The author of Federalist No. 10, James Madison was born 259 years ago today in Port Conway, Virginia, the oldest of twelve children.
And while fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson is certainly more widely heralded, the larger truth is that without James Madison, The Constitution as we know it would likely be very different.
Obscure to many, within the realm of the Founding Fathers Madison was nothing less than a giant among men.
Of course, true to form, when he was later referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” a humble Madison instead insisted the document was not “the off-spring of a single brain,” but “the work of many heads and many hands.”
Nonetheless, every American—whether they realize it or not—owes Madison a debt of gratitude that can hardly be repaid.
That being said here are just a few of Madison’s thoughts on the Republic he helped to found:
“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”
“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
“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.”
“What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
“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.”
“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
“The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.”
“War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”
“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”
“Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done.”
Smart guy huh? All these years later, those words ring as true as the day they were written….sadly I suspect he now spends most of his time rolling over in his grave.
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