The Lever
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Archimedes, however, in writing to King Hiero, whose friend and near relation he was, had stated that given the force, any given weight might be moved, and even boasted, we are told, relying on the strength of demonstration, that if there were another earth, by going into it he could remove this.

Plutarch (c. 45-120 AD)
Life of Marcellus
Translated by John Dryden (1631-1700)

Again, he [Archimedes] used to say, in the Doric speech of Syracuse : “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

John Tzetzes (12th century AD)
Book of Histories (Chiliades) 2, 129-130
Translated by Francis R. Walton

Archimedes, that he might transport the entire globe from the place it occupied to another, demanded only a point that was firm and immovable; so, also, I shall be entitled to entertain the highest expectations, if I am fortunate enough to discover only one thing that is certain and indubitable.

Nihil nisi punctum petebat Archimedes, quod esset firmum & immobile, ut integram terram loco dimoveret; magna quoque speranda sunt, si vel minimum quid invenero quod certum sit & inconcussum.

René Descartes (1596-1650)
Meditations On First Philosophy
Meditation II, 1641
Translated by John Veitch

What Archimedes said of the mechanical powers, may be applied to Reason and Liberty: “Had we,” said he, “a place to stand upon, we might raise the world.” The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
American Author and Revolutionary
The Rights of Man
Part the Second, 1792
Combining Principle and Practice: Introduction

The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, moves the world.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
(Letter from Thomas Jefferson to M. Correa de Serra, 1814)
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson
Memorial Edition (Lipscomb and Bergh, editors)
Washington, D.C., 1903-04
Volume 14, page 222

Shut up the world at large, let Bedlam out;
         And you will be perhaps surprised to find
All things pursue exactly the same route,
         As now with those of soi-disant sound mind.
This I could prove beyond a single doubt,
         Were there a jot of sense among mankind;
But till that point d'appui is found, alas!
Like Archimedes, I leave earth as 't was.
Lord Byron (George Gordon) (1788-1824)
Don Juan
Canto the Fourteenth, LXXXIV , 1819-1824

Peter the Hermit, Calvin, and Robespierre, sons of the same soil, at intervals of three centuries were, in a political sense, the levers of Archimedes. Each in turn was an embodied idea finding its fulcrum in the interests of man.

Pierre L' Hermite, Calvin et Robespierre, chacun à trois cents ans de distance, ces trois Picards ont été, politiquement parlant, des leviers d' Archimède. C' était chacun à chaque époque une pensée qui rencontrait un point d' appui dans les intérêts et chez les hommes.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
Catherine de' Medici
Chapter XIII: Calvin, 1846
Translated by George Saintsbury

He was thinking alone, and seriously racking his brain to find a direction for this single force four times multiplied, with which he did not doubt, as with the lever for which Archimedes sought, they should succeed in moving the world, when some one tapped gently at his door.

Il y songeait, lui, et sérieusement même, se creusant la cervelle pour trouver une direction à cette force unique quatre fois multipliée avec laquelle il ne doutait pas que, comme avec le levier que cherchait Archimède, on ne parvînt à soulever le monde,—lorsque l'on frappa doucement à la porte.

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)
The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires)
Chapter VIII: A Court Intrigue, 1844

O vanity! you are the lever with which Archimedes wanted to lift the earthly globe!

О самолюбие! ты рычаг которым Архимед хотел приподнять земной шар!

Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841)
A Hero of Our Time
Princess Mary, 1840

“Give me whereon to stand”, said Archimedes, “and I will move the earth.” The boast was a pretty safe one, for he knew quite well that the standing place was wanting, and always would be wanting. But suppose he had moved the earth, what then? What benefit would it have been to anybody? The job would never have paid working expenses, let alone dividends, and so what was the use of talking about it? From what astronomers tell us, I should reckon that the earth moved quite fast enough already, and if there happened to be a few cranks who were dissatisfied with its rate of progress, as far as I am concerned, they might push it along for themselves; I would not move a finger or subscribe a penny piece to assist in anything of the kind.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Australian Standard, 1887 (under the pseudonym Twark Main)

The little bird, the little fish, the little animal learn not by principle, but empirically. And when he learn to do, then there is to him the ground to start from to do more. ‘Dos pou sto,’ said Archimedes. ‘Give me a fulcrum, and I shall move the world!’ To do once, is the fulcrum whereby child brain become man brain.
Bram [Abraham] Stoker (1847-1912)
Chapter 25, 1897

Don't talk to me of your Archimedes' lever. He was an absentminded person with a mathematical imagination. Mathematics commands all my respect, but I have no use for engines. Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
A Personal Record
A Familiar Preface, 1912

