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Home > Free Ammo > Revolutionary Quotes

Evolutionary Quotes

Speed your search by selecting the letter of author's last name.  If you only know a word from the quote, do a "find" search (Ctl-F). E-mail your favorite quotation with a decent citation at info@utgunrights.com.
Note: If you find an error, please also email info@utgunrights.com.

A B c D E F g H i J k l M

 

n O P q R S T u V W x y z

 

A

"Instead of applying observation to the things we wished to know, we have chosen rather to imagine them.  Advancing from one ill-founded supposition to another, we have at last bewildered ourselves amid a multitude of errors.  These errors, becoming prejudices, are, of course, adopted as principles, and we thus bewilder ourselves more and more.  The method, too, by which we conduct our reasonings is absurd; we abuse words which we do not understand, and call this the art of reasoning.  When matters have been brought to this length, when errors have been thus accumulated, there is but one remedy by which order can be restored to the faculty of thinking; this is, to forget all that we have learned, to trace back our ideas to their source, to follow the train in which they rise, and… to frame the human understanding anew." — The Abbι de Condillac, taken from Antoine Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry, Robert Kerr, Translator (Edinburgh, Scotland: William Creech, Fourth Edition, 1799; Dover Facsimile Edition, 1965), at xxxv.

"It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority."  — Lord Acton, History of Freedom in Antiquity, an address delivered to the members of the Bridgnorth Institute, Feb. 26, 1877

"Liberty is not the means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. It is not for the sake of a good public administration that it is required, but for the security in the pursuit of the highest objects of civil society, and of private life." — Lord Acton, History of Freedom in Antiquity, an address delivered to the members of the Bridgnorth Institute, Feb. 26, 1877

"But the most grievous innovation of all, is the alarming extension of the power of courts of admiralty. In these courts, one judge presides alone! No juries have any concern there! The law and the fact are both to be decided by the same single judge." — John Adams, as quoted in The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, by Charles Francis Adams, Vol 3., Boston, 1851, p. 466.  Adams stated this during Boston town meeting in 1772. This travesty of justice was initiated by the Stamp Act of 1765, which authorized admiralty courts to enforce its provisions.

"It is not only his [the juror's] right, but his duty... to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." — John Adams, Yale Law Journal 74 (1964):173

"It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.  You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is worth more than all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not." — John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 146-147)

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." — John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Laws, 1765 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 171)

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. " — John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)

"We ought to consider what is the end of government before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man.... All sober inquirers of truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue." — John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 208)

"I have accepted a seat in the [Massachusetts] House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and the ruin of our children. I give you this warning, that you may prepare your mind for your fate." — John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 1770 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 182)

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." — John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, circa 1780 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 183)

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."— John Adams, in defense of the British soldiers on trial for the "Boston Massacre," December 4, 1770 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 204)

"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God."— John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 192)

"If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave." — John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 196)

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves is we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections." — John Adams, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1797 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 182)

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free...." — John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787

"Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury and indignation against wrong; a love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions are the 'latent spark'... If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?" — John Adams, Novanglus No. 1, January 23, 1775 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 162)

"It is not only his [the juror's] right, but his duty... to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." — John Adams, 1771 (Yale Law Journal, 1964:173.)

"Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." — John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 148)

"Strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to liberty, and few nations, if any, have found it." — John Adams, letter to Richard Rush, May 14, 1821 (see The Words of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Vol. X, Little Brown & Company, 1856, p. 397).

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all His laws. Our passions, ambitions, avarice, love, and resentment, etc. possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party." — John Adams, writing to Thomas Jefferson, cited in Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (New York, 1952), p.21.

"Let justice be done though the heavens should fall." — John Adams, letter to Elbridge Gerry, December 5, 1777 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 167)

"A government of laws, and not of men." — John Adams, Novanglus No. 7, March 6, 1775 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 168)

"...As the constitution requires that the popular branch of the legislature should have an absolute check, so as to put a peremptory negative upon every act of the government, it requires that the common people, should have as complete a control, as decisive as the negative, in every judgment of a court of judicature....

"...It was never yet disputed or doubted that a general verdict, given under the direction of the court in point of law, was a legal determination of the issue. Therefore, the jury have a power of deciding an issue, upon a general verdict. And, if they have, is it not an absurdity to suppose that the law would oblige them to find a verdict according to the direction of the court, against their own opinion, judgment, and conscience?

"...Now, should the melancholy case arise that the judges should give their opinions to the jury against one of these fundamental principles, is a juror obliged to give his verdict generally, according to this direction, or even to find the fact specially, and submit the law to the court? Every man, of any feeling or conscience, will answer, no. It is not only his right, but his duty,...to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court...." — John Adams, Diary for February 12, 1771

"Thomas Jefferson still lives." — John Adams, last words on the afternoon  of July 4, 1826 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 168)

"If men through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renoune and give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave." — John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772 (see The Quotable Founding Fathers: A Treasury Of 2,500 Wise And Witty Quotations from the Men and Women Who Created America, edited by Buckner F. Melton, Jr., Potomac Books, Inc., 2004.

"Courage, then, my countrymen! our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty." — Samuel Adams, speech delivered in Philadelphia in August 1775 (see Early American Orations, 1760-1824, MacMillan & Co., LTD, 1909, p. 74)

"Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, 'What should be the reward of such sacrifices?' Bid not our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plough and sow and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood, and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!" — Samuel Adams, speech delivered in Philadelphia in August 1775 (see Early American Orations, 1760-1824, MacMillan & Co., LTD, 1909, p. 76)

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader." — Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 207)

"We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press.... It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it." — Fisher Ames, Review of the Pamphlet on the State of the British Constitution, 1807 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 187)

"Hope has two lovely daughters, Anger and Courage; Anger at the way things are and the courage to change them." — attributed to St. Augustine, quoted in Revolution at the Roots, p. 8

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B

"This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God Himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original. But in order to apply this to the particular exigencies of each individual, it is still necessary to have recourse to human reason; whose office it is to discover, as was before observed, what the law of nature directs in every circumstance of life; by considering, what method will tend most effectually to our own substantial happiness. And if our reason were always, as in our first ancestor before his transgression, clear and perfect, unruffled by passions, unclouded by prejudice, unimpaired by disease or intemperance, the task would be pleasant and easy; we should need no other guide but this. But every man now finds the contrary in his own experience; that his reason is corrupt, and his understanding full of ignorance and error." — William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

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D

"Every jury in the land is tampered with and falsely instructed by the judge when it is told it must take (or accept) as the law that which has been given to them, or that they must bring in a certain verdict, or that they can decide only the facts of the case." — Lord Denman, C.J. O'Connel v. R. (1884)

"We are reduced to the alternative of choosing unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honour, justice, and humanity forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us." — John Dickinson, in the Continental Congress's Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms in 1775 (see The Annual Register, Or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for 1775, 4th edition, edited by Edmund Burke, printed for J. Dodsley, in Pal-mal, London, 1781, p. 261.

