Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), eighth president of the United States, has been called the first national politician. He built an alliance between the "plain Republicans of the North" and the planters of the South and then launched the first truly national party. Martin Van Buren executed with distinction the duties of many of the highest offices of the nation, including that of president, but he was always regarded more as a politician than a statesman. Considered a shrewd manipulator, he was consistent in advocating the principles of Jeffersonian Republicanism as defined in the Jacksonian democracy.
Born on Dec. 5, 1782, in the village of Kinderhook, N.Y., Van Buren was the son of a farmer and tavern keeper who was active in Antifederalist politics. Martin worked on the farm and attended local schools. At the age of 14 he became a clerk in a law office in Kinderhook and then in an office in New York City. Beginning in 1803, he prospered in law practice in Kinderhook with his half brother. In 1807 he married Hannah Hoes, and they had four sons. His wife died in 1819, and he never remarried.
Political Career
Van Buren was elected to the New York Senate in 1813 and 2 years later became attorney general. By the early 1820s he was leader of the organization that controlled government in New York for many years. He advocated moderate reforms in extending democracy. In 1821 he supported the virtual elimination of the property qualification for white manhood suffrage, but also the provision by which only black Americans who possessed freeholds of the clear value of $150 could vote.
In 1821 Van Buren was elected to the U.S. Senate and became a leader there. He supported Andrew Jackson in 1828 and resigned the governorship of New York to become Jackson's secretary of state. In that office Van Buren reached agreement with Great Britain, opening up its West Indian possessions to American trade, and secured payment from France for commercial injuries during the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1831 Van Buren resigned his office to allow the President to reconstitute the Cabinet. He was named minister to Great Britain, but this was not confirmed by the Senate. In 1832 he was elected vice president, and during the following 4 years he supported Jackson in all of his battles. In 1836 he received his party's nomination for president and was elected easily.
The President
In his inaugural address Van Buren observed that he was the first president who had not lived through the revolutionary struggle that created the nation and that he could not "expect his countrymen to weigh my actions with the same kind and partial hand." They did not. He condemned abolitionist propaganda and spoke against the "slightest interference" with slavery "in the states where it exists." In rhetoric common during those years, he said that Americans were without parallel throughout the world "in all the attributes of a great, happy, and flourishing people." Two months after his inauguration, however, a serious economic depression destroyed his popularity. He continued Jacksonian policies, trying to "mitigate the evils" which the banks produced and advocating an independent treasury for public funds, a measure enacted near the end of his term. In foreign affairs he had difficulty maintaining good relations with Great Britain because of the efforts of some Americans on the New York border to support the rebellion in Canada in 1837. He made no effort to annex Texas.
Van Buren was badly beaten in 1840 by the aging William Henry Harrison and retired to his farm at Kinderhook. Van Buren would undoubtedly have been the Democratic nominee in 1844 had not Texas become the dominant issue by that year. In the atmosphere of "manifest destiny" his views were not sufficiently expansionist, and although he had a majority of the votes at the party convention, he lacked the two-thirds required. The dark horse, James K. Polk, was nominated and elected, and he led the nation into aggressive war and territorial expansion.
Free Soil Party
Increasing Southern domination of the Democratic party drove Van Buren and his faction into opposition in 1848. In that year's election he was the candidate of the Free Soil party, opposing expansion of slavery. In New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire he received more votes than the Democratic candidate, but he carried no states and Zachary Taylor won the election for the Whigs.
Van Buren lost the support of the antislavery movement when he returned to the Democratic party in the 1850s. Without much enthusiasm he supported Franklin Pierce (1852), James Buchanan (1856), and Stephen A. Douglas (1860). But when the Civil War came, he supported Abraham Lincoln's government. Van Buren died on July 24, 1862.
Van Buren's remarkable political success was due to a combination of talents. He habitually thought in terms of political forces and was fertile in conceiving, and able in executing, plans to weaken the opposition and advance his own party. He wrote persuasively and was a good speaker. He was charming, cheerful, and always courteous and affable. Although an earnest advocate of his party's principles, he was essentially a moderate in government. On all the important issues of his time except the one which was most crucial, Van Buren played an important role; he vacillated on issues related to slavery and made no contribution toward resolving that problem.

