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18 Insightful Quotes From U.S. Vice Presidents

Since the formation of the United States, the country’s Vice President has stood by the President’s side to offer guidance and support in steering the nation’s government and leading the American people. From the first individual to hold the office, John Adams, to the trailblazing Kamala Harris today, 49 people have served in this prestigious position, exhibiting leadership, wisdom, and at times, a bit of self-deprecating humor.

There’s no greater responsibility for the Vice President than their role as second in line to the presidency, and indeed, 15 one-time veeps have ascended to the highest office in the land. Even if they never served as President, however, many VPs have still carved out enduring legacies. Look no further than John Nance Garner, who worked tirelessly to help pass Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation while in office, or Al Gore, whose admirable efforts to bring awareness about climate change have had a notable impact on the world. Read on for 20 insightful quotes from leaders who were once second-in-command.

If conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value.
— John Adams

The government should not be guided by temporary excitement, but by sober second thought.
— Martin Van Buren

You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.
— Adlai Stevenson I

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
— Theodore Roosevelt

You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.
— Calvin Coolidge

The single biggest time waster in the world is not completing what you start.
— John Nance Garner

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.
— Harry Truman

A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.
— Richard Nixon

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.
— Lyndon B. Johnson

The test we must set for ourselves is not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will wish to join us.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

Tell the truth, work hard, and come to dinner on time.
— Gerald Ford

The secret to success is to own nothing, but control everything.
— Nelson Rockefeller

If you are sure you understand everything that is going on, you are hopelessly confused.
— Walter Mondale

I do not mistrust the future; I do not fear what is ahead. For our problems are large, but our heart is larger.
— George H.W. Bush

We Americans write our own history. And the chapters of which we’re proudest are the ones where we had the courage to change.
— Al Gore

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.
— Dick Cheney

Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.
— Joe Biden

If you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well.
— Kamala Harris

Photo credit: Paul Morigi via Getty Images

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About the Author
Bennett Kleinman
Bennett is a staff writer at Optimism as well as a freelance comedy writer. He's based in New York City.
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