Skip to comments.Who are the Best Keepers of the People's Liberties? - (James Madison Nails it in 1792!)
Posted on 08/12/2009 3:47:50 PM PDT by Loud Mime
Who Are the Best Keepers of the People's Liberties?
National Gazette, December 22, 1792
Republican. The people themselves. The sacred trust can be no where so safe as in the hands most interested in preserving it.
Anti-republican. The people are stupid, suspicious, licentious. They cannot safely trust themselves. When they have established government they should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their wiser rulers.
Republican. Although all men are born free, and all nations might be so, yet too true it is, that slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant they have been cheated; asleep they have been surprized; divided the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? That because the people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up, blindfold, to those who have an interest in betraying them? Rather conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it, as well as obey it.
Anti-republican. You look at the surface only, where errors float, instead of fathoming the depths where truth lies hid. It is not the government that is disposed to fly off from the people; but the people that are ever ready to fly off from the government. Rather say then, enlighten the government, warn it to be vigilant, enrich it with influence, arm it with force, and to the people never pronounce but two words Submission and Confidence.
Republican. The centrifugal tendency then is in the people, not in the government, and the secret art lies in restraining the tendency, by augmenting the attractive principle of the government with all the weight that can be added to it. What a perversion of the natural order of things! to make power the primary and central object of the social system, and Liberty but its satellite.
Anti-republican. The science of the stars can never instruct you in the mysteries of government. Wonderful as it may seem, the more you increase the attractive force of power, the more you enlarge the sphere of liberty; the more you make government independent and hostile towards the people, the better security you provide for their rights and interests. Hence the wisdom of the theory, which, after limiting the share of the people to a third of the government, and lessening the influence of that share by the mode and term of delegating it, establishes two grand hereditary orders, with feelings, habits, interests, and prerogatives all inveter-ately hostile to the rights and interests of the people, yet by a mysterious operation all combining to fortify the people in both.
Republican. Mysterious indeed! But mysteries belong to religion, not to government; to the ways of the Almighty, not to the works of man. And in religion itself there is nothing mysterious to its author; the mystery lies in the dimness of the human sight. So in the institutions of man let there be no mystery, unless for those inferior beings endowed with a ray perhaps of the twilight vouchsafed to the first order of terrestrial creation.
Anti-republican. You are destitute, I perceive, of every quality of a good citizen, or rather of a good subject. You have neither the light of faith nor the spirit of obedience. I denounce you to the government as an accomplice of atheism and anarchy.
Republican. And I forbear to denounce you to the people, though a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny. Liberty disdains to persecute.
Amazing how smart those gentlemen were back then. I am amazed every time I learn soemthing about them all.
Human nature has not changed. I imagine that they learned a lot from the colonists who wished to stay with the Crown. Them critters were the liberals of that day.
You nailed it. They are going to back door us on everything. Sure, maybe they won’t directly take more out of yu check. But every damn thing you buy will cost more because of these idiots.
Thanks for the ping. Wise men, indeed. What have we done with their gift, he asked sadly.
I have this feeling that we are soon going to take it back.
Thanks very much for the ping. Fascinating and remarkable founding father. When you speak of great Americans...there aren’t many above James Madison.
Remember the Anti-republican Madison was caricaturing in these writings were the Federalists, Washington, Adams, Hamilton, etc. He and Jefferson were still praising the French revolutionaries at the time he wrote this, and in the near future he would be sponsoring other writers (Freneau, etc.) claiming that Washington was a traitor working for Britain.
"A fair representation of the body of the people by elections, sufficiently frequent, is essential to a free government . . ."
. . . . . John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 10, 1817
"Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents. This is a truth of great importance, but not yet sufficiently attended to."
. . . . . James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 17 October, 1788
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."
. . . . . Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 22 February, 1787
"We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it."
. . . . . Theodore Roosevelt, Inaugural address, 4 March, 1905
"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own federal and republican principles, our attachment to our union and representative government."
. . . . . Thomas Jefferson, 1st Inaugural Address, ME, Vol 3, pg 320
"The genius of republican liberty seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people, but that those intrusted with it should be kept in dependence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and that even during this short period the trust should be placed not in a few, but a number of hands. Stability, on the contrary, requires that the hands in which power is lodged should continue for a length of time the same. A frequent change of men will result from a frequent return of elections; and a frequent change of measures from a frequent change of men; whilst energy in government requires not only a certain duration of power, but the execution of it by single hand."
. . . . . James Madison, The Federalist 37
". . . in a monarchy the latent force of the nation is superior to that of the sovereign, and a solemn charter of popular rights must have a great effect, as a standard for trying the validity of public acts, and a signal for rousing & uniting the superior force of the community; whereas in a popular Government, the political and physical power may be considered as vested in the same hands, that is in a majority of the people, and consequently the tyrannical will of the sovereign is not to be controuled by the dread of an appeal to any other force within the community."
. . . . . James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 17 October, 1788
"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. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
. . . . . James Madison, The Federalist 51
Auxiliary precautions such as, the Bill Of Rights, no standing army if possible and, if impossible, funding only two years at a time, and elections held often. Perhaps its now time to add term limits to the list, hmmmm?
Thanks for the quotes. BTTT!
From your lips to God’s ear. It should be so obvious. I want to believe there’s going to be a massive takeback in ‘10, but everything I believed about the brilliance of our founding documents always being superior to the dumbery of the American voting public has been turned on it’s head. Still, I hope. Hope might indeed be on the way.
This was posted once before in 1998, and I have been looking for it ever since. I wrote an essay describing the circumstances under which this was written, and I think I’ll rewrite it and post it to this thread.
I found the letter while trying to authenticate this quote:
Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.