Famous Quotes by Martin Van Buren

Famous Quotes by Martin Van Buren
  • "I tread in the footsteps of illustrious men . . . in receiving from the people the sacred trust confided to my illustrious predecessor."  —Martin Van Buren on Example
  • As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.
  • For myself, therefore, I desire to declare that the principle that will govern me in the high duty to which my country calls me is a strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitutionas it was designed by those who framed it.
  • All communities are apt to look to government for too much. Even in our own country, where its powers and duties are so strictly limited, we are prone to do so, especially at periods of sudden embarrassment and distress.
  • It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't.
  • No evil can result from its inhibition more pernicious than its toleration.
Regarding slavery
  • On receiving from the people the sacred trust twice confided on my illustrious predecessor, and which he has discharged so faithfully and so well, I know that I can not expect to perform the arduous task with equal ability and success.
  • The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.
  • The people under our system, like the king in a monarchy, never dies.
  • There is a power in public opinion in this country"and I thank God for it: for it is the most honest and best of all powers"which will not tolerate an incompetent or unworthy man to hold in his weak or wicked hands the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens.
  • To avoid the necessity of a permanent debt and its inevitable consequences, I have advocated and endeavored to carry into effect the policy of confining the appropriations for the public service to such objects only as are clearly with the constitutional authority of the Federal Government.
  • Unlike all who have preceded me, the Revolution that gave us existence as one people was achieved at the period of my birth; and whilst I contemplate with grateful reverence that memorable event, I feel that I belong to a later age and that I may not expect my countrymen to weigh my actions with the same kind and partial hand.
  • Mutual forbearance and reciprocal concessions: thro their agency the Union was established " the patriotic spirit from which they emanated will forever sustain it.
On Nullification
  • Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs; but always by exciting the multitude. The first is the resource of intrigue and produces only secondary results, the second is the resort of genius and transforms the universe.
  • The government should not be guided by Temporary Excitement, but by Sober Second Thought
Inaugural Address(March 4, 1837)

  • I tread in the footsteps of illustrious men... in receiving from the people the sacred trust confided to my illustrious predecessor.
  • All the lessons of history and experience must be lost upon us if we are content to trust alone to the peculiar advantages we happen to possess.

Jackson, Andrew

Jackson, Andrew

(b. March 15, 1767; d. June 8, 1845) Victor of the Battle of New Orleans; general of the War of 1812; Seventh U.S. president (1829–1837).
Andrew Jackson was born to Scottish-Irish immigrant parents and grew up on the Carolina frontier. As a boy, he fought in the Revolution with patriot irregulars and was captured. By his own later account, a British officer slashed him with a sword for refusing to clean his boots, leaving a permanent scar.
After the war, Jackson read law in North Carolina and in 1788 moved west to Nashville. In the new state of Tennessee, he won quick political promotion, and in 1802 was elected major general of the state militia. Jackson thirsted for the field, offering his men for service against every possible foe, including the Burr conspirators, the Spanish, the British, and the border American Indian tribes.
Congress declared war against Britain in June 1812, and in November Jackson's Tennessee troops were ordered to New Orleans. Jackson led two thousand men as far as Natchez, where he received an abrupt order dismissing them without pay or provisions. On his own responsibility, Jackson held the command together for the return home. His willingness to share his men's privations on this march earned him the name "Old Hickory."
In 1813 Jackson was ordered to suppress a group of hostile Creek in Mississippi Territory (later the state of Alabama). Commanding Tennessee troops and allied Indians, Jackson penetrated into the heart of Creek territory and fought a series of engagements. At Horseshoe Bend in March 1814, he destroyed the main Creek force. His victories paved the way for later treaties—some negotiated by Jackson himself—in which the Creek and other southern tribes (including those who had fought alongside Jackson) relinquished millions of acres to the United States.
Jackson's success against the Creek won him a commission as U.S. Major General in charge of defending the Gulf Coast. Jackson beat off a British strike at Mobile and drove the British from their post in Spanish (and ostensibly neutral) Pensacola, Florida. The main encounter came in January 1815 at New Orleans, where Jackson's motley force of regulars, militia, free blacks, and pirates repulsed an invading army of British veterans. In the main action, a frontal assault on Jackson's lines astride the Mississippi on January 8, the British lost two thousand men; the Americans, only a few dozen.
With its astounding casualty ratio and stirring (though apocryphal) image of American backwoods riflemen picking off British regulars, the Battle of New Orleans passed instantly into patriotic myth. Unbeknownst to both sides, the battle was fought two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent and did not affect the war's outcome. Still, for Americans it put a crown of glory on what had been a frustrating and humiliating military effort. Jackson himself became a hallowed hero, a living symbol of republican martial prowess.
Jackson remained in the postwar army as one of its two major generals. In 1818, in pursuit of a raiding band of Seminole, he led a force into Spanish Florida, captured Spanish bastions at St. Marks and Pensacola, and arrested and executed two British nationals. Jackson's unauthorized invasion sparked a diplomatic furor and a congressional investigation. But it served American ends by nudging Spain to cede Florida in an 1819 treaty.
In 1821 Jackson resigned his commission. He served briefly as Florida governor and in 1824 stood for the presidency. Jackson's military background furnished both his prime qualification for the presidency and his main handicap, for virulent controversy had accompanied battlefield successes throughout his army career. Jackson's stern sense of discipline, his obsession with personal honor, and his explosive temper had embroiled him in endless quarrels with both superiors and subordinates. As a commander he had sometimes defied civil authority. Outside the army he had fought duels and street brawls. To some Americans, he seemed a paragon of martial purity and forthrightness, a simple soldier called from retirement to rescue his country from devious and corrupt politicians. But to others he was a mere warrior chieftain, bloodthirsty and capricious, a tyrant and bully in the mold of Caesar or Napoleon.
Jackson led the vote in the multicandidate election of 1824, but lost to John Quincy Adams in the House of Representatives. In 1828 Jackson defeated Adams. Jackson's two-term presidency, like his generalship, was bold and steeped in controversy. His conduct in office was hailed as decisive and denounced as high-handed, furnishing evidence for both sides in the enduring argument over the fitness of military characters for the presidency.

