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My Years of collecting Patriotic Wisdom:

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."   - Patrick Henry
“The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing. (October 27, 1964)”   - Ronald Reagan

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."    - Thomas Jefferson

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."  - Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Archibald Stuart - 1791)

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."   - James Madison
(attributed to Madison, by his contemporaries)

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
- Thomas Jefferson (attributed to Jefferson, by his contemporaries)

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."
- James Madison

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.   - -Thomas Jefferson

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious."   - Thomas Jefferson
[What would Jefferson say today?]

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."    - Benjamin Franklin
(on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania - 1759)

 "When once a  republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by  removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles;  every other correction is either useless or a new evil." - Thomas Jefferson

 "The only maxim of a free government ought to be to  trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."   -  John Adams

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
- Thomas Jefferson (attributed to Jefferson, by his contemporaries)

“Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism”   - Barry Goldwater

"Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom."   - Patrick Henry

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."   - Abraham Lincoln

"We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts--not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."   - Abraham Lincoln

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
- Abraham Lincoln

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."   - Thomas Jefferson  [What would Jefferson say today?]

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

"I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy."   - Thomas Jefferson  [What would Jefferson say today?]

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."   -Thomas Jefferson

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."   -Noah Webster

"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."   - Thomas Jefferson

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."   - Samuel Adams

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.... If the next centennial does not find us a great nation ... it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."   - James Garfield  (Twentieth president of the United States, 1877)

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."  - Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation."   - President James Madison
(1751-1836) speech, Virginia Convention, 1788)

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
     - Thomas Paine

"I used to say that Politics is the second oldest profession [prostitution being the oldest], but I have come to realize that it bears a gross similarity to the first."   - Ronald Reagan

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."   - Theodore Roosevelt

"On every question of construction [of the Constitution], let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."    - Thomas Jefferson  (letter to William Johnson,  June 12, 1823)

"One man with courage is a majority."    - Thomas Jefferson

"I consider  trial by jury  as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  - Thomas Jefferson

"Our citizens  may be deceived for awhile, and  have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light."  - Thomas Jefferson

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."    - Wendell Phillips
(speech in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 1852, citing Thomas Jefferson, though it has also been attributed to Patrick Henry)

"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."   — John Quincy Adams    (attributed to Adams, by his contemporaries)

"Property is the fruit of labor-property is desirable - it is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence..."   - Abraham Lincoln
 (reply to the New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association,   Mar. 21, 1864)

"... rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our own will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual"    - Thomas Jefferson
(Letter to Isaac H. Tiffany - 1819)

"On every question of construction [of the Constitution], let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."      - Thomas Jefferson  (letter to William Johnson) June 12, 1823

“The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have [to] bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”  - Hugo Black

History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.
 - Thomas Jefferson

"Our properties within our own territories [should not] be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own."   - Thomas Jefferson

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"   -Patrick Henry

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.
 - Thomas Jefferson

The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles.   - John Adams

"In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
-  Thomas Jefferson

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."   - Thomas Paine

"I hope a tax will be preferred [to a loan which threatens to saddle us with a perpetual debt], because it will awaken the attention of the people and make reformation and economy the principle of the next election. The frequent recurrence of this chastening operation can alone restrain the propensity of governments to enlarge expense beyond income."
-Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1820. [What would Jefferson say today?]
With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
- James Madison
"A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins."   - Benjamin Franklin

"The Tenth Amendment is the foundation of the Constitution."  - Thomas Jefferson

"It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution."
- James Madison, Father of the Constitution.

"The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it."
- James Madison

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare... they may appoint teachers in every state... The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."  - James Madison

"The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing."   - John Adams

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself."   - John Adams

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
 - John Adams  (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31)

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."   - Samuel Adams

"He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man....The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people."   - Samuel Adams

"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
- Charles Carroll  (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)

"Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master."  - Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God Governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"   - Benjamin Franklin

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"   - Benjamin Franklin

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few his precepts!
O! 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments."
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757

"Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature."   - Benjamin Franklin

"Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants."   - Benjamin Franklin

"It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains."   - Patrick Henry

"The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable; and let it come! I repeat, Sir, let it come!"   - Patrick Henry

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."
 - Patrick Henry

"History, in general, only informs us what bad government is."  - Thomas Jefferson (1807)

"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
- Thomas Jefferson

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, (A)nd if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."   - Thomas Jefferson

"I never ... believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man."
- Thomas Jefferson   (In a letter to Don Valentine de Feronda, 1809)

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."
 -Thomas Jefferson

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."   - Thomas Jefferson   (To Charles Yancey, 1816)

"Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step over the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! -- All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a Thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."   - Abraham Lincoln

"We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."   - Abraham Lincoln's  1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."   - Abraham Lincoln

"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."  - Abraham Lincoln

"I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should first be those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on them personally."   - Abraham Lincoln

"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war [civil war] is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood ... It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."
 - President Abraham Lincoln
The passage appears in a letter from Lincoln to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864, Hertz II, 954, in Archer H. Shaw, The Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: Macmillan, 1950), p. 40

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe."   - Abraham Lincoln

"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end... I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me."   - Abraham Lincoln

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical".   - Thomas Jefferson

"Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of their effort; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone, and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before high heaven and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my love.

And who that thinks with me will not fearlessly adopt the oath that I take? Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country's freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we never faltered in defending."
President Abraham Lincoln, Speech, Springfield, Illinois, Dec 20, 1839. I, 137, in Archer H. Shaw, The Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: Macmillan, 1950), p. 64. Full quote from Project Gutenberg