President James Madison (1751-1836)

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

“In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.”

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

“There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

“In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.”

“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation.”

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”

“Philosophy is common sense with big words.”

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

“What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

“The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States composing the respective states, who alone had the right .”

“The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.”

“The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.”

“The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

“To the press alone, chequered 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.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”

“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

“The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.”

“The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.”

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

“The number of individuals employed under the Constitution of the United States will be much smaller than the number employed under the particular states. There will consequently be less of personal influence on the side of the former than of the latter.”

“Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.”

“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.”

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.”

“Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.”

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects? Memorial and Remonstrance.”

“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”

“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

“Liberty and order will never be perfectly safe, until a trespass on the constitutional provisions for either, shall be felt with the same keenness that resents an invasion of the dearest rights.”

“A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”

“Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence”

“We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

“The safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim, and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.”

“On a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority, trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other.”

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

“Keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics – that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe.”

“The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.”

“Our opinions agree as to the evil, moral, political, and economical, of slavery.”

“I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse, and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other.”

“Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without
which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to
abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because
it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation
of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to
fire its destructive agency.”

“A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.”

“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.”

“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.”

“A good government implies two things: fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.”

“Such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

“A standing army is one of the greatest mischief that can possibly happen.”

“Another of my wishes is to depend as little as possible on the labor of slaves.”

“As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”

“Government destitute of energy, will ever produce anarchy.”

“Precedents once established are so much positive power.”

“The American people are too well schooled in the duty and practice of submitting to the will of the majority to permit any serious uneasiness on that account.”

“Respect for character is always diminished in proportion to the number among whom the blame or praise is to be divided.”

“The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis.”

“(Only) a well-instructed people can be a permanently free people.”

“In all great changes of established governments, forms ought to give way to substance.”

“The rights of man as the foundation of just Government had been long understood; but the superstructures projected had been sadly defective.”

“Measures should be enacted which, without violating the rights of property, would reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort.”

“The proposed Constitution is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal constitution; but a composition of both.”

“The nation which reposes on the pillow of political confidence, will sooner or later end its political existence in a deadly lethargy.”

“Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the US to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutra.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

“I was there and this is what we meant.”

“Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred.”

“No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment….”

“I am determined to keep this up. When it started people didn’t think it could go on for too long.”

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.”

“The principles and modes of governments are too important to be disregarded by an inquisitive mind and I think are well worthy a critical examination by all students that have health and leisure.”

“Experience has proved that the real danger to America and to liberty lies in the defect of energy and stability in the present establishment of the United States.”

“A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves, lest while we are building ideal monuments of renown and bliss here, we neglect to have our names enrolled in the annals of Heaven.”

“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”

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