Famous Quotes by Andrew Jackson

Famous Quotes by Andrew Jackson
  • "Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms."  —Andrew Jackson on Blood
  • "Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms."  —Andrew Jackson on Blood
  • "Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it."  —Andrew Jackson on Citizenship
  • "One man with courage makes a majority."  —Andrew Jackson on Courage
  • "One man with courage makes a majority. -Andrew Jackson."  —Andrew Jackson on Courage
  • "The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality."  —Andrew Jackson on Equality
  • "You are uneasy, . . . you never sailed with me before, I see."  —Andrew Jackson on Fear
  • "Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there."  —Andrew Jackson on Marriage
  • "Our federal Union: it must be preserved."  —Andrew Jackson on Patriotism
  • "Our federal Union: it must be preserved."  —Andrew Jackson on Toasts
  • "Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife 

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams was a United States senator, secretary of state, president, and member of Congress. The eldest son of John and Abigail Smith Adams, he was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. In 1778 he accompanied his father to France, where he studied French and Latin at an academy in Passy, and attended the Latin School of Amsterdam. He matriculated at Leyden University in January 1781, but soon interrupted his studies to serve in Saint Petersburg as secretary to America's minister to Russia. Returning to the Hague in 1783, he resumed the study of classics before returning to the United States, where he entered Harvard as a junior. In 1787, Adams graduated from Harvard and began his legal apprenticeship in Newburyport. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1790.
In 1779 young Adams began a diary that he continued to keep throughout most of his life. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, comprising Portions of his Diary from 1795 to 1848was published in twelve volumes from 1874 to 1877, and was followed in 1903 by Life in a New England Town , his diary for the years 1787-1788. Taken as a whole, the diary is an extraordinary record of places and events experienced during an exceptional life. Adams's first publication, an erudite reply to Paine's Rights of Man (1791), which first appeared in the Columbian Centinel for June-July 1791 and later as a pamphlet in Edinburgh (1792) and London (1793), caused a stir at the time partly because the anonymous tract was attributed to the senior Adams. During the 1790s, John Quincy Adams contributed to and translated for a French language newspaper in Boston and wrote a series of political essays under the pseudonyms Publicola, Marcellus, Columbus, and Bosneveld, on the subjects of the French Revolution, the controversy surrounding Charles Genêt's arrival in America as French ambassador in 1793, and the wisdom of American neutrality in European affairs. These literary efforts attracted the favorable attention of President Washington and in 1794 won their author a commission as minister to the Netherlands. On 26 July 1797, while on a diplomatic mission to England, Adams married Louisa Catherine, daughter of Joshua Johnson of Maryland.
In 1803 Adams was elected to the U. S. Senate, where he served less than one full term, until June 1808. His support for President Jefferson's positions on British aggression against neutrals, theChesapeake affair, and the Embargo of 1807 earned him the enmity of fellow Massachusetts Senator Timothy Pickering and other New England Federalists. Pickering was able to bring about the premature election of a new Massachusetts senator, thus forcing Adams to resign from the Senate. He retired temporarily to devote his full time to the chair of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard that he had held since 1803. President Madison appointed him ambassador to Russia in 1809, and from Saint Petersburg in 1811 Adams declined an already confirmed appointment to the U. S.Supreme Court. Beginning in 1814 he served as one of the ambassadors to negotiate an end to the War of 1812 with Great Britain, and he served as Ambassador to the Court of Saint James's until 1817, when he became Madison's secretary of state. In that office he was responsible for conceiving the foreign policy stance that became known as the Monroe Doctrine. In 1824 Adams won a close race for President, one decided in the House of Representatives, and he served a single term before being defeated for reelection by Andrew Jackson.