"I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost." — Frederick Douglass, Speech titled, "What to the Salve is the Fourth of July," given in 1852, Frederick Douglass: Oratory from Slavery, David B. Chesebrough, Greenwood Press, 1998, ISBN: 0-313-30287-1, p. 111.

"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle... If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." — Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857

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E

"Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything." — Oliver Ellsworth, A Landholder No. III, November 19, 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 173)

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F

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." — attributed to Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 147)

"I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men.  And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?" — Benjamin Franklin, motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 142)

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." — Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 171)

"A lady asked Dr. Franklin, 'Well, Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?' — 'A republic,' replied the Doctor, 'if you can keep it.'" as told by James McHenry, Constitutional Convention delegate, anecdote from Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 194)

"Whilst the last members were signing it Doctr. Franklin looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun.  'I have,' said he, 'often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.'" — Benjamin Franklin, as told by James Madison, Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, September 17, 1787 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 142)

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." — Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Messrs, the Abbes Chalut, and Arnaud, 17 April 1787, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Smyth, 9:569.

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H

"I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." — Nathan Hale, before being hanged by the British, September 22, 1776 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 168)

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government." — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

"Here, sir, the people govern." — Alexander Hamilton, speech at the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1778 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 178)

"The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority." — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22 December 14, 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 178)

"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants." — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, October 27, 1797 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 205)

"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired." — Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 184)

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power." — Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 195)

"The Chief Justice misdirected the jury, in saying they had no right to judge of the intent and of the law. In criminal cases, the defendant does not spread upon the record the merits of the defence, but consolidates the whole in the plea of not guilty. This plea embraces the whole matter of law and fact involved in the charge, and the jury have an undoubted right to give a general verdict, which decides both law and fact... All the cases agree that the jury have the power to decide the law as well as the fact; and if the law gives them the power, it gives them the right also. Power and right are convertible terms, when the law authorizes the doing of an act which shall be final, and for the doing of which the agent is not responsible...

"It is admitted to be the duty of the court to direct the jury as to the law, and it is advisable for the jury in most cases, to receive the law from the court; and in all cases, they ought to pay respectful attention to the opinion of the court. But, it is also their duty to exercise their judgments upon the law, as well as the fact; and if they have a clear conviction that the law is different from what is stated to be by the court, the jury are bound, in such cases, by the superior obligations of conscience, to follow their own convictions. It is essential to the security of personal rights and public liberty, that the jury should have and exercise the power to judge both of the law and of the criminal intent." — Alexander Hamilton, from his argument in the libel case People against Croswell, 3 Johns. Cas. 336. (1804): , id at 345, 346)

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 46

"There is not one syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution." — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, May 28, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 165)

"There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!" — attributed to John Hancock, upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 147)

"Millions for defense, but not once cent for tribute." — Representative Robert Goodloe Harper, Address, June 18, 1798, he served as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 174)

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" — Patrick Henry, J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions, 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it, but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined." — Patrick Henry, The Debates in the Several State Conventions, of the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, J. Elliot, 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836.

"Should I keep back my opinions at such a time through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings." — Patrick Henry, On the Resolution to Put the Commonwealth into a State of Defense — Before Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775 (see Early American Orations, 1760-1824, MacMillan & Co., LTD, 1909, p. 76)

"My hand trembles, but my heart does not." — attributed to Stephen Hopkins, Rhode Island delegate, July 4, 1776 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 147)

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J

"The facts comprehended in the case are agreed; the only point that remains, is to settle what is the law of the land arising from those facts; and on that point, it is proper, that the opinion of the court should be given. It is fortunate, on the present, as it must be on every occasion, to find the opinion of the court unanimous: we entertain no diversity of sentiment; and we have experienced no difficulty in uniting in the charge, which it is my province to deliver.

"It may not be amiss, here, Gentlemen, to remind you of the good old rule, that on questions of fact, it is the province of the jury, on questions of law, it is the province of the court to decide. But it must be observed that by the same law, which recognizes this reasonable distribution of jurisdiction, you have nevertheless a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy. On this, and on every other occasion, however, we have no doubt, you will pay that respect, which is due to the opinion of the court: For, as on the one hand, it is presumed, that juries are the best judges of fact; it is, on the other hand, presumable, that the court are the best judges of the law. But still both objects are lawfully within your power of decision." — John Jay, first Chief Justice, giving jury instructions, speaking for a unanimous United States Supreme Court, Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 1 (1794)

"The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Rush, October 20, 1820 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 171)

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." — Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, August 1774 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 172)

"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us." — Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms, July 6, 1775 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 172)

"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of men." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 205)

"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 194)

"Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government or himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 194)

"Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 187)

"No government ought to be without censors: & where the press is free, no one ever will." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, September 9, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 187)

"History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views." — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV, 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 159)

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories." — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV, 1781 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 178)

"The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail." — Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)

"I leave to others the sublime delights of riding in the storm, better pleased with sound sleep & a warmer berth below it encircled, with the society of neighbors, friends & fellow laborers of the earth rather than with spies & sycophants... I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, December 28, 1796 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)

"An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens... There has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends & books." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 181)

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 196)

"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride legitimately, by the grace of God." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 196)

"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Paine, 1789

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)

"The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is ingulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them.... It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression ... that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; ...working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.... The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our Constitution from a coordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone." — Thomas Jefferson, The Federalist Brief, 13 May 2002, Federalist No. 02-20

I never submitted the whole system of my opinion to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all. — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Hopkinson in 1789

"May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others." — Thomas Jefferson,  Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, Monticello, June 24, 1826

"At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Monsieur A. Coray, October 31, 1823 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, pp. 166-167)

"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, pp. 147-148)

"The aspect of our politics has wonderfully changed since you left us. In place of that noble love of liberty and republican government which carried us triumphantly thro' the war, an Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the substance as they have already done the forms of the British government. The main body of our citizens however remain true to their republican principles, the whole landed interest is with them, and so is a great mass of talents. Against us are the Executive, the Judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all of the officers of the government, all who want to be officers, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, British merchants and Americans trading on British capitals, speculators and holders in the banks and public funds a contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption and for assimilating us in all things, to the rotten as well as the sound parts of the British model. It would give you a fever were I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to these heresies, men who were Samsons in the field and Solomons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by the harlot England. In short we are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils. But we shall preserve them, and our mass of weight and wealth on the good side is so great as to leave no danger that force will ever be attempted against us. We have only to awake and snap the Lilliputian cords with which they have been entangling us during the first sleep which succeeded our labors." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to his former neighbor, Philip Mazzei, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 29: 1 March 1796 to 31 December 1797 (Princeton University Press, 2002), 81-3

