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Posts Tagged ‘Founding Fathers’

Founding Fathers on Charity, Wealth Redistribution, and Federal Govt.

Posted by Tony Listi on November 24, 2007

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

“A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
-Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
-Thomas Jefferson to Charles Hammond, 1821. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (Memorial Edition) Lipscomb and Bergh, editors, ME 15:332

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to E. Carrington, May 27, 1788

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.”
-John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, elaborated upon this limitation in a letter to James Robertson:
“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
-James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)

“…[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
-James Madison

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.” James Madison, “Letter to Edmund Pendleton,”
-James Madison, January 21, 1792, in The Papers of James Madison, vol. 14, Robert A Rutland et. al., ed (Charlottesvile: University Press of Virginia,1984).

“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
-James Madison, Federalist No. 58, February 20, 1788

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
-James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

See more at http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/quotes.html

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Posted in American History, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Government and Politics, Quotes, The Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 62 Comments »