I am wearied to Death with the Life I lead. The Business of the Congress is tedious, beyond Expression. This Assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every Man in it is a great Man - an orator, a statesman, and therefore every Man upon every Question must shew his oratory, his Criticism and his Political Abilities.
The Consequence of this is, that Business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable Length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that We should come to a Resolution that Three and two make five We should be entertained with Logick and Rhetorick, Law, History, Politicks and Mathematicks, concerning the Subject for two whole Days, and then we should pass the Resolution unanimously in the Affirmative.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, October 9, 1774
He makes two days sound like a long time for Congress.
The States were not “Sovereigns” in the sense contended for by some. They did not possess the peculiar features of Sovereignty, they could not make war, nor peace, nor alliances nor treaties. Considering them as political Beings, they were dumb, for they could not speak to any foreign Sovereign whatever. They were deaf, for they could not hear any propositions from such Sovereign. They had not even the organs or faculties of defence or offence, for they could not of themselves raise troops, or equip vessels, for war. On the other side, if the Union of the States comprizes the idea of a confederation, it comprizes that also of consolidation. A Union of the States is a Union of the men composing them, from whence a national character results to the whole. Congress can act alone without the States - they can act & their acts will be binding against the Instructions of the States. If they declare war: war is de jure declared - captures made in pursuance of it are lawful - No acts of the States can vary the situation, or prevent the judicial consequences. If the States therefore retained some portion of their sovereignty, they had certainly divested themselves of essential portions of it.
Rufus King, as recorded in James Madison’s notes of the Constitutional Convention, June 19, 1787
On those gentlemen, then who truly value our republican government, I call, to banish for an instant, the influence of party-spirit, and to lend their aid in extinguishing a rising conflagration, which threatens to involve this devoted country in miseries incalculable.
Alexander Hamilton, Remarks on the repeal of the Judiciary Act, February 11, 1802
It could be part of an open letter to modern Republicans.
'Tis not inconsistent with Charity to distrust a Religious Man in Power, tho' he may be a good Man; he has many Temptations “to propagate publick Destruction for Personal Advantages and Security” …. A Man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat a whole Country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law: And here the Clergy are in great Danger of being deceiv’d, and the People of being deceiv’d by the Clergy, until the Monster arrives to such Power and Wealth, that he is out of the reach of both, and can oppress the People without their own blind Assistance.
Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood No. 9, July 23, 1722
He [James Madison] wished to maintain the character of liberality which had been professed in all the Constitutions & publications of America. He wished to invite foreigners of merit & republican principles among us. America was indebted to emigrations for her settlement & Prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture & the arts.
James Madison, recording himself in the third person in his notes from the Constitutional Convention, August 13, 1787
No man on earth has less taste or talent for criticism than myself, and least and last of all should I undertake to criticise works on the Apocalypse. It is between 50. and 60. years since I read it, and I then considered it as merely the ravings of a Maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams. …… There is not coherence enough in them to countenance any suite of rational ideas. You will judge therefore from this how impossible I think it that either your explanation, or that of any man in the heavens above, or on the earth beneath, can be a correct one. What has no meaning admits no explanation.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander Smyth, January 17, 1825
In every country and every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them: and to effect this they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man, into mystery and jargon unintelligible to all mankind and therefore the safer engine for their purposes.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Spafford, March 17, 1814
We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. The miracle in question was only performed to hasten the operation, under circumstances of present necessity, which required it.
Benjamin Franklin, On Wine, about 1799
A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, February 14, 1776
We must take our choice of two things. We must either subject the States to the danger of being injured by the power of the National Government or the latter to the danger of being injured by that of the States. He thought the danger greater from the States. To leave the power doubtful, would be opening another spring of discord, and he was for shutting as many of them as possible.
John Dickinson, comments at the Constitutional Convention as recorded in James Madison’s notes, June 8, 1787
Judging from the discord since then, they didn’t quite shut it.