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Founding Fathers Quotes

Here are quotes by America's founding fathers, quotations about the American Revolution, and assorted remarks related to America's founding. For more history, see Founding Fathers.

Founding Fathers Quotes

If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great Security.

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

Founding Fathers Quotes

If, for instance, the president is required to do any act, he is not only authorized, but required, to decide for himself, whether, consistently with his constitutional duties, he can do the act.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

Illustrious examples are displayed to our view, that we may imitate as well as admire. Before we can be distinguished by the same honors, we must be distinguished by the same virtues. What are those virtues? They are chiefly the same virtues, which we have already seen to be descriptive of the American character — the love of liberty, and the love of law.

James Wilson, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, Circa 1790

Founding Fathers Quotes

In a general sense, all contributions imposed by the government upon individuals for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name they may be known, whether by the name of tribute, tythe, tallage, impost, duty, gabel, custom, subsidy, aid, supply, excise, or other name.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

In my judgment it is not only ripe for the measure, but in danger of becoming rotten for the want of it.

John Witherspoon (attributed), debate over the Declaration, July, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

In observations on this subject, we hear the legislature mentioned as the people's representatives. The distinction, intimated by concealed implication, through probably, not avowed upon reflection, is, that the executive and judicial powers are not connected with the people by a relation so strong or near or dear. But is high time that we should chastise our prejudices; and that we should look upon the different parts of government with a just and impartial eye.

James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

Founding Fathers Quotes

In planning, forming, and arranging laws, deliberation is always becoming, and always useful.

James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791

Founding Fathers Quotes

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character....

Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789

Founding Fathers Quotes

In the formation of our constitution the wisdom of all ages is collected--the legislators are antiquity are consulted, as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. It short, it is an empire of reason.

Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

In the next place, the state governments are, by the very theory of the constitution, essential constituent parts of the general government. They can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot exist without them.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound by the laws of nature, or to speak more properly, the laws of the Creator.

Samuel Adams, letter to the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 17, 1794

Founding Fathers Quotes

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings — give us that precious jewel, and you may take every things else! Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.

Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, June 5, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.

Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.

Richard Henry Lee, letter to Colonel Martin Pickett, March 5, 1786

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is important also to consider, that the surest means of avoiding war is to be prepared for it in peace.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.

John Jay, letter to R. Lushington, March 15, 1786

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government.

Mercy Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805

Founding Fathers Quotes

It is not necessary to enumerate the many advantages, that arise from this custom of early marriages. They comprehend all the society can receive from this source; from the preservation, and increase of the human race. Every thing useful and beneficial to man, seems to be connected with obedience to the laws of his nature, the inclinations, the duties, and the happiness of individuals, resolve themselves into customs and habits, favourable, in the highest degree, to society. In no case is this more apparent, than in the customs of nations respecting marriage.

Samuel Williams, The Natural and Civil History of Vermont, 1794



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