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Quote 841 details Share on Google+ - Quote 841 Linked In Share Button - Quote 841 The idea of a constitution, limiting and superintending the operations of legislative authority, seems not to have been accurately understood in Britain. There are, at least, no traces of practice conformable to such a principle. The British Constitution is just what the British Parliament pleases.... To control the power and conduct of the legislature, by an overruling constitution, was an improvement in the science and practice of government reserved to the American Sates.

James Wilson: Speech in Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, 1788

Quote 842 details Share on Google+ - Quote 842 Linked In Share Button - Quote 842 Can we forget for whom we are forming a Government? Is it for man, or for the imaginary beings called States? Will our honest constituents be satisfied with metaphysical distinctions? ... The rule of suffrage ought on every principle to be shame as in the 2d as in the 1st branch. If the Government be not laid on this foundation, it can be neither solid nor lasting, any other principle will be local, confined, and temporary.

James Wilson: Constitutional Convention, June 30, 1787

Quote 843 details Share on Google+ - Quote 843 Linked In Share Button - Quote 843 In this system, it is declared that the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature. This being made the criterion of the right of suffrage, it is consequently secured, because the same Constitution guaranties to every state in the Union a republican form of government. The right of suffrage is fundamental to republics.

James Wilson: Pennsylvania Ratification Convention, November 26, 1787

Quote 845 details Share on Google+ - Quote 845 Linked In Share Button - Quote 845 For instance, the liberty of the press, which has been a copious subject of declamation and opposition: what control can proceed from the federal government, to shackle or destroy that sacred palladium of national freedom? ... the proposed system possesses no influence whatever upon the press; and it would have been merely nugatory, to have introduced a formal declaration upon the subject; nay, that very declaration might have been construed to imply that some degree of power was given, since we undertook to define its extent.

James Wilson: Address in Philadelphia, 1787

Quote 856 details Share on Google+ - Quote 856 Linked In Share Button - Quote 856 The extension of the theory and practice of representation through all the different departments of the sate is another very important acquisition made, by the Americans, in the science of jurisprudence and government. To the ancients, this theory and practice seem to have been altogether unknown. To this moment, the representation of the people is not the sole principle of any government in Europe... The American States enjoy the glory and happiness of diffusing this vital principle throughout all the different divisions and departments of the government.

James Wilson: Lectures 1790-1791

Quote 857 details Share on Google+ - Quote 857 Linked In Share Button - Quote 857 Government, indeed, taken as a science, may yet be considered in its infancy; and with all its various modifications, it has hitherto been the result of force, fraud, or accident. For, after the lapse of six thousand years since the creation of the world, America now presents the first instance of a people assembled to weigh deliberately and calmly, and to decide leisurely and peaceably, upon the form of government by which they will bind themselves and their posterity.

James Wilson: Opening Address, Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention, Nov 14, 1787

Quote 858 details Share on Google+ - Quote 858 Linked In Share Button - Quote 858 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 1790-1791

Quote 859 details Share on Google+ - Quote 859 Linked In Share Button - Quote 859 the consequence is, that the happiness of society is the first law of every government. This rule is founded on the law of nature: it must control every political maxim: it must regulate the legislature itself. The people have a right to insist that this rule be observed; and are entitled to demand a moral security that the legislature will observe it. If they have not the first, they are slaves; if they have not the second, they are every moment exposed to slavery.

James Wilson: Lectures 1790-1791

Quote 860 details Share on Google+ - Quote 860 Linked In Share Button - Quote 860 Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government.

Thomas Paine: Rights of Man, 1791
Quoted Document: Rights of Man - Thomas Paine

Quote 864 details Share on Google+ - Quote 864 Linked In Share Button - Quote 864 The answers of Mr. Adams [John Adams] to his addressees from the most grotesque scene in the tragic-comedy acting by the government... he is verifying completely the last feature in the character drawn of him by Dr. F [Benjamin Franklin] however his title may stand to the two first. "Always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes wholly out of his senses."

James Madison: to Thomas Jefferson, June 10, 1798

Quote 896 details Share on Google+ - Quote 896 Linked In Share Button - Quote 896 I am not an ambitious man, but perhaps I have been an ambitious American. I have wished to see America the Mother Church of government.

Thomas Paine: letter to James Monroe, September 10, 1794

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The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the nature of your government. If you suffer any man to govern you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will certainly lose them.

