Weekend Project: Apropos Quotes from our Founding

Weekends, for me, mean work. Therefore, so I can study and do everything else I’m unable to do during the week, I’m in the habit now of putting up weekend projects for y’all. If you’ve been around for a while, you know it.

The idea for this weekend’s project came from the enormous amount of e-mail I received following Wednesday’s posting of Ronald Reagan’s fantastic “A Time For Choosing” speech. (If you haven’t seen it delivered or read it, please do so.) So many of you took the time to write and say “thank you” for bringing the speech to light. The funny thing is — I might not have posted it had it not been for a bunch of e-mail I received on Wednesday pointing it out (apparently, Rush Limbaugh read it or cited it that day or something).

Anyway, this weekend’s homework is simple. I want one quote from you. It should be from the era of our founding, it could be from the founding documents themselves, some extemporaneous writing, or even a historical account of a particular conversation or meeting. The bottom line, though, is that I want it to be timely.

In the same way that Reagan’s October 1964 speech could very well be delivered today with barely any changes, I want to read quotes that are equally apropos.

You might know them off the top of your head, but I hope that you’ll have to go a-hunting. In the process of doing so, after all, you might read something you’ve never read before. And education, my friends, is the key to a wholesome discretion. And, according to Thomas Jefferson, informing the people’s discretion by education is the true corrective to abuses of constitutional power.

UPDATE: Obviously, the intent behind these weekend projects, as strange as they may be, is to keep you folks involved while I can have a reprieve and use it to catch up on schoolwork and housework and such. I don’t have time during the weekend to address new news, but these deserve a mention:

  • Scozzafava Out in NY-23. This is an absolutely huge victory for conservatives, and a lesson to the GOP that bringing out moderate candidates in races large and small will be a victory for no one. I know that Robert is planning a piece on this race, and while I don’t know what he’s going to say, I must caution that this should be interpreted as a sign that we should force the GOP to be the right vehicle for conservative ideals; I love the idea of a third party in theory, but in terms of the money and attention Doug Hoffman’s race received, this race could prove more anomaly than norm.
  • Pence to Pentagon: Rethink Decision to Offer H1N1 Vaccine to Gitmo Detainees. I didn’t even hear that the Pentagon was planning to offer swine flu vaccines to people who were caught in the process of trying to kill Americans. Had I heard that yesterday, I would have absolutely exploded. Until I have the time to do so, though, I’m going to stick with Rep. Pence’s statement to CNN: “I don’t know if detainees at Gitmo should never be given the H1N1 vaccine. But, certainly, at a time of such acute shortages, again, involving American citizens. I think the administration should immediately suspend the plan to deploy H1N1 vaccines to terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, until such a time that sufficient vaccinations are made available to the American public.” Gosh, I like that Mike Pence.


  1. ForMySons says:

    I believe 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, Virginia Convention, 1788

  2. Anonymous says:

    "Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny."

    -Edmund Burke (1780)

  3. carder says:

    Consider it done, Professor Schreiber!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ben Franklin: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

  5. GiveMeSanity says:

    Lots of great quotes at http://governmentbythepeople.org. Here's my favorite:

    "In the beginning of a change, the Patriot is a scarce man, Brave, Hated, and Scorned. When his cause succeeds however,the timid join him, For then it costs nothing to be a Patriot." — Mark Twain

  6. Deb says:

    “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much . . . to forget it.” James Madison (1751-1836) 4th U.S. President, U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Congressman, Father of the U.S. Constitution

  7. John Feeny says:

    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

    - Thomas Jefferson

  8. Gail B says:

    This is weird! Really weird!

    On Friday, Glenn Beck had pictures of our Founding Fathers on one side of a blackboard and pictures of the Obama/Soetoro regime on the other side. He compared the difference in the two types of revolutionists.

    And, he gave quotes from those men. The impact was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat! So, I began my own search for a quote from each but ran out of time. And now you have us back at our computers to do the same thing.

    JB Williams has a signature on his emails that reads:

    "In God We Trust, because man alone, especially leftists, cannot be trusted." – BBC 2004 – JB

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." – Thomas Paine

    [JB has a website and writes for Canada Free Press and other sites.]

  9. SAMUEL ADAMS says:

    "Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their own posterity's liberty!"

  10. BILL CLINTON says:

    "How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!"

    -Samuel Adams

  11. Samuel Adams says:

    "A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy…. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader…. If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security."

  12. PATRICK HENRY says:

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."


    "We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of Nature has placed in our power… the battle, sir, is not to the strong alone it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."

    - Patrick Henry


    "If this be treason, make the most of it!"

    - Patrick Henry

  15. Anonymous says:


    One of my favorite quotes was attributed to Jefferson and Franklin:

    "Rebellion Against Tyranny Is Obedience to God"

    Thanks for all you do..you are a true American Patriot and your respect for our heritage is heart-warming and admirable. God Bless You and all the patriots who contribute on this site!!!

  16. Hey PELOSI, WAXMAN, REID, GORE says:

    "Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow. Delay may give clearer light as to what is best to be done."

    - Aaron Burr

  17. A SMARTER KENYAN says:

    Off topic, but a KENYAN quote!

    "We want the economy revived, but not at the expense of our sovereignty."