Archimedes promised to move the Earth if they would give him a point of support. That was not badly said. However, if they offered him the needed point of support, it would have turned out that he had neither the lever nor the power to bring it into action. The victorious revolution gave us a new point of support, but in order to move the Earth it is still necessary to build the levers.
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
Revolution Betrayed: What is the Soviet Union and where is it going?
Chapter 8:3 Foreign Policy and the Army: The Red Army and its Doctrines, 1936
Translated by Max Eastman

Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and I will move the world.” Today he would have pointed to our electric media and said, “I will stand on your eyes, your ears, your nerves, and your brain, and the world will move in any tempo or pattern I choose.” We have leased these “places to stand” to private corporations.
Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964

These proposals offer no quick and easy solution to the problems of peace. But they are essential tools. “Give me a fulcrum,” Archimedes is reported to have said, “and a place to stand—and I will move the world.” The tools I have suggested can be our fulcrum—it is here we take our stand—let us move the world down the road to peace.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)
President of the United States (1961-1963)
Presidential campaign speech proposing the United States Peace Corps
San Francisco, California, USA
November 2, 1960
(As reported by The New York Times, November 3, 1960, page 32)

Two years ago I told this body that the United States had proposed, and was willing to sign, a limited test ban treaty. Today that treaty has been signed. It will not put an end to war. It will not remove basic conflicts. It will not secure freedom for all. But it can be a lever, and Archimedes, in explaining the principles of the lever, was said to have declared to his friends: “Give me a place where I can stand—and I shall move the world.”

My fellow inhabitants of this planet: Let us take our stand here in this Assembly of nations. And let us see if we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)
President of the United States (1961-1963)
Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations
New York, New York, USA,
September 20, 1963

I’m told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: “Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.” My fellow Americans—here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace.
Theodore C. Sorensen (1928- )
President John F. Kennedy’s special counsel, advisor, and speech writer
The New Vision: The speech I want the Democratic nominee [for President in 2008] to give
Cover story in the Washington Monthly, July/August 2007

A young monk began the Protestant Reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the thirty-two-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal.

“Give me a place to stand,” said Archimedes, “and I will move the world.” These men moved the world, and so can we all.

Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)
Day of Affirmation Address
University of Capetown
Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966

Archimedes said, ‘If you give me a lever and a place to stand, I can move the world.’ Your excellent education here has given you that lever, and I hope that you will use it to move our country to address the many challenges we face more effectively.
Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009)
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (1962-2009)
Commencement Speech
Bentley College
Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
May 20, 2000

To paraphrase Archimedes, give me a place to stand and a lever strong enough and I can move the world. Well, The Heritage Foundation has been that place and their lever has been the truth And so far, you have been real world movers.
George Bush. (1924-)
President of the United States (1989-1993)

The great scientist, Archimedes, made his famous statement, “Give me a place on which to stand, and I will move the earth.” He was challenged to put his words into action, and according to the historians, he arranged a series of pulleys and cogs that allowed him to pull a ship out of the Syracusan Fleet from the water onto the beach. Today in addressing the relationship between science and technology to national security we must operate as a cooperative team trying to “move the earth” in a sense toward freedom, justice, opportunity, and sustainable development.
Albert Gore, Jr. (1948- )
Vice President of the United States (1993-2001)
Wrap-Up Address:
White House Forum on the Role of Science and Technology
in Promoting National Security and Global Stability

Washington, D.C., March 30, 1995

Quotations of William S. Cohen (1940- )
Secretary of Defense of the United States (1997-2001)

Or America can emulate Archimedes and, from the position of strength where we stand, find a lever to move the world.

Commencement Address for the Graduating Class of 1997
United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
May 28, 1997

Archimedes once said that “give me a lever, a place to stand, and I will move the world.” History has given Secretary [of State Madeleine] Albright a place to stand, and using her heartfelt conviction, her steady determination, and her visionary leadership as her lever, and with your extraordinary help, she is moving the world.
Remarks at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain
July 9, 1997

Centuries ago, Archimedes discovered the secret behind the lever and declared: “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Today, history has given the United States a place to stand. Using our ideals, our diplomacy and our military might as our lever, we have the unique opportunity to move the world, not simply for the betterment of others, but for the betterment of ourselves.
Remarks at the Commonwealth Club of California
San Francisco, California, USA
July, 21, 1997

Centuries ago, Archimedes discovered the secret behind the lever, and declared “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Well, today, we have earned the power of Archimedes. The place where we stand is the sole global power of the world, a beacon of hope to free people around the world. And from this position of strength and influence, we can move the world in a better direction. How will we move it? What is our lever?
Remarks at Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas, USA
September 12, 1997

But he discovered the principle that Archimedes discovered, as he said, give me a place to stand and I will move the world. Well, in the first years in the Senate, he found a device that I used to use and he has followed my example. He is given five minutes to ask questions. And he usually takes exactly five minutes to ask every question and then imposes upon the witness 10 minutes to have an answer. It has served him extraordinarily well.
Remarks about U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman at the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom
Washington, D.C., USA
November 3, 1997