There are two things (as I have often declared) which in my opinion, are indispensably necessary to the well being and good government of our public Affairs; these are, greater powers to Congress, and more responsibility and permanency in the executive bodies. If individual States conceive themselves at liberty to reject, or alter any act of Congress, which in a full representation of them, has been solemnly debated and decided on; it will be madness in us, to think of prosecuting the War.
George Washington, letter to James Duane, December 26, 1780
Nullification was a bad idea even before we had a constitution with a Federal supremacy clause.
9 Men in 10 are suicides.
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1749
We are so naturally inclined to give the utmost degree of force to our own case, that we call every pretension, however founded, a right; and by this means the term frequently stands opposed to justice and reason.
Thomas Paine, Public Good, December 30, 1780
Malevolence, my dear child, is its own punishment, even in this world. Indifference to the happiness of others must arise from insensibility of heart, or from a selfishness still more contemptible, or rather detestable. But for the same reason that our own individual happiness should not be our only object, that of our relatives, however near or remote, should not; but we should extend our views to as large a circle as our circumstances of birth, fortune, education, rank, and influence extend, inn order to do as much good to our fellow men as we can.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams II, September 26, 1782
The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on ,Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people.
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against religious Assessments, circa June 20, 1785
The general tendency of state politics convinced me that no safe and permanent remedy could be found but in a more efficient and better organized general government. The questions too which were perpetually recurring in the state legislatures, and which brought annually into doubt principles which I thought most sacred, which proved that everything was afloat, and that we had no safe anchorage ground, gave a high value in my estimation to that article in the constitution which imposes restrictions on the states.
John Marshall, letter to Joseph Story, July, 1827
The Dutch say that without an habit of thinking of every doit, before you spend it, no Man can be a good Merchant, or conduct Trade with Success. This I believe is a just Maxim in general. But I would never wish to see a Son of Mine govern himself by it. It is the sure and certain Way for an industrious Man to be rich. It is the only possible Way for a Merchant to become the first Merchant, or the richest Man in the Place. But this is an Object that I hope none of my Children ever aim at.
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, December 18, 1780
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
In 1730, I wrote a piece on the other side of the question, which began with laying for its foundation this fact: “That almost all men in all ages and countries, have at times made use of prayer.” Thence I reasoned, that if all things are ordained, prayer must among the rest be ordained. But as prayer can produce no change in things that are ordained, praying must then be useless and an absurdity. God would therefore not ordain praying if everything else was ordained. But praying exists, therefore all things are not ordained, etc. This pamphlet was never printed, and the manuscript has long been lost. The great uncertainty I found in metaphysical reasonings disgusted me, and I quitted that kind of reading and study for others more satisfactory.
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Benjamin Vaughan, November 9, 1779