Table of Contents
From the Pages of Founding America
However peaceably your Colonies have submitted to your Government,
shewn their Affection to your Interest, and patiently borne
their Grievances, you are to suppose them always inclined to revolt,
and treat them accordingly.
(from Benjamin Franklin: “Rules by Which a Great Empire
May Be Reduced to a Small One,” page 13)
I long to hear that you have declared an independancy—and by the
way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for
you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more
generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put
such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember
all Men would be tyrants if they could.
(from a letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776, page 68)
We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created
equal; that they are endowed by their creator with [certain] inherent
and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty & the
pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are
instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed.
(from a draft of the Declaration of Independence,
by Thomas Jefferson, page 124)
May the choicest of heaven’s favours, both here and hereafter, attend
those who, under the devine auspices, have secured innumerable
blessings for others; with these wishes, and this benediction, the Commander
in Chief is about to retire from Service. The Curtain of seperation
will soon be drawn, and the military scene to him will be closed
(from George Washington, “Farewell Address to the
Armies of the United States,” page 259)
Nor should our assembly be deluded by the integrity of their own
purposes, and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be
abused, because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They
should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when a
corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin,
will have seized the heads of government.
(from Thomas Jefferson,
Notes on the State of Virginia,
Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and
observe the religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot
deny an equal freedom to those, whose minds have not yet
yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.
(from James Madison, “A Memorial and Remonstrance
against Religious Assessments,” page 296)
I can consent to no government, which, in my opinion, is not calculated
equally to preserve the rights of all orders of men in the community.
Letters from the Federal Farmer
, page 435)
But 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. 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.
(from The Federalist No. 51, page 525)
I will candidly acknowledge, that, over and above all these considerations,
I do conceive that the Constitution may be amended; that is
to say, if all power is subject to abuse, that then it is possible the
abuse of the powers of the General Government may be guarded
against in a more secure manner than is now done.
(from James Madison’s speech to the House of
Representatives, June 8, 1789, page 615)
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.
(from a draft of amendments to the Constitution, page 637)
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