Founding Father Quotes

James Madison

James Madison

United States Founding Father
(1751 - 1836)

James Madison (March 16, 1751 - June 28, 1836) was an American politician and political philosopher who served as the fourth President of the United States (1809-1817), and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Considered to be the "Father of the Constitution", he was the principal author of the document. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. The first President to have served in the United States Congress, he was a leader in the 1st United States Congress, drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution (said to be based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights), and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.


Religion: Episcopalian

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Quotes by James Madison


The very definition of tyranny is when all powers are gathered under one place."

-= Unknown =-

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

-= Unknown =-

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

-= Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 =-

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.

-= Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 =-

A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of Congress than a national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular States.

-= Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788 =-

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

-= letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822 =-

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.

-= letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790 =-

A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.

-= essay in the National Gazette, February 2, 1792 =-

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.

-= speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787 =-

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?

-= Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 =-

America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.

-= Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787 =-

Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect.

-= letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820 =-

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.

-= Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 =-

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

-= Federalist No. 58, 1788 =-

An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

-= Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 =-


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