If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.
The Constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of government most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.
[T]he accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the
majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of government contrary to the sense of its
constituents, but from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.
Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can
only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every
other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the
many under the domination of the few.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
[T]he powers granted by the proposed Constitution are the gift of the people, and may be resumed by them when perverted to
their oppression, and every power not granted thereby remains with the people.
[In the case of] dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil.
A government resting on the minority is an aristocracy, not a republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press and a disarmed populace.
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
A government that does not trust it's law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.
It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.
Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death.
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
[T]he power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.
But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -- no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. ... This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.
Since the general civilization of mankind, 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.
On the distinctive principles of the Government ...
of the U. States, the best guides are to be found in ...
The Declaration of Independence,
as the fundamental Act of Union of these States.