"A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 8, 1817 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 153)

"Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political." — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 167)

"The clergy… believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion." — Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173

"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William S. Smith in 1787. Taken from Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover ed., 1939

"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 163)

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever." — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 156)

"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322)

"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." — Thomas Jefferson, Proposal to Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950]

"And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William S. Smith in 1787. Taken from Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover ed., 1939

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks." — Thomas Jefferson, Encyclopedia of T. Jefferson, 318 [Foley, Ed., reissued 1967]; Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1785. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, [Memorial Edition] Lipscomb and Bergh, editors

"What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms." — Thomas Jefferson, to James Madison, Dec. 20, 1787, in Papers of Jefferson, ed. Boyd et al.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." — Thomas Jefferson, "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

"We established however some, although not all, its [self-government] important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed…" — Thomas Jefferson, to John Cartwright, 1824. Memorial Edition 16:45, Lipscomb and Bergh, editors

"But it proves more forcibly the necessity of obliging every citizen to be a soldier; this was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free State. Where there is no oppression there will be no pauper hirelings." — Thomas Jefferson, in an 1813 letter to James Monroe

"We must train and classify the whole of our male citizens, and make military instruction a regular part of collegiate education. We can never be safe till this is done." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe, June 18, 1813

"The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man [sic] a soldier, and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper , September 10, 1814

"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." — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 13, 120-21, 1784 (see The Founders' Constitution, Volume 1, Chapter 10, Document 9, The University of Chicago Press.

"If we are directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." — Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 153)

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another."  — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 153)

"A wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."  — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 157)

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."  — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 158)

"The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 165)

"We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience." — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 169)

"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, Jule 12, 1823 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 169)

"One single object... [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Livingston, March 25, 1825 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 165)

"Is it the Fourth?" — Thomas Jefferson, last words on the evening of July 3, 1826; he died the following morning (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 168)

"I have not yet begun to fight!" — Captain John Paul Jones, response to the enemies' demand to surrender, September 23, 1779, (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 144)

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"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 a more specious form, force as the measure of right...." — James Madison, letter to James Monroe, October 5, 1786  (see The Founders Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 177)

"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." — James Madison,  Property 29 Mar. 1792, Papers 14:266-68, quoted in The Founders' Constitution, Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 23, The University of Chicago Press

"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." — James Madison, essay in The National Gazette, January 18, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 173)

"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." — James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 198)

"A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." — James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 6, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 198)

"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them." — James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 208)

"An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others." — James Madison, Federalist No. 58, February 20, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 198)

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." — James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." — James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 184)

"It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute." — James Madison, letter to the Dey of Algiers, August 1816 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 209)

"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." — James Madison, speech at the Virginia Constitutional Convention, December 2, 1829 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 185)

"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." — James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, March 27, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 185)

"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." — James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 187)

"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." — James Madison, essay in The National Gazette, February 2, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 175)

"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." — James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 188)

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." — James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 192)

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect." — James Madison, letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 192)

"In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights." — James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 195)

"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." — James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, circa June 20, 1785 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 193)

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man's house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man's conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact." — James Madison, James Madison, Property 29 Mar. 1792, Papers 14:266-68, quoted in The Founders' Constitution, Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 23, The University of Chicago Press

"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."  — James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 158)

"It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. this necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect." — James Madison, letter to an unidentified correspondent, 1833 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 157-158)

"Refusing 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." — James Madison, letter to John Brown, October 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 165)

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have 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... What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not. — James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 1785

"The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government."  — James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 157)

"With respect to the words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. — James Madison, letter to James Robertson, 1831

"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." — James Madison, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 161)

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? — James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 161)

"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." — James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 148)

"Of all the enemies to liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people...." — James Madison, The Most Dreaded Enemy of Liberty

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." — James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 154)

"I acknowledge in the ordinary course of government, that the exposition of the laws and constitution devolves upon the judicial. But I beg to know, upon what principle it can be contended, that any one department draws from the constitution greater powers than another, in marking out the limits of the powers of the several departments." — James Madison, speech before the House of Representatives, June 17, 1789 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 166)

"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." — James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 167)

"A delegation of such powers [to the president] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted." — James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James Madison

"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens." — George Mason, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 180)

"...Civil government is constituted for the good of the people, and not the people for government." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 446)

"Free agency, or rational existence, with its powers and faculties, and freedom of enjoying and exercising them, is the gift of God to man. The right of the donor, and the authenticity of the donation, are both incontestable; hence man hath an absolute property in, and right of dominion over himself, his powers and faculties; with self-love to stimulate, and reason to guide him, in the free use and exercise of them, independent of, and uncontrolable by any but him, who created and gave them. And whatever is acquired by the use, and application of a man's faculties, is equally the property of that man, as the faculties by which the acquisitions are made; and that which is absolutely the property of man, he cannot be divested of, but by his own voluntary act, or consent, either expressed, or implied. Expressed by actual gift, sale, or exchange, by himself, or his lawful substitute: implied, as where a man enters into, and takes the benefits of a government, he implicitly consents to be subject to it's laws; so, when he transgresses the laws, there is an implied consent to submit to it's penalties. And from this principle, all the civil exousiai, or rightful authorities, that are ordained of god, and exist in the world, are derived as from their native source. From whence are authorities, dominions, and powers? from God, the sovereign ruler, as the fountain, through the voice and consent of the people. For what purpose are they erected? for the good of the people. Wherefore the sovereign ruler, condescends to cloath, with authority, the man who by the general voice, is exalted, from among the people, to bear rule; and to pronounce him his minister for their good. Hence, it is evident, that man hath the clearest right, by the most indefeasible title, to personal security, liberty, and private property. And whatever is a man's own, he hath, most clearly, a right to enjoy and defend; to repel force by force; to recover what is injuriously pillaged or plundered from him, and to make reasonable reprisals for the unjust vexation." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 444-445)

"I have not noticed the authority of parents over children, it not being to the argument, but remark, that the Creator, foreseeing the necessity of civil government, arising from the depravity of human nature, hath wisely formed our infancy, and childhood, feeble and dependent on the protection, and government of parents, thereby preparing us, in childhood, for dependence on, and subjection to civil government, in manhood." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 445)

