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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

One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle.

James Otis, On the Writs of Assistance, 1761

Founding Fathers Quotes

Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.

Joseph Warren, Boston Massacre Oration, March 6, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

Our unalterable resolution would be to be free. They have attempted to subdue us by force, but God be praised! in vain. Their arts may be more dangerous then their arms. Let us then renounce all treaty with them upon any score but that of total separation, and under God trust our cause to our swords.

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, April 16, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.

Benjamin Rush, letter to His Fellow Countrymen: On Patriotism, October 20, 1773

Founding Fathers Quotes

Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

Leviticus 25:10, Inscription on the Liberty Bell

Founding Fathers Quotes

Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

The Northwest Ordinance, July 23, 1787

Founding Fathers Quotes

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

Resolved: That these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Richard Henry Lee, Resolution in Congress, June 7, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

Since private and publick Vices, are in Reality, though not always apparently, so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost Pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children, and the moral Sense kept alive, and that the wise institutions of our Ancestors for these great Purposes be encouraged by the Government. For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

Founding Fathers Quotes

Slavery naturally tends to destroy all sense of justice and equity. It puffs up the mind with pride: teaches youth a habit of looking down upon their fellow creatures with contempt, esteeming them as dogs or devils, and imagining themselves beings of superior dignity and importance, to whom all are indebted. This banishes the idea, and unqualifies the mind for the practice of common justice.

David Rice, speech to the constitutional convention of Kentucky, 1792

Founding Fathers Quotes

Slavery, or an absolute and unlimited power in the master over the life and fortune of the slave, is unauthorized by the common law.... The reasons which we sometimes see assigned for the origin and the continuance of slavery appear, when examined to the bottom, to be built upon a false foundation. In the enjoyment of their persons and of their property, the common law protects all.

James Wilson, The Natural Rights of Individuals, 1804

Founding Fathers Quotes

So that the executive and legislative branches of the national government depend upon, and emanate from the states. Every where the state sovereignties are represented; and the national sovereignty, as such, has no representation.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

Some talked, some wrote, and some fought to promote and establish it, but you and Mr. Jefferson thought for us all. I never take a retrospect of the years 1775 and 1776 without associating your opinions and speeches and conversations with all the great political, moral, and intellectual achievements of the Congress of those memorable years.

Benjamin Rush, to John Adams, February 17, 1812

Founding Fathers Quotes

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

The Virginia Bill of Rights, June 12, 1776

Founding Fathers Quotes

That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Recommended Bill of Rights from the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 27, 1778

Founding Fathers Quotes

The American war is over; but this far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government, and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens for these forms of government after they are established and brought to perfection.

Benjamin Rush, letter to Price, May 25, 1786

Founding Fathers Quotes

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

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

Founding Fathers Quotes

The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution.

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Founding Fathers Quotes

The convention have done well, therefore, in so disposing of the power of making treaties, that although the President must, in forming them, act by the advice and consent of the Senate, yet he will be able to manage the business of intelligence in such a manner as prudence may suggest.

John Jay, Federalist No. 64, March 7, 1788

Founding Fathers Quotes

The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.

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



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