In some ways, the most distinguished facet of Adams's long career came after his defeat in the 1828 presidential election. On 31 March 1831 he was elected to Congress and served there for eight consecutive terms, eventually dying at his desk. During that time he was an independent voice for such causes as the abolition of slavery and the restraint of imperialistic ambitions in Texas. Some of his most stirring writings came as explanations of his moral stands to his constituents. Among these, the Address of John Quincy Adams, to his Constituents of the Twelfth Congressional District (1842) is the most memorable for its explanation of his antislavery principles and its vindication of his twelve years in Congress. Adams's writings have both historical and autobiographical value. Dwelling on links between the classic past and his own times, he also used his experiences and access to public men and public documents fully. His extraordinary memory and erudition make for sometimes dry, but always instructive, reading.
Adams's diary or journal, which he kept assiduously until a few years before his death, is a remarkable contribution to the recordof his times, unmatched for its period in breadth and length. The twelve volumes published as Memoirs of John Quincy Adams were intended and survive as a monument to the good intentions and noble ideas of a man who, in a moment of deep anguish, contended that in his long life he could remember almost no example of success in any of his major endeavors. Adams sought to leave his son and successive generations a record that would gain him the admiration he felt wanting during his life.
Adams's literary productions beyond his diary were prodigious: state papers, speeches, writings on political philosophy, history, autobiography, and polemical tracts are bewildering in number. He even wrote and published poetry, including an epic poem entitledDermot MacMorrogh (1832), perhaps unfortunately for those who have read it and for Adams's literary reputation. It is the Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, however, that remains of enduring value for its revelations of the erudition and wisdom of a wise and well-educated man. It documents the experiences of a statesman who participated in the great events and decisions of Europe and America for over sixty years. The literary quality of his writing is high, even by the standards of a family that produced so many great men and women of letters as his.

Famous Quotes by John Quincy Adams

Famous Quotes by John Quincy Adams
  • "In charity to all mankind, bearing no malice or ill-will to any human being, and even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow-men, not knowing what they do."  —John Quincy Adams on Charity
  • "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air."  —John Quincy Adams on Courage
  • "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."  —John Quincy Adams on Democracy
  • "The declaration that our People are hostile to a government made by themselves, for themselves, and conducted by themselves, is an insult."  —John Quincy Adams on Government
  • "Yesterday the greatest question was decided which was ever debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."  —John Quincy Adams on Government
  • ". . . The manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not."  —John Quincy Adams on Government
  • "Not stones, nor wood, nor the art of artisans make a state; but where men are who know how to take care of themselves, these are cities and walls."  —John Quincy Adams on Government
  • "Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."  —John Quincy Adams on History
  • "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."  —John Quincy Adams on Holidays
  • "This is the last of earth! I am content."  —John Quincy Adams on Last Words
  • "Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."  —John Quincy Adams on Mind
  • "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air."  —John Quincy Adams on Obstacles
  • "The die was now cast; I had passed the Rubicon. Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country was my unalterable determination."  —John Quincy Adams on Patriotism
  • "This hand, to tyrants ever sworn the foe, For freedom only deals the deadly blow; Then sheathes in calm repose the vengeful blade, For gentle peace in freedom's hallowed shade."  —John Quincy Adams on Peace
  • "Think of your forefathers! Think of your posterity!"  —John Quincy Adams on Posterity
  • "Westward the star of empire takes its way."  —John Quincy Adams on Progress
  • "All rising to great place is by a winding stair."  —John Quincy Adams on Progress
  • "Where annual elections end, there slavery begins."  —John Quincy Adams on Vote
  • "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."  —John Quincy Adams on Vote
  • ""Man wants but little here below Nor wants that little long," 'Tis not with me exactly so; But 'tis so in the song. My wants are many, and, if told, Would muster many a score; And were each wish a mint of gold, I still should long for more."  —John Quincy Adams on Wishes

