"We have staked the whole future of American civilization,
not upon the power of government, far from it.
We have staked the future ...upon the capacity of each and all of us
to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves,
according to the Ten Commandments of God."
by:
James Madison
(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Source:
{Falsely attributed} Alley, Robert S. 1997. "Memo to U.S. Congress: Thou Shalt Not Bear False History." In Church & State, June 1997, vol. 50, no. 6.
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
This quote has been proven to be a fabrication long ago. He never said it.
 -- John Lipton, Atlanta, GA     
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    Yes, I have also done some research, and there is no verifiable source for this quote. Interesting to note however that the 10 Commandments (represented by 2 tablets) appear in many locations in the US Supreme Court building -- the facade, the doors, lots of places. Mosaic Law is certainly the foundation of Common Law.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    If one person in his book states that this quote does not belong to Madison, are you going to believe him? Give us some proof, that what you say is true, before you make any conclusions. By the way great quote!
     -- Anonymous     
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    Except for the fact that those two tablets that you claim represent the Ten Commandments that appear on the US Supreme Court building facade, doors and such actually represent the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution, not the Ten Commandments.
     -- James, Minneapolis     
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    I visited the House of Repesentatives in August James. Carved in wood behind the Speaker's Chair and NEVER shown on TV, "In God We Trust"
     -- Jeff-, St Paul     
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     -- j, no      
    if it wasn't James Madison, then who said it???
     -- joe, midland, mi     
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    Not shooting the unknown messenger, on its face, the statement is absolutely accurate. Archer, you hit it on the head. I've researched the roots of common law and it definitely predates the British Isles monarchical stare decisis and even Rome's European stay. 5 stars for accuracy, no matter who said it.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    whoever said it! it's a good quote...
     -- Robert, Somewhere in Europe     
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    Actually there were 15 commandments but Moses dropped one of the stone tablets on the way down the mountain. It was hard for Moses to carry 3 stone tablets down the mountain, so we have to cut him some slack.
     -- Jim k, Austin     
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    " And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned ? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest : for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman ? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered , With a great sum obtained I this Freedom. And Paul said, But I was Free Born. " ( Acts 22:25 thru 28 ) There are 635 laws, some would say 613. The point being that within the OT laws are contained the doctrines of liberty. 13 laws pertaining to barrowing and lending of money and the exaction of taxes from one of your own nation. Not one jot or tittle shall be removed. Cursed is every one that continueth not in ALL things written in the book of the law to do them. The law is holy, just and good, but without faith it is imposable to please God. The law given to Israel and Paul sent to the Gentiles with the message of Grace and Liberty. " I say then, have they ( Israel ) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles for to provoke them to jealousy. As concerning the gospel, ( the message of Liberty ), they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Fathers' sake. " ( Romans 11:11,28 ) " Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. ( Romans 5:18,20,21 ) Once freed always free. The power is in the blood ! Let no man bring you into bondage by way of the law of works. " For by grace are you saved through faith ( the faith of Christ ); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast. " Ephesians 2:8,9.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
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    If James Madison was alive in 1939 he might have said it. That is when the quote first appeared.
     -- Bryan, Hopkins     
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    Thank you Ronw13


     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    This is one of many lies told by Christian nationalists.

    Those aren't the 10 Commandments. They're the Bill of Rights.

    HINT: Roman numerals are used. Those did not exist when Mosaic law was recorded.

    HINT 2: We know this because the architect of the Supreme Court building kept scrupulous notes about every sculpture, frieze, column, etc.
     -- Dr_JSH, Tempe     
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    It's not a great quote. It's a manipulative lie to trick people into thinking the United States is a Christian nation, that Christians and Christianity have primacy in society, and that there is no barrier between (certain) Christians' religious proscriptions and law.

    It is a horrendous quote because it perverts Madison into someone he was not. Madison NEVER exalted the 10 commandments in any of his writings. He was meticulous about the wall of separation between church and state.

    You insist you want a negative proved. That's unrealistic. The burden is on David Barton (known liar about US history) to document where he found this quote, which appeared in one of his dirty-trickster books. And this he did not do.
     -- Dr_JSH, Tempe     
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    A liar who intended to manipulate people into believing the United States is a Christian nation.
     -- Dr_JSH, Tempe     
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    There is nothing accurate in the quote.

    James Madison would never claim the 10 Commandments were integral to US law  because they weren't.

    This is  Christian-nationalist lie. The Constitution purposely excludes all mentions of Christianity and all other religious. We have a secular government, intentionally.

    I'm stunned by (1) how many Christians bald-face lie to rally support for the nonsense the United States is a Christian nation and (2) the myriad upon myriad people who are so uninformed of US history and gullible that they absorb and believe this false history by osmosis. No skepticism at all.
     -- Dr_JSH, Tempe     
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    We in the United States of America have staked the whole future on the realization that men and women are truly honorable and good, and will respond responsible to the forces that existence will challenge us. Socialism is the vision of social abilities to create.


     -- Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown     
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    JSH, your bigoted and prejudiced misinterpretation of terms and their use(s) is extremely stereotypical of a Woke bubble within an echo chamber enclave. It is absolutely accurate that the States united was to be a secular nation in harmony with "the laws of nature and of nature's God" (Declaration of Independence). The occupying statist theocracy currently infesting this land has clearly established itself as the national establishment of religion. Please don't try and use a WIKI definition of religion, it is meant to rewrite history for the uniformed and gullible.

    FYI, the legal use of "god" in a secular jurisprudence does not denote an extra human experience (such as acts of god for insurance purposes — it is simply a phraseology that means something that is out of control of corporeal man). 

    As there are personal, social and extra human references within the decalogue, it is obvious that all of the 10 Commandants was NOT to be the premise of a jurisprudence that was to be an ancient Hebrew natural / secular law (law of nature and nature's God; not a Greek / academic / philosophical or morally based natural law or legal positivism — morality was not to be legislated) — personal sovereignty (with servant representatives thereof), inalienable rights and liberty.


     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Sillik, you had me until your last sentence. Now, I can't quit uncontrollably laughing while shaking my lowered head ;-). From your kingly perch, what are you smoking to give such vision(s) 
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Hmm, you may well be right.  Where are those scrupulous notes?  I'd definitely be interested in all the details.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The quote is labeled as False.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Canonical Law is the root of the British Common Law and American Common Law.  All the legal terminology still in Latin has its origins in the Catholic canonical law. 
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    And don't forget the Bill of Rights are rules for the government to follow because the rights of humankind cannot be legislated into or out of existence  they are inherent from birth, from our Creator, referred to as Nature's God in the Declaration of Independence.  This is the very foundation of America.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    "Secular" does not mean atheistic.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Also, the Ivy League colleges of today were seminaries originally.  The Jesuits can be credited with most of the work on jurisprudence around the world.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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