The Experience of all my Life has proved to me, that the Memory of Malice is faithfull, and more, it continually adds to its Stock; while that of Kindness and Friendship is not only frail but treacherous.
John Adams, from his autobiography, begun in 1802
I am not an advocate for the alien and sedition bills: had I been in congress when they passed, I should, unless my judgment could have been changed, certainly have opposed them. Yet, I do not think them fraught with all those mischiefs which many gentlemen ascribe to them. I should have opposed them, because I think them useless; and because they are calculated to create, unnecessarily, discontents and jealousies at a time when our very existence, as a nation, may depend on our union - I believe that these laws, had they been opposed on these principles by a man, not suspected of intending to destroy the government, or of being hostile to it, would never have been enacted. With respect to their repeal, the effort will be made before I can become a member of congress. If it succeeds, there will be an end of the business - if it fails, I shall, on the question of renewing the effort, should I be chosen to represent the district, obey the voice of my constituents.
John Marshall, letter to a freeholder, October 2, 1798
It has been by wandering from the immutable laws of science, and the light of reason, and setting up an invented thing, called revealed religion, that so many wild and blasphemous conceits have been formed of the Almighty.
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason Part Two, 1795
When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited, in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men, who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.
Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 71, March 18, 1788
Nothing certainly can be more improving to a Searcher into Nature, than Objections judiciously made to his Opinions, taken up perhaps too hastily: For such Objections oblige him to restudy the Point, consider every Circumstance carefully, compare Facts, make Experiments, weigh Arguments, and be slow in drawing Conclusions. And hence a sure Advantage results; for he either confirms a Truth, before too slightly supported; or discovers an Error and receives Instruction from the Objector.
Benjamin Franklin, letter to John Perkins, February 4, 1753
But for the improvement to take place they have to actually do all that. Don’t expect to see a creationist doing it.
In future times a great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but any other sort of, property. These will either combine under the influence of their common situation: in which case, the rights of property & the public liberty, will not be secure in their hands: or which is more probable, they will become the tools of opulence & ambition, in which case there will be equal danger on another side.
James Madison, speech in the Federal Convention on Suffrage, August 7, 1787
"Tools of opulence and ambition" may describe a group today. Not trying to say who.
While in Europe, I often amused myself with contemplating the characters of the then reigning sovereigns of Europe. Louis the XVI was a fool, of my own knowledge, and in despite of the answers made for him at his trial. The King of Spain was a fool, and of Naples the same. They passed their lives in hunting, and despatched two couriers a week, one thousand miles, to let each other know what game they had killed the preceding days. The King of Sardinia was a fool. All these were Bourbons. The Queen of Portugal, a Braganza, was an idiot by nature. And so was the King of Denmark. Their sons, as regents, exercised the powers of government. The King of Prussia, successor to the great Frederick, was a mere hog in body as well as in mind. Gustavus of Sweden, and Joseph of Austria, were really crazy, and George of England you know was in a straight waistcoat. There remained, then none but old Catherine, who had been too lately picked up to have lost her common sense. In this state Buonaparte found Europe; and it was this state of its rulers which lost it with scarce a struggle.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Governor John Langdon, March 5, 1810
This was only about one year after Jefferson left the presidency. Maybe it’s a good thing there weren’t many meetings between heads of state back then.
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 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
I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution - For you, doubtless, remember that I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789
The Church of Rome has made it an Article of Faith that no man can be saved out of their Church, and all other religious Sects approach to this dreadfull opinion in proportion to their Ignorance, and the Influence of ignorant or wicked Priests.
John Adams, from his diary, February 16, 1756