“Oh, Mr. President, do not let so great an achievement suffer from any taint of legality.”
Philander C. Knox (1853-1921)
Quoted in Tyler Dennett, John Hay: From Poetry to Politics (1933). Knox’s reply, as attorney general, to President Theodore Roosevelt’s request for a legal justification of his acquisition of the Panama Canal Zone.
Excerpted from: Shapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.