English Language Blog

Important Historical phrases in America Posted by on Jul 5, 2016 in Culture

Today I have some famous phrases or quotes from American history to present.  These quotes are each representative of important people and events in America’s past and they are all often re-quoted by others.

Image by U.S. Embassy New Delhi on Flickr.com licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Image by U.S. Embassy New Delhi on Flickr.com licensed under CC BY 2.0. A picture of Martin Luther King, Jr.

These particular phrases are generally related to American politics or politicians.  Along with each quote below I share some context about who first said them and why they are important to know.

“Give me liberty of give me death.” – Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry lived in colonial America and worked as a lawyer, planter, and politician in what is now the state of Virginia. He was an activist in America’s independence movement. This quote shows how strongly he (and others of his time) felt about having freedom from England, which is why they fought so hard for independence.

“No taxation with out representation.” – James Otis
The first person to say this quote is less important than the phrase itself. This phrase became a slogan for American revolutionaries, fighting for independence from England. This statement shows the resentment and anger American colonists felt about being taxed by the British, who cared little about them as citizens. This was one of the reasons America fought for its independence from England; they felt they were being treated unfairly by their monarchy.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of the America President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She too was a politician, later in life, and an advocate for human rights. She was known for being fearless and saying what she thought needed to be said, even if it upset others. This phrase offers a bit of advice and it says something about the type of woman Eleanor Roosevelt was.

“I have a dream.” – Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was an American civil rights leader who was a preacher and a very powerful speaker. He fought for equal rights for minorities in America and inspired many other people to do the same. His dream was for fairness and equality for all Americans. He was sadly shot and killed while still relatively young. This quote is from a famous speech he gave in Washington, DC in 1963.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” – John f. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. He was a very charismatic politician and youngest person to be elected president of the United States. As this quote shows he felt strongly about giving back to his country and he inspired many people to also do so. He was sadly assassinated in 1963 while still president.

Are there any other American political quotes you have heard and want to know more about? Let me know by commenting below.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Bart:

    “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” — Louis Armstrong, July 20, 1969

    “No.” — Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955

  2. Eduardo:

    OK and interesting to know.