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Political Thoughts, Quotes and Comment

FEDERALIST PAPERS AND FOUNDING FATHER'S QUOTES

The Founder's Thoughts

JOHN ADAMS
 
"Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. ... The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty." --
John Adams
 
"The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse, but all in vain.  The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America." --John Adams
 
"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives." --John Adams
 
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." --John Adams
 
"They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men." --John Adams

"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God. ... Let it be known that...liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments." --John Adams

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom." --John Adams


 
 
SAMUEL ADAMS
 
"Religion in a Family is at once its brightest Ornament & its best Security." --Samuel Adams
 
"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.  While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." --Samuel Adams
 
"If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd.  This will be their great Security." --Samuel Adams
 
"The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men." --Samuel Adams
 
 
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
 
"History will also give Occasion to expatiate on the Advantage of Civil Orders and Constitutions, how Men and their Properties are protected by joining in Societies and establishing Government; their Industry encouraged and rewarded, Arts invented, and Life made more comfortable: The Advantages of Liberty, Mischiefs of Licentiousness, Benefits arising from good Laws and a due Execution of Justice, &c. Thus may the first Principles of sound Politicks be fix'd in the Minds of Youth." --Benjamin Franklin
 
"Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. ... Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them." --Benjamin Franklin
 
"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die Tomorrow." --Benjamin Franklin
 
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin
 
"That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People." --Benjamin Franklin
 
"Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself a slave to it." --Benjamin Franklin  
 
"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it?" --Benjamin Franklin
 
"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states,
by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and
genius of their people.  The ordaining of laws in favor of one
part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. ... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened." --Benjamin Franklin

 

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

"[T]here is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81

"A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people." --Alexander Hamilton,
Federalist No. 31

"I will venture to assert that no combination of designing men under heaven will be capable of making a government unpopular which is in its principles a wise and good one, and vigorous in
its operations." --Alexander Hamilton

"It is a just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good.  This often applies to their very errors.  But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend they always reason right about the means of promoting it." --Alexander Hamilton,Federalist #71

"It is evident from the state of the country, from the habits of the people, from the experience we have had on the point itself, that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums by direct taxation." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 12

"It may perhaps be said that the power of preventing bad laws includes that of preventing good ones; and may be used to the one purpose as well as to the other.  But this objection will have little weight with those who can properly estimate the mischiefs of that inconstancy and mutability in the laws, which form the greatest blemish in the character and genius of our governments." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 73

"It is a singular advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess. They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end purposed -- that is, an extension of the revenue." --Alexander Hamilton

"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust." --Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57

"When you assemble from your several counties in the Legislature, were every member to be guided only by the apparent interest of his county, government would be impracticable.  There must be a perpetual accommodation and sacrifice of local advantage to general expediency." --Alexander Hamilton

"But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32

 

THOMAS JEFFERSON

"We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles.  The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." --Thomas Jefferson

"One single object...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." --Thomas Jefferson

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it." --Thomas Jefferson

"It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression...that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary;...working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped." --Thomas Jefferson

"When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground." --Thomas Jefferson

"Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself.  Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?  Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?  Let history answer this question." --Thomas Jefferson

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands." --Thomas Jefferson

"It is an established rule of construction, where a phrase will bear either of two meanings to give it that which will allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not that which will render all the others useless.  Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given to them.  It was intended to lace them up straitly with in the enumerated powers, and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson

"But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years." --Thomas Jefferson

"The Constitution...is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please." --Thomas Jefferson

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." --Thomas Jefferson

"I think we have more machinery of government than is
necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the
industrious." --Thomas Jefferson

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their
destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." --Thomas Jefferson

"The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government." --Thomas Jefferson

JAMES MADISON

"I acknowledge, in the ordinary course of government, that the exposition of the laws and Constitution devolves upon the judicial.  But I beg to know upon what principle it can be contended that any one department draws from the Constitution greater powers than another in marking out the limits of the powers of the several departments." --James Madison

"There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right...." -- James Madison

"To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression." --James Madison

"Equal laws protecting equal rights...the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country." --James Madison

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one,possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." --James Madison, Federalist No. 45

"Is there no virtue among us?  If there be not, we are in a wretched situation.  No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure.  To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them." --James Madison

"It has been said that all Government is an evil.  It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune.  This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect." --James Madison

"Thus, each of the principal branches of the federal government will owe its existence more or less to the favor of the State governments, and must consequently feel a dependence, which is much more likely to beget a disposition too obsequious than too overbearing towards them." -- Madison, Federalist No. 45

"It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him.  This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.  Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." --James Madison

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." -- James Madison, Federalist No. 10

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents...." --James Madison

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. ... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America." --James Madison

"Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one." --James Madison

 

THOMAS PAINE

"The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety." --Thomas Paine

GEORGE WASHINGTON

"But if we are to be told by a foreign power what we shall do, and what we shall not do, we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little." --George Washington

Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?  And let us with caution indulge the opposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." --George Washington

"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." --George Washington


"Your love of liberty -- your respect for the laws -- your habits of industry -- and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual
happiness." --George Washington

"There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation.  'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard." --George Washington

"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." -- George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789.

"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained." --George Washington

"'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world." --George Washington

"'Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government." --George Washington

"Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest.  But even our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course." --George Washington

"Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue?  The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human Nature." --George Washington

"We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.  In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States." --George Washington

"Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness." --George Washington



OTHER NOTABLE QUOTES

"The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty." -- Fisher Ames

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make
things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare Beccaria (an Italian philosopher)

"What is liberty without...virtue? It is...madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites." --Edmund Burke

"Liberty is a word which, according as it isused,comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world.  Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good." --Oliver Ellsworth

"The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts." --John Jay

"We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity." --Theodore Roosevelt

"It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.  The future experience of Christendom, and chiefly of the American states, must settle this problem, as yet new in the history of the world, abundant, as it has been, in experiments in the theory of government." --Joseph Story

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." --Bertrand de Jouvenel

"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression.  Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness." --James Wilson


 


 


 

 




 



 








 







 

 


 
 
 

 

 

 

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