Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Carl Schurz (18291906)
The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, My country, right or wrong. In one sense I say so too. My country; and my country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
Senator CARL SCHURZ, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872, The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287. The Globe merely notes [Manifestations of applause in the galleries] but according to Schurzs biographer, The applause in the gallery was deafening. This is one of Schurzs most frequently quoted replies.Hans L. Trefousse, Carl Schurz: A Biography, chapter 11, p. 180 (1982).
Schurz expanded on this theme in a speech delivered at the Anti-Imperialistic Conference, Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 1899: I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: Our country, right or wrong! They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: Our countrywhen right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.Schurz, The Policy of Imperialism, Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6, pp. 11920 (1913).