"As it is not the laws merely, that are made, considered in themselves, but the construction and sense put upon them, by the judges and triers, that falls upon the subject that affects him in his person and property; it was necessary that the [English] constitution should guard the rights of the subject, in the executive as well as the legislative part of government: And no mode of trial would so effectually do this, be so unexceptionable, by reason of their equality, and the impartial manner in which they are taken and impanelled; so advantageous, on account of their knowledge of the parties, the credibility of the witnesses, and what weight ought to be given to their testimony, as that by our peers, a jury of the vicinity: For very good and wholesome laws may be perniciously executed. Wherefore it is expresly provided and ordained, in the Great Charter, chap. 29, 'That no freeman shall be taken or disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; and we will not pass sentence upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers; or by the laws of the land.' By this no freeman might be molested in his person, liberty or estate, but according to the laws of the land, by lawful warrant, granted by lawful authority, expressing the cause for which, the time when, and place where he is to answer or be imprisoned, with the terms of his enlargement; nor have sentence passed upon him in any case, but by lawful judgment of his peers; who, in the instance of giving their verdict, do unanimously declare and announce the law, with respect to themselves, in like circumstances. It is, says Dr. Blackstone, the most transcendant privilege which 'any subject can enjoy or wish for, that he cannot be affected in his property, his liberty or person, but by the unanimous consent of twelve of his neighbors and equals: And when a celebrated French writer concludes, that because Rome, Sparta, and Carthage, lost their libertis, therefore England must in time lose theirs, he should have recollected, that Rome, Sparta, and Carthage were strangers to trial by jury; and that it is a duty which every man owes to his country, his friends, his posterity and himself, to maintain, to the utmost of his power, this valuable constitution in all its parts, to restore it to its antient dignity, if at all impaired, or deviated from its first institutions, &c. and above all, to guard with the most jealous circumspection, against the introduction of new and arbitrary methods of trial, which, under a variety of plausible pretences, may in time, imperceptably undermine this best preservative of English liberties." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 444-449)

"The English, animated with the spirit of freedom, to their immortal honor, anciently claimed these privileges, as their unalienable rights; and anxious to preserve and transmit them unimpaired to posterity; caused them to be reduced to writing, and in the most solemn manner to be recognized, ratified and confirmed, first by King John, then by his son Henry the IIId. In the 3d and 37th years of his reign, at Wesminster-Hall, where Magna Charta was read in the presence of the nobility and bishops, with lighted candles in their hands; the king, all the while laying his hand on his breast, at last, solemnly swearing faithfully and inviolably to observe all things therein contained, as he was a man, a christian, a soldier and a king; then the bishops extinguished the candles and threw them on the ground, and every one said, thus let him be extinguished and stink in hell, who violates this charter." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 447)

"As there are certain rights of men, which are inalienable even by themselves; and others which they do not mean to alienate, when they enter into civil society. And as power is naturally restless, aspiring and insatiable; it therefore becomes necessary in all civil communities (either at their first formation or by degrees) that certain great principles be settled and established, determining and bounding the power and prerogative of the ruler, ascertaining and securing the rights and liberties of the subject, as the foundation stamina of the government; which in all civil states is called the constitution, on the certainty and permanency of which, the rights of both the ruler and the subjects depend; nor may they be altered or changed by ruler or people, but by the whole collective body, or a major part at least, nor may they be touched by the legislator; for the moment that alters essentially the constitution, it annihilates its own existence, its constitutional authority. Not only so, but on supposition the legislator might alter it; for could the British parliament alter the original principles of the constitution, the people might be deprived of their liberties and properties, and the parliament become absolute and perpetual; and for redress in such case, should it ever happen, they must resort to their native rights, and be justified in making insurrection. For when the constitution is violated, they have no other remedy; but for all other wrongs and abuses that may possibly happen, the constitution remaining inviolate, the people have a remedy thereby." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 456-457)

"...He that hath right to take one penny of my property, without my consent, hath right to take all... For power is entire and indivisible; and property is single and pointed as an atom. All is our's, and nothing can be taken from us, but by our consent; or nothing is our's, and all may be taken, without our consent. The right of dominion over the persons and properties of others, is not natural but derived; and there are but two sources from whence it can be derived; from the almighty, who is the absolute proprietor of all, and from our own free consent." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 474)

"And can it be a crime to resist? Is it not a duty we owe to our maker, to our country, to ourselves and to posterity?" — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 481)

"My countrymen, we have every thing to fear, from the malignity, power and cunning of our adversaries. Yet, from the justness of our cause, the greatness of our numbers and resources, the unanimity of our hearts, cemented by interest and by perils; the bravery, and what's more, the desperateness of our spirits; who think not life worth saving, when all that is dear in life is gone, we have reason to be afraid of nothing. For your animation, hear the advice and lamentation of a French gentleman, Monsieur Mezeray, over the lost liberties of his country, to an English subject: 'We had once in France, the same happiness and the same privileges, which you now have. Our laws were made by representatives of our own choosing; therefore our money was not take from us, but granted by us. Our kings, were then subject to the rules of law and reason. Now alas! we are miserable and all is lost. Think nothing sir, too dear to maintain these precious advantages, if ever there should be occasion; venture your life and estate, rather than basely submit to that abject condition to which you see us reduced." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 482)

"Civil society, is allowed by all to be the greatest temporal blessing; and civil government is absolutely necessary to its subsistence; it is a temporal remedy, against the ill effects of general depravity; and because the introduction of moral evil has made it necessary; it is not therefore a necessary evil. Liberty consists in a power of acting under the guidance and controul of reason: Licentiousness in acting under the influence of sensual passions, contrary to the dictates of reason; whilst we contend for the former, we ought to bear testimony against the latter: And whilst we point out arguments against the errors and abuses of government, we ought cautiously to distinguish between government and its abuses; to amputate the latter, without injuring the former, and not indifferently charge both; lest we raise and army of rebel spirits more dangerous and difficult to reduce, than all the legions of Britain." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 486)

"If the people have lost their liberties, suffered themselves to be bought and sold, like beasts of burden, the fault is theirs and their corrupters." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 487)

"The strength and spring of every free government, is the virtue of the people; virtue grows on knowledge, and knowledge on education." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 487)

"The only way to make men good subjects of a rational and free government, is to make them wise and virtuous; but such a government as this is utterly incompatible with the idea of slavery, because incompatible with a state of ignorance." — Moses Mather, America's Appeal to the Impartial World, 1775 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 488)

"A lady asked Dr. Franklin, 'Well, Doctor, what have we got a republic or a monarchy?' — 'A republic,' replied the Doctor, 'if you can keep it.'" as told by James McHenry, Constitutional Convention delegate, anecdote from Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 194)

