, ready, replaceable, and eternally new.

  • ... Americans were people who wanted to leave every place better than they found it, to leave every man more of a man than they found him. ... Americans could open doors to almost all that was admirable — it was their misfortune, not their fault, that movies and victrolas and advertisements squeezed in when they opened the door.

  • What frightens me about America today is that in the large majority there is no active sense of the value of the individual: few citizens feel that they are the Republic, responsible for what happens. And when the individual in a democracy ceases to feel his importance, then there is grave danger that he will give over his freedom, if not to a Fascist State, then to the advertising men or Publicity Agents or to the newspaper he happens to read.

    • May Sarton,
    • 1946, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Selected Letters 1916-1954 ()
  • Our obligation to the world is, primarily, our obligation to our own future. Obviously, we cannot develop beyond a certain point unless other nations develop, too.

  • Of all the nations in the Western world, the United States, with the most money and the most time, has the fewest readers of books per capita. This is an incalculable loss. This, too, is one of the few civilized nations in the world which is unable to support a single magazine devoted solely to books.

  • This is ... a trait no other nation seems to possess in quite the same degree that we do — namely, a feeling of almost childish injury and resentment unless the world as a whole recognizes how innocent we are of anything but the most generous and harmless intentions.

  • Every day I am deluged with reminders / that this is not / my land / and this is my land. / I do not believe in the war between races / but in this country / there is war.

    • Lorna Dee Cervantes,
    • "Poem for the Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, an Intelligent Well-Read Person Could Believe in the War Between Races," Emplumada ()
  • [The United States] is an enormous frosted cupcake in the middle of millions of starving people.

  • Surrogate experience and surrogate environments have become the American way of life. Distinctions are no longer made, or deemed necessary, between the real and the false; the edge usually goes to the latter, as an improved version with defects corrected — accessible and user-friendly ...

  • If the British are a nation of shopkeepers, Americans are a nation of shoppers.

  • I know Americans talk a great deal about the price of things — more, I consider, than is entertaining, sometimes!

  • One might say that the American trend of education is to reduce the senses almost to nil.

  • America ... you know nothing of food, love or art.

    • Isadora Duncan,
    • interview (1922), in Irma Duncan and Allan Ross Macdougall, Isadora Duncan's Russian Days and Her Last Years in France ()
  • Things on the whole move much faster in America; people don't stand for election, they run for office.

  • He greeted us with that extra degree of kindness and hospitality which I had noticed in so many Americans; it always gave me the uncomfortable feeling that, no matter how long I lived among them, I should never quite be able to rise to their level of genuine cordiality with strangers.

  • [On the United States:] We are as a people timid in thinking but reckless in action.

  • The United States is the only great and populous nation-state and world power whose people are not cemented by ties of blood, race or original language.

  • It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our constitution to everyone in America.

    • Molly Ivins,
    • in Margaret Engel and Allison Engel Red Hot Patriot: The Kick- Ass Wit of Molly Ivins ()
  • America may be the only society on earth to have experienced what has been called an 'epidemic of children killing children,' which is ravaging some of its communities today.

  • No other nation cherishes this illusion. An Englishman knows that a Russian Jew cannot in five years, or in twenty-five years, become English; that his standards and ideals are not convertible into English standards and ideals. A Frenchman does not see in a Bulgarian or a Czech the making of another Frenchman.

  • America has invested her religion as well as her morality in sound income-paying securities. She has adopted the unassailable position of a nation blessed because it deserves to be blessed; and her sons, whatever other theologies they may affect or disregard, subscribe unreservedly to this national creed.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "Condescension in Americans," Times and Tendencies ()
  • Every true American likes to think in terms of thousands and millions. The word 'million' is probably the most pleasure-giving vocable in the language.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "The Unconscious Humor of the Movies," Times and Tendencies ()
  • In the United States, as elsewhere, there are, and have always been, two parties in politics ... It is remarkable how nearly their positive statements of political doctrine agree, while they differ in almost every possible application of their common principles.

  • Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare.

  • The instruction furnished is not good enough for the youth of such a country ... There is not even any systematic instruction given on political morals: an enormous deficiency in a republic.

