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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

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?

James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822

Founding Fathers Quotes

Whatever may be the judgment pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.

James Madison, circa 1835

Founding Fathers Quotes

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.

James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, March 27, 1792

Founding Fathers Quotes

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.

James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

Whilst the last members were signing it Doctr. Franklin looking towards the Presidents chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun.

James Madison, Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, September 17, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

You give me a credit to which I have no claim in calling me "the writer of the Constitution of the United States." This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.

James Madison, letter to William Cogswell, March 10, 1834

Founding Fathers Quotes

[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

[He] will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind.

James Madison, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Nicholas P. Trist, July 6, 1826

Founding Fathers Quotes

[I]n the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly maintained.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

[I]t is the reason alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

[R]efusing or not refusing to execute a law to stamp it with its final character...makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper.

James Madison, letter to John Brown, October, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.

James Madison, Records of the Convention, August 25, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.

James Madison, speech in the House of Representatives, January 10, 1794

Founding Fathers Quotes

[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

[T]o exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States on the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general... as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource which can not fail me.

James Madison, Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813



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