"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     
  • 3 1
    this quote suxxxxxx!!!!! but i still gave it a three
     -- cazuu, bethlaham     
  • 1 1
    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 4
    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     
  • 5
    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     
    Comment by E Archer (2008) above on landownership is nonsense. Land was individually and privately owned under law in England from the 13th Century  enshrined in the principle of freehold in Common Law. It's the basis of British capitalism, the first industrialized economy in the world.The USA embraced those property right principles and is an English Common Law jurisdiction to this day. Hamilton's comment about the failings of democracy has been offered back to Plato and Socrates, decent into mob-rule (as in the US coup of 2021) is always a threat. Hamilton was the greatest realist in early US history, he is responsible for paying off the first federal debt; others like Washington and Jefferson profound slave-owning hypocrites. Americans need to face the truth of their origins instead of that childish good guys bad guys religious crap you readily absorb. 
     -- Dave, Newcastle, UK     

    The land patent was the highest form of ownership to land in England and its colonies.  It was a grant from the Crown in which no more claims could be made by the Crown to the land.  It was freehold property and could not be taxed.  Often military generals were given land patents to land that they had helped conquer.  However land not granted by patent remained as the Crown's land.  Titles to land were given by the Crown but they could also be taken away.  Title is not ownership in allodium.

    When each state joined the Union, the president signed the land patents to the owners in the state.  The federal government can make no claim to any land in any sovereign state, with limited exceptions.

    After the replacement of the nation's currency with commercial paper debt-instruments, (no debts are paid using the currency, just transferring liability for the IOU the notes represent), the Common Law has become mute.

    Gradually the Bureau of Land Management stopped managing the transfer of land patents to their rightful owners because no one is actually buying anything.  Everything is in receivership to the Fed; we are just using coupons issued by our creditors to facilitate the permanent bankruptcy of the USA.

    There are a few people/families that still have their land patents — they know who they are and what they have.  Not just in the US but also in other British Commonwealth countries, like the Bahamas.

    There are no more Common Law courts available to the common man.  All are commercial courts that have usurped the common law and have become criminal law under the Uniform Commercial Code.

    No one in the UK, Canada, Australia, US, etc. owns their land — that's why they must pay taxes on it.  Real estate (royal estate) is the Crown's claim to the buildings and improvements upon the land, even patented land.  Gradually the US returned to a British type property ownership system where real estate is claimed by the State as theirs to tax.  In most real estate transaction in the US, there is a land grant and a real estate transfer.  

    Britain may have been at one time a defender of freehold ownership, but clearly this is not the case today.

     -- E Archer, NYC     
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