Mark Twain Quotes

Funny Mark Twain Quotes on Politics, Religion, and the Human Condition

Mark Twain paid Ulysses S. Grant to write his memoirs.
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Mark Twain, one of the greatest American authors and humorists, had a way with words beyond his books and stories. He was also quite sharp with insults and opinions, especially regarding politics and religion. 

Congress and Politics

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress."

"Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can."

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."

"An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere."

"All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity."

"Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals."

Stupid People, Ignorance and Foolishness

"Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

"It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

"The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog."

"God created war so that Americans would learn geography."

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either."

"I would rather have my ignorance than another man's knowledge because I have so much more of it."

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass."

"Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them, the rest of us could not succeed."

"April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."


"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Education and Schooling

"Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned."

"Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge."

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards."


"Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about."

"Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it."

"A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain."

Books and Reading

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?"

"If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed."

"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."

"In a good bookroom, you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them."

"Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else."

Religion, the Bible and Prayer

"The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also."

“Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat."

“Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."

"I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's."

Facts, Truth, Lies—and Statistics

"Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable."

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

"George Washington, as a boy, was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie."

"I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't."

"Honesty is the best policy—when there is money in it."

"Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it."

"There's one way to find out if a man is honest: ask him; if he says yes, you know he's crooked."

"A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies."

Courage, Goodness and Morality

"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare."

"To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble."

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

"A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory."

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."

Patriots and Patriotism

"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

Anger, Laughter and Humor

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."

"Only laughter can blow [a colossal humbug] to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."

"Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever. By forever, I mean thirty years."

"There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages."

Religion and the Bible

"The Bible has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies."

"If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be—a Christian."

Life and Death

"Obscurity and a competence—that is the life that is best worth living."

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

"Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company."

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

"Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Words and Actions

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often."

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."

"Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words."

Worries, Moral Quandaries and Cruelty

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

"Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it."

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."


"What would men be without women? Scarce, sir...mighty scarce."

"Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."

"I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

"The silent colossal National Lie that is the support and confederate of all the tyrannies and shams and inequalities and unfairnesses that afflict the peoples—that is the one to throw bricks and sermons at."

"There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist‚ except an old optimist."

"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."

"A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved."

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

"I haven't a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices whatsoever."

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live."

"The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop."

"Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered—either by themselves or by others."

"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well."