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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

James Madison

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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Montpelier - Home of James Madison

Montpelier -
Home of James Madison

"No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine?" - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

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James Madison Quotes!

"A pure democracy... [is] a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person..." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"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 Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling which they overburden the inferior number is a shilling saved to their own pockets." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other." - Federalist Papers, No. 10, November 23, 1787

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