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James Madison Quotes

Here are quotes by one of America's greatest founding fathers, James Madison, and related quotations about America's founding. For more history, see Founding Fathers.

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, 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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 39, January 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 52, February 8, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, National Gazette Essay, January 18, 1792

Founding Fathers Quotes

In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government, the questions as they came within the first object turned mostly on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it.

James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

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, November 30, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.

James Madison, speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Notes on Nullification

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, to an unidentified correspondent, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.

James Madison, letter to the Dey of Algiers, August, 1816

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, December 2, 1829

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention, December 2, 1829

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object.

James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

It may be considered as an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to the people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals would in great measure deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability.

James Madison, Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others.

James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787



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