  • Some persons plead that there is less occasion for school instruction in the principles of politics, than for an improved teaching of some other things; because children are instructed in politics every day of their lives by what they hear at home, and wherever they go. But they hear all too little of principles. What they hear is argumentation about particular men, and immediate measures. The more sure they are of learning details elsewhere, the more necessary it is that they should here be exercised in those principles by which the details are to be judged and made available as knowledge. They come to school with their heads crammed with prejudices, and their memories with words, which it should be part of the work of school to reduce to truth and clearness, by substituting principles for the one, and annexing ideas to the other.

  • If the national mind of America be judged of by its legislation, it is of a very high order ... If the American nation be judged of by its literature, it may be pronounced to have no mind at all.

  • A Queen, or a Prime Minister's secretary may be shot at in London, as we know; and probably there is no person eminent in literature or otherwise who has not been the object of some infirm brain or another. But in America the evil is sadly common.

  • ... America has enjoyed the doubtful blessing of a single-track mind.

  • America was founded on a genocide, on the unquestioned assumption of the right of white Europeans to exterminate a resident, technologically backward, colored population in order to take over the continent.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "What's Happening in America," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell upon them.

  • Courage was America's watchword, but a courage of the body rather than of the soul — physical courage, not moral.

  • It is not healthy when a nation lives within a nation, as colored Americans are living inside America. A nation cannot live confident of its tomorrow if its refugees are among its own citizens.

  • The melting-pot idea is futile ... The brew in a melting pot is always boiling over.

  • The only real danger to our country is from within, that we forget our own power to be what we want to be.

  • An Englishman is never afraid of being laughed at. He just thinks the other fellow is a fool. But Americans still can't risk anybody laughing at them.

  • If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.

  • America hates the artist. It will not admit: the artist is my soul and I want to kill off my soul.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1955, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • Our American culture made a virtue of our living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center, and so we lost our center and had to find it again.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • "The New Woman," in Ramparts Magazine ()
  • Asia discovered two remedies for the cruelty of man, art and religion. America discarded both and is drowning in hate and aggressivity.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1966, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 7 ()
  • We are not loved abroad and I see no reason to expect love, but our exported picture of ourselves is a disaster.

    • Martha Gellhorn,
    • "Journey Through a Peaceful Land," in The New Republic ()
  • [On the United States:] We are a wildly energetic people in our pursuit of pleasure, let alone in our pursuit of money, and we are very odd to look at as we go about our lives.

    • Martha Gellhorn,
    • "Journey Through a Peaceful Land," in The New Republic ()
  • Americans did not acquire their fear neurosis as the result of a traumatic experience — war devasting their country, pestilence sweeping the land, famine wiping out helpless millions. Americans had to be taught to hate and fear an unseen enemy. The teachers were men in official positions, in government, men whom Americans normally trust without question.

  • We are a nation of twenty million bathrooms, with a humanist in every tub.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub" (1947), On the Contrary ()
  • ... life for the European is a career; for the American, it is a hazard.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub" (1947), On the Contrary ()
  • ... the happy ending is our national belief.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub" (1947), On the Contrary ()
  • In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children," The Will to Change ()
  • ... America has much to do ere she arrives at her zenith; she possesses every requisite to render her the happiest country upon the globe.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her niece Betsey Cranch (1785), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • I hope the rage for foreign conquest will not ever seize upon Americans.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1815), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. That is what makes America what it is.

  • In America, everybody is, but some are more than others.

  • ... in order to be able to live at all in America I must be unafraid to live anywhere in it, and I must be able to live in the fashion and with whom I choose.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "From an Interview" (1973), In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • ... one reason we haven't any national art is because we have too much magnificence. All our capacity for admiration is used up on the splendor of palace-like railway stations and hotels. Our national tympanum is so deafened by that blare of sumptuousness that we have no ears for the still, small voice of beauty.

  • ... we are, in this country, more open to new ideas. But we are also, it seems to me, more inclined to hail the new as absolute truth — until the next new comes along.

  • Poor America, of what avail is all her wealth, if the individuals comprising the nation are wretchedly poor? If they live in squalor, in filth, in crime, with hope and joy gone, a homeless, soulless army of human prey.

  • The pathos of it all is that the America which is to be protected by a huge military force is not the America of the people, but that of the privileged class ...

