"Revelation assures us that 'Righteousness exalteth a nation.' Communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general character...Public liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals. 'The Roman Empire,' says the historian, 'must have sunk, though the Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman virtue was sunk.' Could I be assured that America would remain virtuous, I would venture to defy the utmost efforts of enemies to subjugate her."
-- Samuel Adams, letter to John Scollay of Boston, April 30, 1776
"I scarcely need to refer to the fact that the Houses of Congress, and so as I know the state legislatures, open their daily sessions with prayer.
The foundation of our independence and our Government rests upon basic religious convictions.
Back of the authority of our laws is the authority of the Supreme Judge of the World, to whom we still appeal for their final justification..."
All liberty is individual liberty...
The principle of equality is recognized. It follows inevitably from belief in the brotherhood of man through the fatherhood of God.
When once the right of the individual to liberty and equality is admitted, there is no escape from the conclusion that he alone is entitled to the rewards of his own industry...
It seems to me perfectly plain that the authority of law, the right to equality, liberty and property, under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God.
If we could imagine that to be swept away, these institutions of our American government could not long survive."
-- President Calvin Coolidge
"These communities [the Fathers of the Republic], by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the whole world of men: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'
"This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to his creatures.
"Yes, gentlemen, to all his creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children, and their children's children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages.
"Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, or none but Anglo-Saxon white men, were entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began, so that truth and justice and mercy and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.
"Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our chart of liberty, let me entreat you to come back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of the Revolution. Think nothing of me — take no thought for the political fate of any man whomsoever — but come back to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man's success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But do not destroy that immortal emblem of Humanity — the Declaration of American Independence."
-- Abraham Lincoln, speech in Lewiston, Illinois, August 17, 1858, four days before his first historic debate with Stephen A. Douglas, Printed in the Chicago Press and Tribune.
“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God … anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”
-- John Adams
"Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits...It is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers."
-- Fisher Ames
"Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government ? Who shall rear again the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skilful architecture which unites national sovereignty with State rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, if these columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them, than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw, the edifice of constitutional American liberty."
– Daniel Webster, The Character of Washington, February 22, 1832; Works 1:231
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."
-- Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787
“WHEREAS the power but not the justice, the vengeance, but not the wisdom of Great Britain, which of old persecuted, scourged and excited our fugitive parents from their native shores, now pursues us their guiltless children with unrelenting severity: And whereas, this then savage and uncultivated desert was purchased by the toil and treasure, or acquired by the blood and valour of those our venerable progenitors, to us they bequeathed the dear bought inheritance, to our care and protection they configured it, and the most sacred obligations are upon us to transmit the glorious purchase, unfettered by power, unclogged with shackles, to our innocent and beloved offspring. On the fortitude, on the wisdom, and on the exertions of this important day is suspended the fate of this new world, and of unborn millions. . . .
“Therefore, we have resolved, and do resolve, . . . That it is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.”
-- Excerpt, Suffolk Resolves and Report to the Convention, September 6, 1774, adopted by the Continental Congress, September 17, 1774
"Its soul, its climate, its equality, liberty, laws, people, and manners. My God! how little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!"
-- Thomas Jefferson
"Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it."
-- James Madison, Federalist No. 41
"Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."
-- Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791
"Objects of the most stupendous magnitude and measure, in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations."
-- John Adams, letter to William Cushing, 1776
"In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example ... of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness."
-- James Madison
"The instruments, by which [government] must act, are either the authority of the Laws or force. If the first be destroyed, the last must be substituted; ... and where this becomes the ordinary instrument of government, there is an end to liberty."
"[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community."
-- Benjamin Rush, letter to David Ramsay, 1788
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
--George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789
"The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774
"Civil Tyranny is usually small in its beginning like the drop of a bucket; till at length, like a mighty torrent, or the raging waves of the sea, it bears down all before it, and deluges whole countries and empires."
-- Jonathan Mayhew, 1750, From the Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, D.D.
“Nay, I believe we may advance one step farther, and affirm that the balance of power in a society accompanies the balance of property in land. The only possible way, then, of preserving the balance of power on the side of equal liberty and public virtue, is to make the acquisition of land easy to every member of society; to make a division of land into small quantities, so that the multitude may be possessed of landed estates. If the multitude is possessed of the balance of real estate, the multitude will have the balance of power, and in that case the multitude will take care of the liberty, virtue and interest of the multitude, in all acts of government. I believe these principles have been felt, if not understood, in the Massachusetts Bay, from the beginning.”
--John Adams, Letter to James Sullivan, May 26, 1776
_"How much more do they deserve our reverence and praise, whose lives are devoted to the formation of institutions, which, when they and their children are mingled in the common dust, may continue to cherish the principles and the practice of liberty in perpetual freshness and vigour."
-- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
_"On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him [the president] to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will "preserve, protect, and defend the constitution." The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances, or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people."
-- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
"Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislation has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner himself commit some act that amounts to forfeiture."
-- William Blackstone
"[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
"[F]orewarned, forearmed, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
-- Frederick Douglass, "The Nation's Problem," 1890
"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