210 History Quotes That Will Surprise And Inspire You

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

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People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. James Baldwin

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History is who we are and why we are the way we are. David McCullough

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I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all. James Baldwin

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A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. Mahatma Gandhi

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Revolutions are the locomotives of history. Karl Marx


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Blood alone moves the wheels of history. Martin Luther

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A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey

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I do not speak Hebrew, but I understand that it has no word for ‘history’. The closest word for it is memory. David Miliband

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Fear not for the future, weep not for the past. Percy Bysshe Shelley

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History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Kurt Vonnegut


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History is a relay of revolutions. Saul Alinsky

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The past changes a little every time we retell it. Hilary Mantel

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Human history in essence is the history of ideas. H. G. Wells

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The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggles. Karl Marx

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History is mostly guessing; the rest is prejudice. Will Durant


The Best History Quotes

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Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it. Oscar Wilde

I can’t change history, I don’t want to change history. I can only change the future. I’m working on that. Boris Becker

Many of the greatest crimes in history were caused not by hatred, but rather by indifference. They were caused by people who could have done something, but did not even bother lifting a finger. So don’t wait. Get out there. Go and vote. Yuval Noah Harari

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Karl Marx

History is a set of lies agreed upon. Napoleon Bonaparte

Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both. C. Wright Mills

Be honest. We have the science, the technology, and the wealth. What we don’t have is the will, and that’s not a reason that history will accept. Bono

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. B. C. Forbes

I believe that we must maintain pride in the knowledge that the actions we take, based on our own decisions and choices as individuals, link directly to the magnificent challenge of transforming human history. Daisaku Ikeda

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There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made. Michelle Obama

Life moves fast. As much as you can, learn from your history, you have to move forward. Eddie Vedder

We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today. Henry Ford

To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. Hermann Hesse

History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul. Lord Acton


Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. Hermann Hesse

History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches, it does not fight battles. It is men, real, living, who do all this. Karl Marx

The historic ascent of humanity, taken as a whole, may be summarized as a succession of victories of consciousness over blind forces – in nature, in society, in man himself. Leon Trotsky

The history of the world is the biography of the great man. And I said: The great man always act like a thunder. He storms the skies, while others are waiting to be stormed. Thomas Carlyle

Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort. Mason Cooley

The best prophet of the future is the past. Lord Byron

Part 2. History Quotes That Are…

The Most Famous History Quotes (Roosevelt, Picasso, Emerson, etc.)

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history quotes pack lies play dead voltaire wisdom city

History is a pack of lies we play on the dead. Voltaire

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. Abraham Lincoln

Thank you for coming. We’re gonna make some history together today. Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple introducing the iPhone at MacWorld 2007)

The man who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes. Adolf Hitler

Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular. Aristotle

We learn from history that we don’t learn from history! Desmond Tutu

The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution! Albert Einstein

History is merely gossip. Oscar Wilde

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Martin Luther King Jr

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We are not makers of history. We are made by history. Martin Luther King Jr

Condemn me, it does not matter, history will absolve me. Fidel Castro

History shows that there are no invincible armies. Joseph Stalin

After making a mistake or suffering a misfortune, the man of genius always gets back on his feet. Napoleon Bonaparte

Soldiers, if there is one among you who wants to kill his general, his Emperor, here I am. Napoleon Bonaparte

History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals. Malcolm X

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. Theodore Roosevelt

When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the Pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso. Pablo Picasso

I won’t predict anything historic. But nothing is impossible. Michael Phelps

Black history is American history. Morgan Freeman

I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. Pablo Picasso

There is properly no history; only biography. Ralph Waldo Emerson

To me, this is about preserving history and making it available to everyone. Sergey Brin (Google)

Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes. Voltaire

Short History Quotes

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One-liners, short history quotes, sayings, thoughts, and captions for your bio, social status, self-talk, motto, mantra, signs, posters, wallpapers, and backgrounds.
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We learn from history that we learn nothing from history. George Santayana

History passes the final judgment. Sidney Poitier

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. Plato

History provides no precise guidelines. Douglas Hurd

History develops, art stands still. E. M. Forster

History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory. George Santayana

History takes time. History makes memory. Gertrude Stein

History has been the history of warfare. Godfrey Reggio

History is nothing if not an epic tale of missed opportunities. Graydon Carter

History is more or less bunk. Henry Ford

Ideas shape the course of history. John Maynard Keynes

Patriotism ruins history. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts. Edward R. Murrow

History’s a resource. Laura Linney

History laughs at both the victim and the aggressor. Mahmoud Darwish

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Human history is highly nonlinear and unpredictable. Michael Shermer

The main thing is to make history, not to write it. Otto von Bismarck

Sometimes, history needs a push. Vladimir Lenin

Related: 7 Ways You Can Change the World (huffpost.com)


Inspirational History Quotes

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Our history is not our destiny. Alan Cohen

When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor. Elon Musk

The history of mankind is the instant between two strides taken by a traveler. Franz Kafka

On the day when man told the story of his life to man, history was born. Alfred de Vigny

Work hard, have fun and make history. Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

We are all tourists in history, and irony is what we win in wars. Anatole Broyard

Every renaissance comes to the world with a cry, the cry of the human spirit to be free. Anne Sullivan