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter," in Mother Earth ()
  • We say that if America has entered the war to make the world safe for democracy, she must first make democracy safe in America.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks ()
  • It is strange indeed that the more we learn about how to build health, the less healthy Americans become.

  • ... we have accumulated a wealth of historical experience which confirms our belief that the scales of American justice are out of balance.

  • ... that, if there was any one thing she had learned of America in her forty-two years of residence, was typical of the whole country. Waste, waste, waste.

  • Americans ignore history, for to them everything has always seemed new under the sun. The national myth is that of creativity and progress, of a steady climbing upward into power and prosperity, both for the individual and for the country as a whole. Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind. They believe in the future as if it were a religion; they believe that there is nothing they cannot accomplish, that solutions wait somewhere for all problems, like brides.

  • Americans live in a society of replacement parts — in theory anyone can become President or sanitation inspector ...

  • ... American humor ... is not subtle. It is something that makes you laugh the moment you hear it, you have not to think a scrap.

  • Everything is 'colossalized' — events, fortunes, accidents, climate, conversation, ambitions — everything is in the extreme ... They can't even have a tram run off a line, which in England or France might kill one or two people, without its making a holocaust of half a street full. ... The thing which surprises me is they should still employ animals of normal size; one would expect to see elephants and mammoths drawing the hansoms and carts!

  • For all its considerable merits and inspirational principles, the American system is based upon a continuous uninterrupted process of election campaigns, stretching out year after year. Lost in the perpetual scramble is any long-term vision ...

  • Uncontrollable consumerism has become a watchword of our culture despite regular and compelling calls for its end. The United States has more malls than high schools; Americans spend more time shopping than reading. ... Some of the most insightful writing about the American character over the nation's history has been about neither freedom nor democracy but about the crazed impulse to acquire things.

  • If simple, painless solutions to public problems existed, they would have been found long ago.

  • After baseball, America's favorite pastime may be the process of reinventing itself, continuously redefining its identity and searching for its soul.

  • American patriotism is generally something that amuses Europeans, I suppose because children look idiotic saluting the flag and because the constitution contains so many cracks through which the lawyers may creep.

  • It is typical, in America, that a person's hometown is not the place where he is living now but is the place he left behind.

    • Margaret Mead,
    • in Margaret Mead and Rhoda Metraux, A Way of Seeing ()
  • ... people feel so strongly in this country that you ought to be able to fix at once anything that goes wrong. Press a button and something happens. Then they try to manage our political system or our economic system in the same way.

    • Margaret Mead,
    • in Margaret Mead and James Baldwin, A Rap on Race ()
  • America is not a melting pot. It is a sizzling cauldron.

    • Barbara Mikulski,
    • in Suzanne Levine and Harriet Lyons, The Decade of Women ()
  • Americans, MacIver thought. They turned out volumes by the dozens like doughnuts, big and soft and empty at the core.

    • Helen Hudson,
    • "An Appointment With Armstrong," The Listener ()
  • ... Americans think that death is optional. They may not admit it, and will probably laugh if it's suggested; but it's a state of mind — a kind of national leitmotiv if you like — that colors everything they do. There's a nagging suspicion that you can delay death (or — who knows? — avoid it altogether) if you really try. This explains the common preoccupation with health, aerobics, prune juice, plastic surgery, and education.

  • An odd thing occurs in the minds of Americans when Indian civilization is mentioned: little or nothing.

  • America does not seem to remember that it derived its wealth, its values, its food, much of its medicine, and a large part of its 'dream' from Native America.

  • Why did Americans smile so often? Was it out of politeness or because of a gay disposition? Whatever it was, I for one had never been spoiled with smiles. I found it very pleasant! ... I was beginning to understand that with Americans smiling was, as with healthy infants, a natural need. And my reaction was to respond in the same way.

  • Today the United States has the highest prison population in the world, over 2.1 million people. ... We lock people up at a rate that is seven to ten times that of any other democracy.

  • American society has a remarkable ability to resist change, or to take whatever change has taken place and attempt to make it go away.

    • Nora Ephron,
    • speech to Wellesley graduating class ()
  • I believe that we, as a nation, have a complex about being being liked and admired that gets in the way of our true functions.

  • Economically and socially, our national accent is on youth. ... Our advertising is based to a great extent on the common desire to look, act and feel young.

