my country, right or wrong

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Originally Stephen Decatur, in an after-dinner toast of 1816–1820:

“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”

Later stated by, and often attributed to, Carl Schurz, 1872.[1]

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Phrase[edit]

my country, right or wrong

  1. an expression of patriotism.

Usage notes[edit]

Frequently used either as an expression of jingoism (extreme patriotism), in the sense “I will stand by my country whether it be right or wrong”, or as a straw man to attack such patriotism as unthinking:

“‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’” — G. K. Chesterton[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schurz, Carl, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872, The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287, cited in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations., # 1641
  2. ^ The American Chesterton Society
    The line is from Chesterton’s first book of essays, The Defendant (1901) from the chapter, “A Defence of Patriotism”