Wisdom from Polonius


Thomas Jefferson

“A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”

“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.”

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”


James Madison

“All men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

“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.”

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”



Comment On This Article
(Please include your name so that we may publish your remarks.)


Return to the Table of Contents



Articles may be quoted or republished in full with attribution
to the author and harvardsquarecommentary.org.



This site is designed and managed by Neil Turner at Neil Turner Concepts

Harvard Square Commentary, February 19, 2007