Alexander HamiltonUnited States Founding Father
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Quotes by Alexander Hamilton
It is a just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend they always reason right about the means of promoting it.
It is a singular advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess. They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end purposed â€” that is, an extension of the revenue.
It is an unquestionable truth, that the body of the people in every country desire sincerely its prosperity. But it is equally unquestionable that they do not possess the discernment and stability necessary for systematic government. To deny that they are frequently led into the grossest of errors, by misinformation and passion, would be a flattery which their own good sense must despise.
It is evident from the state of the country, from the habits of the people, from the experience we have had on the point itself, that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums by direct taxation.
It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the Constitution, unites all power in the same hands.
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 to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
It was remarked yesterday that a numerous representation was necessary to obtain the confidence of the people. This is not generally true. The confidence of the people will easily be gained by a good administration. This is the true touchstone.
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 or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station [of President] filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.
Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.
Let the thirteen States, bound together in a strict and indissoluble Union, concur in erecting one great American system, superior to the control of all transatlantic force or influence, and able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new world!
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.
Measures which serve to abridge the free competition of foreign Articles, have a tendency to occasion an enhancement of prices.
No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.
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