James Monroe

Monroe's Tour of New England

During his two terms in office (1817–1825), President James Monroe transformed a bitter, divided, partisan nation in the wake of the War of 1812 into a unified country with an unprecedented sense of national identity and patriotism. Monroe's tour of New England ushered in the "era of good feelings" by invoking the symbols of the War of Independence and focusing on citizens' common background and victories.As the last  so-called "Virginia Dynasty" president, Monroe inherited a number of national issues from his predecessors—Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. Among them were the slavery question, American Indian policy, westward expansion, and state-federal government relations. Perhaps the most pressing challenge he faced in his two terms was rebuilding the nation's postwar economy, unity, and sense of nationalism.
The war was the chief preoccupation and major event of James Madison's presidency (1809–1817). Although quasi wars with Great Britain had erupted since the U.S. founding, previous chief executives had managed to avoid official hostilities with the parent nation. By Madison's time, war seemed inevitable in order to protect domestic and foreign trade. Although critics argued that a war to protect commerce actually would result in a loss of international consumers of U.S. goods and a wounded national economy, Congress nevertheless answered Madison's request by declaring war against Great Britain in June 1812. The war went badly: In America's worst moment, British troops sacked Washington, D.C., and burned the Capitol building. An attempt to conquer Canada failed. Perhaps the worstconsequence of the war was the bitter divisions it created within the nation. In December 1814, while peace was being negotiated in Europe, leaders in New England, where opposition to the war was most intense, met at Hartford, Connecticut, to demand changes in the Constitution to curb the warmaking powers of the federal government. They threatened to lead New England out of the union if their demands were not met. When peace came with the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814, the nation found itself economically weakened and bitterly divided along political and regional lines.
Monroe, who had served as Madison's secretary of state and at times acting secretary of war during the War of 1812, became president of a nation still coming to terms with what a postwar United States should be. Monroe embraced the opportunity this unique moment afforded him and chose to rally and unify the country through an elaborate schedule of personal tours, from the oldest birthplaces of the former colonies to the newly opened West. The most significant of his tours took place in 1817 in New England, where the hottest opposition to the War of 1812 had seethed. The region was also the home of the Federalist Party, the direct competitor to Monroe's Democratic-Republicans.
The president pursued his goal—healing the bitter rift of party factionalism so recently intensified by war—by invoking the symbol of the nation's first war hero and chief executive, George Washington. This worked on two levels: Monroe was not only the final Virginia Dynasty president, but also "the last of the cocked hats," or the last president to have served in the War of Independence. As a veteran of the Revolution and the inheritor of Washington's tradition of leadership, Monroe orchestrated every detail of his trip to New England to recall the enthusiasm and patriotism of the War of Independence. He journeyed as an independent citizen without official escort or ceremony and paid for his travel expenses out of his own pocket. Instead of the day's current fashions, he wore simple knee-buckled breeches and, significantly, three-pointed, Revolution-era hats.
Where Monroe traveled was just as noteworthy as how he traveled. The president visited Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, careful to make appearances at sites important to either the War of Independence or the War of 1812 and honor veterans in the process. He went to Boston, the birthplace of the Revolution, on the Fourth of July for the anniversary of the nation's independence. While there he visited important symbols of Revolutionary action such as Bunker Hill, "Old Ironsides," and the Boston Athenaeum. Touring more as an old patriot than a new president, meeting with leading political adversaries such as the Federalists John Adams and Timothy Pickering, and choosing memorable places and dates for his visits marked Monroe's New England journey as a tour of goodwill.
Monroe's success was immediate and undeniable. In contrast to his own understated and personable appearance and manner, enthusiastic locals at each stop along his tour met him with regal pomp and ceremony, flags and songs, as if Monroe had won both the War of Independence and the War of 1812 single-handedly. Celebrations at his many stops and along the routes that connected them turned his modest tour into a triumphant procession. Newspapers wrote about how Monroe's nonpartisan, patriotic appearances seemed focused on unity and healing, proving that his tenure as president would make one people out of a nation that had been deeply divided. One Boston newspaper coined a phrase that would come to describe Monroe's two administrations: Monroe, it was said, had ushered in an "era of good feelings." The positive spirit fed by Monroe's travel revived not only the nation's self-image but also its economy and expansion. The tour was so successful, in fact, that Monroe and Congress invited Revolutionary hero Marquis de Lafayette to the United States for a similar goodwill tour during Monroe's second term.
Turning postwar dissent and factionalism into an opportunity to foster unity and active nationalism was perhaps Monroe's most important achievement in office. As he prepared to leave the executive branch, Monroe understood that bringing the VirginiaDynasty to an end was exactly what the nation needed. Concerned that too many like-minded Southern presidents would undo the inclusive nonpartisanship he had fostered, Monroe prepared his New Englander secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, to succeed him as president. And indeed, Adams's presidency maintained Monroe's legacy of optimism and unity. Appropriately for one who had linked himself so closely with the Revolutionary experience, Monroe died on July 4, 1831, becoming the third of five presidents to die on the nation's birthday.
Monroe's tour of New England was a symbolic act that not only bound a divided nation but also demonstrated how the memory of the Revolution and American military triumphs could energize and define the nation's self-image. The tour proved that war and the way in which Americans are led to remember their wars could be used as a powerful political force to forge national identity and shape the country's culture.

