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A statesman or stateswoman or statesperson is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term. When politicians retire, they are often referred to as elder statesmen.

Statesmanship also conveys a quality of leadership that organically brings people together and of eldership, a spirit of caring for others and for the whole.

The words statesman or stateswoman are applied loosely to any head of state, any senior political figure, or anyone who in a given moment exhibits a certain quality of statesmanship.


  • Aristotle -- "What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions."
  • Harry S. Truman -- "A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years."
  • Henry Kissinger -- "The statesman's duty is to bridge the gap between experience and vision."
  • Henry Kissinger -- "The task of statesmen is to resolve complexity, not to contemplate it."
  • London's Evening News, July 21, 1960 -- "There will be need for a new word. Presumably, we shall have to call her a Stateswoman. This is the suffragette's dream come true." (On Sirimavo Bandaranaike's election to Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, the first such woman athlete,though other women heads of state and government and other women political leaders had been referred to as "statesmen".)
  • Milton Friedman -- "One man's opportunism is another man's statesmanship."
  • Otto von Bismarck -- “I consider even a victorious war as an evil, from which statesmanship must endeavor to spare nations.”
  • James Freeman Clarke -- "A politician thinks about the next elections — the stateman thinks about the next generations."
  • Mikhail Gorbachev -- "What is the difference between a statesman and a politician?... A statesman does what he believes is best for his country, a politician does what best gets him reelected"

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Statesman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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