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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

The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.

Fisher Ames, speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, January 15, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The law of nature and the law of revelation are both Divine: they flow, though in different channels, from the same adorable source. It is indeed preposterous to separate them from each other.

James Wilson, Of the Law of Nature, 1804

Founding Fathers Quotes

The moral precepts delivered in the sacred oracles form a part of the law of nature, are of the same origin and of the same obligation, operating universally and perpetually.

James Wilson, Of the Law of Nature, 1804

Founding Fathers Quotes

The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become in law only one person... Upon this principle of union, almost all the other legal consequences of marriage depend. This principle, sublime and refined, deserves to be viewed and examined on every side.

James Wilson, Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, 1792

Founding Fathers Quotes

The plain import of the clause is, that congress shall have all the incidental and instrumental powers, necessary and proper to carry into execution all the express powers. It neither enlarges any power specifically granted; nor is it a grant of any new power to congress. But it is merely a declaration for the removal of all uncertainty, that the means of carrying into execution those, otherwise granted, are included in the grant.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, December 15, 1791

Founding Fathers Quotes

The powers of congress must be defined, but their means must be adequate to the purposes of their constitution. It is possible there may be abuses and misapplications; still, it is better to hazard something than to hazard at all.

Oliver Ellsworth, letter to Governor Trumbull, July 10, 1783

Founding Fathers Quotes

The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The pyramid of government-and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form-should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected.

James Wilson, Legislative Department, 1804

Founding Fathers Quotes

The pyramid of government-and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form-should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep. The authority, the interests, and the affections of the people at large are the only foundation, on which a superstructure proposed to be at once durable and magnificent, can be rationally erected.

James Wilson

Founding Fathers Quotes

The state governments have a full superintendence and control over the immense mass of local interests of their respective states, which connect themselves with the feelings, the affections, the municipal institutions, and the internal arrangements of the whole population. They possess, too, the immediate administration of justice in all cases, civil and criminal, which concern the property, personal rights, and peaceful pursuits of their own citizens.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.

Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...[I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.

Albert Gallatin, letter to Alexander Addison, October 7, 1789

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come.

Peter Muhlenberg, from a Lutheran sermon read at Woodstock, Virginia, Jan, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is a tradition that, on his return from France, Jefferson called Washington to account at the breadfast-table for having agreed to a second chamber. "Why," asked Washington, "did you pour that coffee into your saucer?" "To cool it," quoth Jefferson. "Even so," said Washington, "we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it."

Anonymous, from Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is little need of commentary upon this clause. No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution. It is a suitable pledge of his fidelity and responsibility to his country; and creates upon his conscience a deep sense of duty, by an appeal, at once in the presence of God and man, to the most sacred and solemn sanctions, which can operate upon the human mind.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!

John Hancock, upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776



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