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Famous Quotes and Quotations about Sovereignty

Sovereignty Quotes 1-50 out of 276
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All good government is and must be republican. But at the same time, you can or will agree with me, that there is not in lexicography a more fraudulent word... Are we not, my friend, in danger of rendering the word republican unpopular in this country by an indiscreet, indeterminate, and equivocal use of it? [...] Whenever I use the word republic with approbation, I mean a government in which the people have collectively, or by representation, an essential share in the sovereignty... the republican forms in Poland and Venice are much worse, and those of Holland and Bern very little better, than the monarchical form in France before the late revolution.
more John Adams quotes
If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations... And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history... To remedy the dangers attendant upon the arbitrary use of power, checks, however multiplied, will scarcely avail without an explicit admission some limitation of the right of the majority to exercise sovereign authority over the individual citizen... In popular governments [democracies], minorities [individuals] constantly run much greater risk of suffering from arbitrary power than in absolute monarchies...
more John Adams quotes
The poor people, it is true, have been much less successful than the great. They have seldom found either leisure or opportunity to form a union and exert their strength; ignorant as they were of arts and letters, they have seldom been able to frame and support a regular opposition. This, however, has been known by the great to be the temper of mankind; and they have accordingly labored, in all ages, to wrest from the populace, as they are contemptuously called, the knowledge of their rights and wrongs, and the power to assert the former or redress the latter. I say RIGHTS, for such they have, undoubtedly, antecedent to all earthly government, Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws, Rights, derived from the great Legislator of the universe.
more John Adams quotes
The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations ... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.
more John Adams quotes
A question arises whether all the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judicial, shall be left in this body? I think a people cannot be long free, nor ever happy, whose government is in one Assembly.
more John Adams quotes
no good government but what is republican... the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.'
more John Adams quotes
We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.
more John Adams quotes
[You have Rights] antecedent to all earthly governments: Rights, that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; Rights, derived from the Great Legislator of the universe.
more John Adams quotes
Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.
more John Adams quotes
If Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington knew what a republic was, the British constitution is much more like a republic than an empire. They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men. If this definition is just, the British constitution is nothing more or less than a republic, in which the king is first magistrate. This office being hereditary, and being possessed of such ample and splendid prerogatives, is no objection to the government's being a republic, as long as it is bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend.
more John Adams quotes
It may perhaps be a Sufficient Recommendation of this Article to say that it was introduced by Mr Charles Pinkney of South Carolina, and he ought to have the Glory of it. But I confess I never understood it, and I believe no other Man ever did or ever will. A Republican Government is a Government of more than one. The Word Republick has been used, it is true by learned Men to Signify every actual and every possible Government among Men, that of Constantinople as well as that of Geneva. But the most accurate Writers distinguish Republicks from Despotisms and Simple Monarchies, and call every Government by that name in which more than one Person is concerned in the Sovereignty, and in this Sense the Kingdoms of Sparta Poland and England were Republicks as truely as Saint Marino. Venice Holland and other States were universally called Republicks both by the Learned and unlearned; yet the People in these States had certainly no more Liberty than those of England or France. The most Accurate distinction then has been between free Republicks and Republicks which are not free. It is not even said in our Constitution that the People shall be guarranteed in a Free Republican Government. The Word is So loose and indeffinite that Successive Predominant Factions will put Glosses and Constructions upon it as different as light and darkness, and if ever there should be a Civil War which Heaven forbid, the conquering General in all his Tryumphs may establish a Military Despotism and yet call it a constitutional Republic as Napoleon has already Set him the Example. The only Effect of it that I could ever See, is to deceive the People: and this practice my heart abhors my head disapproves, and my Tongue my Pen have ever avoided.
more John Adams quotes
Individual liberty is individual power, and as the power of a community is a mass compounded of individual powers, the nation which enjoys the most freedom must necessarily be in proportion to its numbers the most powerful nation.
more John Quincy Adams quotes
But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the RIGHT, but in the HEART. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it !) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other, when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interests shall fester into hatred, the bonds of political association - will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies ; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship with each other than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect Union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the center.
more John Quincy Adams quotes
If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.
more Samuel Adams quotes
Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.
more Mortimer Adler quotes
I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope
more Aeschylus quotes
I have everything, yet have nothing; and although I possess nothing, still of nothing am I in want.
more Publius Terentius Afer quotes
I call the mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master [and] receives new truth as an angel from Heaven.
more Woody Allen quotes
Freedom of thought and freedom of speech in our great institutions are absolutely necessary for the preservation of our country. The moment either is restricted, liberty begins to wither and die...
more John Peter Altgeld quotes
In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign.... Secondly, a just cause.... Thirdly ... a rightful intention.
more Saint Thomas Aquinas quotes
I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.
more Pietro Aretino quotes
What a pity, when Christopher Columbus discovered America, that he ever mentioned it.
more Margot Asquith quotes
Truth always originates in a minority of one, and every custom begins as a broken precedent.
more Nancy Astor quotes
The right to unite freely and to separate freely is the first and most important of all political rights.
more Mikhail A. Bakunin quotes
Liberty means that a man is recognized as free and treated as free by those who surround him.
more Mikhail A. Bakunin quotes
Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it.
more Tallulah Bankhead quotes
What a curious phenomenon it is that you can get men to die for the liberty of the world who will not make the little sacrifice that is needed to free themselves from their own individual bondage.
more Bruce Barton quotes
They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve... But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn't belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish that law without delay ... No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate).
