06 October 2011

More re the Founding Fathers' opinions

"The day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few. When that day comes, we must rely upon the wisdom of the best elements in the country to readjust the laws of the nation." - James Madison

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." -James Madison

[the influence of the rich] will have the same effect here as elsewhere if we do not by such a Gov't keep them within their proper sphere. We should remember that the people never act from reason alone. The rich will take advantage of their passions and make these the instruments for oppressing them. The Result of the Contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent despotism. The schemes of the Rich will be favored by the extent of the Country. The people in such distant parts can not communicate & act in concert. They will be the dupes of those who have more Knowledge & intercourse. The only security agst. encroachments will be a select & sagacious body of men, instituted to watch agst. them on all sides. -Gouveneur Morris
 Found at Reddit, where there is discussion and comments re the sources of the quotations.


  1. ..and yet, despite all the rhetoric, there is nothing built into the constitution to prevent such things as imbalance of wealth.
    I guess the framing fathers were worried about other issues more.

    (not saying I disagree, just saying it's interesting they didn't try to prevent such a problem)

    1. You can't prevent it. It is inevitable. No society has ever been able to prevent this from happening as it is due to human nature. It occurs, then it is corrected. That cycle is repeated again and again, in forms both large and small across all societies and all times.

  2. I came over to leave a few thoughts and realized that Mike had summed them up excellently.

    I will add this . . . it's telling to realize, after reading this quote - "taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few" - that one of the number one desires of the current administration (and liberals/Democrats in general) is to . . . raise taxes! It's seems somewhat contradictory to be decrying the oppression of the "few" rich over the "many" poor, and then to come up with a solution that actually brings MORE domination of a few over many. More taxation, even on the "rich", will NEVER bring about freedom for the poorer. I do believe that many liberals are sincere in their efforts here, but the sincere ones are just misguided. There are some who are just flat out dishonest and agenda driven.
    The biggest problem is the corruption of so many of the rich. If the rich would live by the following biblical principles, many of the concerns listed by these quotes would be dealt addressed. I Timothy 6:17,18 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate" The rich need to do this willingly because it is right, but it must be voluntary rather than enforced by government. When government gets involved in this, more corruption ensues and it brings "many under the domination of the few." It takes a legitimate problem and compounds it many times over.
    By the way, if you will do some searching, you will find many such quotes from our founding fathers and their contemporaries regarding the positive influence of the Bible and Christianity upon our young republic. They were not, and neither am I, advocating a state church or a theocracy. They were advocating that a free people must be a moral and godly people. This situation is a perfect example.
    I do thank you for these quotes. They were some I had not seen before and they give me something to think about.
    Not as succinct as Mike, but still an important point.

  3. The wealthy will always act in their own interests, that's why we need government to protect the rest of us from them.

  4. If you search you'll find quotes for and against religion. The obvious one is the Jefferson quote everyone trots out, so here I go...

    "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

    Anyone striving to live by biblical principals should also keep Kosher, avoid wearing blended fabrics, keep away from menstruating women (or stay home if they are one), accept rape as a marriage proposal as long as the girl's father is paid off, commit infanticide in 'acceptable' situations...I could go on. It is hard enough to stretch the Constitution to fit the modern day just past its 224th birthday. To try to live to the standards of a muddled, endlessly translated and copied, mish-mash of stories going back to the late Stone Age is a "challenge", putting it euphemistically. People urging others to live according to the bible, or trying to themselves, take it piece-meal because of deep contradictions. My favorite example of this is Henry VIII of England. He justified his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the young (and supposedly virgin) widow of his older brother Arthur, with a bible passage saying that this was the proper action in this circumstance. To marry her was his godly duty. When she failed to give him a male heir he petitioned the pope with another biblical passage deeming their union an unclean thing. Their marriage had been cursed for sinfulness. This is a man who believed his actions to be supported by the bible and his office to be divine mandate. You can find a minimum of two at least slightly different opinions on many of life's situations, if not directly contrasting ones, in the bible. Finding these, you can affirm the choice and course you've already chosen and call it holy. What kind of guide is that, really?

  5. Well, Tim - If it is true that the "biggest problem is the corruption of so many of the rich" then why not make it the problem of the corruption of the somewhat less rich? Five or Ten extra percent tax will move things in the right direction.

    GREAT post. To imagine that the waters were somehow clear enough at that time to allow Madison to see and prophecy threats coming to pass NOW, to an America in an unimaginable sci-fi future, just blows my mind. It shows the level to which our lives and well-being are still dependent on the depth of understanding of human nature and behavior possessed by the founders. Just how good is the source code? Can it continue to hold up to relentless assault by ideological extremists using mass brainwashing techniques?
    "Increase to warp 9, Scotty..."
    "Captain, I don't know if she'll take the stress, the stress... "

  6. @Timothy - I actually think at present the Republicans are the taxation party. I don';t mean this in a mean spirited partisan way, but at some point debts have to be paid, and that's the group that keeps running up the most debt, historically speaking.

    @Mike - I think they just passed the buck. Although they did put a sneaky "whatever the government wants to do" clause in the Constitution that most people overlook.


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