Search   
 
 
 
A collection of notable quotations from a variety of Early Modern Era individuals. See the Guide for more details.
LetterAuthorFindSelected
         

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
— Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
— James Madison
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.
— Essay on Property, March 29, 1792
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
— James Madison
A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
— James Madison
A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
A spirit of liberty and patriotism animates all degrees and denominations of men — James Madison
A standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen.— James Madison
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.
— Essay in the National Gazette, February 2, 1792
— James Madison
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.— James Madison
A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.— James Madison
All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
— Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787
— James Madison
All power in human hands is liable to be abused.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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?
— Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— National Gazette Essay, March 27, 1792
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
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?
— Federalist No. 63, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 42, January 22, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.
— Letter to William Bradford, Jr., 1774
— James Madison
Commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive, and impolitic.— James Madison
Conscience is the most sacred of all property.
— Essay on Property, March 29, 1792
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785
— James Madison
Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 39, January 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788
— James Madison
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
Equal laws protecting equal rights -- the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.
— Letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 41, January 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 62, 1788
— James Madison
Every word decides a question between power and liberty.
— Speaking about the Constitution
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 46
— James Madison
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.
— Essay on Property, March 29, 1792
— James Madison
Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.
— Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 14, November 20, 1787
— James Madison
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.
— On Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Harrison Smith, November 4, 1826
— James Madison
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?
— Federalist No. 41, January 1788
— 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.
— Speech in the Congress of the United States, June 17, 1789
— James Madison
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.
— 4 Annals of Congress 179 (1794)
— James Madison
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
— Letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824
— James Madison
I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Speech to the Congress, April 9, 1789
— James Madison
I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment.— James Madison
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 — 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.
— Letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
— James Madison
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 39, January 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 52, February 8, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— National Gazette Essay, January 18, 1792
— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
In no instance have... the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.— James Madison
In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787
— James Madison
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
— Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787
— James Madison
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.
— Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Notes on Nullification
— 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.
— To an unidentified correspondent, 1833
— James Madison
It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.
— Letter to the Dey of Algiers, August, 1816
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, December 2, 1829
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Speech at the Virginia Convention, December 2, 1829
— James Madison
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.
— Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Circa June 20, 1785
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
— James Madison
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.— James Madison
Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Speech in the Congress of the United States, June 18, 1789
— James Madison
Nothing is so contagious as opinion, especially on questions which, being susceptible of very different glosses, beget in the mind a distrust of itself.
— Letter to Benjamin Rush, March 7, 1790
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Thomas Jefferson, February 8, 1825
— James Madison
One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
Philosophy is common sense with big words.— James Madison
Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.
— Public Opinion, December 19, 1791
— James Madison
Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.— James Madison
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.
— Letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788
— James Madison
Such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions.
— Federalist No. 63
— James Madison
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
— Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
— James Madison
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,
— Letter to William Bradford, January 24, 1774
— James Madison
That the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.
— Federalist No. 39, January 1788
— James Madison
The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Littleton Dennis Teackle, March 29, 1826
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.— James Madison
The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.
— Writings, 8:432, 1819
— James Madison
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.
— Proposed amendment to the Constitution, given in a speech in the House of Representatives, 1789
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
— Speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Dec 2, 1829
— James Madison
The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to James Monroe, December 16, 1824
— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
— James Madison
The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
— James Madison
The internal effects of a mutable policy poisons the blessings of liberty itself.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788
— James Madison
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.
— Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787
— James Madison
The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.
— Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788
— James Madison
The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.— James Madison
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 50, February 5, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.— 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.
— Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798
— James Madison
The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.— James Madison
The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.— James Madison
The very definition of tyranny is when all powers are gathered under one place.— James Madison
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.
— Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788
— 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....
— Letter to James Monroe, October 5, 1786
— James Madison
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.
— Speech in Congress, April 22, 1790
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787
— James Madison
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.
— Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813
— James Madison
To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.— James Madison
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.
— Report on the Resolutions, 1799
— James Madison
Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence.— James Madison
War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason.— James Madison
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.— James Madison
We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822
— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788
— James Madison
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.
— Speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787
— James Madison
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. — James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Federalist No. 44, January 25, 1788
— James Madison
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?— James Madison
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?
— Letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
— James Madison
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.
— circa 1835
— James Madison
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.— James Madison
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.
— Essay in the National Gazette, March 27, 1792
— James Madison
Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.
— Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788
— James Madison
Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done.— James Madison
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.
— Letter to William Cogswell, March 10, 1834
— James Madison
[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
[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

Colonial Sense is an advocate for global consumer privacy rights, protection and security.
All material on this website © copyright 2009-19 by Colonial Sense, except where otherwise indicated.
ref:T5-S42-P514-C-M