  • Americans specially love superlatives. The phrases 'biggest in the world,' 'finest in the world,' are on all lips.

  • The feeling one has after coming to know American women is that they are starving at their sources.

  • If our cause is just, it will be best supported by justice and righteousness. Though we have many other crimes to answer for, that of cruelty to our enemies is not chargeable upon Americans, and I hope never will be.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • 1777, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams ()
  • This is how Americans think. You believe that if something terrible happens to someone, they must have deserved it.

  • I wish our national anthem were not the one about the bombs bursting in air, but the one about purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain.

  • I can think of no honorable answer. Why must some of us deliberate between brands of toothpaste, while others deliberate between damp dirt and bone dust to quiet the fire of an empty stomach lining? There is nothing about the United States I can really explain to this child of another world.

  • We seem to think that women here are better off than they are in any other country, and that's not true. We are the only modern democracy in the whole world with no national system of child care, no natioanl system of healthcare, no system of family-friendly workplace policies. Women are a lesser percentage of elected officials [here] than in India.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • in Patt Morrison, "The Founder," Los Angeles Times ()
  • It used to be said that this country was a child-centered one. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children have been our lowest priority, both in economic and emotional spending.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "Child Rearing," in Maggie Tripp, Woman in the Year 2000 ()
  • They [Americans] want to believe that Good and Evil can be defined in precise categories, that Good is already, or will be easily achieved. ... if this optimism appears too superficial, they will try to create a kind of anti-God: the U.S.S.R. That is Evil, and it only needs to be annihilated to re-establish the reign of Good.

  • ... from one minute to the next the present is merely an honorary past. It must be filled unceasingly anew to dissemble the curse it carries within itself; that is why Americans like speed, alcohol, thriller films and any sensational news: the demand for new things, and ever newer things, is feverish since nowhere will they rest.

  • Americans are nature-lovers: but they only admit of nature proofed and corrected by man.

  • The film was so typically American that it left nothing to thought.

  • Many things would be changed for Americans if they would only admit that there is ill-luck in this world and that misfortune is not a priori a crime.

  • We all take refuge in the optimism which is typical of this great creative nation. Every situation has found us unprepared.

  • In America, public opinion is the leader.

  • Americans resent the vagaries of weather to a degree unknown to other peoples. ... Weather is a force we have lost touch with. We feel entitled to dominate it, like everything else in the environment, and when we can't are more panic-stricken than primitives who know that when nature is out of control they can only pray to the gods.

  • America zips down prayers / and buttons up wars / with battalions of / impoverished youngsters / duped into dying for dreams. ... 'Opportunity,' she sings, / hiding our dead from view.

  • ... Americans took a great deal too much credit for creating wealth, when most of the time they had really just been living off natural bounty unprecedented in the history of the world.

  • In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.

  • We are a commercial people. We cannot boast of our arts, our crafts, our cultivation; our boast is in the wealth we produce. As a consequence business success is sanctified, and, practically, any methods which achieve it are justified by a larger and larger class.

  • America is a consumer culture, and when we change what we buy — and how we buy it — we'll change who we are.

  • We can never give up the belief that the good guys always win. And that we are the good guys.

  • [On 9/11:] ... those towers represented human triumph over nature. Larger than life, built to be unburnable, they were the Titanic of our day. For them to burn and fall so quickly means that the whole superstructure we depend upon to mitigate nature and assure our comfort and safety could fall.

  • ... we make a great fuss about national conscience, but it consists mainly in insisting upon everyone ascribing our national policy to highly moral motives, rather than in examining what our motives really are.

    • Joan Robinson,
    • "What Are the Rules of the Game?" Economic Philosophy ()
  • It is inherent in human consciousness to improve. So there is nothing unique about a people searching for and creating ways to make their life better — all civilizations throughout history have done this. What is unique about us in America is the accelerated rate at which we continually search for novelty and progress.

  • What the Spanish War began the World War accomplished: America became the world's banker and ceased to be the world's pioneer!

  • These Americans believe that everything is possible ...

    • Fredrika Bremer,
    • 1849, America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer ()
  • People who are so arrogant on account of their wealth are about equal in civilization to Laplanders, who measure a man's worth by the number of his reindeer. A man with a thousand reindeer is a very great man. The aristocracy of wealth is the lowest and commonest possible. It is a pity that one meets it in America more than one ought to. One can even, in walking through the streets, hear the expression, 'He is worth so and so many dollars!'

