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The Federalist Papers book cover

The Federalist Papers Quotes

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.
Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.
It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country to decide, by their conduct and example, the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.
You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.
A powerful, victorious ally is yet another name for master.
The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.
For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But 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. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
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;.
Vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty.
The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security.
Distrust naturally creates distrust, and by nothing is good will and kind conduct more speedily changed.
Liberty is to faction what air is to fire...
Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.
A good Government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of Government, which is the happiness of the People; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.
To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection.
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. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
Divide et impera must be the motto of every nation that either hates or fears us.
If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.
If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be the first.
If we are to be one Nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other Nations.
The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. 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; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?.
Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred.
Have we not already seen enough of the fallacy and extravagance of those idle theories which have amused us with promises of an exemption from the imperfections, weaknesses and evils incident to society in every shape?.