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A collection of sayings and quotations by David McCullough on history, life, people, books and education.

62 Motivational Quotes By David McCullough That Will Keep You High-Spirited

Quick Facts

Famous As
Author, Historian

Born On
07 July 1933 AD

Born In
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Age
84

David McCullough is regarded as the pioneer of modern history. He is also a renowned lecturer, author and narrator. He was a member of ‘Skulls and Bones’, and was an apprentice at media giants like ‘Time’, ‘Life’, ‘American Heritage’ and also the ‘United States Information Agency’. He viewed every topic that had not been written on before as a potential book. His works on President Truman and Founding Father John Adams won him Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and 2002 respectively. He also bagged the National Book Award twice. He has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest civilian award in the United States. McCullough is also acclaimed for his works as a narrator, film presenter and a TV host. His sayings and thoughts will keep your spirits high. ‘The Johnstown Flood’ was his first book and his latest book ‘The Wright Brothers’ continue to be successful in the market. The year 2016 also marked 50 years of his association with publisher, Simon and Schuster. David continues to entertain both readers and writers. His simple yet powerful quotes are sure to give you an adrenaline rush. 

Because it’s of more importance to community, that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt should be punished.

- John Adams, David McCullough

The clock would be simple if you destroyed all the wheels... but it would not tell the time of day.” On

- John Adams, David McCullough

I steer my bark with hope in the head, leaving fear astern.” Their

- John Adams, David McCullough

Mankind will in time discover that unbridled majorities are as tyrannical and cruel as unlimited despots,” and

- John Adams, David McCullough

In an exhibition wherein paintings of nudes were commonplace, that of Madame Gautreau in her black evening dress was considered scandalously erotic. -from The Greater Journey

- David McCullough

Honesty, sincerity, and openness, I esteem essential marks of a good mind,

- John Adams, David McCullough

To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.

- David McCullough

A veteran artist counsels a less experienced one to start a painting using colors in the middle range so that the painter can move to more extreme colors as the work progresses.

- The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough

Those for whom things came easily usually made less of an effort, not more.

- The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough

Morality only is eternal. All the rest is balloon and bubble from the cradle to the grave.

- John Adams, David McCullough

Adams was both a devout Christian and an independent thinker, and he saw no conflict in that.

- John Adams, David McCullough

Marinate your mind

- David McCullough

Patience which I assure you requires more force of character than does action.

- The Path Between the Seas, David McCullough

Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest I am hard to turn,

- Truman, David McCullough

Measurements "are never enough. The artist's eye and desire to breathe life into the subject must be the deciding factors.

- David McCullough

We cannot insure success, but we can deserve it.

- John Adams, David McCullough

We believed in a good God, a bad Devil, and a hot Hell, and more than anything else we believed that same God did not intend man should ever fly.

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

The study of history is an antidote to the hubris of the present – the idea that everything we have, everything we do and everything we think is the ultimate, the best.

- David McCullough

Let no girl, no gun, no cards, no flutes, no violins, no dress, no tobacco, no laziness decoy you from your books.

- John Adams, David McCullough

Lord Chatham, the King of Prussia, nay, Alexander the Great, never gained more in one campaign than the noble lord has lost-he has lost a whole continent.

- 1776, David McCullough

It is in Paris that the beating of Europe’s heart is felt. Paris is the city of cities." - Victor Hugo

- The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough

He loved politics in large part exactly because it meant time spent with men like Cactus Jack Garner(who would be remembered for observing that the vice presidency was not worth a pitcher of warm piss).

- Truman, David McCullough

As the Sword was the last resort for the preservation of our liberties, so it ought to be the first thing laid aside when those liberties are firmly established

- 1776, David McCullough

Make business first, pleasure afterward, and that guarded. All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others. He made a point of treating

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

I feel that as much as I enjoy loafing, there is something higher for which to live.

- Mornings on Horseback, David McCullough

Vivez joyeux” was the old saying. “Live joyfully.

- The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, David McCullough

A man who will steal for me will steal from me." Theodore Roosevelt, dismissing on the spot one of his best cowhands who was about to claim for his boss an unmarked animal.

- Mornings on Horseback, David McCullough

The only way to compose myself and collect my thoughts," he wrote in his diary,"is to set down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand.

- John Adams, David McCullough

We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth. But we were wrong...

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

The best dividends on the labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power.” Signed Wilbur and Orville Wright, March 12, 1906.

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

A leader must look and act the part.

- 1776, David McCullough

In truth, the situation was worse than they realized, and no one perceived this as clearly as Washington. Seeing things as they were, and not as he would wish them to be, was one of his salient strengths.

- 1776, David McCullough

Indeed, bribery, favoritism, and corruption in a great variety of forms were rampant not only in politics, but in all levels of society.

- 1776, David McCullough

There are no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as Americans

- 1776, David McCullough

...avarice and stinginess [are] not frugality

- John Adams, David McCullough

We learn much by tribulation, and by adversity our hearts are made better.

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

Remove yourself, sir!

- John Adams, David McCullough

The past after all is only another name for someone else's present.

- Brave Companions, David McCullough

I lament the want of a liberal education. I feel the mist of ignorance to surround me - Nathanael Greene

- 1776, David McCullough

Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages. It's accelerative. The more we know, the more we want to know.

- David McCullough

The source of our suffering has been our timidity. We have been afraid to think....Let us dare to read, think, speak, write.

- John Adams, David McCullough

It was a day and age that saw no reason why one could not learn whatever was required - learn vitally anything - by the close study of books.

- 1776, David McCullough

All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden on others.

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?

- Brave Companions, David McCullough

No bird soars in a calm. WILBUR WRIGHT

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

The great thing about the arts is that you can only learn to do it by doing it.

- David McCullough

Nobody ever lived in the past.

- David McCullough

Only those who [do] nothing [make] no mistakes.

- David McCullough

If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio. WILBUR WRIGHT

- The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

You have overburdened your argument with ostentatious erudition." Spoken by Abigail Adams

- John Adams, David McCullough

I think that we need history as much as we need bread or water or love.

- David McCullough

You've got to marinate your head, in that time and culture. You've got to become them." (Speaking about researching, and reading, and immersing yourself in History)

- John Adams, David McCullough

No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read." (The Course of Human Events, NEH Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities 2003)

- David McCullough

The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know...do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.

- John Adams, David McCullough

When a friend of Abigail and John Adams was killed at Bunker Hill, Abigail's response was to write a letter to her husband and include these words, "My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.

- John Adams, David McCullough

You can't be a full participant in our democracy if you don't know our history.

- David McCullough

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives. - John Adams

- John Adams, David McCullough

If you get down about the state of American culture, just remember there are still more public libraries in this country than there are McDonalds.

- David McCullough

Nothing ever invented provides such sustenance, such infinite reward for time spent, as a good book.

- David McCullough

History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

- David McCullough

Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.

- David McCullough

Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard." (Interview with NEH chairman Bruce Cole, Humanities, July/Aug. 2002, Vol. 23/No. 4)

- David McCullough