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"One of the mose essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle." — James Otis, On the Writs of Assistance, 1761 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 188)

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"Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.  But the tumult soon subsides.  Time makes more converts than reason."  — Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Introduction

"When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary." — Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 206)

"The nearer any government approaches to a republic the less business there is for a king." — Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one; for we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." — Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Common Sense, Chapter 1 (1776)

"Some men have naturally a military turn, and can brave hardships and the risk of life with a chearful face; others have not, no slavery appears to them so great as the fatigue of arms, and no terror so powerful as that of personal danger: What can we say? We cannot alter nature, neither ought we to punish the son because the father begot him in a cowardly mood. However, I believe most men have more courage than they know of, and that a little at first is enough to begin with. I knew the time when I thought that the whistling of a cannon ball would have frightened me almost to death; but I have since tried it, and find I can stand it with as little discomposure, and (I believe) with a much easier conscience than your Lordship." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number II, Jan. 13, 1777 (addressed to Lord Howe, general of the British occupation of America)

"...The sin of that day was the sin of Civility, yet it operated against our present good in the same manner that a civil opinion of the devil would against our future peace." — Thomas Paine, (speaking of America's hesitation to war with England), The American Crisis, Number III, Apr. 19, 1777  

"...We ought not so much to ground our hope on the reasonableness of the thing we ask, as on the reasonableness of the person of whom we ask it: Who would expect discretion from a  fool, candor from a tyrant, or justice from a villain?" — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number III, Apr. 19, 1777

"The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure: Danger and deliverance make their advances together, and it is only at the last push, that one or the other takes the lead." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number IV, Sep. 12, 1777

"We are not the hireling slaves of a beggarly tyrant, nor the cringing flatterers of an infamous court. We are not moved by the gloomy smile of a worthless king, but by the ardent glow of generous patriotism. We fight, not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in. In such as cause we are sure we are right; and we leave to you the despairing reflection of being the tool of a miserable tyrant." — Thomas Paine to British General Howe, The American Crisis, Number IV, Sep. 12, 1777

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number I, December 19, 1776

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number IV, September 11, 1777 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 174)

"…For sense of pain is the first symptom of recovery in profound stupefactions." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number V, March 21, 1778, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 162

"If you openly profess yourselves savages, it is high time we should treat you as such, and if nothing but distress can recover you to reason, to punish will become an office of charity." — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, Number VI, Oct. 20, 1778

"…Our minds seem to be measured by countries when we are men, as they are by places, when we are children, and until something happens to disentangle us from the prejudice, we serve under it without perceiving it." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number VIII, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 228

"It was not Newton's honor, neither could it be his pride, that he was an Englishman, but that he was a philosopher: The Heavens had liberated him from the prejudices of an island, and science had expanded his soul as boundless as his studies." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number VIII, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 229.

"…There are men in all countries to whom a state of war is a mine of wealth, is a fact never to be doubted. Characters like these naturally breed in the putrefaction of distempered times." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number VIII, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 227

"When nothing can be lost by a war, but what must be lost without it, war is then the policy of that country; and such was the situation of America at the commencement of hostilities: But when no security can be gained by a war, but what may be accomplished by a peace, the case becomes reversed, and such now is the situation of England." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number VIII, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 226

"When the tumult of war shall cease, and the tempest of present passions be succeeded by calm reflection, or when those who surviving its fury, shall inherity from you a legacy of debts and misfortunes, when the yearly revenue shall scarcely be able to discharge the interest of the one, and no possible remedy be left for the other; ideas, far different to the present, will arise, and embitter the remembrance of former follies." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number VIII, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, pp. 226-227

"...In this country every man is a militia man..." — Thomas Paine, The Crisis, Number iX, February 26, 1780, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, pp. 233

"Despotic government supports itself by abject civilization, in which debasement of the human mind, and wretchedness in the mass of the people, are the chief criterians.  Such governments consider man merely as an animal; that the exercise of intellectual faculty is not his privilege; that he has nothing to do with the laws, but to obey them;* and they politically depend more upon breaking the spirit of the people by poverty, than they fear enraging it by desperation." — Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, Spring 1797, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 410 (*Expression of Horsley, an English Bishop, in the English parliament.)

"An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot — It will succeed where diplomatic management would fail — It is neither the Rhine, the Channel, nor the Ocean, that can arrest its progress — It will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer." — Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, Spring 1797, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 411

"When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am the friend of its happiness: when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government." — Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, Spring 1797, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 411 

"Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations that preceded it.  The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave, is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.  Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow... It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 438

"Those who are not in the representation, know as much of the nature of business as those who are… Every man is a proprietor in government, and considers it a necessary part of his business to understand. It concerns his interest, because it affects his property. He examines the cost, and compares it with the advantages; and above all, he does not adopt the slavish custom of following what in other governments are called LEADERS… The government of a free country, properly speaking, is not in the persons, but in the laws. The enacting of those requires no great expence; and when they are administered, the whole of civil government is performed — the rest is all court contrivance." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"Government with insolence, is despotism; but when contempt is added, it becomes worse; and to pay for contempt, is the excess of slavery." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs cannot have a legal descent." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"The more perfect a civilization is, the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself; but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expences of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"Principles must stand on their own merits, and if they are good they certainly will.  To put them under the shelter of other men's authority... serves to bring them into suspicion." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by any body." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion reassumes its original benignity." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"...The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet-laureat." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"Through all the vocabulary of Adam, there is not such an animal as a Duke or a Count; neither can we connect any certain idea to the words. Whether they mean strength or weakness, wisdom or folly, a child or a man, or the rider or the horse, is all equivocal.  What respect then can be paid to that which describes nothing, and which means nothing?" — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"War is common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries.  It is the art of conquering at home: the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretence must be made for expenditures.  In reviewing the history of the English government, its wars and its taxes, a stander-by, not blinded by prejudice, nor warped by interest, would declare, that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"...The portion of liberty enjoyed in England, is just enough to enslave a country by, more productively than by despotism; and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, that a government so formed obtains more than it could either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore, on the ground of interest, opposed to both.  They account also for the readiness which always appears in such governments for engaging in wars, by remarking on the different motives which produce them.  In despotic governments, wars are the effect of pride; but in those governments in which they become the means of taxation, they acquire thereby a more permanent promptitude." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"…A Government may be in a state of insolvency, and a Nation rich." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, Miscellaneous Chapter

"What England is now doing by paper, is what she would have been able to have done by solid money, gold and silver had come into the nation in the proportion it ought, or had not been sent out; and she is endeavouring to restore by paper, the balance she has lost by money… High taxes not only lessen the property of the individuals, but they lessen also the money-capitol of a nation, by inducing smuggling, which can only be carried on by gold and silver." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, Miscellaneous Chapter

"Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have less rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, 1791, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 464.

Individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, 1791, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 467.

"When a man in a long cause attempts to steer his course by any thing else than some polar truth or principle, he is sure to be lost. It is beyond the compass of his capacity, to keep all the parts of an argument together, and make them unite in one issue, by any other means than having this guide always in view. Neither memory nor invention will supply the want of it. The former fails him, and the latter betrays him." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, Miscellaneous Chapter

"The revolutions of America and France have thrown a beam of light over the world, which reaches into man. The enormous expence of governments have provoked people to think, by making them feel: and when once the veil begins to rend, it admits not of repair. Ignorance is of a peculiar nature: once dispelled, and it is impossible to re-establish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant. The mind, in discovering truth, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was before it saw it." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, Miscellaneous Chapter

"A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting a government." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, 1791, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, pp. 467-468

"...For a nation to love liberty, it is sufficient that she knows it; and to be free, it is sufficient that she wills it." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part I, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 442

"The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man. Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness, and no sooner did the American governments display themselves to the world, than despotism felt a shock, and man began to contemplate redress." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man

"Their power being thus established, the chief of the band contrived to lose the name of Robber in that of Monarch; and hence the origin of Monarchy and Kings... What at first was plunder, assumed the softer name of revenue; and the power originally usurped, they affected to inherit." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter II

"Hereditary succession requires the same obedience to ignorance, as to wisdom; and when once the mind can bring itself to pay this indiscriminate reverence, it descends below the stature of mental manhood." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter II

"All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter IV

"Almost every case now must be determined by some precedent, be that precedent good or bad, or whether it properly applies or not; and the practice is become so general, as to suggest a suspicion, that it proceeds from a deeper policy than at first sight appears... This preaching up of the doctrine of precedents, drawn from times and circumstances antecedent to those events, has been the studied practice of the English government. The generality of those precedents are founded on principles and opinions, the reverse of what they ought; and the greater distance of time they are drawn from, the more they are to be suspected. But by associating those precedents with a superstitious reverence for ancient things, as monks shew relics and call them holy, the generality of mankind are deceived into the design. Governments now act as if they were afraid to awaken a single reflection in man. They are softly leading him to the sepulchre of precedents, to deaden his faculties and call his attention from the scene of revolutions. They feel that he is arriving at knowledge faster than they wish, and their policy of precedents is the barometer of their fears. This political popery, like the ecclesiastical popery of old, has had its day, and is hastening to its exit. The ragged relic and the antiquated precedent, the monk and the monarch, will moulder together. Government by precedent, without any regard to the principle of the precedent, is one of the vilest systems that can be set up... Either the doctrine of precedents is policy to keep man in a state of ignorance, or it is a practical confession that wisdom degenerates in governments as governments increase in age, and can only hobble along by the stilts and crutches of precedents. How is it that the same persons who would proudly be thought wiser than their predecessors, appear at the same time only as the ghosts of departed wisdom? How strangely is antiquity treated! To answer some purposes it is spoken of as the times of darkness and ignorance, and to answer others, it is put for the light of the world. If the doctrine of precedents, is to be followed, the expences of government need not continue the same. Why pay men extravagantly, who have but little to do? If every thing that can happen is already in precedent, legislation is at an end, and precedent, like a dictionary, determines every case. Either, therefore, government has arrived at its dotage, and requires to be renovated, or all the occasions for exercising its wisdom have occurred. We now see all over Europe, and particularly in England, the curious phaenomenon of a nation looking one way, and a government the other — the one forward and the other backward. If governments are to go on by precedent, while nations go on by improvement, they must at last come to a final separation; and the sooner, and the more civilly, they determine this point, the better." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter IV

"The sovereign authority in any country is the power of making laws, and every thing else is an official department." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter IV

"Revolutions, then, have for their object, a change in the moral condition of governments, and with this change the burthen of public taxes will lessen, and civilization will be left to the enjoyment of that abundance, of which it is now deprived." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"All this seems to shew that change of ministers amounts to nothing.  One goes out, another comes in, and still the same measures, vices, and extravagance are pursued.  It signiffies not who his minister.  The defect lies in the system.  The foundation and the superstructure of the government is bad.  Pro it as you please, it continually sinks into court government, and ever will." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am the friend of its happiness: when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"If a government requires the support of oaths, it is a sign that it is not worth supporting, and ought not to be supported. Make government what it ought to be, and it will support itself." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"It is not whether this or that party shall be in or out, or whig or tory, or high or low shall prevail; but whether man shall inherit his rights, and universal civilization take place? Whether the fruits of his labours shall be enjoyed by himself, or consumed by the profligacy of governments?" — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous consciousness of honour. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labour and poverty. It is drawn even from the bitterness of want and misery.  Not a beggar passes, or perishes in the streets, whose mite is not in that mass." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part II, Chapter V

"The first act of man, when he looked around and saw himself a creature which he did not make, and a world furnished for his reception, must have been devotion; and devotion must ever continue sacred to every individual man, as it appears, right to him; and governments do mischief by interfering." — Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Footnote 10

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates his duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." — Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First-Principles of Government, December 23, 1791 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 172)

"…Notwithstanding that I shall treat the subject seriously and sincerely, let me promise that I consider myself at liberty to ridicule, as they deserve, Monarchical absurdities, whensoever the occasion shall present itself." — Thomas Paine, Letter "To the Abbe Sieyes", July 8, 1791, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 380

"…It is against all the hell of monarchy that I have declared war." — Thomas Paine, Letter "To the Abbe Sieyes", July 8, 1791, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 381

"A tender law, therefore, cannot stand on the principles of civil government, because it operates to take away a man's share of civil and natural freedom, an to render property insecure. If a man had a hundred silver dollars in his possession, as his own property, it would be a strange law that should oblige him to deliver them up to any one who could discover that he possessed them, and take a hundred paper dollars in exchange. Now the case, in effect, is exactly the same; if he has lent a hundred hard dollars to his friend, an is compelled to take a hundred paper ones for them. The exchange is against his consent, and to his injury, and the principles of civil government provides for the protection, and not for the violation of his rights and property. The state, therefore, that is under the operation of such an act, is not in a state of civil government, and consequently the people cannot be bound to obey a law which abets and encourages treason against the first principles on which civil government is founded. The principle of civil government extend in their operation to compel the exact performance of engagements entered into between man and man. The only kind of legal tenders that can exist in a country under a civil government is the particular thing expressed and specified in those engagements or contracts. That particular thing constitutes the legal tender." — Thomas Paine, "Attack on Paper Money Laws", November 3, 1786, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, pp. 364-365

