To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquility would be to calculate on the weaker springs of human character.
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788.
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1781.
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether or one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
James Madison, Federalist, 48, February 1, 1788.
They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.
– James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787.
Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms against each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788.
We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our country’s own honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions.
– George Washington, General Orders, July 2, 1776.
If a nation expects to be ignorant – and free – in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816.
No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their manners, they will sing under their own weight without the Aid of foreign invaders.
– Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775.