my country, right or wrong

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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 amended as, and often attributed to, Carl Schurz, 1872.[1]as,

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


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 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]


  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”