Fathers Values

"... But tho' every Animal that hath Life is liable to Death, ... that we may have a greater Opportunity of exercising towards each other that Virtue, which most of all recommends us to the Deity, I mean CHARITY."

Benjamin Franklin, 1751, Editorial

"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.  ...  It comprehends not only the love of our neighbors but of millions of our fellow creatures, not only of the  present but of future generations."

Benjamin Rush, 1773, To His Fellow Countrymen

"Our petitions have been slighted, our remonstrances have produced additional violence or insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne."

Patrick Henry, 1775, Speech at St. Johns Church

"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, 1775, Speech to the Virginia Convention

"My bursting Heart must find vent at my pen."

Abigail Adams, 1775, Letter to John Adams

"The nature of the encroachment upon American constitution is such, as to grow every day more and more encroaching.  Like a cancer; it eats faster and faster every hour.  The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue.  The people grow less steady, spirited and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until virtue, integrity, public spirit, simplicity and frugality become the objects of ridicule and scorn, and vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole of society."

John Adams, 1775, To the Inhabitants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay

"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."

John Adams, 1775, Letter to James Warren

"... A cry of defiance and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore.
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear ..."

Longfellow, 1775, "Paul Revere's Ride"

"Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays ravishing Light and Glory.  I can see that the end is more than worth all the Means.  And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."

John Adams, 1776, Letter to Abigail Adams

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.  The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Thomas Jefferson, 1776, proposed Virginia Constitution

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Thomas Jefferson, 1776, "Declaration of Independence"

"And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor."

Thomas Jefferson, 1776, "Declaration of Independence"

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them.  The fate of unborn millions will now depend on God, on the courage and conduct of this army.  Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission.  We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die."

George Washington, 1776, In Orders Sent to His Officers Explaining the War Effort

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

Thomas Paine, 1776, "Common Sense"

"No good government but what is republican ... the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.'"

John Adams, 1776, "Thoughts on Government"

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

Samuel Adams, 1776, Speech at the Philadelphia State House

"What reason is there to expect that Heaven will help those who refuse to help themselves, or that Providence will grant liberty to those who want courage to defend it."

John Jay, 1777, To the General Committee of Tryon County

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

Samuel Adams, 1779, Letter to James Warren

"But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years."

Thomas Jefferson, 1779, Letter to James Madison

"Industry and constant Employment are great preservatives of the Morals and Virtue of a Nation."

Benjamin Franklin, 1782, "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America"

"I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and the wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of the latter.  Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people the means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate."

John Jay, 1785, Letter to Benjamin Rush

"I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I at present do not approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.  For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.  It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others."

Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Speech at Constitutional Convention

"I hope therefore that for our own Sakes, as a Part of the People, and for the sake of our Posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution, wherever our Influence may extend, and turn our future Thoughts and Endeavours to the Means of having it well administered."

Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Address in Favor of the Constitution

"It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined, for their political constitutions, on accident and force."

Alexander Hamilton, 1787, Federalist No. 1

"This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event.  Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good.  But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected.  The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth."

Alexander Hamilton, 1787, Federalist No. 1

"A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.  Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 10

"Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?"

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 14

"Happily for America, happily we trust for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course.  ...  They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe.  They formed the design of a great confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 14

"Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others.  ...  The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."

Alexander Hamilton, 1787, Federalist No. 34

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

Thomas Jefferson, 1787, Northwest Ordinance; Article 3

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 45

"A government resting on the minority is an aristocracy, not a republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press and a disarmed populace."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 46

"Justice is the end of government.  It is the end of civil society.  If ever has been, and ever will be pursued, until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit"

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 51

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.  Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.  Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 55

"The internal effects of a mutable policy are ... calamitous.  It poisons the blessings of liberty itself.  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 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 tomorrow."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 62

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.  The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce."

James Madison, 1787, Federalist No. 62

"The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.  A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."

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

"Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defence of the country, the over-throw of tyranny, or in private self-defense."

John Adams, 1787, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the USA

"But every child in America should be acquainted with his own country.  He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice.  As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and those illustrious heros and statesmen who have wrought a revolution in her favor."

Noah Webster, 1788, Editorial

"Congress have no power to disarm the militia.  Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American ...  The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Tench Coxe, 1788, Pennsylvania Gazette

"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms.  To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."

Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Additional Letters From the Federal Farmer 53

"It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government.  Experience has proved that no position is more false than this.  The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government.  Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity."

