Happy Fourth of July. On this, the day that we celebrate the creation of the great democratic experiment of our country, I thought it appropriate that we read what our founders said during that tumultuous time. The majority of these quotes are just as applicable to our country today as they were at the beginning of our country.
I include Abraham Lincoln in this list because he is instrumental in the preservation of our country. And besides, I am a fan.
I am sure that you have other favorites, but I found these quotes to be inspiring and some are just funny. I hope you enjoy them also. Sources for the quotes are listed below.
The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.
The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company
I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.
The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
There is nothing I dread so much as the division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our constitution.
If ever a time should come when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.
Always stand on principle….even if you stand alone.
To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.
**As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] … it is declared … that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries…. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.**
There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
As the happiness of the people is the sole end of government, so the consent of the people is the only foundation of it.
Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.
The States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore . . . never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.
Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
We in America do not have government by the majority—we have government by the majority who participate…. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.
It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them.
I am… for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.
Nothing is more incumbent on the old than to know when they should get out of the way and relinquish to younger successors the honors they can no longer earn, and the duties they can no longer perform.
**I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.**
If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?
I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude
It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape
No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.
**Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know…. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech, a thing terrible to traitors.**
The rapid progress of the sciences makes me sorry, at times, that I was born so soon. Imagine the power that man will have over matter, a few hundred years from now. We may learn how to remove gravity from large masses, and float them over great distances. Agriculture will double its produce with less labor. All diseases will surely be cured… even old age. If only the moral sciences could be improved as well. Perhaps men would cease to be wolves to one another… and human beings could learn to be human.
If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.
The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all others, charity.
We need a revolution every 200 years, because all governments become stale and corrupt after 200 years.
Where liberty dwells there is my country.
In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people are their superiors and sovereigns.
They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Common sense is something that everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.
**I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.**
We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.
The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.
It is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest.
**Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.**
Pictures from: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/