Top 37 James Madison Quotes: Government And Democracy

One of the founding fathers of America, James Madison served as the fourth president of the US. He is referred to as the Father of the US Constitution. A famous phrase that his counterparts remembered him for, was his regular usage of “The President has decided.”

Admittedly, this led to his role being elaborated upon only in foreign archives. He had a flair with words, and churned out a few phrases that have served as food for thought to date. Find the best James Madison quotes below!

37 James Madison Quotes That We Can Resonate To

James Madison Quotes about the Government, Tyranny, and Governance

#1. “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflection on human nature?” – James Madison

#2. “The censorial power is in the people over the government, and not in the government over the people.” – James Madison

#3. “If we are to be one Nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other Nations.” – James Madison

#4. “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.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

#5. “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.” – James Madison, In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government

#6. “The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” – James Madison

#7. “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

#8. “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.” – James Madison

#9. “The Presidency alone unites the conjectures of the public.” – James Madison

#10. “Equal laws protecting equal rights…the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.” – James Madison

#11. “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” – James Madison

#12. “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it’s issuance.” – James Madison

#13. “The Senate ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” – James Madison

#14. “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

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

#16. “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.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

#17. “Where we see the same faults followed regularly by the same misfortunes, we may reasonably think that if we could have known the first we might have avoided the others.” – James Madison

James Madison Quotes on Gun Control

#18. “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” – James Madison

#19. “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.” – James Madison

#20. “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.” – James Madison

#21. “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” – James Madison

#22. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” – James Madison

#23. “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

#24. “Liberty and order will never be perfectly safe until a trespass on the Constitution provisions for either, shall be felt with the same keenness that resents an invasion of the dearest rights.” – James Madison

#25. “It is not certain that with this aid alone [possession of arms], they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will, and direct the national force; and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned, in spite of the legions which surround it.” – James Madison

#26. “An efficient militia is authorized and contemplated by the Constitution and required by the spirit and safety of free government.” – James Madison

James Madison Quotes About Democracy and Liberty

#27. “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.” – James Madison

#28. “Democracy is the most vile form of government.” – James Madison

#29. “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” – James Madison

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

#31. “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power.” – James Madison

#32. “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers

#33. “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” – James Madison

#34. “In no instance have the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.” – James Madison

#35. “…we should never think of separation except for repeated and enormous violations.” – James Madison

#36. “Despotism can only exist in darkness, and there are too many lights now in the political firmament, to permit it to remain anywhere, as it has heretofore done, almost everywhere.” – James Madison

#37. “Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” – James Madison

James Madison hated slavery with a passion, and worked towards its abolishment through government purchase of slaves and their resettlement. Henry Clay hailed him as “our greatest statesman after George Washington”.

Image source: James Madison photo by DOUG WEST