James Madison Quotes

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property."

"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

"Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree."

"A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people."

"The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money."

"A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them."

"Men cannot be justly bound by laws, in making which they have no share."

"What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?"

"Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power."

"As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights."

"In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority."

"In a just and free government…the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded."

"War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason."

"The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted."

"Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages."

"A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country."

"The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment, may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy."

"The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right."

"The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world."

"Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations."

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

"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."

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

"The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived."

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.

"A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person."

"In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

"The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge the wants or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages."

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?"

"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe 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;"

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions."

"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."

"The powers delegated by this constitution, are appropriated to the departments to which they are respectively distributed: so that the legislative department shall never exercise the powers vested in the executive or judicial; nor the executive exercise the powers vested in the legislative or judicial; nor the judicial exercise the powers vested in the legislative or executive departments."

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man's house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man's conscience, which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection for which the public faith is pledged by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact."

"I am among those who are most anxious for the preservation of the Union of the States, and for the success of the Constitutional experiment of which it is the basis. We owe it to ourselves, and to the world, to watch, to cherish, and as far as possible, to perfect a new modification of the powers of Government, which aims at the better security against external danger and internal disorder, a better provision for national strength and individual rights, than had been exemplified under any previous form."

Compiled by Thomas George