    • Fredrika Bremer,
    • 1850, America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer ()
  • ... America ... holds up its way of life as the ideal for every nation, and seeks to impose its own standards of living — which many people think ridiculously and unwholesomely high — on others, partly of course in the search for markets. If it were openly stated that it was just a search for markets, that would be one thing, but it is not; by a tremendous propaganda campaign this materialistic conception is held up as an ideal, as somehow part of liberty, and above all, as a form of happiness.

  • Shall I tell you what those words have really come to mean? 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Comfort.' But happiness has escaped their grasp, to judge by all the usual signs.

  • ... Americans ... attach such a fantastic importance to their baths and plumbing and gadgets of all sorts. They talk as if people could hardly be human beings without all that; we in Europe are beginning to wonder if people can be human beings with it ...

  • A transplanted Irishman, German, Englishman is an American in one generation. A transplanted African is not one in five!

  • So think a billion, that's a thousand million, and have you ever tried / To think a trillion? Think a trillion dollars a day. / That's the gross national product of the USA. / There's people who say the American eagle is more like a vulture. / I say don't piss on your own culture. / Naturally there's a whole lot of greed and / That's no problem because money buys freedom.

  • Verily what bishops are to the English, bankers are to Americans.

    • Mabel Ulrich,
    • "A Doctor's Diary, 1904-1932," in Scribner's Magazine ()
  • Canadians and Americans may look alike, but the contents of their heads are quite different. Americans experience themselves, individually, as small toads in the biggest and most powerful puddle in the world. Their sense of power comes from identifying with the puddle. Canadians as individuals may have more power within the puddle, since there are fewer toads in it; it's the puddle that's seen as powerless.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "Canadian-American Relations: Surviving the Eighties," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • Americans don't usually have to think about Canadian-American relations, or, as they would put it, American-Canadian relations. Why think about something which you believe affects you so little? We, on the other hand, have to think about you whether we like it or not.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "Canadian-American Relations: Surviving the Eighties," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • Life here in America is so fervid, so fast ... that the tendencies to nervous disease are constantly aggravated.

  • Nothing is impossible in the United States.

  • ... by operating on the principle of human and material obsolescence, America eats her history alive.

  • I like Americans. They are so ridiculous. They are always risking their lives to save a minute. The pavement under their feet is red-hot.

  • The United States of America is the richest country in the world; yet we're the worst at taking care of poor people.

  • 'So this is America!' I exclaimed. 'Look at that bath, will you? Feel that delicious warmth. Central heating, my girl. No wonder they call this the most luxurious country on earth.'

  • ... Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    • Emma Lazarus,
    • "The New Colossus," inscription for the Statue of Liberty (1883), The Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol. 1 ()
  • We live in the richest country in the world. There's plenty and to spare for no man, woman, or child to be in want. And in addition to this our country was founded on what should have been a great, true principle — the freedom, equality, and rights of each individual. Huh! And what has come of that start? There are corporations worth billions of dollars — and hundreds of thousands of people who don't get to eat.

  • May all our Citizens be Soldiers, and all our Soldiers Citizens.

    • Sarah Livingston Jay,
    • toast following the signing of the Peace of Paris treaty (1783), in Richard B. Morris, ed., John Jay: The Winning of the Peace--Unpublished Papers 1780-1784 ()
  • Gratitude to our Friends and Moderation to our Enemies ...

    • Sarah Livingston Jay,
    • toast following the signing of the Peace of Paris treaty (1783), in Richard B. Morris, ed., John Jay: The Winning of the Peace--Unpublished Papers 1780-1784 ()
  • The United States of America, may they be perpetual.

    • Sarah Livingston Jay,
    • toast following the signing of the Peace of Paris treaty (1783), in Richard B. Morris, ed., John Jay: The Winning of the Peace--Unpublished Papers 1780-1784 ()
  • America is the most violent democracy in the world. It's something that's met with great shock, horror, and mystery when I travel to other countries. They ask, Why are there so many shootings in America? Why does everyone own a gun?