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
All forms of tampering with human beings, getting at them, shaping them against their will to your own pattern, all thought control and conditioning is, therefore, a denial of that in men which makes them men and their values ultimate.
more Isaiah Berlin quotes
A national government is a government of the people of a single state or nation, united as a community by what is termed the 'social compact,’ and possessing complete and perfect supremacy over persons and things, so far as they can be made the lawful objects of civil government. A federal government is distinguished from a national government by its being the government of a community of independent and sovereign states, united by compact.
more Black's Law Dictionary quotes
Militia: The body of citizens in a state, enrolled for discipline as a military force, but not engaged in actual service except in emergencies, as distinguished from regular troops or a standing army.
more Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd Edition quotes
Q. What is meant by the term “constitution”?
A. A constitution embodies the fundamental principles of a government. Our constitution, adopted by the sovereign power, is amendable by that power only. To the constitution all laws, executive actions, and judicial decisions must conform, as it is the creator of the powers exercised by the departments of government.
Q. Why has our Constitution been classed as “rigid”?
A. The term “rigid” is used in opposition to “flexible” because the provisions are in a written document which cannot be legally changed with the same ease and in the same manner as ordinary laws. The British constitution, which is unwritten, can, on the other hand be changed overnight by an act of Parliament. ...
Q. Where, in the Constitution, is there mention of education?
A. There is none; education is a matter reserved for the States. ...
Q. Does the Constitution give us our rights and liberties?
A. No, it does not, it only guarantees them. The people had all their rights and liberties before they made the Constitution. The Constitution was formed, among other purposes, to make the people’s liberties secure -- secure not only as against foreign attack but against oppression by their own government. They set specific limits upon their national government and upon the States, and reserved to themselves all powers that they did not grant. The Ninth Amendment declares: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

more Sol Bloom quotes
Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.
more Justice Louis D. Brandeis quotes
[The founding fathers] conferred, as against the Government, the right to be left alone -- the right most valued by civilized men.
more Justice Louis D. Brandeis quotes
Individualism is at once an ethical-psychological concept and an ethical-political one. As an ethical-psychological concept, individualism holds that a human being should think and judge independently, respecting nothing more than the sovereignty of his or her mind; thus, it is intimately connected with the concept of autonomy. As an ethical-political concept, individualism upholds the supremacy of individual rights ...
more Nathaniel Branden quotes
Be assured that if this new provision [the 14th Amendment] be engrafted in the Constitution, it will, in time, change the entire structure and texture of our government, and sweep away all the guarantees of safety devised and provided by our patriotic Sires of the Revolution.
more Orville Browning quotes
Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.
more Buddha quotes
All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people.
more James Burgh quotes
No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.
more James Burgh quotes
The wish, which ages have not yet subdued In man, to have no master save his mood.
more Lord Byron quotes
It is federal, because it is the government of States united in a political union, in contradistinction to a government of individuals, that is, by what is usually called, a social compact. To express it more concisely, it is federal and not national because it is the government of a community of States, and not the government of a single State or Nation.
more John C. Calhoun quotes
...no nation which signs this [UN] Charter can justly maintain that any of its acts are its own business, or within its own domestic jurisdiction, if the security council says that these acts are a threat to the peace.
more William Carr quotes
But there is another strong objection which I, one of the laziest of all the children of Adam, have against the Leisure State. Those who think it could be done argue that a vast machinery using electricity, water-power, petrol, and so on, might reduce the work imposed on each of us to a minimum. It might, but it would also reduce our control to a minimum. We should ourselves become parts of a machine, even if the machine only used those parts once a week. The machine would be our master, for the machine would produce our food, and most of us could have no notion of how it was really being produced.
more Gilbert Keith Chesterton quotes
The Act of Congress which we are impugning before you is communistic in its purposes and tendencies, and is defended here upon principles as communistic, socialistic - what shall I call them - populistic as ever have been addressed to any political assembly in the world.
more Joseph H. Choate quotes
If for no other reason, personal pride should prompt every governor and state legislator to take a secessionist attitude; they were not elected to be lackeys of the federal bureaucracy.
more Frank Chodorov quotes
Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
more Sir Winston Churchill quotes
Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world: 'We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls.'
more Sir Winston Churchill quotes
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