Roger Sherman: November 22, 1787
Quoted Document: The Countryman

Quote 906 details Share on Google+ - Quote 906 Linked In Share Button - Quote 906 The bank mania is one of the most threatening of these imitations. It is raising up a monied aristocracy in our country which has already set the government at defiance, and although forced at length to yield a little on this first essay of their strength, their principles are unyielded and unyielding.

Thomas Jefferson: letter to Josephus B. Stuart, May 10, 1817
Respectfully quoted: A dictionary of quotations...

Quote 912 details Share on Google+ - Quote 912 Linked In Share Button - Quote 912 In these sentiments, sire, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because i think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government, but what may be a blessing of the people if well administered; and believe further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.

Benjamin Franklin: debates in the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787
Respectfully quoted: A dictionary of quotations...

Quote 925 details Share on Google+ - Quote 925 Linked In Share Button - Quote 925 I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for the multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it's being a public blessing.


Quote 927 details Share on Google+ - Quote 927 Linked In Share Button - Quote 927 I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution. I would be willing to defend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of it's constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.


Quote 928 details Share on Google+ - Quote 928 Linked In Share Button - Quote 928 To draw around the whole nation the strength of the General Government, as a barrier against foreign foes, ... to equalize and moderate the public contributions, that while the requisite services are invited by due remuneration, nothing beyond this may exist to attract the attention of our citizens from the pursuits of useful industry, nor unjustly to burden those who continue in those pursuits - these are function of the general Government on which you have a right to call.


Quote 931 details Share on Google+ - Quote 931 Linked In Share Button - Quote 931 And as it [the federal district] is to be appropriated to the use with the consent of the State ceding it; as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights, and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the election of the Government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal Legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrage, will of course b allowed them; and as the authority of the Legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be derived from the whole people of the State, in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.


Quote 941 details Share on Google+ - Quote 941 Linked In Share Button - Quote 941
Does man exist for the sake of government? Or is government instituted for the sake of man?

James Wilson: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1790-1791
Quoted Document: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals

Quote 944 details Share on Google+ - Quote 944 Linked In Share Button - Quote 944
Upon the whole, therefore, man's natural liberty, instead of being abridged, may be increased and secured in a government, which is good and wise. As it is with regard to his natural liberty, so it is with regard to his other natural rights.

James Wilson: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1790-1791
Quoted Document: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals

Quote 945 details Share on Google+ - Quote 945 Linked In Share Button - Quote 945 If this view be a just view of things, the consequence, undeniable and unavoidable, is, that, under civil government, individuals have "given up" or "surrendered" their rights, to which they were entitled by nature and by nature's law; and have received, in lieu of them, those "civil privileges, which society has engaged to provide."

James Wilson: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1790-1791
Quoted Document: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals

Quote 946 details Share on Google+ - Quote 946 Linked In Share Button - Quote 946 Those rights result from the natural state of man; from that situation, in which he would find himself, if no civil government was instituted. In such a situation, a man finds himself, in some respects, unrelated to others; in other respects, peculiarly related to some; in still other respects, bearing a general relation to all. From his unrelated state, one class of rights arises: from his peculiar relations, another class of rights arises: from his general relations, a third class of rights arises. To each class of rights, a class of duties is correspondent; as we had occasion to observe and illustrate, when we treated concerning the general principles of natural law.

James Wilson: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1790-1791
Quoted Document: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals

Quote 950 details Share on Google+ - Quote 950 Linked In Share Button - Quote 950 How prevalent even among enlightened writers, is the mistaken opinion, that government is subversive of equality and nature! Is it necessarily so? By no means. When I speak thus, I speak confidently, because I speak from principle fortified by fact. Let the constitution of the United States -- let that of Pennsylvania be examined from the beginning to the end. No right is conferred, no obligation is laid on any, which is not laid or conferred on every, citizen of the commonwealth or Union -- I think I may defy the world to produce a single exception to the truth of this remark. Now, as I showed at large in a former part of my lectures, the original equality of mankind consists in an equality of their duties and rights.

James Wilson: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1790-1791
Quoted Document: Of the Natural Rights of Individuals

Quote 963 details Share on Google+ - Quote 963 Linked In Share Button - Quote 963
I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.


Quote 964 details Share on Google+ - Quote 964 Linked In Share Button - Quote 964 I confess I have the same fears for our South American brethren; the qualifications for self-government in society are not innate. They are the result of habit and long training, and for these they will require time and probably much suffering.




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