Alexander Hamilton Quotes | Quotes by Alexander Hamilton
1Learn to think continentally.
2And it proves, in the last place, that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments.
3That experience is the parent of wisdom is an adage the truth of which is recognized by the wisest as well as the simplest of mankind.
4It is just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good.
5As to Taxes, they are evidently inseparable from Government. It is impossible without them to pay the debts of the nation, to protect it from foreign danger, or to secure individuals from lawless violence and rapine.
6In a government framed for durable liberty, not less regard must be paid to giving the magistrate a proper degree of authority, to make and execute the laws with rigour, than to guarding against encroachments upon the rights of the community. As too much power leads to despotism, too little leads to anarchy, and both eventually to the ruin of the people.
7The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.
8Would they not fear that citizens not less tenacious than conscious of their rights would flock from the remotest extremes of their respective states to the places of election, to overthrow their tyrants, and to substitute men who would be disposed to avenge the violated majesty of the people?
9Our countrymen have all the folly of the ass and all the passiveness of the sheep.
10I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all the beneficial purposes of society.
11In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
12Nothing can be more evident, than that an exclusive power of regulating elections for the National Government, in the hands of the State Legislatures, would leave the existence of the Union entirely at their mercy . . . . It is to little purpose to say that a neglect or omission of this kind [not letting the feds have elections], would be unlikely to take place. The constitutional possibility of the thing, without an equivalent for the risk, is an unanswerable objection.
13Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, of which a ready and proper judgment can be formed by the constituents.
14Great Ambition, unchecked by principle, or the love of Glory, is an unruly Tyrant.
15To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted.
16Man is a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal.
17Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence.
18It is a general principle of human nature, that a man will be interested in whatever he possesses, in proportion to the firmness or precariousness of the tenure by which he holds it; will be less attached to what he holds by a momentary or uncertain title, than to what he enjoys by a durable or certain title; and, of course, will be willing to risk more for the sake of the one, than for the sake of the other.
19The laws of certain states . . . give an ownership in the service of Negroes as personal property . . . . But being men, by the laws of God and nature, they were capable of acquiring liberty - and when the captor in war . . . thought fit to give them liberty, the gift was not only valid, but irrevocable.
20The states have authority to interpret the Constitution, enforce it, and protect the people from violations of it by the federal government In the first place, there is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State.
21Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind no longer.
22The injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws, will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing a number of bad ones.
23It is the advertiser who provides the paper for the subscriber. It is not to be disputed, that the publisher of a newspaper in this country, without a very exhaustive advertising support, would receive less reward for his labor than the humblest mechanic.
24The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of their political cares.
25Such a wife as I want... must be young, handsome I lay most stress upon a good shape, sensible a little learning will do, well-bread, chaste, and tender. As to religion, a moderate stock will satisfy me. She must believe in God and hate a saint.
26What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statutes the next.
27Hence, in a state of nature, no man had any moral power to deprive another of his life, limbs, property, or liberty; nor the least authority to command or exact obedience from him, except that which arose from the ties of consanguinity.
28There are some who maintain that trade will regulate itself, and it is not to be benefited by the encouragements or restraints of government. Such persons will imagine that there is no need of a common directing power. This is one of those wild speculative paradoxes, which have grown into credit among us, contrary to the uniform practice and sense of the most enlightened nations.
29If the Constitution is adopted (and it was) the Union will be in fact and in theory an association of States or a Confederacy.
30There are men who could neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of their duty; but this stern virtue is the growth of few soils: And in the main it will be found, that a power over a man's support is a power over his will.
31To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted. Even things in themselves not positively advantageous, sometimes become so, by their tendency to provoke exertion. Every new scene, which is opened to the busy nature of man to rouse and exert itself, is the addition of a new energy to the general stock of effort.
32When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.
33The Christian Constitutional Society, its object is first: The support of the Christian religion. Second: The support of the United States.
34Hitherto my observations have only aimed at a vindication of the provision in question, on the ground of theoretic propriety . . . . But there remains to be mentioned a positive advantage . . . I allude to the circumstance of uniformity in the time of elections for the House of Representatives. It is more than possible, that this uniformity may be found by experience to be of great importance to the public welfare; both as a security against the perpetuation of the same spirit in the body; and as a cure for the diseases of faction.
35It is of the greatest consequence that the debt should, with the consent of the creditors, be remoulded into such a shape as will bring the expenditure of the nation to a level with its income. Till this shall be accomplished, the finances of the United States will never wear a proper countenance. Arrears of interest, continually accruing, will be as continual a monument, either of inability, or of ill faith and will not cease to have an evil influence on public credit.
36Self-preservation is the first principle of our nature.
37If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers, and that the construction they put upon them is conclusive upon the other departments, it may be answered, that this cannot be the natural presumption, where it is not be collected from any particular provisions in the Constitution.
38Here, sir, the people govern; here they act by their immediate representatives.
39Unless your government is respectable, foreigners will invade your rights; and to maintain tranquillity you must be respectable; even to observe neutrality you must have a strong government.
40War, like most other things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by perserverance, by time, and by practice.
41Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind.
42The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.
43When a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense 鈥?to fight the government.
44Nobody expects to trust his body overmuch after the age of fifty.
45If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it. 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.
46An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good.
47There can be no time, no state of things, in which Credit is not essential to a Nation.
48Experience teaches, that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practice, that the simplest and most obvious improvements . . . are adopted with hesitation, reluctance, and slow gradations.
49We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
50The Convention probably foresaw what it has been a principal aim of these papers to inculcate that the danger which most threatens our political welfare is, that the state governments will finally sap the foundations of the Union.
51In testimony of their Respect For The Patriot of incorruptible Integrity, The Soldier of approved Valour The Statesman of consummate Wisdom; Whose Talents and Virtues will be admired By Grateful Posterity Long after this Marble shall have mouldered into Dust.
52I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
53The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will for ever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation.
54Measures which serve to abridge the free competition of foreign Articles, have a tendency to occasion an enhancement of prices.
55[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes - rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments.
56There is nothing absurd or impracticable in the idea of a league or alliance between independent nations for certain defined purposes precisely stated in a treaty regulating all the details of time, place, circumstance, and quantity; leaving nothing to future discretion; and depending for its execution on the good faith of the parties.
57... for it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of insuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.
58...that standing army can never be formidable (threatening) to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in the use of arms.
59There may be in every government a few choice spirits, who may act from more worthy motives. One great error is that we suppose mankind more honest than they are. Our prevailing passions are ambition and interest.
60Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.
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