James Madison, often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution," was a key architect of the United States' foundational documents and an influential figure in the early days of American democracy. As the fourth President of the United States, Madison's leadership was marked by his commitment to the principles of limited government and individual rights. His intellectual contributions to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights played a pivotal role in shaping the nation's legal and political framework. Madison's Federalist Papers, co-authored with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, eloquently articulated the rationale behind the Constitution's provisions and served as a guiding resource for interpreting its intent. His presidency was also defined by challenges such as the War of 1812, during which he displayed diplomatic acumen and resolve. Madison's legacy endures as a champion of constitutional principles, emphasizing the delicate balance between federal authority and states' rights that continues to shape the American political landscape.
James Madison Quotes
The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.
Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.
Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
If our nation is ever taken over, it will be taken over from within.
The purpose of the Constitution is to restrict the majority's ability to harm a minority.
If man is not fit to govern himself, how can he be fit to govern someone else?
We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
The civil rights of none, shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
Disarm the people- that is the best and most effective way to enslave them.
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.
A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.
In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.
The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
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.
The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.
The circulation of confidence is better than the circulation of money.
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.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.... During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
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.
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.
Americans need not fear the federal government because they enjoy the advantage of being armed, which you possess over the people of almost every other nation.
The very definition of tyranny is when all powers are gathered under one place.
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.
A people armed and free, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition and is a bulwark for the nation against foreign invasion and domestic oppression.
Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.
The governments of Europe are afraid to trust the people with arms. If they did, the people would certainly shake off the yoke of tyranny, as America did.
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.
In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.
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 illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.
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.
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.
The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
The problem to be solved is, not what form of government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
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 money and it's issuance.
Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.
To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.
Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
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.
Whatever may be the judgement pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction . . . that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.
Our Constitution represents the work of the finger of Almighty God.
The people can never willfully betray their own interests: But they may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people; and the danger will be evidently greater where the whole legislative trust is lodged in the hands of one body of men, than where the concurrence of separate and dissimilar bodies is required in every public act.
The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.
Democracies have been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.
But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain.
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.
Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.
If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
No error is more certain than the one proceeding from a hasty and superficial view of the subject.
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.
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.
That the foundation of our national policy should be laid in private morality. If individuals be not influenced by moral principles, it is in vain to look for public virtue; it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, as well as the necessity, of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice.
If there be a principle that ought not to be questioned within the United States, it is that every man has a right to abolish an old government and establish a new one. This principle is not only recorded in every public archive, written in every American heart, and sealed with the blood of American martyrs, but is the only lawful tenure by which the United States hold their existence as a nation.
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.
Our country, if it does justice to itself, will be the workshop of liberty to the civilized world.
As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.
The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.
Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
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.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest.
No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.
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.
But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm . . . But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity.
As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.
The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.
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. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.
Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.
We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.
Whenever a youth is ascertained to possess talents meriting an education which his parents cannot afford, he should be carried forward at the public expense.
It is more convenient to prevent the passage of a law, than to declare it void after it has passed.
The truth was that all men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
By rendering the labor of one, the property of the other, they cherish pride, luxury, and vanity on one side; on the other, vice and servility, or hatred and revolt.
Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.
Some degree of abuse is inseparable from the proper use of every thing; and in no instance is this more true than in that of the press. It has accordingly been decided, by the practice of the states, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigor of those yielding the proper fruits.
A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
If the people are to be our governors, they must arm themselves with knowledge.
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.
The ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms.
Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done.
Although all men are born free, slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant--they have been cheated; asleep--they have been surprised; divided--the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson...? The people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it.... It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently free.
Can it be of less consequence that the meaning of a Constitution should be fixed and known, than a meaning of a law should be so?
Good conscience is the most valuable asset of all!
What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? 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.
Resistance to tyranny is service to God.
Conscience is the most sacred of all property.
It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers; but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.
Despotism can only exist in darkness.
Democracy was the right of the people to choose their own tyrant.
What a perversion of the normal order of things! ... to make power the primary and central object of the social system, and Liberty but its satellite.
Liberty is to faction what air is to fire.
The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
A government resting on the minority is an aristocracy, not a Republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press and a disarmed populace.
A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.
Equal laws protecting equal rights…the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.
Armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.
The powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.
It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect.
War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.
A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.
To provide employment for the poor, and support for the indigent, is among the primary, and, at the same time, not least difficult cares of the public authority.
There is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust.
It is vain to say that enlightened statesmen will always be able to adjust their interests. Enlightened men will not always be at the helm.
The President is responsible to the public for the conduct of the person he has nominated and appointed.
It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage...Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.
Who does not see that . . . the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?
If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare... they may appoint teachers in every state... The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.
Temporary deviations from fundamental principles are always more or less dangerous. When the first pretext fails, those who become interested in prolonging the evil will rarely be at a loss for other pretexts.
Philosophy is common sense with big words.
Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.
There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by...corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment.
We've staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments with all our heart.
The house of representatives ... can make no law, which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.
Democracy is the most vile form of government.
No free country has ever been without Parties, which are a natural offspring of freedom.
Congress shall never disarm any citizen unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion.
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; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism.
A bad cause seldom fails to betray itself.
Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few not for the many.
People will continue to seek justice until it is found, or until liberty is lost in the pursuit.
All power in human hands is liable to be abused.
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.
The management of foreign relations appears to be the most susceptible of abuse of all the trusts committed to a Government, because they can be concealed or disclosed, or disclosed in such parts and at such times as will best suit particular views; and because the body of the people are less capable of judging, and are more under the influence of prejudices, on that branch of their affairs, than of any other. Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.
The magnitude of this evil among us is so deeply felt, and so universally acknowledged, that no merit could be greater than that of devising a satisfactory remedy for it.
That is not a just government where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.
So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause; because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time.
The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less informed part of the community. They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.
The primary function of government is to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority of the poor.
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. They are more: they are the best basis of public liberty, and the strongest bulwark of public safety. It follows, that the greater the proportion of this class to the whole society, the more free, the more independent, and the more happy must be the society itself.
All 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 Quotes
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.