"All communities divide themselves into the few and the many.
The first are the rich and the well-born;
the other the mass of the people ... turbulent and changing,
they seldom judge or determine right.
Give therefore to the first class
a distinct, permanent share in the Government ...
Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy."
Alexander Hamilton
(1757-1804) American statesman, Secretary of the Treasury
speech to the Constitutional Convention concerning the United States Senate, 06/18/1787, quoted in the notes of Judge Yates
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Stack, Greenwood      
Hamilton's quote demonstrates that our form of government is not nor was ever intended to be a democracy. His classifying society into non-racist groups but economic groups and the political implications and consequences of doing so is a way of thinking that has become foreign to most Americans. Nevertheless, giving any group a permanent seat in government reveals Hamilton's monarchial tendency, whch was not even embraced in his own time.
 -- Peter, Detroit     
  • 2 1
    this quote suxxxxxx!!!!! but i still gave it a three
     -- cazuu, bethlaham     
    Typical Hamilton genius. A republic, not a democracy - we should teach that more often.
     -- Derrick, Minster     
  • 2
    the quote shows what he thnks. i love it
     -- jk, pi     
    Brilliant observation of a man who actually studied history. It is unwise for only the wise to rule. Who defines who is wise? Let the people decide (young and old, male and female, educated and unlearned), but let their passions, prejudices, and, God-forbid, their hatred be checked according to established law -- law wherein the majority cannot infringe, even in the apex of panic and frenzy! Let that law be absolute, static, and eternal! Let that law be the laws of nature wherein the earth, man, and societies must always be checked, regardless of their perceptions, attitudes, and feelings towards it! I can hate gravity, but will forever be subject to it; I can hate it that I cannot spend more than I make and be financially stable, but I am subject to things as they naturally are; I can hate it that I can put crap into my body and then feel like crap, but only I am to blame and the natural course of nature soldiers on! Peter from Detroit makes a valid argument.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
  • 2
    great comments - Trying to establish a non-turbulent, non-changing, determinant of right based on Hamilton's historically perceived (-;objective thought;-), as Logan has show demonstrates what jk says about Hamilton. Peter touched on Hamilton's monarchial tendency, illustrating how no one individual's specific application of securing law, order, freedom, liberty, and all else that would dispell democracy, with its imprudence, was implemented.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 2
    The Libs love to keep the haves and the have nots fighting with each other. They always want to "tax the rich" and there is always morons who buy into this nonsense. These are the folk voting for B.O.
     -- jim k, austin     
  • 2 2
    In John Adams' 'Defence of the Constitution' he identifies 3 primary powers from which republics throughout history were formed -- monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical. When any one of these powers ruled the others, there was tyranny. The government formed by the Constitution meant to balance these powers with the Executive, Senate, and House of Representatives respectively. I'm not a big fan of Hamilton, but he was speaking of the Senate in this quote which was originally appointed by the state legislatures with the governor's approval. The Senate was to represent the aristocratic interests, primarily the wealthy and powerful, even though they were a minority compared with the masses of poorer classes. Of course the majority of the poorer classes would vote away the property of the wealthy -- that is why their 'democratic' power needed to be checked and vice versa. One key difference in America compared with almost any other nation in Europe at the time was that any man could own land which could NEVER be taxed! Unheard of in England where all land belongs to the Crown and only 'title' was given -- the Dukes still needed to pay tribute to the Crown for it and the King could take it back any time. In America, the 'electors' were land owners, and only their votes were counted for governor and President, again, to check the imprudence of democracy. However, the federal government over the decades has usurped its Constitutional mandate little by little and has become a de facto democracy, no longer respecting property rights, making perpetual war on the lives and property of people domestic and foreign. When all 3 branches support 'legalized' robbery, you have democracy.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 2
    doesnt have any info sorry
     -- california, irvine     
  • 1
     -- Breanna, Russellville      
     -- fgg      
     -- alexander, hamilton      
    dude is a GENUIS!! not a democracy a rebulic!!!
     -- olivier, chicago     
     -- Anonymous      
    this quote made no sense
     -- Anonymous, hkjhjhjkhjhj     
  • 4
    Hamilton also argued that the U.S. should have a monarch, part of his general wish for the U.S. to be an aristocracy instead of a democracy. Obviously, he was in the minority on the the monarchy and aristocracy issues, which is why the U.S. ended up a democracy instead. We shouldn't think of him as representing the majority view back then or now.
     -- John, Los Angeles     
  • 1
    To me this demonstrates that our form of govenment is not nor was ever intended to be a democracy. . .
     -- ON JAH     
  • 2
    Most of the commenters here don't seem to understand what Hamilton was saying. He didn't trust common people with power. Only elites, "the rich and well-born."

    Indeed, at the Constitutional Convention he argued futilely, thank providence for a president and senate appointed for life. 
     -- Steve Rendall, Jersey City     
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