Famous Quotes by James Monroe

Famous Quotes by James Monroe
  • "A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue."  —James Monroe on Fatigue
    • National honor is the national property of the highest value.
      • First Inaugural Address(March 4, 1817)
    • The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is capable.
      • Message to Congress (December 1822)

The Monroe Doctrine (December 2, 1823)

  • The American continents ... are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.
  • In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.
  • We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.


  • A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.
  • If America wants concessions, she must fight for them. We must purchase our power with our blood.
  • If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.
  • In this great nation there is but one order, that of the people, whose power, by a peculiarly happy improvement of the representative principle, is transferred from them, without impairing in the slightest degree their sovereignty, to bodies of their own creation, and to persons elected by themselves, in the full extent necessary for the purposes of free, enlightened, and efficient government.
  • It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.
  • Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete.
  • Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all -- liberty!
  • Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will.
  • The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.

Madison, James

Madison, Jame

(b. March 16, 1751; d. June 28, 1836) Father of the U.S. Constitution, coauthor of The Federalist, draftsman of the Bill of Rights, and fourth President of the United States (1809–1817).

James Madison was centrally concerned, throughout his public life, with war or the prospect of war. He became a member of the Continental Congress in December 1779, perhaps the darkest moment of the Revolutionary War, and rose to be regarded as the most effective member of that body. He helped secure approval of the Articles of Confederation, struggled constantly with the financial problems facing the union, and supported proposals for a set of independent federal taxes. After 1783, he returned to the Virginia legislature's lower houseand came to be committed to elemental changes in the structure of the new republic. This commitment to reform led to the drafting of the Constitution.
Madison believed that the continental union was not just ineffective, but increasingly in danger of a speedy dissolution. Moreover, he was convinced that the Revolution could not survive disintegration of the union. It was the union that protected the Revolution's experiments in republican governance from foreign intervention and secured the states against the rivalries and fragmentation that had splintered Europe and condemned its peoples to oppressive taxes, swollen military forces, tyranny, and wars. As it was, he reasoned, federal inability to act against the postwar economic slump, which he attributed to European regulations limiting the country's trade, was probably the leading cause of popular commotions in the several states and local legislation violating basic rights or sacrificing long-term public needs to more immediate considerations. "Most of our political evils," he wrote, "may be traced up to our commercial ones, as most of our moral may to our political."
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Madison assumed the lead of delegates who urged a thorough federal reform. Although the full convention greatly altered his original proposals, he soon concluded that the finished Constitution was the best solution to the classic riddles of a liberal democracy that humankind had yet devised. He collaborated with Alexander Hamilton in writing theFederalist Papers, the most impressive public defense of the reform. He then ensured the Constitution's success by taking on himself, as leader of the new House of Representatives, the preparation of a Bill of Rights.
In 1793, however, revolutionary France initiated twenty years of war with Britain and much of Europe. Madison and Thomas Jefferson were already at the fore-front of opposition to Hamilton's financial policies. They now took the lead, as well, of swelling numbers who supported the French Revolution and condemned a foreign policy that seemed to favor Britain, although the British posed the greater threat to neutral trade. During Washington's administration, Hamilton and others favored diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis with Great Britain, backed by stronger military preparations. Madison and Jefferson, at the head of what was rapidly becoming the first political party, the Democratic-Republican Party, preferred commercial warfare with the British. Both regarded John Jay's Treaty of 1795 as an abject surrender to the British and the leading cause of rising trouble with the French.
