— Stephen Decatur United States Navy officer 1779 - 1820
Toast at a dinner in Norfolk, Virginia (April 1816) reported in Niles' Weekly Register (Baltimore, Maryland) 20 April 1816; as cited in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (2010), Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, p. 70
Variant: Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.
[emphasis added] This widely quoted version is attributed in Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Life of Stephen Decatur: A Commodore in the Navy of the United States (1846), C. C. Little and J. Brown, p. 443.
This statement produced the famous slogan "My country, right or wrong!" which itself produced famous responses by:
Carl Schurz "...if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
Schurz, Carl, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872, The Congressional Globe, vol. 45, p. 1287. See Wikisource for the complete speech.
G. K. Chesterton "'My country, right or wrong' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying, except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober'." -- A Defence of Patriotism