James Madison

James Madison

James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836) was an American statesman and Founding Father who served as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most, had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.

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

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

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

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

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

If men were angels no government would be necessary.

The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.

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

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

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

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

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

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

As long as the reason of man continues fallible and he is at liberty to exercise it different opinions will be formed.

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

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.

Any reading not of a vicious species must be a good substitute for the amusements too apt to fill up the leisure of the labouring classes.

A sincere and steadfast co-operation in promoting such a reconstruction of our political system as would provide for the permanent liberty and happiness of the United States.

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

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

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

War should only be declared by the authority of the people whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.

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

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

Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence.

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

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

The internal effects of a mutable policy poisons the blessings of liberty itself.

War contains so much folly as well as wickedness that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whenever a youth is ascertained to possess talents meriting an education which his parents cannot afford, he should be carried forward at the public expense.

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

All that seems indispensible in stating the account between the dead and the living is to see that the debts against the latter do not exceed the advances made by the former.

I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment.

The rights of persons and the rights of property are the objects for the protection of which Government was instituted.

To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.

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

Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong wrong will generally be done.

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of Liberty and Learning each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?

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

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

Every nation whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of its wiser neighbors.

By rendering the labor of one the property of the other they cherish pride, luxury and vanity on one side, on the other vice and servility, or hatred and revolt.

What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?

The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.

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

The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy.

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

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

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

To the press alone chequered as it is with abuses the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.

A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

Despotism can only exist in darkness and there are too many lights now in the political firmament to permit it to remain anywhere as it has heretofore done almost everywhere.

The capacity of the female mind for studies of the highest order cannot be doubted having been sufficiently illustrated by its works of genius of erudition and of science.

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

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

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

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

Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey at a mild season through a pleasant country in easy stages.

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

If we are to take for the criterion of truth the majority of suffrages they ought to be gotten from those philosophic and patriotic citizens who cultivate their reason.

I have no doubt but that the misery of the lower classes will be found to abate whenever the Government assumes a freer aspect and the laws favor a subdivision of Property.

Commercial shackles are generally unjust oppressive and impolitic.

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.

Philosophy is common sense with big words.

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