  • The melting pot is finished. America is a patchwork quilt where all ethnic groups stand side by side.

  • It's a useful rule in Anglo-American communications that the English should double, and the Americans halve, the number of words they would normally employ.

  • Every American carries in his bloodstream the heritage of the malcontent and the dreamer.

  • Memory in America suffers amnesia.

  • Our merchant society has been built upon a huge hypocrisy, a cutthroat competition which sets one man against another and at the same time an ideology mouthing such words as 'Humanity,' 'Truth,' the 'Golden Rule,' and such.

  • In some ways, America has grown up to be a masterpiece of self-concern.

  • What is the essence of our America? Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom 'to' and freedom 'from.'

  • America has a history of political isolation and economic self-sufficiency; its citizens have tended to regard the rest of the world as a disaster area from which lucky or pushy people emigrate to the Promised Land.

  • In America, money takes the place of God.

  • [On the United States:] This country is a lioness, tawny, alert, passionate, austere, a beautiful, splendid — perhaps terrible — thing!

  • In the United States those bits of our history that remain are paved over, sanitized, packaged for easy consumption. At those sites not already lost to commercial development, we walk between velvet ropes, herded by guides, warned not to touch. Our icons are preserved under glass, their magic demystified in glossy brochures.

  • The American child, driven to school by bus and stupefied by television, is losing contact with reality. There is an enormous gap between the sheer weight of the textbooks that he carries home from school and his capacity to interpret what is in them.

  • Want of passion is, I think, a very striking characteristic of Americans, not unrelated to their predilection for violence. For very few people truly have a passionate desire to achieve, and violence serves as a kind of substitute.

  • To an American writer, I should think it must be a flattering distinction to escape the admiration of the newspapers.

  • A single word indicative of doubt, that any thing, or every thing, in that country is not the very best in the world, produces an effect which must be seen and felt to be understood. If the citizens of the United States were indeed the devoted patriots they call themselves, they would surely not thus encrust themselves in the hard, dry, stubborn persuasion, that they are the first and best of the human race, that nothing is to be learnt, but what they are able to teach, and that nothing is worth having, which they do not possess.

  • All the freedom enjoyed in America, beyond what is enjoyed in England, is enjoyed solely by the disorderly at the expense of the orderly ...

  • ... throughout all ranks of society, from the successful merchant, which is the highest, to the domestic serving man, which is the lowest, they are all too actively employed to read, except at such broken moments as may suffice for a peep at a newspaper. It is for this reason, I presume, that every American newspaper is more or less a magazine ...

  • ... he had never overheard Americans conversing without the word dollar being pronounced between them. Such unity of purpose, such sympathy of feeling, can, I believe, be found nowhere else, except, perhaps, in an ants' nest.

  • The most fundamental truth to be told in any art form, as far as Blacks are concerned, is that America is killing us.

    • Sonia Sanchez,
    • in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers (1950-1980) ()
  • Americans are all inquisitive, which accounts for their go-aheadativeness, I dare say.

  • I fell in love with my country — its rivers, prairies, forests, mountains, cities and people. No one can take my love of country away from me! I felt then, as I do now, it's a rich, fertile, beautiful land, capable of satisfying all the needs of its people. It could be a paradise on earth if it belonged to the people, not to a small owning class.

  • If you were starting from scratch to invent an instrument that could impose fiscal discipline, the last one on earth you would come up with is the United States government.

  • ... America is God equals America equals Business equals America equals God.

  • America's a hard school, I know, but hard schools make excellent graduates.

  • Americans think death is optional.

  • A trip across the border into Mexico is the most enlightening experience and immediately quashes our common provincial use of the word 'American' in the sense of limited only to citizens of the United States.

  • In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.

  • We cling to a bourgeois mediocrity which would make it appear we are all Americans, made in the image and likeness of George Washington, all of a pattern, all prospering if we are good, and going down in the world if we are bad.

  • ... Americans and their desire to be novelists, the American novel should be listed in medical dictionaries alongside Megalomania and Obsessional Neuroses.

  • In our society, money is everything. For Americans, it is how we keep score.

  • It is a spiritually impoverished nation that permits infants and children to be the poorest Americans.

  • America! America! / God shed His grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!

    • Katharine Lee Bates,
    • "America the Beautiful" (1895), America the Beautiful and Other Poems ()
  • All Americans suffer from anxiety; it's a national disease.

