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Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.

JAMES MADISON, The Federalist, Feb. 6, 1788

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

JAMES MADISON, The Federalist, Feb. 6, 1788

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

JAMES MADISON, "Universal Peace"

I believe 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.

JAMES MADISON, speech at the Virginia Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution, Jun. 6, 1788

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.

JAMES MADISON, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Oct. 17, 1788

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.

JAMES MADISON, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments"

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

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Quote Junkie Presidents Edition

A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

JAMES MADISON, Federalist No. 10, Nov. 22, 1787

Of all the enemies to public 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. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

JAMES MADISON, "Political Observations," Apr. 20, 1795

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 Virginia State Convention, Dec. 2, 1829

Religion & Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

JAMES MADISON, letter to Edward Livingston, Jul. 10, 1822

In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

JAMES MADISON, speech at Constitutional Convention, Jun. 29, 1787

A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

JAMES MADISON, letter to W. T. Barry, Aug. 4, 1822

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

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Quote Junkie Presidents Edition

Conscience is the most sacred of all property.

JAMES MADISON, The National Gazette, Mar. 29, 1792

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

JAMES MADISON, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 13, 1798

An armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics ... without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe.

JAMES MADISON, First Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1809

The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it.

JAMES MADISON, letter to Frederick Beasley, Nov. 20, 1825

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

JAMES MADISON, attributed, The Great Quotations

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

JAMES MADISON, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787

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.

JAMES MADISON, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments"

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, Feb. 6, 1788

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.

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Quote Junkie Presidents Edition

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

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Founders V. Bush

The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge the wants or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe, — when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787

In proportion as slavery prevails in a State, the Government, however democratic in name, must be aristocratic in fact. The power lies in a part instead of the whole; in the hands of property, not of numbers.

JAMES MADISON, Notes for Essays

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, The National Gazette, March 29, 1792

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, The National Gazette, March 29, 1792

In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.

JAMES MADISON, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788

Philosophy is common sense with big words.

JAMES MADISON, attributed, Quote Junkie Presidents Edition


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