"[T]he flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 1821
"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, 1825
"Courts are the mere instruments of the law, and can will nothing ... Judicial power is never exercised for the purpose of giving effect to the will of the Judge; always for the purpose of giving effect to the will of the Legislature; or, in other words, to the will of the law."
-- John Marshall, first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
"If man is not governed by God, he will be ruled by tyrants."
-- William Penn
"The solution is to do the will of God, to do it radically and courageously, and joyfully."
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
-- Benjamin Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 1776
"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust."
"[F]orewarned, forearmed, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
-- Frederick Douglass, "The Nation's Problem," 1890
"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."
-- John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 1763
"The construction applied ... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate Congress a power ... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798
“Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.”
-- Frederic Bastiat, The Law
"Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803
"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it."
-- James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, 1790
"No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was ever more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm."
-- George Washington, letter to James Madison, 1786
"If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last. ... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government."
-- Alexander Hamilton, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser, 1794
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
-- Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798
"A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, industrious, and frugal."
-- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
"Today is a time for war. Tomorrow, if we work and are wise, may be a time for peace. Today is a time for war because peace is impossible. Peace is not the absence of war; peace is the presence of justice."
-- Herbert Agar, 1941
"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1782
God has to give us a taste, a glimpse, of the incredibly heinous nature of our sins, so we will repent and turn to Him. But truly, we no more understand the magnitude of the damage done by our sin, or the grief born by Jesus because of it, than we yet fully grasp the magnitude of the LORD's love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.
-- Tom Hoefling