In each of its Internet locations there is no context or citation. I wanted more, so I started searching. I even wrote James Madison Univeristy and the director of the JMLibrary said that he never heard that quote and he doubted its authenticity.
Are there any freepers out there who can provide a context for the "quote?"
Seriously, these are disgusting people. Soon many citizens will start to understand that they have been played as fools by one of the most corrupt factions in US history. They are using guilt as their principle weapon; it will backfire.
Freneau published the newspaper, dedicated to the positions of Thomas Jeffersons faction within the Congress and the council around His Excellency, while working for the red-haired Secretary of State as a translator. Mr. Jefferson saw no difficulty or conflict with this arrangement.
Freneau had labeled the men of Alexander Hamiltons faction as monarchists, Tories, and anti-republicans, claiming their role was to reverse the results of 1776. The Secretary of the Treasury had labeled the men around Mr. Jefferson as sympathizers of the ongoing unpleasantness in France.
Though relations between Hamilton and Madison had grown testy of late, there was enough residual friendship for Alec to invite Jemmy to the tavern just off Philadelphias High Street for a dinner with his allies. Always hungry for spirited discussion and debate, Jemmy had accepted with alacrity.
Following a bottle of Madeira, Hamilton was always moved to loquacity; because of this he was a highly sought guest at dinners in New York, where he would hold the attention of a room with his conviviality. It was Jemmys secret hope that Alec would say something to inspire the article he was to deliver to Freneau.
In addition to Madison and Hamilton, seated around the table were Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, Elias Boudinot of New Jersey, and the young, dashing Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire.
As Jemmy swallowed his first glass of Madeira, the feeling of warmth spread from his stomach to his limbs. He was going to have to be careful tonight.
James Madison was a man of abstemious habits who did not smoke, and drank only in moderation with meals. He recalled a dinner at the home of James Wilson some five years earlier during the late convention when Wilson attempted to school Madison on his idea of direct election of the president by the people without regard to state. When that idea failed for good reasons Wilson had designed on the spot an Electoral College. Jemmy remembered speaking with Wilson in his dining room after far too much Madeira and Port, then suddenly standing in Wilsons back yard with his hands on a golf club in front of something called a putting green. Wilson was standing behind him, his arms wrapped around Madison, telling him in his soft Scottish burr the proper way of wielding a wooden club against a ball. How he had gone from the dining room to the back yard was still a mystery. Jemmy made a mental note to stop drinking at a reasonable time.
Alec was working on his second bottle, and Jemmy could not help but joust with Ames and Boudinot about the preservation of the peoples liberties. Would not the people be the best served by the maintenance of their own vigilance?
Hamilton snorted. The people? They are stupid and licentious. A mob. Once they have established a government, they should think of obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their betters.
Alec, you are in fine fettle tonight, he thought. I must write that one down.
I will stipulate that slavery has been the general lot of humanity, answered Jemmy, like the earnest student of history that he was. People have been ignorant, asleep and divided. But what does that prove? Are you saying that because people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up to those who have an interest in betraying them? Would it not make more sense to conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, awakened and united? Then, after establishing a government, they should watch over it.
Boudinot laughed. Youre only looking at the surface, Mr. Madison. The truth is in the depths.
It is not the government that will fly off from the people, but the people that will fly off from the government, Hamilton interjected corrosively. Enlighten the government, warn it to be vigilant, give it influence and arm it with force. To the people I have only one word Obey.
Gilman looked askance at Hamilton. It was apparent that Hamilton was preparing a five hour oration similar to the one Gilman had sat through at the first session of the Philadelphia convention. Gilman remembered what five hours without a break at the pissing trough felt like.
Colonel Hamilton, Gilman interjected carefully, I should think that the centrifugal tendency is with the people, not the government. The secret lies in restraining that tendency by increasing the attractive principle of government. I should find it a perversion of the natural order of things to make power the primary and central object of the social system and liberty but a satellite.
Hamilton swallowed a bit and deflated briefly. Jemmy made a mental note to have Jefferson speak with Gilman; he could become an ally. Jemmy swallowed another glass of Madeira, in spite of the warning voice in his head. Hamilton thought a bit before responding to his young political ally.
Colonel Gilman, the more you increase the attractive force of power, the more you enlarge the sphere of liberty. The more you make government independent from the people, the better security you provide for their rights and interests.
Alec, old friend, said Jemmy with a smile, I find that line of thought at least mysterious, if not illogical. This is not religion. This is about the institutions of man.
But Jemmy, Hamilton said with the genuine friendship shown to an intellectual equal, this is about religion. At least in a sense. Citizens, or subjects, require the light of faith and the spirit of obedience. Without that, government becomes the accomplice of atheism and anarchy.
Madison, who had been trained for the ministry, found himself on familiar ground. Alexander Hamilton had hanged himself with a noose of his own design. The article for Freneau could be written in jig time. All it required was a wasps sting for a conclusion. The sentence shaped itself in Madisons brain long before his quill pen hit hemp paper.
I denounce you to the people as a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny.
There! A bit strong for an old friend, but the article would be published under a pseudonym anyway.
Jemmy staggered out of the tavern a few hours later as the knot under his forehead expanded to cover most of his brain. This would be a bad one, he knew. He quietly climbed the spiral staircase at Mrs. Swintons boarding house, entered his room and lit a candle. He had to begin the article at once before the thoughts fled his brain in pain.
Who are the best keepers of the peoples liberties? he wrote.
As he labored, his presto jig time slowed to an adagio, then a stately largo. But he had to finish this now; Freneau was waiting.
When Mrs. Swinton rang the bell for breakfast, it echoed in his head like the peals from the great bells of the Gloria Dei church down the street.
James Madison promised himself he would never drink again.
Ping to the addition by Publius - it’s good!
For years I have maintained that if one does not truly believe in God, they will believe in government.
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