The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson


Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

My Favorite Quotes of James Madison

James Madison (March 16, 1751[b] – June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the United States Bill of Rights. He co-wrote The Federalist Papers, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party, and served as the 5th United States Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809 under President Thomas Jefferson.

Many of his quotes on society and government are apropos to America today. These are some of my favorites:


“[a] popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
 - James Madison

“A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”
 - James Madison

“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.”
 - James Madison

“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
 - James Madison

“Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.”
 - James Madison

“Disarm the people- that is the best and most effective way to enslave them.”
 - James Madison

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
 - James Madison

“I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom.”
  - James Madison

“If a man is not fit to govern himself, how can he be fit to govern someone else?”
  - James Madison

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one....”
 - James Madison

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
 - James Madison

“If our nation is ever taken over, it will be taken over from within.”
 - James Madison

“In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.”
 - James Madison

“Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.”
 - James Madison

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”
 - James Madison

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
 - James Madison

“Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.”
 - James Madison

“Pure 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. ”  -- James Madison

“Resistance to tyranny is service to God.”
 - James Madison

“That is not a just government where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations.”
 - James Madison

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
 - James Madison

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
  - James Madison

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society, and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.”
  - James Madison

“The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.”
 - James Madison

“The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”
 - James Madison

“The ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms.”
 - James Madison

“To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical [imaginary] idea.”
 - James Madison

Of government welfare programs, the Congressional Record notes that James Madison “acknowledged, for his own part, that he could not undertake to lay his #nger on that article in the Federal Constitution which granted a right of Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”