James Madison

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.

Essay on Property, March 29, 1792

 


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

letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822

 


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

speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

 


Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?

Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788



An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

 


As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.

National Gazette Essay, March 27, 1792

 


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

Federalist No. 10

 


As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788

 


But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain.

Federalist No. 42, January 22, 1788

 


Conscience is the most sacred of all property.

Essay on Property, March 29, 1792

 

Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.

Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

 


Equal laws protecting equal rights — the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.

letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820

 


Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.

Federalist No. 41, January 1788

 


For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects.

Federalist No. 47, February 1, 1788



That alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.

Essay on Property, March 29, 1792

 


How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?

Federalist No. 41, January 1788

 


I acknowledge, in the ordinary course of government, that the exposition of the laws and Constitution devolves upon the judicial. But I beg to know upon what principle it can be contended that any one department draws from the Constitution greater powers than another in marking out the limits of the powers of the several departments.

speech in the Congress of the United States, June 17, 1789

 


I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security

letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824

 


if industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.

speech to the Congress, April 9, 1789

 


If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.

letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792

 


If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.

Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788

 


If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

 


we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior.

Federalist No. 39, January 1788

 


In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature.

Federalist No. 52, February 8, 1788

 


In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.

National Gazette Essay, January 18, 1792

 


Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness.

Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787

 


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

speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788

 


It becomes all therefore who are friends of a Government based on free principles to reflect, that by denying the possibility of a system partly federal and partly consolidated, and who would convert ours into one either wholly federal or wholly consolidated, in neither of which forms have individual rights, public order, and external safety, been all duly maintained, they aim a deadly blow at the last hope of true liberty on the face of the Earth.

Notes on Nullification

 


It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.

to an unidentified correspondent, 1833

 


It is due to justice; due to humanity; due to truth; to the sympathies of our nature; in fine, to our character as a people, both abroad and at home, that they should be considered, as much as possible, in the light of human beings, and not as mere property. As such, they are acted upon by our laws, and have an interest in our laws.

speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, December 2, 1829

 


It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.

Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788

 


It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.

Speech at the Virginia Convention, December 2, 1829

 


It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Circa June 20, 1785

 


No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.

Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

 


Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.

Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

 


No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

 


Nothing has yet been offered to invalidate the doctrine that the meaning of the Constitution may as well be ascertained by the Legislative as by the Judicial authority.

speech in the Congress of the United States, June 18, 1789

 


Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society.

Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788

 


The most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.

Federalist No. 39, January 1788

 


The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.

Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

 


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.

Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

 


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

speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Dec 2, 1829

 


The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.

Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

 


The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.

Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788

 


It is the reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.

Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788

 


The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.

Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798

 


We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.

speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787

 


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

Report on the Virginia Resolutions, 1799

 


There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788