The Times That Try Men’s Souls

“. . . the ultimate authority …resides in the people alone,” James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in  Federalist Paper No.46.

Benjamin Franklin – “In free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”

Teacher’s note: This simple idea, believed by our Founding Fathers, is probably one of the most forgotten and misunderstood beliefs in today’s world.

James Madison – “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: and a People who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” (Letter to W. T. Berry, 4 August 1822)

George Washington, 1790 – “ … teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; … to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness … and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against those encroachments.”

U.S. Supreme Court, (339 U.S. 382,442) – “It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.”

Albert Gallantin -“The whole of the Bill of Rights is a declaration of the rights of the people at large or considered as individuals… it establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majortity has a right to deprive them of.” New York Historical Society, 7 Oct. 1789

Thomas Jefferson – “Though written Constitutions may be violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a text to which ‘those who are watchful’ may again rally and recall the people; they fix too for the people the principles of their political creed.”

George Mason  – “[The American Colonies were] all democratic governments, where the power is in the hands of the people and where there is not the least difficulty or jealousy about putting arms into the hands of every men in the country. [European countries should not] be ignorant of the strength and the force of such a form of government and how strenuously and almost wonderfully people living under one have sometimes exerted themselves in defense of their rights and liberties and how fatally it has ended for many a man and many a state who have entered into quarrels, wars and contests with them.” (1725-1792)

Thomas Jefferson  – “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms … The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” (1787)

James Burgh  – “No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and he who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion.” Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses (London 1774-1775)

Tench Coxe – “Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American … The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of people.” Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

John Stuart Mill – “War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Edmund Burke – “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” (1784)

Thomas Jefferson – “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”

James Madison – “Slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant – they have been cheated; asleep – they have been surprised; divided – the yoke forced upon them … a well-instructed people alone can be permanently free.”

Thomas Jefferson -“In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but ‘bind him down from mischief’ by the chains of the Constitution.”

Frederic Bastiat  – “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing respect for the law.”

Teacher’s Note: After the Founding Fathers told us that it was up to the people to maintain our freedom and our Republic, they also explained how this should be done.

John Jay, First Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court – “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Teacher’s Note: Although this quote was used in a previous section, it bears repeating as it shows our personal responsibilities.

Noah Webster – “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of our republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office – the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good, so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect their divine commands and elect bad men to make and administer laws.”

President John Adams – “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Samuel Huntington, signer and Governor of Connecticut, – “While the great body of freeholders are acquainted with the duties which they owe to their God, to themselves, and to men, they will remain free. But if ignorance and depravity should prevail they will inevitably lead to slavery and ruin.”

Abraham Baldwin, signer – “A free government … can only be happy when the public principle and opinions are properly directed – by religion and education.”

Jedediah Morse, a Founding Father – “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation … in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom … all efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

President James Madison – “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Supreme Court of South Carolina, 1846 – “What constitutes the standard of good morals? Is it not Christianity? There certainly is none other. Say that cannot be appealed to, and I don’t know what would be good morals. The day of moral virtue in which we live would, in an instant, if that standard were abolished, lapse into the dark and murky night of Pagan immorality.”

George Mason, father of Bill of Rights, – “We are now to rank among the nations of the world; but whether our independence shall prove a blessing or a curse must depend upon our own wisdom or folly, virtue or wickedness …Justice an virtue are the vital principles of a republican government.”

John Jay, member of the Continental Congress and original Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – “ Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the Constitution of his country … by knowing their rights, they will soon perceive when they are violated and be the better prepared to defend and assert them.”

Remember THE NINTH AMENDMENT RIGHT … “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Fact: None of the freedoms in the Bill Of Rights cost money. These rights are God-given and the ninth Amendment secures other rights not listed. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill Of Rights is the word “entitlement” listed, therefore an entitlement, is not a right .We have the rights to  – life – liberty and the pursuit (not the guarantee of) of happiness .All rights were granted to the individual, not to a group – especially not to any special interest group. Rights were to be for the Whole of the people.

Daniel Webster – “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power … it is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.”

Thomas Jefferson – “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and governments to gain ground.”

James Madison – “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.”

Emblazoned on the side of the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”  Leviticus 25:10

Liberty comes from God.

Note: Charles Braclen Flood, in ‘Rise and Fight Again’ (1976) declared, through his research, that there were at least 67 desperate moments when  General Washington acknowleged that he would have suffered disaster had not the hand of God intervened in behalf of the struggle for independence. (P.S. try to find mention of this in any text book in America – in use in public schools or universities.)

Note: Although not a founding father, a truly brilliant man.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, famous Russian author, Nobel Prize for Literature 1970, when asked about the cultural decay in America, he answered dryly – “Man has forgotten God, that is why this has happened.”

Note: After the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, the question of ‘Why did God let this happen?’ was circulating across America; the answer was simple – God was not allowed in Columbine – nor is he allowed in other public schools.

John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon – “Men that are above all Fear, soon grow above all Shame.” Cato’s Letters: Or, Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects (London, 1755)

Thomas Jefferson – “One man with courage is a majority.”

Jefferson also said this -” Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God”

Thomas Paine – “When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.” (1788).

Teacher’s Note: I think it is time for every American to stir.


“Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation”, this phrase sums up the beliefs of our Founding Fathers. Therefore the success of our Republic depends not only on ‘we the people’, but whether or not ‘we the people’ place God at the head of this nation