Quotes to Ponder

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. – Thomas Paine

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom. – John Quincy Adams (1821)

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson:

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That “all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people.”  To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.  – Thomas Jefferson

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

In matters of Power, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. – Thomas Jefferson

When all government, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the Center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. – Thomas Jefferson

The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases. – Thomas Jefferson

The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. – Thomas Jefferson

The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. – Thomas Jefferson

Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day. But a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly proves a deliberate systematic plan of reducing us to slavery. – Thomas Jefferson

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but a swindling futurity on a large scale. – Thomas Jefferson

To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. .I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. – President Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. – Thomas Jefferson.

If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. – Thomas Jefferson

Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us. – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to F. W. Gilmer, 1816

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. – Thomas Jefferson

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

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If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government that 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

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. – Patrick Henry

There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation. – James Madison

When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. – Thomas Paine

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, if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be like tomorrow. – James Madison, Federalist Paper #62

I shall exert every faculty I possess in aiding to prevent the Constitution from being nullified, destroyed, or impaired; and even though I should see it fail, I will still, with a voice feeble, perhaps, but earnest as ever issued from human lips, and with extinguish, call on the people to come to its rescue. – Daniel Webster

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. – James Madison

Government ought to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man, instead of which it has been monopolized from age to age, by the most ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the world? – Thomas Paine

The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature … the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war. – James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. – James Madison (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President

The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure. – George Washington

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men — Voltaire

The American experiment has come and gone. Whatever freedoms the people still might have as their own, are monitored and registered and taxed at virtually every turn. – Jeff Baxter

It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. – Charles A. Beard

No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words no and not employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights. – Edmund A. Opitz libertarian minister

First they came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for the socialists, but I did nothing because I’m not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did nothing because I’m not a Catholic. Finally, they came for me, but by then there was no one left to help me. – Pastor Father Niemoller (1946) German Lutheran pastor arrested by the Gestapo in 1937

Here’s your enemy for this week, the government says. And some gullible Americans click their heels and salute – often without knowing who or even where the enemy of the week is. – Charley Reese (1998)

The saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time. – Justice George Sutherland (1938)

Let the people think they govern and they will be governed. – William Penn (1693)

Politicians are like diapers.  They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.  ~Author Unknown

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?  ~Author Unknown

There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen.  ~Author Unknown


If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.  ~Jay Leno


Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.  ~Oscar Ameringer

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal – that you can gather votes like box tops – is… the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.  ~Adlai Stevenson, speech, Democratic National Convention, 18 August 1956

We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.  ~Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard

When one may pay out over two million dollars to presidential and Congressional campaigns, the U.S. government is virtually up for sale.  ~John Gardner

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.  ~Emma Goldman

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.  ~Winston Churchill

The strength of the Constitution, lies in the will of the people to defend it. – Thomas Edison

The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter.  That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now. – South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905)

Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark – Mapp vs. Ohio

The moral and constitutional obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people. – Congressman Ron Paul, 1987

When the same man, or set of men, holds the sword and the purse, there is an end of liberty. – George Mason

The American heritage was one of individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government … Unfortunately … that heritage has been lost.  Americans no longer have the freedom to direct their own lives … Today, it is the government that is free – free to do whatever it wants. There is no subject, no issue, no matter… that is not subject to legislation. – Harry Browne

It must never be unpatriotic to support your country against your government. It must always be unpatriotic to support your government against your country. – Stephen T. Byington

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless or, which is the same thing, corrupt. – Mohandas Gandhi

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Liberals believe government should take people’s earnings to give to poor people.  Conservatives disagree.  They think government should confiscate people’s earnings and give them to farmers and insolvent banks. The compelling issue to both conservatives and liberals is not whether it is legitimate for government to confiscate one’s property to give to another, the debate is over the disposition of the pillage. – Walter Williams

It took about 150 years, starting with a Bill of Rights that reserved to the states and the people all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government, to produce a Supreme Court willing to rule that growing corn to feed to your own hogs is interstate commerce and can therefore be regulated by Congress. – David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke

