Can You Complete These Famous Presidential Quotes?

By: John Miller

Can You Complete These Famous Presidential Quotes?
Image: Frank O. Salisbury

About This Quiz

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog." It’s one of the most famous quotes from an equally impressive president named Dwight Eisenhower. Whether it was Eisenhower or Clinton, America’s presidents — particularly the recent ones — seem to be in love with the sound of their own voices, proffering what they believe is sage wisdom to anyone who will listen. Do you think you know the quotes in our quiz well enough to finish them?

Although he loathed public speaking, Thomas Jefferson used his quill and ink to provide plenty of whip-smart comments for the ages. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Did you already know that timeless quote … or would you need help completing it?

From George Washington to George H.W. Bush, America’s presidents have always had a lofty perch from which to dispense advice, and they do it. Can you finish this one from Calvin Coolidge? "If you see ten ______ coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." The answer is not Communists … it is “troubles.”

Let’s see if you really know your presidents and their quotable truths (and untruths). Maybe you can guess even better ways to complete these eternal presidential utterances in our quotable quiz!

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to ______.”
do what is wrong
know what is right
Lyndon Johnson was vice president when John Kennedy was assassinated, and he was thrust into a terrible situation. He made the best of it but sometimes struggled. "A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.”
make sure the fries are cooked just right

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“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to ____ is ____ itself."
fur
smash
fear
During his first inauguration speech, Franklin Roosevelt uttered a famous line. "This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance..."

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Dwight Eisenhower said, "______ never won any battle."
spears and rocks
pessimism
Eisenhower won a whole lot of battles in his day as the leader of American forces in WWII. He knew that, "Pessimism never won any battle."
nuclear bombs

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"We the people tell the ____ what to do, it doesn’t tell us."
banking system
USSR
government
Ronald Reagan was often decrying big government, saying that it should work for the people and not the other way around. He said, "We the people tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us."

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“Ask not what your _____ can do for you, but what you can do for your ____."
country
During his inauguration speech, John Kennedy espoused the virtue of selflessness when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Burger King
rabbit

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“We are the _____ that we seek.”
aliens
change
Barack Obama often used his big smile and charasmatic appeal to encourage people to do better with their lives. "Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
dollar bills

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“Associate yourself with men of ____ quality if you esteem your own reputation."
middling
good
George Washington knew the value of associating with people of good quality. That philosophy served him well through the Revolution and two presidential terms.
AAA

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George W. Bush said, "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some _____."
amazing lessons to be learned
fantastic pictures
It’s hard to know whether the former cheerleader-turned-president ever read a book. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."
areas meant for coloring

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Bill Clinton said, "We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with _____, not weapons."
glue
words
Clinton’s only real weapon was his words, which he deployed with immense power during his two terms. "We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons."
bullying

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William McKinley said, "In the time of darkest defeat, _____ may be nearest."
eternal suffering
victory
McKinley was an exceptional man, the last of America’s presidents to have served in the Civil War. He said, "In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest."
the harvester of souls

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William H. Harrison said, "____ change, and we change with them."
times
“Times change, and we change with them." So said William Harrison, and his words were prescient, as the country was forced to change quickly after he died 33 days into office.
fashions
tyrants

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George W. Bush said, "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the _____."
warmongers
pacemakers
Bush always had a way with — what do you call them? — oh yeah, "words." He constantly picked the wrong word at the wrong time. "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."
enslavers

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Lyndon Johnson said, "“For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed _____ and the unclimbed ____."
desert / mountain
Johnson appealed to the American sense of wonder and bravery in the face of the unknown. “For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest that is sleeping in the unplowed ground.”
McDonald’s / Wendy’s
gold mine / oil tower

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Millard Fillmore said, "An honorable ____ is better than a dishonorable victory."
man
Easter egg hunt
defeat
Fillmore is the guy who married his own schoolteacher, so he knew a lot about honor. "An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory."

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"Whatever you are, be a good _____."
soldier
wife
one
Aspiring writer? Hopeful lawyer? Sadistic serial killer? Abraham Lincoln encouraged people to do their best no matter what they wanted to do with their lives. "Whatever you are, be a good one."

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“I have always done my duty. I am ready to ____."
cry
fly
die
Just before he died from a terrible stomach illness, war hero and president Zachary Taylor said to his wife, "I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me."

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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him _____."
a large pepperoni pizza
power
Honest Abe had more character in his little finger than Bill Clinton had in his little ... well, I digress. Lincoln said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
bad gas

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Woodrow Wilson said, "“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with _____."
liberty
Wilson struggled with the idea of sending American troops to WWI, but in the end, he did it. In part because, "I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”
Walmart
me

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Ronald Reagan said, "As government expands, liberty _____."
contracts
As always, Reagan sounded the alarm on big government. "As government expands, liberty contracts."
explodes
erupts into spectacular, glorious flames

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“Most people are about as ___ as they make up their minds to be."
funky
happy
Abraham Lincoln fought depression for a good portion of his life. So he was speaking from experience when he said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
intelligent

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Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of _____."
large weapons
persistence
It’s probably Coolidge’s best-known quote. "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
silky lingerie

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Richard Nixon was talking about power when he said, "“…Only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how _____ it is to be on the highest mountain…”
super fun
magnificent
Nixon looked like a power-hungry freak by the time his scandal-stained administration ended. A (terribly out-of-context) quote like this doesn’t change that perception. “…Only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain…”
terrifying

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“Any man worth his _____ will stick up for what he believes right."
weight in gold
salt
Andrew Jackson was a commensurate fighter, one who resorted to fisticuffs a time (or 100) in his life. "Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error."
teeth

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Ronald Reagan said, "Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just ____."
smarter
better-looking
braver five minutes longer
Reagan tried to lift up common people time and again with his speeches. He once said, "Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.”

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Abraham Lincoln said, “I am a slow ____, but I never ____ backwards”
talker
eater
walker
Lincoln was far more deliberate than today’s headline-seeking politicians. He said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards."

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George W. Bush said, "a _____ is someone who brings people together."
leadership
Bush, always the ineloquent Commander-in-Chief, famously said, "a leadership is someone who brings people together."
glue engineer
shift manager

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Calvin Coolidge said, "Governments do not make ____, but ____ make governments."
ideals
“Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments." Those were the words of Coolidge, who reportedly loved having Vaseline smeared on his head every morning, and we did not make that up.
babies
heavy metal musicians

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“Ninety-nine percent of failures come from _____ who make excuses.”
British folks
people
George Washington understood that the greatest triumphs come from hardship. He also advocated for accountability. "Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who make excuses.”
Republicans

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William Harrison once said, “I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will ____ in the process.”
giggle
guffaw
starve
Harrison could well have been commenting on the often-sad sweatshops of today he uttered this one. “I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will starve in the process.”

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Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t like that man. I must ______."
get to know him better
Lincoln was a veritable fountain of wisdom, often offering up advice that initially seemed counterintuitive. “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
kiss his wife
eat his first-born child

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