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Governance
bornactivedied
1751, Mar 161809-18171836, Jun 28
an American statesman, political theorist, and the fourth President of the United States (1809–17). He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for being instrumental in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and as the key champion and author of the Bill of Rights. He served as a politician much of his adult life.
 Timeline (12)
03/16/1751-James Madison, “Father of the Constitution,” is born in Virginia
10/27/1787-The "Federalist Papers" begins publication,the first in a series of 85 essays (published serially, until May 28, 1788) by "Publius," the pen name of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, appears in the New York Independent Journal , calls for ratification of Constitution
09/15/1794-James Madison marries Dolley Madison (nee Payne Todd)
01/25/1806-James Madison delivers report concerning British interference and impressment of sailors causing anti-British feelings to arise. 
12/07/1808-James Madison elected U.S. president; George Clinton stays on as vice-president
03/04/1809-James Madison becomes first president inaugurated in American-made clothes
04/19/1809-Thomas Jefferson sells servant to James Madison
02/11/1811-President James Madison prohibits trade with Britain for third time in four years 
06/30/1812-James Madison makes urgent call to commission more officers to fight the British
12/02/1812-James Madison re-elected president of U.S., with Elbridge Gerry as vice-president 
12/11/1815-James Madison presents trade agreement to Congress
06/28/1836-James Madison dies at age 85
 Notes (2)
Politics:
  • Party: Democratic-Republican
  • Vice President: George Clinton (1st term), Elbridge Gerry (2nd term)
US Presidents:

George Washington (1789-1797): the first President of the United States (1789–97), the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, ...
John Adams [2] (1797-1801): an American lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat. He served as the second President of the United States (1797–1801), the first Vice Pr...
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809): an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the third President of the United States (1...
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 Mentions (9)
DeWitt Clinton
...presidency in the election of 1812, challenging incumbent James Madison. Clinton believed that infrastructure improvements...
George Clinton [2]
...1805 to 1812, under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He and John C. Calhoun are the only people to have...
Elijah Craig
...of 1788. As such, he worked with Patrick Henry and James Madison to protect religious freedom federally and in Virginia...
Elbridge Gerry
...President of the United States (1813–14), serving under James Madison. He is known best for being the namesake of...
William Hull
...name. However, he received a pardon from President James Madison, and his reputation has recovered somewhat.
Thomas Jefferson
...the First Party System in 1792–1793, Jefferson and James Madison, organized the Democratic-Republican Party in opposition...
Mary Dixon Kies
...silk and thread to make hats was signed by President James Madison. Some sources state that she was the first American...
Dolley Madison
the wife of James Madison, President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. She was noted for her social graces, which boosted her husband’s popularity...
James Monroe
...of State and the Secretary of War under President James Madison.
 Quotes (182) • View in Quotations
A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.
A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of Congress than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular States.
A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
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. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.
A sincere and steadfast co-operation in promoting such a reconstruction of our political system as would provide for the permanent liberty and happiness of the United States.
A spirit of liberty and patriotism animates all degrees and denominations of men
A standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.
A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.
A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.
All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
All power in human hands is liable to be abused.
All that seems indispensible in stating the account between the dead and the living, is to see that the debts against the latter do not exceed the advances made by the former.
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?
America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.
America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.
America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.
Americans [have] the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust their people with arms.
Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect.
Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.
An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.
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.
Any reading not of a vicious species must be a good substitute for the amusements too apt to fill up the leisure of the labouring classes.
As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.
As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other.
As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind?
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.
Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.
But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm... But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity.
But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain.
By rendering the labor of one, the property of the other, they cherish pride, luxury, and vanity on one side; on the other, vice and servility, or hatred and revolt.
Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.
Commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive, and impolitic.
Conscience is the most sacred of all property.
Despotism can only exist in darkness, and there are too many lights now in the political firmament to permit it to remain anywhere, as it has heretofore done, almost everywhere.
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.
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.
Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a Federal, and not a National constitution.
Energy in government is essential to that security against external and internal danger and to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into the very definition of good government. Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
Equal laws protecting equal rights -- the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.
Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.
Every nation whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of its wiser neighbors.
Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few not for the many.
Every word decides a question between power and liberty.
For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects.
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.
Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.
Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society.
He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a "walking Library," and what can be said of but few such prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him.
How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?
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.
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.
I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security
I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse.
I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate whenever the Government assumes a freer aspect and the laws favor a subdivision of Property.
I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic it is also a truth, that if industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.
I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment.
If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.... [But lacking these] you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself
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.
If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.
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. 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.
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
If we are to take for the criterion of truth the majority of suffrages, they ought to be gotten from those philosophic and patriotic citizens who cultivate their reason.
If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior.
In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature.
In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example ... of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.
In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government, the questions as they came within the first object turned mostly on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it.
In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
In no instance have... the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.
In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.
In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.
Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness
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.
It becomes all therefore who are friends of a Government based on free principles to reflect, that by denying the possibility of a system partly federal and partly consolidated, and who would convert ours into one either wholly federal or wholly consolidated, in neither of which forms have individual rights, public order, and external safety, been all duly maintained, they aim a deadly blow at the last hope of true liberty on the face of the Earth.
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.
It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.
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.
It is due to justice; due to humanity; due to truth; to the sympathies of our nature; in fine, to our character as a people, both abroad and at home, that they should be considered, as much as possible, in the light of human beings, and not as mere property. As such, they are acted upon by our laws, and have an interest in our laws.
It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.
It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.
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 in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.
It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object.
It may be considered as an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to the people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals would in great measure deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability.
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.
It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others.
Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
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.
Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.
Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. 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.
Nothing has yet been offered to invalidate the doctrine that the meaning of the Constitution may as well be ascertained by the Legislative as by the Judicial authority.
Nothing is so contagious as opinion, especially on questions which, being susceptible of very different glosses, beget in the mind a distrust of itself.
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.
On the distinctive principles of the Government ... of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in... The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.
One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one.
Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.
Philosophy is common sense with big words.
Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.
Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.
Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society.
Such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions.
Such will be the relation between the House of Representatives and their constituents. Duty gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the cords by which they will be bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people
That diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution rages among some and to their eternal Infamy the Clergy can furnish their Quota of Imps for such business,
That the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.
The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling which they overburden the inferior number is a shilling saved to their own pockets.
The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing.
The capacity of the female mind for studies of the highest order cannot be doubted, having been sufficiently illustrated by its works of genius, of erudition, and of science.
The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.
The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.
The civil rights of none, shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed.
The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment, may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy.
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.
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.
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.
The eyes of the world being thus on our Country, it is put the more on its good behavior, and under the greater obligation also, to do justice to the Tree of Liberty by an exhibition of the fine fruits we gather from it.
The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to control one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controlled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society.
The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.
The house of representatives...can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.
The internal effects of a mutable policy poisons the blessings of liberty itself.
The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents.
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.
The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.
The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
The members of the legislative department...are numerous. They are distributed and dwell among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society...they are more immediately the confidential guardians of their rights and liberties.
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.
The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.
The passions, therefore, not the reason, of the public would sit in judgment. But it is the reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.
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 personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.
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.
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.
The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.
The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.
The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.
The very definition of tyranny is when all powers are gathered under one place.
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 usurpations.
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....
There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence.
They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.
To render the justice of the war on our part the more conspicuous, the reluctance to commence it was followed by the earliest and strongest manifestations of a disposition to arrest its progress. The sword was scarcely out of the scabbard before the enemy was apprised of the reasonable terms on which it would be resheathed.
To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.
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.
Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence.
War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason.
War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.
We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
We are teaching the world the great truth that Governments do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion Flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.
We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape -- that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political institutions of a different form? It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object.
We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.
We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.
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.
What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them...the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers.
What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?
What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?
Whatever may be the judgment pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.
Whenever a youth is ascertained to possess talents meriting an education which his parents cannot afford, he should be carried forward at the public expense.
Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.
Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.
Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done.
You give me a credit to which I have no claim in calling me "the writer of the Constitution of the United States." This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.
[D]emocracies 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.
[He] will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind.
[I]n the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained.
[I]t is the reason alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government.
[R]efusing or not refusing to execute a law to stamp it with its final character...makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper.
[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.
[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.
[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others.
[T]o exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States on the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general... as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource which can not fail me.
 Contemporaries
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Nationality
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James Madison1751, Mar 161809
 