"An assembly or legislature cannot punish a man by any new law made after the crime is committed; he can only be punished by the law which existed at the time he committed the crime… In all cases of civil government the law must be before the fact." — Thomas Paine, "Attack on Paper Money Laws", November 3, 1786, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 366

"I have avoided all places of profit or office, either in the state I live in, or in the united states; kept myself at a distance from all parties and party connections, and even disregarded all private and inferior concerns: and when we take in to view the great work we have gone through, and feel, as we ought to feel, the just importance of it, we shall then see, that the little wranglings and indecent contentions of personal party, are as dishonorable to our characters, as they are injurious to our repose." — Thomas Paine, "Attack on Paper Money Laws", November 3, 1786, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, pp. 364-353

"...It is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.  It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." — Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, Part First, Section I

"...The more unnatural anything is, the more it is capable of becoming the object of dismal admiration.  But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born — a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun, that pour down the rain, and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to us?" — Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, Part First, Section III

"O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. — Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind." — Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

"I am a Farmer of thoughts, and as all the crops I raise I give away, I please myself with making you a present of the thoughts in this letter." — Thomas Paine, Portion of a Letter to Henry Laurens, as found in Thomas Paine Collected Writings, p. 211

"Where liberty is not, that is my home." — attributed to Thomas Paine

"The people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal to arms. An act of usurpation is not obligatory; it is not law; and any man may be justified in his resistance. Let him be considered as a criminal by the general government, yet only his fellow citizens can convict him; they are his jury, and if they pronounce him innocent, not all the powers of Congress can hurt him; and innocent they certainly will pronounce him, if the supposed law he resisted was an act of usurpation." — Theophilus Parsons, 2 Elliot's Debates, 94; 2 Bancroft's History of the Constitution, p. 267. Quoted in Sparf and Hansen v. U.S., 156 U.S. 51 (1895), Dissenting Opinion: Gray, Shiras, JJ., 144. (Note: Parsons was a leading supporter of the U.S. Constitution in the 1788 Massachusetts convention.  He declined to accept President Adams' appointment to be Attorney General of the United States in 1801.  He became Chief Justice of Massachusetts in 1806.)

"If a juror accepts as the law that which the judge states then that juror has accepted the exercise of absolute authority of a government employee and has surrendered a power and right that once was the citizen's safeguard of liberty, For the saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time." — Theophilus Parsons, 2 Elliot's Debates, 94, Bancroft, History of the Constitution, 267, 1788.

"You must be single-minded. Drive for the one thing you have decided. You will find that you will make some people miserable; those you love and very often yourself. And, if it looks like you are getting there, all kinds of people, including some whom you thought were loyal friends will suddenly show up and do their Goddamndest, hypocritical best to trip you up, blacken you and break your spirit. Politicians are the worst; they'll wear their country's flag in public, but they'll use it to wipe their asses in the caucus room, if they think it will gain them a vote." — attributed to General George S. Patton (1885-1945).

"My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot, for I owe my conscience to no mortal man." — William Penn, from the Tower of London when imprisoned for preaching, written on the wall of Welcome Park, dedicated to William Penn, in Philadelphia

"If you would know God and worship and serve God, you must come to the means He has given for that purpose. Some seek it in books, some in learned men; but what they look for is in themselves, though not of themselves; but they overlook it." — William Penn, written on the wall of Welcome Park, dedicated to William Penn, in Philadelphia

"I do hereby grant and declare that no person or persons inhabiting this province, or territories shall be, in any case, molested or prejudiced in his or their person or estate because of his or their conscientious persuasion or practice, nor be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship place or ministry contrary to his or their mind." — William Penn, Charter of Privileges, 1701, written on the wall of Welcome Park, dedicated to William Penn, in Philadelphia

"For my country, I eyed the Lord in obtaining it, and desire that I may not be unworthy of His love; but do that, which may answer His kind Providence, and serve His truth and people; THAT AN EXAMPLE MAY BE SET UP TO THE NATIONS. THERE MAY BE ROOM THERE, THOUGH NOT HERE, FOR SUCH AN HOLY EXPERIMENT." — William Penn, written on the wall of Welcome Park, dedicated to William Penn, in Philadelphia

"O Pennsylvania, what has thou not cost me! Above E30,000 more than I ever got from it, two hazardous and most fatiguing voyages, my straits and slavery here, and my son's soul almost!" — William Penn, to James Logan, 1704, written on the wall of Welcome Park, dedicated to William Penn, in Philadelphia

"You are English-men, mind your Privilege, give not away your Right." — William Penn, to the jury members who were being imprisoned for refusing to render a guilty verdict in his trial. Read a transcript of the trial. For more information, see our Issue in Focus: Why Are Jury Trials Crucial to Your Freedom?

"…Is this justice or true Judgment? Must I therefore be taken away be cause I plead for the Fundamental Laws of England? However, this I leave upon your Consciences, who are of the Jury (and my sole Judges) that if these Ancient Fundamental Laws, which relate to Liberty and Property, and (are not limited to particular Persuasions in Matters of Religion) must not be indispensibly maintained and observed. Who can say he hath Right to the Coat upon his Back? Certainly our Liberties are openly to be invaded, our Wives to be ravished, our Children slaved, our Families ruined, and our Estates led away in Triumph, by every sturdy Beggar and malicious Informer, as their Trophies, but our (pretended) Forfeits for Conscience sake. The Lord of Heaven and Earth will be Judge between us in this Matter." — William Penn, to court officials who were abusing his rights.  Read a transcript of the trial. For more information, see our Issue in Focus: Why Are Jury Trials Crucial to Your Freedom?

"Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed." — William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693

"…Good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care about honor. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment... Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they can not help — not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present…" — Plato, The Republic, as quoted in "The Republic and Other Works," translated by B. Jowett, p. 31, ISBN: 0-385-09497-3.

"And at his [the unjust man's] side let us place the just man in his nobleness and simplicity, wishing, as Aeschylus says, to be and not to seem good. There must be no seeming, for if he seems to be just he will be honored and rewarded, and then we shall not know whether he is just for the sake of justice or for the sake of honors and rewards; therefore, let him be clothed in justice only, and have no other covering; and he must be imagined in a state of life the opposite the former [i.e. the unjust man]. Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences. And let him continue thus to the hour of death; being just and seeming to be unjust. When both have reached the uttermost extreme, the one of justice and the other of injustice, let judgment be given which of them is happier of the two." — Plato, The Republic, as quoted in "The Republic and Other Works," translated by B. Jowett, p. 45, ISBN: 0-385-09497-3.

