James Madison Quotes


"Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the community, and 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 (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: in a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1788 http://liberty-tree.ca/qb/James.Madison.Quote.18DB

Abridgment of Freedoms

"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." James Madison Source: Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, in_Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution,_ Jonathan Elliot, ed., v.3 p.87 (Philadelphia, 1836), 6 June 1788 http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.75C5


Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. James Madison Source: Federalist #46, January 29, 1788

Changing Government

[A]ll power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty and the right of acquiring property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purpose of its institution. James Madison Source:http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.80F8


"Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." -- James Madison http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.B1AE

Church and State

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. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be llustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history." James Madison Source:"Detached Memorandum", 1823

Commerce Clause

"It is very certain that [the commerce clause] grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government." -- James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: letter dated February 13, 1829


"Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution." James Madison Source: Federalist No. 39, 1788 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. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html "With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President http://liberty-tree.ca/qb/James.Madison.Quote.2500

Declaring War

"The Constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of government most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: in an April 2, 1798 letter to Thomas Jefferson.


Democracy is the most vile form of government... democracies 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 Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html


"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person." James Madison Source: I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789 http://liberty-tree.ca/qb/James.Madison.Quote.FFB3


"Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred." James Madison Source: The Federalist

First Duty

"It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785: Works 1:163


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. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html

Freedom of Religion

"Whilst we assert a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to choose minds who have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us." James Madison Source: Memorials and Remonstrances, 1785


"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: Speech, Virginia State Convention, 2 December 1829 "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." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: The Federalist; Feb.8, 1788 http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/D/1776-1800/federalist/fed_I.htm A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 If men were angels, no government would be necessary. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html Government destitute of energy, will ever produce anacrchy. James Madison Source:http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/james_madison/ "[T]he delegation of the government, in [a republic], to a small number of citizens elected by the rest ... [is] to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations." -- James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.726C


"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." James Madison


Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html

Large Military

Large and permanent military establishments which are forbidden by the principles of free government, and against the necessity of which the militia were meant to be a constitutional bulwark." James Madison Source: Fourth Annual Message, November 4, 1812


It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html


"There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President


"The highest number to which a standing army can be carried in any country does not exceed one hundredth part of the souls, or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This portion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Besides the advantage of being armed, it forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would surely shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors." James Madison Source:http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.C88A

National Spirit

A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of Congress than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular States. James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

Our Money

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." James Madison Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: 1792, in disapproval of Congress appropriating $15,000 to assist some French refugees http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.24FE


"War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement." James Madison Source:http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.B73E

Progress of the Evil

"[In the case of] dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President Source: Virginia Resolves

Protect The Opulent

"Landholders ought to have a share in the government to support these invaluable interests and check the other many. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." James Madison Source: Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 3rd ed., vol. I., p. 422


"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison Source:http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.C1AD

Religious Bondage

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect. James Madison Source:Letter to Bradford, Apr 1, 1774

Second Amendment

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html

The Problem

The most common and durable source of faction has been the various and unequal distribution of property. James Madison Source:Federalist Papers


The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html


The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home. James Madison Source:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html "[T]he 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." James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.04AF


"[T]he power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature." James Madison Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President 1793 http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quote_blog/James.Madison.Quote.59E4

E_MAIL James Howington

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