Although only a portion of the following quotations relate directly to American government, all reflect the character of the men responsible for America's foundations as a nation.
A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.
Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude.
It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. ... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving the peace.
Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
Fear is the passion of slaves.
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force: Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give to them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one cent, they would be rich. If they have not that, and I had given them the world, they would be poor.
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of the conscience; and it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.
Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.
God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? ... I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.
No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will.
The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.
We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Be slow in choosing friends, slower in changing.
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of
God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
He is ill clothed that is bare of virtue.
He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing.
In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection,” he stated. “Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. … Do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?
Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.
Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Wish not so much to live long as to live well.
Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.
The brave man, inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.
Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and its conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.
One man with courage makes a majority.
Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.
There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.
A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.
Failure is more frequently from want of energy than want of capital.
Falsehoods not only disagree with truths, but usually quarrel among themselves.
God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard it and defend it.
It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment -- Independence now and Independence forever.
Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.
The people's government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.
Philosophic argument, especially that drawn from the vastness of the universe, in comparison with the apparent insignificance of this globe, has sometimes shaken my reason for the faith that is in me; but my heart has always assured and reassured me that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be Divine Reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be a mere human production. This belief enters into the very depth of my conscience. The whole history of man proves it.
There is always room at the top.
Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.
The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.