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James Madison Quotes

These James Madison Quotes are from his own letters and writings during the years 1815 to 1822. This covers the time period of his second term as president and the years immediately afterwards. In these James Madison Quotes, he talks about such topics as his view that America will soon eclipse Great Britain as the preeminent power on earth, that women are equally as intelligent and capable as men and the fact that the majority can sometimes tyrannize the minority. James Madison is known as the Father of the US Constitution and became the 4th President of the United States. These James Madison Quotes are listed chronologically with links to more before and after this period at the bottom of the page.

James Madison

James Madison

James Madison Quotes

"No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition. During the interval which succeeded He reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights, and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land." - Thanksgiving Proclamation, March 4, 1815

"It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute." - Letter to the Dey of Algiers, August, 1816

"A silly reason from a wise man is never the true one." - Letter to Richard Rush, June 27, 1817

"I have received your letter of the 6th, with the eloquent discourse delivered at the consecration of the Jewish Synagogue. Having ever regarded the freedom of religious opinions and worship as equally belonging to every sect, and the secure enjoyment of it as the best human provision for bringing all either into the same way of thinking, or into that mutual charity which is the only substitute, I observe with pleasure the view you give of the spirit in which your sect partake of the blessings offered by our Government and laws." - Letter to Mordecai Noah, May 15, 1818

"The number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State." - Letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819

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James Madison Quotes

Montpelier - Home of James Madison

Montpelier - Home of
James Madison

"If slavery, as a national evil, is to be abolished, and it be just that it be done at the national expense, the amount of the expense is not a paramount consideration." - Letter to Robert J. Evans, June 15, 1819

"I have always supposed that the meaning of a law, and, for a like reason, of a constitution, so far as it depends on judicial interpretation, was to result from a course of particular decisions, and not those from a previous and abstract comment on the subject." - Letter to Judge Spencer Roan, September 2, 1819

"Parties, under some denominations or another, must always be expected in a government as free as ours. When the individuals belonging to them are intermingled in all parties of the whole country, they strengthen the union of the whole while they divide every part. Should a state of parties arise founded on geographical boundaries, and other physical and permanent distinctions which happen to coincide with them, what is to control these great repulsive masses from awful shocks against each other?" - Letter to Robert Walsh, November 27, 1819

"To provide employment for the poor, and support for the indigent, is among the primary, and, at the same time, not least difficult cares of the public authority." - Letter to Rev. F. C. Schaeffer, January 8, 1820

"Whilst it must be flattering to both nations (Great Britain and the U.S.) to contemplate the progress of covering with their posterity and their language a greater space on the earth than any other language, it is obvious that a few years will transfer the ascendency to the Unites States." - Letter to William S. Cardell, May, 1820

"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... Equal laws, protecting equal rights, are found, as they ought to be presumed, the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country; as well as best calculated to cherish that mutual respect and good will among citizens of every religious denomination which are necessary to social harmony, and most favorable to the advancement of truth." - Letter to Dr. Jacob de La Motta, August, 1820

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"A Government like ours has so many safety-valves, giving vent to overheated passions, that it carries within itself a relief against the infirmities from which the best of human Institutions cannot be exempt." - Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, November 25, 1820

"No studies seem so well calculated to give a proper expansion to the mind as Geography and History; and when not absorbing an undue portion of time, are as beneficial and becoming to one sex as to the other." - Letter to B. Chapman, January 25, 1821

"Geography is a preliminary, in all cases, to a pleasing and instructive course of historical readings." - Letter to B. Chapman, January 25, 1821

"The capacity of the female mind for studies of the highest order cannot be doubted, having been sufficiently illustrated by its works of genius, of erudition, and of science." - Letter to Albert Picket, September, 1821

"As a guide in expounding and applying the provisions of the Constitution, the debates and incidental decisions of the Convention can have no authoritative character... The legitimate meanings of the Instrument must be derived from the text itself; or if a key is to be sought elsewhere, it must be... in the sense attached to it by the people in their respective State Conventions, where it received all the authority which it possesses." - Letter to Thomas Ritchie, September 15, 1821

"The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity." - Letter to F. Schaeffer, December 3, 1821

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James Madison Quotes

"The departures from the true & fair construction of the instrument have always given me pain, and always experienced my opposition when called for. The attempts in the outset of the Govt. to defeat those safe, if not necessary, & those politic if not obligatory amendments introduced in conformity to the known desires of the Body of the people, & to the pledges of many, particularly myself when vindicating & recommending the Constitution, was an occurrence not a little ominous. And it was soon followed by indications of political tenets, and by rules, or rather the abandonment of all rules of expounding it, wch. were capable of transforming it into something very different from its legitimate character as the offspring of the National Will. I wish I could say that constructive innovations had altogether ceased." - Letter to John G. Jackson, December 27, 1821

"If... the powers of the General Government be carried to unconstitutional lengths, it will be the result of a majority of the States and of the people, actuated by some impetuous feeling, or some real or supposed interest, overruling the minority, and not of successful attempts by the General Government to overpower both." - Letter to John G. Jackson, December 27, 1821

"Whether the Constitution, as it has divided the powers of Government between the States in their separate and in their united capacities, tends to an oppressive aggrandizement of the General Government, or to an anarchical independence of the State Governments, is a problem which time alone can absolutely determine." - Letter to John G. Jackson, December 27, 1821

"Religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together." - Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

"We are teaching the world the great truth that Govts. do better without Kings & Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Govt." - Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

"I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together." - Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822


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