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  • James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798

    The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.

  • James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

    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.

  • John Adams, Defense of the Constitutions, 1787

    Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.

  • John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814

    Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

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

    [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 at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

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

  • John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772

    If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.

  • John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

    But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

  • James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788

    It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.

  • Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

    They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  • James Madison, speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Dec 2, 1829

    The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

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

    [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.

  • Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 13, 1789

    Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

  • Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood, No. 8, July 9, 1722

    Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.

  • John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

    Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.