The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people. – Justice William O. Douglas

In our desire to have government become our benefactor and sustainer, we have allowed it to become our taskmaster and overlord. As a result, we have become little more than well-fed, well-entertained slaves to the state. Freedom, as envisioned by our forefathers, is gone. – Chuck Baldwin 2001

When the mass media in some foreign countries serve as megaphones for the rhetoric of their government, the result is ludicrous propaganda. When the mass media in our country serve as megaphones for the rhetoric of the U.S. government, the result is responsible journalism. – Norman Solomon

Washington is not America. It has become an alien city-state that rules America, and much of the rest of the world, in the way that Rome ruled the Roman Empire. – Richard Maybury

The more power a government has the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, and the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more power is diffused, checked, and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide. – R. J. Rummel, Death by Government

I fear for our nation. Nearly half of our people receive some kind of government subsidy. We have grown weak from too much affluence and too little adversity. I fear that soon we will not be able to defend our country from our sure and certain enemies. We have debased our currency to the point that even the most loyal citizen no longer trusts it. – A Roman Senator in A.D. 63

Political elections do not choose leaders of society. Rather, they are an exercise in which groups of people choose individuals who will assist them in looting other groups of individuals, those folks who were unfortunate enough not to be able to elect their own political strongman. The process can be downright blatant, as is the case in African and Asian countries, or it can be relatively subtle as it is in the United States, where the trappings of “constitutionality” and “rule of law” hide many of the more nefarious goings on. – William Anderson, Are Politicians Leaders? 10/19/2000

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

A concern for states rights, local self government and regional identity used to be taken for granted everywhere in America. But the United States is no longer, as it once was, a federal union of diverse states and regions. National uniformity is being imposed by the political class that runs Washington, the economic class that owns Wall Street and the cultural class in charge of Hollywood and the Ivy League. – Michael Hill, professor of British History, University of Alabama

Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. – Helen Keller

The Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals. It does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government. It is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government. – Ayn Rand

I want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution. – Harry Browne

We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans … – Bill Clinton (USA TODAY, 11 March 1993, page 2A)

To be governed … is to be watched, inspected, directed, indoctrinated, numbered, estimated, regulated, commanded, controlled, law-driven, preached at, spied upon, censured, checked, valued, enrolled – by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

For libertarians, freedom entails the right of people to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful. For conservatives, freedom entails the right of government to do just about anything it wants, even if its conduct is violent. – Jacob Hornberg

The prospect of a government that treats all its citizens as criminal suspects is more terrifying than any terrorist. And even more frightening is a citizenry that can accept the surrender of its freedoms as the price of “freedom”. – Joe Sobran

Painful as it may be to hear it, there’s nothing special about the people of this country that sets them apart from the other people of the world. It is the Bill of Rights, and only the Bill of Rights, that keeps us from becoming the world’s biggest banana republic. The moment we forget that, the American Dream is over. – Alexander Hope, “Looking Forward”

I do not challenge the dedication and sincerity of those who disagree with the freedom philosophy and confidently promote government solutions for all our ills.  I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited government, and minding our own business overseas. – Ron Paul

The Bill of Rights is a born rebel. It reeks with sedition. In every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted authority … It is the one guarantee of human freedom to the American people. – Frank I. Cobb (1869-1923), LaFollette’s Magazine, 01/20

It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches us, that the guilty sometimes go free than the citizens be subject to easy arrest. – William O. Douglas (1898-1980), Henry v. United States, 1959

Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency. – Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948), Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, Home Building & Loan Assn v. Blairsdell, 1934

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy. One’s right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly may not be submitted to vote; they depend on no elections. – Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, 1943

Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grand-children are once more slaves. – D. H. Lawrence (1885-1938), 1915

To maintain the ascendancy of the Constitution over the lawmaking majority is the great and essential point on which the success of the [American] system must depend; unless that ascendancy can be preserved, the necessary consequence must be that the laws will supersede the Constitution; and, finally, the will of the Executive, by influence of its patronage, will supersede the laws … — John C. Calhoun (1782-1850)

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