History speaks to artists. It changes the artist’s thinking and is constantly reshaping it into different and unexpected images. Anselm Kiefer

What does the artist do? He draws connections. He ties the invisible threads between things. He dives into history, be it the history of mankind, the geological history of the Earth or the beginning and end of the manifest cosmos. Anselm Kiefer

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again. Maya Angelou

Whatever we do or fail to do will influence the course of history. Arthur Henderson

The only history is a mere question of one’s struggle inside oneself. But that is the joy of it. One need neither discover Americas nor conquer nations, and yet one has as great a work as Columbus or Alexander, to do. D. H. Lawrence

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Live out of your imagination, not your history. Stephen Covey

It had long come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. Leonardo da Vinci

History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth. E. L. Doctorow

Today is either the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. Today we are making history. Eckhard Pfeiffer

People who make history know nothing about history. You can see that in the sort of history they make. Gilbert K. Chesterton

The public history of modern art is the story of conventional people not knowing what they are dealing with. Golda Meir

If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. Grace Murray Hopper, inventor of the COBOL computer language

What fascinates me are the turning points where history could have been different. Hilary Mantel

Alternate history fascinates me, as it fascinates all novelists, because ‘What if?’ is the big thing. Kate Atkinson

If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. Michael Crichton

Whether in commerce, science, or politics — history remembers the artists. Naval Ravikant

Funny History Quotes

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History books that contain no lies are extremely dull. Anatole France

Hindsight is the historian’s necessary vice. Hilary Mantel

On human stupidity: It is one of the most powerful forces that shape history. Yuval Noah Harari

Human blunders usually do more to shape history than human wickedness. A. J. P. Taylor

History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there. George Santayana

When the great history of trouble is written, my family will stand extremely high in the table of contents. Allan Sherman

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools. Ambrose Bierce

I felt like a pickle stepping into history. Bill Clinton

Long before history began we men have got together apart from the women and done things. We had time. C. S. Lewis

People take the longest possible paths, digress to numerous dead ends, and make all kinds of mistakes. Then historians come along and write summaries of this messy, nonlinear process and make it appear like a simple, straight line. Dean Kamen

The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like. E. L. Doctorow

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Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs. David Ben Gurion

Watch the History Channel if you want it literal and historically perfect. Emily Blunt

Every historian discloses a new horizon. George Sand

A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is a joke. Max Eastman

Historian: an unsuccessful novelist. H. L. Mencken

Like a historian, I interpret, select, discard, shape, simplify. Unlike a historian, I make up people’s thoughts. Hilary Mantel

Yeah, I read history. But it doesn’t make you nice. Hitler read history, too. Joan Rivers

You don’t hate history, you hate the way it was taught to you in high school. Stephen Ambrose

I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it. Kanye West

The historian is a prophet looking backward. Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel

Deep History Quotes

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Freedom has no history. Andrew Cohen

The people who have really made history are the martyrs. Aleister Crowley

History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all. Will Durant

False history gets made all day, any day, the truth of the new is never on the news. Adrienne Rich

A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows. Annie Besant

Reason is the historian, but passions are the actors. Antoine Rivarol

History is witness, and will never forget. Wladimir Klitschko

You cannot amputate your history from your destiny, because that is redemption. Beth Moore

History is information. Memory is part of your identity. David Miliband

If history is any indication, all truths will eventually turn out to be false. Dean Kamen

If history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. E. O. Wilson

Isn’t history ultimately the result of our fear of boredom? Emile M. Cioran

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Who has fully realized that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood? Carl Jung

When you lose your temper or even feel irritated: remember that human life is very short. Before long all of us will be laid out side by side. Marcus Aurelius

The history of the past interests us only in so far as it illuminates the history of the present. Ernest Dimnet

Memoirs are the backstairs of history. George Meredith

Universal history is the history of a few metaphors. Jorge Luis Borges

Each one writes history according to his convenience. Jose Rizal

The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it. Karl Marx

It is not history which uses men as a means of achieving – as if it were an individual person – its own ends. History is nothing but the activity of men in pursuit of their ends. Karl Marx

Human history is not the product of the wise direction of human reason, but is shaped by the forces of emotion — our dreams, our pride, our greed, our fears, and our desire for revenge. Lin Yutang

Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy. Napoleon Bonaparte

The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects – making it possible… to see a new beauty in what is vanishing. Susan Sontag

Sometimes history takes things into its own hands. Thurgood Marshall

What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past. Victor Hugo

History should be written as philosophy. Voltaire

Wise History Quotes

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If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past. Baruch Spinoza

History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies. Alexis de Tocqueville

No harm’s done to history by making it something someone would want to read. David McCullough

We must admit that history is enjoyable to a large extent because it enables us to pass judgement on the past. Douglas Hurd

It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature. Henry James

The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle. Eric Hoffer

History never looks like history when you are living through it. John W. Gardner

History is a race between education and catastrophe. H. G. Wells

The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice. Mark Twain

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We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create. Chuck Palahniuk

The so-called lessons of history are for the most part the rationalizations of the victors. History is written by the survivors. Max Lerner

Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories. Zadie Smith

History is a vast early warning system. Norman Cousins

When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction. Stephen King

History is Philosophy teaching by examples. Thucydides

Part 3. Conclusion

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Study the past if you would define the future. Confucius

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

February 11, 2022

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