Quotes supporting Principle Two

From The American Ideal...


But there is a Degree of Watchfulness over all Men possessed of Power or Influence upon which the Liberties of Mankind much depend. It is necessary to guard against the Infirmities of the best as well as the Wickedness of the worst of Men. Such is the Weakness of human Nature that Tyranny has oftener sprang from that than any other Source. It is this that unravels the Mystery of Millions being enslaved by a few.

(Exactly per original.) Samuel Adams (Letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1784)

For it is a truth which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger, when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.*

They know from experience, that they sometimes err; and the wonder is, that they so seldom err as they do; beset as they continually are by the wiles of parasites and sycophants by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate; by the artifices of men, who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess, rather than to deserve it.**

The Federalist ( *No. 25; **no. 71; by Alexander Hamilton)

History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every guise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree . . . The influence over government must be shared among all the people . . . [If all participate] the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will . . . [be difficult]. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Jefferson ("Notes on the State of Virginia," 1782)


[Division of powers between three separate Branches] to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.

Massachusetts Bill of Rights, 1780

The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.

Chief Justice of U.S., John Marshall (Speaking for the Court in 1803 Marbury case)


The use of the military power to enforce the execution of the laws, is, in the opinion of this House, inconsistent with the spirit of a free constitution, and the very nature of government.

House of Representatives of Mass., 1769 (A communication to the Governor)

Hence likewise they [the people] will avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty [in a republic].

President George Washington, Farewell Address

Government is frequently and aptly classed under two descriptions--a government of FORCE, and a government of LAWS; the first is the definition of despotism--the last, of liberty . . . (Emphasis per original.)

Alexander Hamilton ("Tully Papers," 1794)

But whatever may be the design of this military appearance; whatever use some persons may intend and expect to make of it: This we all know, and every child in the street is taught to know it; that while a people retain a just sense of Liberty, as blessed be God, this people yet do, the insolence of power will for ever be despised . . . (Emphasis added.)

Samuel Adams (About British forces in Boston; essay, Boston Gazette, 1768)


. . . the good people of the U. States in their late generous contest, contended for free government in the fullest, clearest, and strongest sense. That they had no idea of being brought under despotic rule under the notion of "Strong Government," or in the form of elective despotism: Chains being still Chains, whether made of gold or iron. The corrupting nature of power, and its insatiable appetite for increase . . . [makes amendments necessary to safeguard natural rights]*

The greatness of the powers given, and the multitude of places [offices] to be created produce a coalition [dangerous to Liberty and requiring] ... such changes and securities as reason and experience prove to be necessary against the encroachments of power upon the indispensable rights of human nature.** (Emphasis per the original)

Richard Henry Lee (Letters to S. Adams* and Geo. Mason** Oct., 1787)


[In case of an unconstitutional, or an unpopular, measure by the Federal government] . . . the means of opposition to it [by the States] are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people, their repugnance and perhaps refusal to co-operate with the officers of the union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the state, the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose in any state difficulties not to be despised; would form in a large state very serious impediments, and where the sentiments of several adjoining states happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.

The Federalist (no. 46, by Madison) (Note: Nos. 28 and 46 discuss States' defense by force in last resort.)

Therefore Resolved, That it be and hereby is recommended to the legislatures of the several states represented in this Convention, to adopt all such measures as may be necessary effectually to protect the citizens of said states from the operation and effects of all acts which have been or may be passed by the Congress of the United States, which shall contain provisions, subjecting the militia or other citizens to forcible drafts, conscriptions, or impressments, not authorised by the constitution of the United States.

A Resolution of the Hartford Convention, 1815 (Note: a convention representing Mass., Conn., R.I., Vt., and N.H., protesting Federal usurpations, during War with Great Britain.)