"Landholders ought to have a share in the government
to support these invaluable interests and check the other many.
They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority
of the opulent against the majority."
James Madison
(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 3rd ed., vol. I., p. 422
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Reader comments about this quote:
Landholders should understand they wouldn't be the minority opulent if it were not for the majority they so often take advantage of... and today it is via the government that they already control that they often accieve this too.
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    In such a fledgling representative republic as was the new United States, the "how" to secure individual rights was not exactly clear. Landholders, by many, and for many reasons, were thought to be the primary principal in securing such rights. Though the thought was not totally accurate or perfect, it did have a lot of merit, look how the government now treats land ownership (taxes it as though it owns it, will take it for any reason it wants, etc.)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    By way of example to my above statement: At the time, most land owners were small family farmers and merchants wanting not much more from government than protection from thieves and other hostiles. Immigrants were coming to the U.S. for no other reason than to own their own land, wanting independence, owing their reliance on no man. It was that self reliant fire of conviction that was thought to resist the need for a king or socialist mentality (which was popular in European academia of the day).
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    It does not take opulence to be a landowner and stakeholder unless you CHOOSE to live in a socialist urban area, where subsides for the do nothings cause prices to be outrageous for those who actually have to pay their own way. And guess what? The poor do not employ people. Madison and Jay were correct and are relevant even more now. Mike you seem to have THIS ONE figured out, assuming you see that it is still relevant along with what SHOULD be expected from government.
     -- helorat, Milton     
    Well, folks, that is the difference between a democracy and a republic. America was the only country at the time that granted land rights to citizens. Even today the Queen of England owns every square inch of the land in England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and a host of other British commonwealths. The land is hers and it is not for sale. In a free republic however land owners are indeed the 'electors' -- otherwise, the tenants could vote away the land from their current owners. Do some research on 'electors' and land patents -- these were the qualifications for having your vote counted when electing a govenor or president. Any American can hold allodial title to land -- those that do so are supposed to be protected against those that wish merely to be dependents and tenants. The key difference being that tenants and owners alike all have inalienable rights as well as the protection of their private property. WIthout property rights, there is no republic.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Reston has it right. One interesting point is that Madison began to see the truth later in life and reversed many ideas such as quoted here.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
    Innalienable rights should never be determined by what land and title one owns.
     -- JT Ready, Mesa, Az     
    E Archer hits it right on the head. It doesn't give carte blanche to the property owners to subjugate and enslave the lower class, but to have rights to their own property i.e: to not succumb to majority public pressure to divide up property owners' land amongst everyone equally (at the time), which could be easily done given the large difference in numbers. It secured rights for everyone, as well as separate rights fro property owners from the tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately now the government is enormous and owns everything. America looks more like the baloney constitutional monarchy I live in Canada than a free republic. I sure hope you guys do something about it so I have something to fight for.
     -- Anonymous, Alberta, Canada     
    @ Dick: if what you say is true please quote a source. Not that I doubt you, I just like to verify. As for Madison's quote, it is the epitome of what the wealthy believe and they use it to great end. They control the means of production and effectively control the minds of the middle class into pursuing what is only a limited resource - property. The wealthy take from the poor and middle class in that they live off of the labor of those classes [paying barely subsistence wages.] They control the banking system that owns the mortgages of those lower classes, keeping them locked into perpetual debt. They conscript labor both for industry and war, while avoiding getting their hands dirty by being on the front lines of any struggle other than the competitive struggle of who controls more wealth. The corporations the rich control pollute the planet and persecute those who stand in their way. The wealthy somehow believe that, because they are wealthy they are better. They may be but only in one way - they are better at getting rich. When there is only so much of a resource, there is only so much that can be distributed. Last they control not just the means of production, they control the rule making that governs that production through organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council as well as the US government - among others.
     -- Steve, Nordland, WA     
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