"…No one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except with a view to the glories, honors, and benefits which flow from them." — Plato, The Republic, as quoted in "The Republic and Other Works," translated by B. Jowett, p. 50, ISBN: 0-385-09497-3.

"I am afraid that there would be an impiety in being present when justice is evil spoken of and not lifting up a hand in her defence. And therefore I had best give such help as I can." — Plato, The Republic, as quoted in "The Republic and Other Works," translated by B. Jowett, p. 52, ISBN: 0-385-09497-3.

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"I have no notion of being hanged for half treason. When a subject draws his sword against his prince, he must cut his way through, if he means afterward to sit down in safety." — Colonel Joseph Reed, aide-de-camp to General Washington, to Mr. Pettit, September 29, 1775 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 145)

"Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community." — Benjamin Rush, letter to David Ramsay, circa April 1788 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 169)

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S

"No free state was ever yet enslaved and brought into bondage, where the people were incessantly vigilant and watchful; and instantly took the alarm at the first addition made to the power exercised over them." — Samuel Sherwood, Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers, August 31, 1774 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 178)

"If any under pretence of great moderation, or a pacific disposition, stand as neuters in this important cause, skulking as behind the door, and undetermined on which side they can serve themselves to best advantage, sometimes appearing friendly to this party, and sometimes to that; we can have no safe dependence on them in a day of extremity. He that will not stand forth firmly and boldly for this country, when exposed so as to need his help; is no true friend to it." — Samuel Sherwood, Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers, August 31, 1774 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 178)

"But notwithstanding the sovereignty of legislators, they are under strict and sacred obligations to observe the rule of justice, in enacting laws. 'Tis a great and very dangerous mistake to suppose, that legislators have a power absolutely arbitrary; or that their authority is under no limitation or restraint at all. Right and wrong, are founded in the nature of things; and cannot be altered and changed, even by the voice of such kings and monarchs as are betrusted with the power of making laws." — Samuel Sherwood, "Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers," August 31, 1774 (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 388)

"Whenever a spirit of despotism has run high, and a lusting ambition after arbitrary power and lawless dominion has prevailed; when the dragon dare venture to put on and wear his long horns; the woman in the wilderness has felt the grievous distressing effects. At such seasons, jesuitical emissaries, the tools of tyrannical power, have been employed to corrupt her doctrines, and lead her into the belief of the darling doctrines of arbitrary power, passive obedience and nonresistance; who, like the frogs that issued out of the mouth of the false prophet, who are said to have the spirit of devils, have been slyly creeping into all the holes and corners of the land, and using their enchanting art and bewitching policy, to lead aside, the simple and unwary, from the truth, to prepare them for the shackles of slavery and bondage. — Samuel Sherwood, "The Church's Flight into the Wilderness," a sermon preached by Samuel Sherwood on January 17, 1776. John Hancock was a member of the audience. (see Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, vol. 1, p. 388)

"In a representative government...there is no absurdity or contradiction, nor any arraying of the people against themselves, in requiring that the statutes or enactments of the government shall pass the ordeal of any number of separate tribunals, before it shall be determined that they are to have the force of laws. Our American constitutions have provided five of these separate tribunals, to wit, representatives, senate, executive...jury, and judges; and have made it necessary that each enactment shall pass the ordeal of all these separate tribunals, before its authority can be established by the punishment of those who choose to transgress it...there is no more absurdity in giving a jury a veto upon the laws than there is in giving a veto to each of these other tribunals." — Lysander Spooner, An Essay on the Trial by Jury, 1852.

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"The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits there will be." — Tao Te Ching, Chap. 57, as translated by Arthur Waley

"How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again. Action from principle—the perception and the performance of right—changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary, and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and churches, it divides families; ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine." — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

"Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?..." — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place to-day, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her—the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible. If the tax-gatherer, or any other public officer, asks me, as one has done, "But what shall I do?" my answer is, "If you really wish to do anything, resign your office." When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now." — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

"...When I came out of prison—for some one interfered, and paid that tax—I did not perceive that great changes had taken place on the common, such as he observed who went in a youth and emerged a tottering and gray-headed man; and yet a change had to my eyes come over the scene—the town, and State, and country—greater than any that mere time could effect. I saw yet more distinctly the State in which I lived. I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions, as the Chinamen and Malays are; that in their sacrifices to humanity, they ran no risks, not even to their property; that after all they were not so noble but they treated the thief as he had treated them, and hoped, by a certain outward observance and a few prayers, and by walking in a particular straight though useless path from time to time, to save their souls. This may be to judge my neighbors harshly; for I believe that many of them are not aware that they have such an institution as the jail in their village." — Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

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"It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong." — attributed to Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire, 1694-1778

 

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W

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." — George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 176)

"The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty—that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men." — George Washington, General Orders, August 23, 1776 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 177)

"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and worn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party.... A fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming, it should consume." — George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 183)

"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily." — George Washington, letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 203)

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." — George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 194)

"Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder." — George Washington, letter to Robert Howe, August 17, 1779 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 206)

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government." — George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 164)

"It is too probably that no plan we propose will be adopted.  Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God." — George Washington, as quoted by Gouveneur Morris, recorded in Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, March 25, 1787.  (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 143)

"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop." — George Washington, Collective Speeches of Congressman Louis T. McFadden, Louis T. McFadden  (Hawthorne, CA, Omni Publications, 1970) 2.

"I have heard much of the nefarious and dangerous plan and doctrines of the Illuminati. It was not my intention to doubt that the doctrine of the Illuminati and the principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States." — George Washington, U.S. George Washington Bicentennial Commission, The Writings of George Washington Vol. 20 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941), 518; and Ralph Epperson, The Conspiratorial View of History (Tucson: Epperson, 1986), 2.

"The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period, the researches of the human mind, after social happiness, have been carried to a great extent, the Treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labours of Philosophers, Sages and Legislatures, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government; the free cultivation of Letters, the unbounded extension of Commerce, the progressive refinement of Manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and above all, the pure and benign light of Revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind and increased the blessings of Society. At this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be intirely their own." — George Washington, Circular to State Governments, June 8, 1783

"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." — George Washington, Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland, December 2, 1783 (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 162)

"The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head." — Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 207)

"Good intention will always be pleaded for every assumption of power… [T]he Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." — Daniel Webster, quoted in "Perspective," The Freeman, July 1993, p. 243

"Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind." — James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 196)

"Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness." — James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, circa 1790  (see The Founder's Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 167)

"There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage." — John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776 (see The Founders' Almanac, by Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Foundation, 2002, p. 192)

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