Alexander Hamilton, 1788, Speech urging ratification of the Constitution in New York

"But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom.  Is there no virtue among us?  If there is not, we are in a wretched situation.  No theoretical checks - no form of government can render us secure.  To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men.  So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

James Madison, 1788, Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention

"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people.  To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

George Mason, 1788, Speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention

"I hope, therefore, a bill of rights will be formed to guard the people against the Federal government as they are already guarded against their State governments, in most instances."

Thomas Jefferson, 1788, Correspondence to James Madison

"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."

Samuel Adamsm 1788, U.S. Constitution Ratification Convention

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

James Madison, Ratified 1788, Amendment II, "Constitution of the United States"

"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."

James Madison, Ratified 1788, Amendment X, "Constitution of the United States"

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

George Washington, 1789, First Inaugural Address

"I believe in one God, ... .  That the most acceptable Service we render to him is doing good to his other Children.  That the soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this."

Benjamin Franklin, 1790, Letter to Ezra Stiles

"Convinced that the republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind, my prayers & efforts shall be cordially distributed to the support of that we have so happily established.  It is indeed an animating thought that, while we are securing the rights of ourselves & our posterity, we are pointing out the way to struggling nations who wish, like us, to emerge from their tyrannies also.  Heaven help their struggles, and lead them, as it has done us, triumphantly thro' them."

Thomas Jefferson, 1790, Letter to William Hunter

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master."

George Washington, 1790, In a Speech

"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

George Washington, 1790, First Annual Message To Congress

"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' (10th Amendment).  To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition."

Thomas Jefferson, 1791, Letter to George Washington

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress ...  Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."

James Madison, 1792, Debate on a Bill to Subsidize Cod Fishermen

"If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic?  The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws."

Alexander Hamilton, 1794, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser

"My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth.  To share in the broils of none.  To fulfil our own engagements.  To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is our policy and interest to do so."

George Washington, 1795, Letter to Gouverneur Morris

"The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government.  But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"... Of all the depositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you is the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.  The Spirit, unfortunately, is inseperable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind.  It exists in different shapes under all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissensions, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.  ...  There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the Administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty.  This, within certain limits, is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit of party: but, in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.  ... ' Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible.  So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled, with perfect good faith. Here let us stop."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit.  One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of Peace to discharge the Debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear."

George Washington, 1796, Farewell Address

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

John Adams, 1798, To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts

"Thank God, to reach this envied State we need only to Will.  Yes my countrymen.  Our Destiny depends on our Will.  But if we would stand high on the Record of Time that Will must be inflexible."

Gouverneur Morris, 1800, Speech

"The only foundation for... a republic is to be laid in Religion.  Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

Benjamin Rush, 1798, "The Selected Writings of Benjamin Rushquot;

"To each of my Nephews, William Augustine Washington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, Bushrod Washington, and Samuel Washington, I give one of my swords or Cutteaux of which I may be Possessed; and they are to choose in the order they are named. These Swords are accompanied with an injunction not to unsheathe them for the purpose of shedding blood, except it be for self defense, or in the defense of their Country and its rights; and in the latter case, to keep them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof."

George Washington, 1799, Last Will and Testament

"Still one thing more ... a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities."

Thomas Jefferson, 1801, First Inaugural Address

"Agriculture, manufacturers, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise."

Thomas Jefferson, 1801, First Annual Message to Congress

"It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind; that circumstances denied to others, but indulged to us, have imposed on us the duty of proving what is the degree of freedom and self-government in which a society may venture to leave its individual members."

Thomas Jefferson, 1802, Letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly

"Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."

John Adams, 1808, Letter to Benjamin Rush

"To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association -- the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."

Thomas Jefferson, 1816, Note in Tracy's "Political Economy"

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared."

Thomas Jefferson, 1816, Letter to William Plumer

"My answer was 'say nothing of my religion.  It is known to my god and myself alone.  Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life.  If that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one."

Thomas Jefferson, 1817, Letter to John Adams

"What spectacle can be more gratifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?"

James Madison, 1822, Letter to W.T. Barry

"On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

Thomas Jefferson, 1823, to Justice William Johnson, The Complete Jefferson

"The constitutions of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property and freedom of the press."

Thomas Jefferson, 1824, Letter to John Cartwright

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious."

Thomas Jefferson, 1824, Letter to William Ludlow

"Reverence and cherish your parents.  Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself.  Be just.  Be true.  Murmur not at the ways of Providence."

Thomas Jefferson, 1825, Letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith

"Their work doth not perish with them."

Daniel Webster, 1826, Eulogy of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

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