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.
The most undesirable of all things is a long life and there is nothing I have ever dreaded so much. Altho’ subject to occasional indispositions my health is too good generally to give me fear on that subject. I am weak indeed in body, able scarcely to walk into my garden without too much fatigue, but a ride of 6, 8, or 10 miles a day gives me none. Still however a start or stumble of my horse or some one of the accidents which constantly beset us, may cut short the thread of life and relieve me from the evils of dotage. Come when it will it will find me neither unready nor unwilling.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Waterhouse, January 8, 1825
I have heard some things from New-York; and if they are true, one might well say of your party there, as a drunken fellow once said when he heard the reading of an indictment for hog-stealing. The clerk read on till he got to, and through the words “did steal, take, and carry away, ten boars, ten sows, ten shoats, and ten pigs” at which he exclaimed “Well, by golly, that is the most equally divided gang of hogs, I ever did hear of.” If there is any other gang of hogs more equally divided than the democrats of New-York are about this time, I have not heard of it.
Abraham Lincoln, Speech in the U.S. House of Representatives, July 27, 1848
The mistake has proceeded from not attending with due care to the mischiefs that may be occasioned by obstructing the progress of government at certain critical seasons. When the concurrence of a large number is required by the constitution to the doing of any national act, we are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper will be likely to be done; but we forget how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced, by the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary, and of keeping affairs in the same unfavorable posture in which they may happen to stand at particular periods.
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. - I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
Close, but no cigar.