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Colonial Sense: Society-Lifestyle: Colonial Quotes
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A collection of notable quotations from a variety of Early Modern Era individuals. See the Guide for more details.
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'Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. 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.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
'Tis healthy to be sick sometimes. — Henry David Thoreau
'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world.
— Farewell Address, September 19, 1796
— George Washington
'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.— Thomas Paine
. . . the fulfillment of our manifest destiny [is] to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.
— "Annexation," The United States Democratic Review, July 1845
— John O'Sullivan
... having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obligated, by better information or fuller consideration, to change my opinions even on important subjects, which I thought right but found to be otherwise.
— Speech given at the final session (17 Sept. 1787)
— Benjamin Franklin
...be yourself -- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.— Henry David Thoreau
...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
— Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789
— Benjamin Franklin
...that the Pleasure of doing Good and Serving their Country, and the Respect such Conduct entitles them to, are sufficient Motives with some Minds to give up a great Portion of their Time to the Public, without the mean Inducement of pecuniary Satisfaction.
— Convention Speech on Salaries (unpublished) June 2, 1787
— Benjamin Franklin
...there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administred; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well adminstred for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.
— Speech on Sept. 17 1787
— Benjamin Franklin
..they are supported by a Sense of Duty; and the Respect paid to Usefulness. It is honorable to be so employ’d, but it was never made profitable by Salaries, Fees, or Perquisites. And indeed in all Cases of public Service, the less the Profit the greater the Honor.
— Convention Speech on Salaries (unpublished) June 2, 1787
— Benjamin Franklin
[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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
[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.
— On Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Nicholas P. Trist, July 6, 1826
— James Madison
[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.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
[I]t is the reason alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government.
— Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788
— James Madison
[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or body of men.
— Thoughts on Government, 1776
— John Adams
[On America]: ...every act of oppression will sour their tempers, lessen greatly if not annihilate the profits of your commerce with them, and hasten their final revolt; for the seeds of liberty are universally found there, and nothing can eradicate them.
— Letter to Lord Kames (11 Apr. 1767)
— Benjamin Franklin
[On family] - When we launch our little Fleet of Barques into the Ocean, bound to different Ports, we hope for each a prosperous Voyage; but contrary Winds, hidden Shoals, Storms and Enemies, come in for a Share in the Disposition of Events; and though those occasion a Mixture of Disappointment, yet considering the Risque where we can make no Insurance, we should think ourselves happy if some return with Success.
— Letter to Jonathan Shipley (Feb 24. 1786)
— Benjamin Franklin
[On Family]: ... the conversation of ingenious men, give me no small pleasure; but at this time of life, domestic comforts afford the most solid satisfaction, and my uneasiness at being absent from my family, and longing desire to be with them, make me often sigh in the midst of cheerful company.
— Letter to Debrah Franklin (21 Jan. 1758)
— Benjamin Franklin
[On God]: I conceive for many reasons that he is a good being; as I should be happy to have so wise, good, and powerful a being my friend, let me consider in what manner I shall make myself most acceptable to him.
— Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, 20 Nov. 1728
— Benjamin Franklin
[On Pride]: There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat id won, stifle it, mortify it, as much as one pleases, it is still alive and will ever now than then peep out and show itself...
— Autobiography (1784)
— Benjamin Franklin
[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.
— Letter to John Brown, October, 1788
— James Madison
[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.
— Records of the Convention, August 25, 1787
— James Madison
[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.
— Speech in the House of Representatives, January 10, 1794
— James Madison
[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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
[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.
— Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813
— James Madison
[Water is] the only drink for a wise man.— Henry David Thoreau

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