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Quotes for
John Dickinson (Character)
from 1776 (1972)

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1776 (1972)
John Dickinson: Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Lee, Mr. Hopkins, Dr. Franklin, why have you joined this... incendiary little man, this BOSTON radical? This demagogue, this MADMAN?
John Adams: Are you calling me a madman, you, you... you FRIBBLE!
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Easy John.
John Adams: You cool, considerate men. You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go under, you'll still remain afloat!
John Dickinson: Are you calling me a coward?
John Adams: Yes... coward!
John Dickinson: Madman!
John Adams: Landlord!
John Dickinson: LAWYER!
[a brawl breaks out]

Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Please Mr. Dickinson, but must you start banging? How is a man to sleep?
[laughter from Congress]
John Dickinson: Forgive me, Dr. Franklin, but must YOU start speaking? How is a man to stay awake?
[More laughter]
John Dickinson: We'll promise to be quiet - I'm sure everyone prefers that you remained asleep.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: If I'm to hear myself called an Englishman, sir, I assure you I prefer I'd remained asleep.
John Dickinson: What's so terrible about being called an Englishman? The English don't seem to mind.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Nor would I, were I given the full rights of an Englishman. But to call me one without those rights is like calling an ox a bull. He's thankful for the honor, but he'd much rather have restored what's rightfully his.
[laughter]
John Dickinson: When did you first notice they were missing, sir?
[laughter]

John Dickinson: [to John Hancock] Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.

John Dickinson: Mr. Hancock, you're a man of property, one of us. Why don't you join us in our minuet? Why do you persist on dancing with John Adams? Good Lord, sir, you don't even like him!
Hancock: That is true, he annoys me quite a lot, but still I'd rather trot to Mr. Adams' new gavotte.
John Dickinson: But why? For personal glory? For a place in history? Be careful, sir. History will brand him and his followers as traitors.
Hancock: Traitors, Mr. Dickinson? To what? The British crown, or the British half-crown? Fortunately there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy.
John Dickinson: Perhaps not. But don't forget that most men without property would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.

John Hancock: I'm concerned over the continued absence of 1/13th of this Congress. Where is New Jersey?
John Dickinson: Somewhere between New York and Pennsylvania.

John Dickinson: Fortunately, the people maintain a higher regard for their mother country.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Higher, certainly, than she feels for them. Never was such a valuable possession so stupidly and recklessly managed, than this entire continent by the British crown. Our industry discouraged, our resouces pillaged... worst of all our very character stifled. We've spawned a new race here, Mr. Dikinson. Rougher, simpler; more violent, more enterprising; less refined. We're a new nationality. We require a new nation.

John Dickinson: Tell me, Doctor, where do you stand on the question of...
Dr. Lyman Hall: Independence?
John Dickinson: Treason.
Dr. Lyman Hall: I've no stomach for it.
John Dickinson: Ahh, then be careful not to dine with John Adams. Between the fish and the soufflé, you'll find yourself hanging from an English rope. Your servant, sir.

John Dickinson: I trust, Caesar, when you're through converting the poor fellow to independency, you'll give the opposition a fair crack at him.
Caesar Rodney: [chuckling] You're too late, John. Once I get 'em, they're got.

John Dickinson: Do you expect us to forget Hastings and Magna Carta, Strongbow and Lionheart, Drake and Marlborough?

Thomson: [reading Washington's letter] The situation is most desperate at the New Jersey training ground in New Brunswick, where every able bodied whore in the co... "WHORE?"... in the colonies has assembled. There are constant reports of drunkenness, desertion, foul language, naked bathing in the Raritan river, and an epidemic of the "French disease." I have placed this town off limits to all military personnel with the exception of officers. I beseech the congress to dispatch the War Committee to this place, in the hope of restoring some of the order and discipline we need to survive. Your obedient...
[drumroll]
Thomson: G. Washington.
Col. Thomas McKean: That man would depress a hyena.
Hancock: Well, Mr. Adams, you're chairman of the war committee. Do you feel up to whoring, drinking, deserting, and New Brunswick?
Rev. John Witherspoon: There must be some mistake, I have an aunt who lives in New Brunswick.
John Dickinson: You must tell her to keep up the good work.

