I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.
A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal.
But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.~
letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it. ~John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety. ~ Benjamin Franklin
He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing. ~Benjamin Franklin, from his writings, 1758
How many observe Christ’s birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1743
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. ~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 13, 1789
A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government. ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.
~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781
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, September 6, 1789
Excessive taxation will carry reason & reflection to every man’s door, and particularly in the hour of election.
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, November 26, 1798
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 — the first growing out of the last…. A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government.
~Alexander Hamilton, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser, Aug 28, 1794
A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
~Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1792
But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain…let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING.
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.
~Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791
The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.
~Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777
Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” ~Patrick Henry
“The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world not destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them … the weak will become prey to the strong.” ~Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War