    - Kenyan political analyst, Mutahi Ngunyi commenting on the attention paid to donors and foreign investors by the government and President at the expense of Kenyan politics and people, Sunday Nation 23/3/03


    Hey Waxman and Gore:
    "Blind belief is dangerous."
    -Kenyan Proverb

    Hey Gheitner Dodd, and Rangel:
    "He who refuses to obey cannot command."
    -Kenyan Proverb

    Hey Mr Soetoro:
    "Peace is costly, but it is worth the expense."
    -Kenyan Proverb

  19. William A. Rose says:

    I will look for other quotes. I know just the place. For now, this is a signature my daughter includes in her emails. I think it, too, is quite apropos.

    As follows:

    Servatis a periculum, Servatis a maleficum

    Save us from danger, Save us from evil

  20. Anonymous says:

    "Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the country will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.” (Das Kapital, 1867)

  21. Jan says:

    Just one Jeff? I guess I am a non-conformist then as I have found too many relevant to the issues at hand to limit myself to just one quote.

    On BHO…..
    Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.
    Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1735

    On the Health Bill before us now….
    It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.
    Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 62, 1788

    On expanding government….
    But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 19 years.
    Thomas Jefferson, September 6, 1789
    The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.
    Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821

    What do we do now?…..
    The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.
    Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787

    Oh yeah, and this….
    I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
    Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766

  22. Lilly says:

    "But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution."
    John Adams, letter to H. Niles, February 13, 1818

    "Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it."
    John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

    "National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."
    John Adams, letter to James Lloyd, January, 1815


    "You know who I feel sorry for? Arab Americans who truly want to get into crop dusting."

    — Comedian Brian Regan

  24. Boston Blackie says:

    (c) by John Jay Daly
    of Washington, D. C. (1888-1976)

    Here’s to the Red of it –
    There’s not a thread of it,
    No, nor a shred of it
    In all the spread of it,
    From foot to head
    But heroes bled for it,
    Faced steel and lead for it,
    Precious blood shed for it,
    Bathing it Red!

    Here’s to the White of it –
    Thrilled by the sight of it,
    Who knows the right of it
    But feels the might of it
    Through day and night?
    Womanhood’s care for it
    Made manhood dare for it;
    Purity’s pray’r for it
    Keeps it so White!

    Here’s to the Blue of it –
    Beauteous view of it,
    Heavenly hue of it,
    Star-spangled dew of it
    Constant and true;
    Diadems gleam for it,
    Liberty’s beam for it
    Brightens the Blue!

    Here’s to the Whole of it –
    Stars, stripes and pole of it,
    Body and soul of it,
    O, and the roll of it,
    Sun shining through;
    Hearts in accord for it
    Swear by the sword for it,
    Thanking the Lord for it,
    Red, White and Blue!

  25. Boston Blackie says:

    It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
    - James Madison

  26. Anonymous says:

    Outside the Constitutional Conventition Mrs. Powell said, "Well Doctor, what have you given us, a repulic or a monarchy?" to which Benjamin Franklin replied without hesitation, "A republic, if you can keep it."

  27. Rix says:

    Vaccines should be TESTED on the human refuse in Gitmo, not supplied to them for free.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thomas Jefferson:

    I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and is necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

    Thomas Jefferson:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is natural manure.

    Thomas Jefferson:

    Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

    Now, if only any one is paying attention.

  29. Scriv says:

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

    Benjamin Franklin

    I cannot add/elaborate. This shows the true wisdom of our founders… combating socialism before it ever had a name.

  30. Anonymous says:

    George Washington said:

    Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.

    Guess obama never learned that one at Harvard, did he?

  31. Kathy says:

    "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." — Thomas Jefferson

  32. SimpleSwine says:

    Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.
    John Adams

    Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion… in private self-defense.
    John Adams

    Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
    John Adams

    I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
    John Adams

    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
    John Adams

    The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families…. How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?
    John Adams

    And finally…

    In politics the middle way is none at all.
    John Adams

    Yes, I find Mr. J. Adams to be one of the most prophetic, and accurate, of our Founding Fathers.
    He is too often forgotten.

  33. JayNey says:

    There is many good quotes, so I'm giving only three ones.

    The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights. – G.Washington

    By removing the Bible from schools we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing criminals and so little pains to prevent crime. Take the Bible out of our schools and there would be an explosion in crime. – Benjamin Rush

    When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves … and include all men capable of bearing arms." – Richard Henry Lee

    Good Sunday reading, the newspaper can wait, first read "America's Right". I'm thinking of all dead family members in last generations, and they knew the Founding Fathers sayings, next to the Bible. Thank you good questions.

  34. Chuck in San Diego says:

    "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." – George Washington's First Annual Address to Congress, January 8, 1790

    "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." – Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802

    "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." – James Madison in Federalist Papers, No. 45, January 26, 1788

    "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." – Samuel Adams' essay in the Public Advertiser, 1749

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to God that He gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.

    —John Adams

  36. Aggie94 says:

    If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

    Samuel Adams

  37. cher-pa says:

    I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE,and on ALL that shall hereafter inhabit it.May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this ROOF!

    John Adams letter to his wife Abigail November 2,1800

    My skin crawls and my heart weeps, when I think about what has gone on in our house since November 4th, 2008

  38. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -

    This is very inspiring – thanks!

    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.
    Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to
    dismember it or overthrow it."

    "We the people are the rightful masters of both the Congress & the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."

    "My dream is of a place in time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope on earth."

    Abraham Lincoln

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