John Dickinson: Mr. Jefferson, I have very little interest in your paper, as there's no doubt in my mind that we've all but heard the last of it, but I am curious about one thing. Why do you refer to King George as a... tyrant?
Thomas Jefferson: Because he *is* a tyrant.
John Dickinson: I remind you, Mr. Jefferson, that this "tyrant" is still your king.
Thomas Jefferson: When a king becomes a tyrant, he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
John Dickinson: How so?
Thomas Jefferson: By taking away their rights.
John Dickinson: Rights that came from him in the first place.
Thomas Jefferson: All except one. The right to be free comes from nature.
John Dickinson: And are we not free, Mr. Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson: Homes entered without warrant, citizens arrested without charge, and in many places, free assembly itself denied.
John Dickinson: No one approves of such things, but these are dangerous times.

John Dickinson: Mr. President, Pennsylvania moves, as always, that the question of independence be postponed. Indefinitely.
James Wilson: [standing up] I second the motion.
John Hancock: Judge Wilson, in your eagerness to be loved, you seem to have forgotten that Pennsylvania cannot second its own motion!

Caesar Rodney: [a brawl has broken out] Stop it! Stop it! This is the Congress! Stop it I say! The enemy's out there!
John Dickinson: No, Mr Rodney, the enemy is here!
Caesar Rodney: No! I say he's out there! England! England closing in, cutting off our air! There's no time!
[suddenly very weak]
Caesar Rodney: No air...

John Dickinson: [James Wilson is about to vote for independence in defiance of John Dickinson] And is that how new nations are formed? By a nonentity seeking to preserve the anonymity he so richly deserves?
Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Revolutions, Mr. Dickinson, come into this world like bastard children... half improvised and half compromised. Our side has provided the compromise. Judge Wilson is now supplying the rest.

Hancock: Mr. Thomson, is the Declaration ready to be signed?
Charles Thomson: It is.
Hancock: Then I suggest we do so. And the chair further proposes, for our mutual security and protection, that no man be allowed to sit in this Congress without attaching his name to it.
John Dickinson: I'm sorry, Mr. President. I cannot, in good conscience, sign such a document. I will never stop hoping for our eventual reconciliation with England, but... because, in my own way, I regard America no less than does Mr. Adams, I will join the army and fight in her defense, even though I believe that fight to be hopeless.


"John Adams: Independence (#1.2)" (2008)
John Dickinson: Gentlemen. The consequences involved in the motion now lying before us are of such magnitude that I tremble at the oppressive honor of sharing in its determination. My conduct this day, I expect, will give the finishing blow to my once great and now much-diminished popularity. Yet I had rather forfeit popularity forever than vote away the blood and happiness of my countrymen. Independence will not strengthen us by one man! Nor by the least supply. But it may expose our soldiers to additional cruelties and outrages. The full fury of British wrath will be unleashed. Indians will be loosed on the frontier. Negroes will rise up to slaughter us. New York may well be destroyed. By their own admission, the advocates of separation say foreign assistance will be necessary. At what cost? Let us imagine a war without victors. When the guns fall silent, many will have bled and sacrificed, only to have exchanged the light yoke of Great Britain for the heavy dominion of an alien power. Some have argued that America will become one great commonwealth. But what is to keep 13 unwieldy colonies from splitting asunder? I have a strong impression in my mind that this will take place. No, gentlemen. To escape the protection of Great Britain by declaring independence, unprepared as we are would be to brave a storm in a skiff made of paper.

John Adams: General Warren is fallen at Bunker Hill. Shot through the head. Bayoneted and stripped of his clothes. I knew him, gentlemen. He was my physician. The full measure of british atrocity is too terrible to relate. "400 patriots dead." Not professional soldiers, ordinary citizens of Massachusetts who willingly gave their lives to defend what was rightfully theirs. Their liberty. But they took with them more than 1,000 british soldiers and 100 of their officers. If this congress does not support the Massachusetts militia, it could very well dissolve, gentlemen! Should that happen... Should that happen, we will be left defenseless, gentlemen. I move that the congress adopt the Massachusetts militia immediately!
John Dickinson: You are asking us to form an army, Mr. Adams. A force acting not for a single colony, but all 13! Now there's not a man here present who does not mourn the loss of the brave men of Massachusetts. But it is at such times that caution must prevail. It may be weeks before our last petion reaches the King, many weeks more before we may hope for a reply. While we await answer, we must avoid any escalation of the hostilities between us.
John Adams: The situation is perilous! What is required now is one able man to build and to lead this new continental army.
Edward Rutledge: And who do you propose of the Massachusetts delegates should lead this force?
John Dickinson: Gentlemen, we move too quickly. We have not yet resolved the question of any continental army, much less who is to lead it.
John Adams: I have but one gentleman in mind, known to all of us. Mr. President, I propose as commander in chief our most honorable and esteemed delegate... The good gentleman from Virginia, Colonel George Washington.