18171836, Jun 28

Tecumseh1768 ca1800
 
18101813
 a Native American leader of the Shawnee who attempted to organize a vast alliance of Native Ameri...
Samuel Chase1741, Apr 171761
 
18111811, Jun 19
 an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and earlier was a signatory to the United...
William Williams [3]1731, Apr 231771
 
18111811, Aug 2
 a merchant, and a delegate for Connecticut to the Continental Congress in 1776, and a signatory o...
Thomas McKean1734, Mar 191755
 
18121817, Jun 24
 an American lawyer and politician from New Castle, in New Castle County, Delaware and Philadelphi...
Benjamin Rush1745, Dec 241769
 
18121813, Apr 19
 a Founding Father of the United States. Rush was a civic leader in Philadelphia, where he was a p...
Elbridge Gerry1744, Jul 61765
 
18141814, Nov 23
 an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice ...
Frederick VI1768, Jan 281808
 
18141839, Dec 3
 King of Denmark from 13 March 1808 to 3 December 1839 and King of Norway from 13 March 1808 to 7 ...
Hamengkubuwono III1769, Feb 201810
 
 
18141814, Nov 3
 the third sultan of Yogyakarta, reigning from 1810 to 1811 and from 1812 to 1814. His eldest son ...
Christian VIII1786, Sep 181814
 
 
18141848, Jan 20
 the King of Denmark from 1839 to 1848 and, as Christian Frederick, King of Norway in 1814. In May...
Marcus Gjoe Rosenkrantz1762, Jan 251814
 
 
18141838, May 11
 a Norwegian Government Minister and Member of Parliament. He became first minister of Norway duri...
Napoleon Bonaparte1769, Aug 151799
 
18151821, May 5
 a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and le...
Timothy Pickering1745, Jul 171768
 
18161829, Jan 29
 a politician from Massachusetts who served in a variety of roles, most notably as the third Unite...
John Clopton1756, Feb 71776
 
18161816, Sep 11
 a United States Representative from Virginia. He served as first lieutenant and as captain in the...
Emperor Kokaku 1771, Sep 231780
 
18171840, Dec 11
 Given name, Tomohito, the 119th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of successio...
Charles XIII of Sweden1748, Oct 71814
 
18181818, Feb 5
 King of Sweden (as Charles XIII) from 1809 and King of Norway (as Charles II) from 1814 until his...
Jesse Fellunknown1800
 
1819unknown
 an early political leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was the first to successfully burn an...
Sakayengwaraton17921810
 
18191886
 a Mohawk leader in Canada. After Johnson fought for the British Crown in the War of 1812, he was ...
William Ellery1727, Dec 21748
 
18201820, Feb 15
 a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Rhode Island. In...
King George III1738, Jun 41760
 
18201820, Jan 29
 King of Great Britain and Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 ...
William Floyd1734, Dec 171774
 
18201821. Aug 4
 an American politician from New York, and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independen...
Joseph Bloomfield1753, Oct 181775
 
18231823, Oct 3
 the fourth Governor of New Jersey. The township of Bloomfield, New Jersey is named for him. He at...
Thomas Jefferson1743, Apr 21767
 
18241826, Jul 4
 an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and ...
Louis XVIII1755, Nov 171814
 
18241824, Sep 16
 a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1814 to 1824 except for a peri...
William Hull1753, Jun 241775
 
18251825, Nov 29
 an American soldier and politician. He fought in the American Revolution and was appointed as Gov...
Charles Carroll III1737, Sep 191772
 
18281832, Nov 14
 a wealthy Maryland planter and an early advocate of independence from the Kingdom of Great Britai...
Hamengkubuwono II1750, Mar 71792
 
18281828, Jan 3
 the second sultan of Yogyakarta 1792–1810, 1811–12 and finally 1826–28 during the Java War....
Hamengkubuwono IV1804, Apr 31814
 
18281823/28
 the fourth sultan of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, reigning from April 3, 1814 - December 6, 1822, and t...
Manuel Quimper17571770
 
