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The Federalist Papers Quotes

20 of the best book quotes from The Federalist Papers
  1. #1
    “Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed, than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.”
  2. #2
    “Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment, without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourish faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”
  3. #3
    “A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.”
  4. #4
    “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.”
  5. #5
    “In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.”
  6. #6
    “The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.”
  1. #7
    “If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.”
  2. #8
    “If these states should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, a man must be far gone in Utopian speculations, who can seriously doubt that the subdivisions into which they might be thrown, would have frequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests, as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent unconnected sovereignties, situated in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.”
  3. #9
    “It is, that in a democracy, the people meet and exercise the government in person: in a republic, they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents. A democracy, consequently, must be confined to a small spot. A republic may be extended over a large region.”
  4. #10
    “Let the compromising expedient of the constitution be mutually adopted, which regards them as inhabitants, but as debased by servitude below the equal level of free inhabitants, which regards the slave as divested of two-fifths of the man.”
  5. #11
    “Complaints are everywhere heard […] that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”
  6. #12
    “A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual.”
  1. #13
    “Hence it is that such 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 deaths. ”
  2. #14
    “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.”
  3. #15
    “This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the [people’s] immediate representatives. ”
  4. #16
    “In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will. ”
  5. #17
    “A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.”
  6. #18
    “It is a just observation, that the people commonly intend the public good. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend, that they always reason right about the means of promoting it.”
  7. #19
    “The idea of restraining the legislative authority, in the means for providing for the national defence, is one of those refinements, which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more ardent than enlightened.”
  8. #20
    “…but cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the greater, not the perfect good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness, involves a discretion which may be misapplied an abused.”
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