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Quote 1258 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1258 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1258 A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on Earth.


Quote 1261 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1261 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1261 In proportion as Government is influenced by opinion, must it be so by whatever influences opinion. This decides the question concerning the bill of rights, which acquires efficacy as time sanctifies and incorporates it with the public sentiment


Quote 1271 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1271 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1271 In the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.

James Madison: Federalist No. 14
Quoted Document: The Federalist Papers

Quote 1281 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1281 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1281
The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader: to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. 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: Draft of Instructions to the Virginia Delegates in the Continental Congress - July 1774
Web Source: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-01-02-0090

Quote 1292 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1292 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1292 [The people] are in truth the only legitimate proprietors of the soil and government.

Thomas Jefferson: to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1813

Quote 1297 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1297 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1297 I consider the people who constitute a society or nation as the source of all authority in that nation; as free to transact their common concerns by any agents they think proper; to change these agents individually, or the organization of them in form or function whenever they please; that all the acts done by these agents under the authority of the nation are the acts of the nation, are obligatory on them and enure to their use, and can in no wise be annulled of affected by any change in the form of the government or of the persons administering it.


Quote 1298 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1298 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1298
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776
Quoted Document: Declaration of Independence

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Necessities which dissolve a government do not convey its authority to an oligarchy or a monarchy. They throw back into the hands of the people the powers they had delegated, and leave them as individuals to shift for themselves.

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIII, 1782

Quote 1305 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1305 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1305 There is an error into which most of the speculators on government have fallen, and which the well-known state of society of our Indians ought, before now, to have corrected. In their hypothesis of the origin of government, they suppose it to have commenced in the patriarchal or monarchical form. Our Indians are evidently in that state of nature which has passed the association of a single family... The Cherokees, the only tribe I know to be contemplating the establishment of regular laws, magistrates, and government, propose a government of representatives, elected from every town. But of all things, they least think of subjecting themselves to the will of one man.

Thomas Jefferson: to Francis W. Gilmer, 1816

Quote 1310 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1310 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1310 I acknowledge the right of voluntary associations for laudable purposes and in moderate numbers. I acknowledge, too, the expediency for revolutionary purposes of general associations coextensive with the nation. But where, as in our case, no abuses call for revolution, voluntary associations so extensive as to grapple with and control the government, should such be or become their purpose, are dangerous machines and should be frowned down in every well regulated government.


Quote 1311 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1311 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1311 Private associations... whose magnitude may rivalize and jeopardize the march of regular government [may become] necessary [in] the case where the regular authorities of the government [combine] against the rights of the people, and no means of correction [remains] to them but to organize a collateral power which, with their support, might rescue and secure their violated rights. But such is not the case with our government. We need hazard no collateral power which, by a change of its original views and assumption of others we know not how virtuous or how mischievous, would be ready organized and in force sufficient to shake the established foundations of society and endanger its peace and the principles on which it is based.

Thomas Jefferson: letter to Jedediah Morse, 1822

Quote 1312 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1312 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1312 Military assemblies will not only keep alive the jealousies and fears of the civil government, but give ground for these fears and jealousies. For when men meet together, they will make business if they have none; they will collate their grievances, some real, some imaginary, all highly painted; they will communicate to each other the sparks of discontent; and these may engender a flame which will consume their particular, as well as the general happiness.

Thomas Jefferson: Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786

Quote 1324 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1324 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1324 I suppose indeed that in public life a man whose political principles have any decided character, and who has energy enough to give them effect, must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles. But I came to the government under circumstances calculated to generate peculiar acrimony.

Thomas Jefferson: to Richard Mentor Johnson, 10 March 1808
Web Source: http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-7586

Quote 1332 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1332 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1332 However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion....The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

George Washington: Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

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The powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.

James Madison: Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 6, 1788, Elliot’s Debates (in the American Memory collection of the Library of Congress)
Web Source:

Quote 1334 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1334 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1334 It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration, and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the general government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the 4th resolution.

James Madison: Proposing Bill of Rights to House, June 8, 1789
Web Source: https://founderswisdom.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/4926/

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The rights of minors are as sacred as the rights of the aged.

Thomas Paine: Dissertation of First Principles of Government, 1795
The Quotable Founding Fathers
Quoted Document: Dissertation on first-principles of government

Quote 1347 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1347 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1347 In a free government, the security of civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other, in the multiplicity of sects.

James Madison: The Federalist Papers, 1788
The Quotable Founding Fathers
Quoted Document: The Federalist Papers

Quote 1361 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1361 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1361 However men may differ in their ideas of grandeur or of government here, the grave is nevertheless a perfect republic.

Thomas Paine: The Crisis 1778
The Quotable Founding Fathers
Quoted Document: The Crisis

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One of the worst forms of government is a pure democracy, that is, one in which the citizens enact and administer the laws directly. Such a government is helpless against the mischiefs of faction.

James Madison: The Federalist Papers 1787
The Quotable Founding Fathers
Quoted Document: The Federalist Papers

Quote 1388 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1388 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1388
Republican Government is no other than government established and conducted for the interest of the public, as well individually as collectively.


Quote 1404 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1404 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1404 How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.


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I say RIGHTS, for such they have undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government, rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws - rights, derived from the great legislator of the universe.

John Adams: Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law
Quoted Document: A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

Quote 1411 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1411 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1411 But they saw clearly, that popular powers must be placed in guard, a control, a balance, to the powers of the monarch and the priest, in every government, or else it would soon become the man of sin, the whore of Babylon, the mystery of iniquity, a great and detestable system of fraud, violence and usurpation.

John Adams: Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law
Quoted Document: A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

Quote 1412 details Share on Google+ - Quote 1412 Linked In Share Button - Quote 1412
They knew that government was a plain, simple, intelligible thing, founded in nature and reason, and quite comprehensible by common sense.

John Adams: Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law
Quoted Document: A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law



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