18291844, Apr
 a Spanish Peruvian explorer, cartographer, naval officer, and colonial official. He participated ...
William Clark [2]1770, Aug 11789
 
18291838, Sep 1
 an American explorer, soldier, Indian agent, and territorial governor. Along with Meriwether Lewi...
Petar I Petrovic-Njegos1747/481782
 
18301830, Oct 31
 the ruler of the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro as the Metropolitan (vladika) of Cetinje, and Exa...
Cornplanter1750s ca1816
 
18311831
 a Seneca war chief and diplomat. As a chief warrior, Cornplanter fought in the French and Indian ...
Charles Grey1764, Mar 131786
 
18341845, Jul 17
 Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from November 1830 to July 1834. A member of the Whig Party,...
William Wirt1772, Nov 81792
 
18341834, Feb 18
 an American author and statesman who is credited with turning the position of United States Attor...
HRE Francis II1768, Feb 121792
 
18351835, Mar 2
 the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Rom...
William T. Barry1784, Feb 51805
 
18351835, Aug 30
 an American statesman and jurist. He served as Postmaster General for most of the administration ...
Davy Crockett1786, Aug 171813
 
18361836, Mar 6
 a 19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician. He is commonly referred...
Pavel Schilling1786, Apr 51810
 
18371837, Jul 25
 a diplomat of Baltic German origin employed in the service of Russia in Germany, and who built a ...
Major Ridge1771 ca1790
 
18391839
 a Cherokee leader, a member of the tribal council, and a lawmaker. As a warrior, he fought in the...
Tenskwatawa17751800
 
18391834
 a Native American religious and political leader of the Shawnee tribe, known as The Prophet or th...
Mahmud II1789, Jul 201808
 
18391839, Jul 1
 the 30th Sultan and Caliph (Sunni Islam) of the Ottoman Empire/Caliphate from 1808 until his deat...
Black Hawk17671810
 
18391838
 a war leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in what is now the Midwest of the Unit...
John Forsyth1780, Oct 221813
 
18411841, Oct 21
 a 19th-century American politician from Georgia. He represented Georgia in both the House of Repr...
Noah Webster1758, Oct 161781
 
18431843, May 28
 an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer...
Artemas Ward Jr.1762, Jan 91783
 
18441847, Oct 7
 like his father, Artemas Ward, he was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. He serve...
Godert van der Capellen1778, Dec 151808
 
18481848, Apr 10
 a Dutch statesman from Utrecht. He was made Prefect of Friesland in 1808 and soon thereafter Mini...
Albert Gallatin1761, Jan 291788
 
18491849, Aug 12
 a Swiss-American politician, diplomat, ethnologist and linguist. He was an important leader of th...
Richard M. Johnson1780, Oct 171802
 
18501850, Nov 19
 the ninth Vice President of the United States, serving in the administration of Martin Van Buren ...
Henry Clay1777, Apr 121797
 
18521852, Jun 29
 an American lawyer and planter, statesman, and skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both th...
Daniel Webster1782, Jan 181805
 
18521852, Oct 24
 an American politician who twice served in the United States House of Representatives, representi...
Karl Nesselrode1780, Dec 141816
 
18561862, Mar 23
 a Baltic German diplomat. His mother was Jewish by origin and Protestant by faith. For forty year...
Lewis Cass1782, Oct 91806
 
18601866, Jun 17
 an American military officer, politician, and statesman. He represented Michigan in the United St...
John McLean1785, Mar 111807
 
18611861, Apr 4
 an American jurist and politician who served in the United States Congress, as U.S. Postmaster Ge...
Sam Houston1793, Mar 21812
 
18611863, Jul 26
 an American politician and soldier, best known for his role in bringing Texas into the United Sta...
George M. Dallas1792, Jul 101813
 
18611864, Dec 31
 an American politician and diplomat who served as Mayor of Philadelphia, U.S. Senator from Pennsy...
Theron Metcalf1784, Oct 161807
 
18651875, Nov 12
  an American attorney and politician from Massachusetts. He was a New England jurist and served a...
Lone Horn1790 ca1810
 
18791877
 Born in present-day South Dakota, was chief of the Minneconjou Lakota. He participated in the sig...
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