  • One of the nicest things about living in America is the fact that sooner or later you are practically bound to get an award of some sort or other.

  • ... America was the worst place in the world in which to fail, fall sick, get old or die, because then your problems had crystallised into the unforgivable sin. Failure.

  • Americans relate all effort, all work, and all of life itself to the dollar. Their talk is of nothing but dollars.

  • Science and time and necessity have propelled us, the United States, to be the general store of the world, dealers in everything. Most of all, merchants for a better way of life.

  • The whole world is being 'deculturalized' into a uniform 'Coca-Cola society,' wanting and needing an American way of life.

  • The U.S. population, a mere four or five percent of the world total, creates half the world's toxic waste.

  • [On the United States:] They are noisy and talkative but very reserved, self-conscious and a little hypocritical, but they burn more boats and throw their bonnets over more windmills than any people on earth.

  • The American quarrel with America, the product of a long self-consciousness ...

  • There's an epidemic of hate in this country, fed by ignorance and resentment.

  • The discrepancy between American ideals and American practice — between our aims and what we actually do — creates a moral dry rot which eats away at the foundations of our democratic faith.

  • With a measly 18 percent of our Congress composed of women, the U.S. ranks just 77th in the world in terms of women in elected office, surpassed by such countries as Ezbekistan and Moldova.

  • You could have just said Ngozi is your tribal name and Ifemelu is your jungle name and throw in one more as your spiritual name. They'll believe all kinds of shit about Africa.

  • Americans ... are a nation of salesmen just as the English are a nation of small shopkeepers.

  • ... America has become numb to violence because it just drowns in it, day in and day out.

  • One of the great disappointments of our time has been that the United States, a beacon of hope during the freedom struggles of the Asian peoples, succumbed to the views and greater colonial experience of nations grown to power in an earlier period.

  • Let me get this straight. A president can be impeached for having sex in the White House, but we do not fire administration officials or impeach a president for war crimes, human rights abuses and questionable legal practices. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with this culture?

  • ... the engrossing pursuit of Americans is wealth.

  • There is small danger of being starved in our land of plenty; but the danger of being stuffed is imminent ...

  • This is a speculating and selfish age; and to think 'money will answer all things,' is too much the characteristic of Americans.

  • What has made this nation great? Not its heroes but its households.

  • ... I question whether I want to be integrated into America as it stands now, with its complacency and materialism, its soullessness ...

  • Ay, call it holy ground, / The soil where first they trod; / They have left unstained what there they found, — / Freedom to worship God.

    • Felicia Hemans,
    • "The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers," The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans ()
  • With the people, for the people, by the people, I crack up when I hear it; I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, 'cause that's really what happens ...

  • ... if this is a Great Society, I'd hate to see a bad one.

  • What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise.

  • This country is so vast that one half might eat the other half and the third half be none the worse.

    • Fanny Kemble,
    • 1835, in Fanny Kemble Wister, ed., Fanny: The American Kemble ()
  • ... in America, far too large a portion of the diet consists of animal food. As a nation, the Americans are proverbial for the gross and luxurious diet with which they load their tables; and there can be no doubt that the general health of the nation would be increased by a change in our customs in this respect.

  • Deep within the word 'American' is its association with race ... American means white, and Africanist people struggle to make the term application to themselves with ethnicity and hyphen after hyphen after hyphen.

  • I'm an American / I shall not want. / There's nothing that doesn't belong to me.

    • Ai,
    • "Blue Suede Shoes," Sin ()
  • [United States:] ... a country that has arrived at decadence without passing through maturity.

  • We have to use all of America's strengths to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries, more shared responsibility and fewer conflicts, more good jobs and less poverty, more broadly based prosperity with less damage to our environment.

  • While there are few problems in today's world that the United States can solve alone, there are even fewer that can be solved without the United States.

  • ... Americans seem to have a deep cultural aversion to negativity. ... My son's report card at preschool divided his performance not into strengths and weaknesses but into strengths and emerging strengths.

  • We live in the era of the curated life.

  • America wielded her huge power in the world with a brash confidence that reminded him of a toddler who has got hold of a hammer.

  • When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as 'enemies,' it's ... a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.