James Madison Quotes
These James Madison Quotes are takenfrom his own letters and writings during the year 1787. Most of them are taken from his speeches at the Constitutional Convention, or from the Federalist Papers, a series of writings by Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamiltonwritten to explain the newly proposed Constitution to the people of America and encourage them to adopt it. In these James Madison Quotes, he talks about such things as the separation of powers in government, the difference between a democracy and a republic and the danger of having too much power in any branch of government. These James Madison Quotes are listed chronologically and there are links to more both before and after this time period at the bottom of the page.
James Madison Quotes
"In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people." - Speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 29, 1787
"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." - Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787
"If it be a fundamental principle of free Govt, that the Legislative, Executive & Judiciary powers should be separately exercised, it is equally so that they be independently exercised. There is the same & perhaps greater, reason why the Executive shd be independent of the Legislature, than why the Judiciary should. A coalition of the two former powers would be more immediately & certainly dangerous to public liberty. It is essential then that the appointment of the Executive should either be drawn from some source, or held by some tenure that will give him a free agency with regard to the Legislature. This could not be if he was to be appointable from time to time by the legislature. It was not clear that an appointment in the Ist instance even with an ineligibility afterwards would not establish an improper connection between the two departments. Certain it was that the appointment would be attended with intrigues and contentions that ought not to be unnecessarily admitted. He was disposed for these reasons to refer the appointment to some other source. The people at large was in his opinion the fittest in itself. It would be as likely as any that could be devised to produce an Executive Magistrate of distinguished Character. The people generally could only know & vote for some Citizen whose merits had rendered him an object of general attention & esteem. There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election, on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections." - Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 20, 1787
"It is indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the Community agst [against] the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief Magistrate. The limitation of the period of his service was not a sufficient security. He might lose his capacity after his appointment. He might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers... In the case of the Executive Magistracy, which was to be administered by a single man, loss of capacity or corruption, was more within the compass of probable events, and either of them might be fatal to the Republic." - Speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 20, 1787
"Whilst the last members were signing it Doctr. Franklin looking towards the Presidents chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun." - Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, September 17, 1787
"The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to control one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controlled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society." - Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
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"The conduct of every popular assembly... shews that individuals join without remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them, separately, in their closets." - Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
"Encroachments of the States on the general authority, sacrifices of national to local interests, interferences of the measures of different States, form a great part of the history of our political system." - Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
"In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government, the questions as they came within the first object turned mostly on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it." - Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787
"The Convention thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men." - Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, August 25, 1787
"Mr. MADISON objected to a trial of the President by the Senate, especially as he was to be impeached by the other branch of the Legislature; and for any act which might be called a misdemeanor. The President under these circumstances was made improperly dependent. He would prefer the Supreme Court for the trial of impeachments, or rather a tribunal of which that should form a part." - Constitutional Convention, September 8, 1787
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