I stand in awe of those who went before us shouldering fabulous minds. Here are some of the best that have been collecting on my desktop.
The Patriot Post, Founders Quote Daily sends out a daily quote, and these are gleaned from their emailings.
- "[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Abigail Adams, 11 September 1804)
Reference: Original Intent, Barton (265-66); original Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas
- "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 syren, 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, 23 March 1775)
- "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize, every expanded prospect. "
-- James Madison (letter to William Bradford, 1 April 1774)
Reference: Madison: Writings, Rakove, ed., Library of America (9)
- "Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence."
-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 718.
- "We ought to consider what is the end of government before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man....All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue."
-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)
Reference: Papers of John Adams, Butterfield, ed., vol. 4 (86)
- "Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some
time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue."
-- John Witherspoon (The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776)
Reference: The Selected Writings of John Witherspoon, Miller
These are just a few. One of these days, I will post some more.