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Founding Fathers Quotes

Here are quotes by America's founding fathers, quotations about the American Revolution, and assorted remarks related to America's founding. For more history, see Founding Fathers.

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness.

James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religion profession of sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship....

Massachusetts Bill of Rights, Part the First, 1780

Founding Fathers Quotes

It should therefore be difficult in a republic to declare war; but not to make peace.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape. The future experience of Christendom, and chiefly of the American states, must settle this problem, as yet new in the history of the world, abundant, as it has been, in experiments in the theory of government.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.

James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, Circa 1790

Founding Fathers Quotes

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book, 1774-1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

Samuel Adams, in the Boston Gazette, April 16, 1781

Founding Fathers Quotes

Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good.

Oliver Ellsworth, The Landholder, No. III, November 19, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

Liberty is not to be enjoyed, indeed it cannot exist, without the habits of just subordination; it consists, not so much in removing all restraint from the orderly, as in imposing it on the violent.

Fisher Ames, Essay on Equality, December 15, 1801

Founding Fathers Quotes

Men, to act with vigour and effect, must have time to mature measures, and judgment and experience, as to the best method of applying them. They must not be hurried on to their conclusions by the passions, or the fears of the multitude. They must deliberate, as well as resolve.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

My hand trembles, but my heart does not.

Stephen Hopkins(attributed), Rhode Island delegate, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit — appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free....

Joseph Warren, American account of the Battle of Lexington, April 26, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

No Taxation without Representation!

Anonymous slogan in response to British Tax Policy, Circa 1765

Founding Fathers Quotes

Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue.

John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.

George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1778

Founding Fathers Quotes

O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?

Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778

Founding Fathers Quotes

On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will "preserve, protect, and defend the constitution." The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances, or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833



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