James Madison Quotes

The transcendent law of nature and of nature’s God… declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim, and to which all institutions must be sacrificed.

Our opinions agree as to the evil, moral, political, and economical, of slavery.

Another of my wishes is to depend as little as possible on the labor of slaves.

The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.

A universal and perpetual 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. It is still however true, that war contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped […]

Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.

(One of Madison’s favorite stories involved a vain French officer who asked a fellow officer to be frank in revealing what the world thought of him. The fellow officer said:) The opinion of the world is divided: the men say you are an old woman; And the women say you are an old man.

To the press alone, chequered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression.

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the […]

One of the worst forms of government is a pure democracy, that is, one in which the citizens enact and administer the laws directly. Such a government is helpless against the mischiefs of faction.