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Happy Birthday James Madison, the Father of the Constitution

James Madison was our 4th President, a close friend to Thomas Jefferson, helped push through, amongst other things, religious freedom statutes.

James Madison portrait by John Vanderlyn, dated 1816

Madison’s draft of the “Virginia Plan” and his revolutionary idea of three branches of federal government were the basis of the Constitution. In fact, this is the basis for his nickname: The Father of the Constitution.

To promote ratification of the Constitution Madison wrote the Federalist papers with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. Below are some of the amazing quote attributed to Madison:

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

Our country abounds in the necessaries, the arts and the comforts of life – March 13, 1813

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

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. – Federalist No. 51, February 8, 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 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

I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic — it is also a truth, that 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

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

Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution
which has no parallel in the annals of human society. – Federalist No. 14, November 20, 1787

He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a “walking Library,” and
what can be said of but few such prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him. – on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Harrison Smith, November 4, 1826

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

A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of Congress than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular States. – Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

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

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking. – letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790

A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts. – essay in the National Gazette, February 2, 1792

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

America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat. – Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787

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

Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect. – letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. – Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

If individuals be not influenced by moral principles; it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice. – in response to George Washington’s first Inaugural address, May 18, 1789

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced
among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by
the others. – Federalist No. 58, 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. As long as the
connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other. – Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate
governments, to which the people are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of
ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. – Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single
State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm… But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal
government to such an extremity. – Federalist No. 46, January 29, 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

Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own
voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution. – Federalist No. 39, January 1788

Energy in government is essential to that security against external and internal danger and to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws
which enter into the very definition of good government. 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

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

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

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the
term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man
whatever is his own. – Essay on Property, March 29, 1792

Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob. – Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788

As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately
prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular
passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they
themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some
temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people
against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind? – Federalist No. 63, 1788

Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few not for the many. – Federalist No. 62, 1788

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