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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

The house of representatives...can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.

James Madison, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from 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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The members of the legislative department...are numerous. They are distributed and dwell among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society...they are more immediately the confidential guardians of their rights and liberties.

James Madison, Federalist No. 50, February 5, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The passions, therefore, not the reason, of the public would sit in judgment. But it is the reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.

James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798

Founding Fathers Quotes

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 to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right....

James Madison, letter to James Monroe, October 5, 1786

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence.

James Madison, Speech in Congress, April 22, 1790

Founding Fathers Quotes

They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

To render the justice of the war on our part the more conspicuous, the reluctance to commence it was followed by the earliest and strongest manifestations of a disposition to arrest its progress. The sword was scarcely out of the scabbard before the enemy was apprised of the reasonable terms on which it would be resheathed.

James Madison, Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813

Founding Fathers Quotes

To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.

James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions, 1798

Founding Fathers Quotes

To the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.

James Madison, Report on the Resolutions, 1799

Founding Fathers Quotes

We are teaching the world the great truth that Governments do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion Flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.

James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

Founding Fathers Quotes

We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape — that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political institutions of a different form? 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

We have seen the mere distinction of color 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

Founding Fathers Quotes

What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them...the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers.

James Madison, Federalist No. 44, January 25, 1788



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