During the later 1790s, several factors—a quasi war with France, enlargement of the army, and legislative efforts to suppress domestic opposition—persuaded the Republicans that a conspiracy to undermine the constitutional republic had burst into the open. Federalist conspirators, they feared, were moving toward a permanent alliance, maybe even a reunion, with Great Britain. With all three branches of the federal government in their opponents' hands, Madison and Jefferson used the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky to challenge the federal Alien and Sedition Laws, developing a compact theory of the nature of the Constitution and initiating the campaign that led to Jefferson's victory in the election of 1800.
From 1801 to 1809, Madison served not only as Jefferson's secretary of state, but also as a principal advisor on domestic policy, which they were mutually determined to revise. They also decided to employ commercial confrontation as a viable alternative to war. By the time that Madison succeeded Jefferson as president, however, the Great Embargo had failed to achieve that goal. Madison was preoccupied throughout his presidency with a search for ways to use the economic weapon that would damage France and Britain more than the United States. By the winter of 1811–1812, commercial warfare had been pressed, in one form or another, for a full four years without securing a repeal of the damaging and nationally demeaning British policies to which the Jeffersonian Republicans objected. Before thenew, Twelfth Congress met, the president reluctantly decided that his only choices were submission to these British policies or war. On June 18, 1812, in what was basically a party vote, a declaration of war passed the Congress.

Famous Quotes by James Madison

Famous Quotes by James Madison
  • "Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public liberty."  —James Madison on Education
  • "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."  —James Madison on Government
  • "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."  —James Madison on Power
  • "As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights."  —James Madison on Property
  • "Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."  —James Madison on Silence

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Dubbed the "sage of Monticello " and the "godfather of American invention," Thomas Jefferson created a variety of practical devices, notably the dumbwaiter, lazy Susan, folding campstool, folding ladder and music stand, portable copying press, portable writing desk, revolving chair, cipher wheel for cryptography, moldboard plow, hemp-breaker for threshing machines, and improved carding machine. A native of Shadwell in Albemarle County, Virginia, Jefferson received a classical education from private tutors. At age 17, he entered William and Mary College and studied math and science. He was admitted to the bar in 1767, and practiced law in Williamsburg for two years.
Jefferson filled several political jobs, including county lieutenant, county surveyor, and member of the House of Burgesses and alternate to the Continental Congress. Following two terms as governor of Virginia, he retired to farm the land around his Palladian estate, Monticello. Many of his labor-saving devices date to his return to the land, notably his nail factory, which was intended to supplement his irregular and unpredictable income from agriculture. Inside Monticello, Jefferson's desire for privacy prompted the invention of the lazy Susan, which allowed servants to deliver food to the dining room without intruding. Dumbwaiters built into the side of the mantle allowed wine stewards to send up bottles from the wine cellar without interrupting the flow of conversation.
Jefferson's preoccupation with efficiency and convenience prompted some of his more unusual household inventions. He constructed a screened alcove bed which fit into a wall between two rooms. This gave the occupant the option of getting out of bed in whichever room he chose. At the foot of the bed was turntable with forty-eight projecting fingers which could hold ties, vests, and coats. Alongside his bed stood a revolving-top writing table he created to streamline his mechanical drawing. Opposite was a revolving chair, which also conserved motion as he reached for books and drawing supplies or referred to volumes from his sizeable library. After arthritis set in, Jefferson refined his desk chair into a chaise lounge to relieve the ache in his joints.
Jefferson was also fascinated with timekeeping and unusual clock designs. Over his front door at Monticello was an imposing two-faced clock which faced the outside and the foyer. Its cannonball weights also served as seven-day calendars. To reach the top of the clock for service and synchronizing, he devised a folding ladder.
To assure cooling for fresh foods, beverages, and ice cream, Jefferson refined the concept of the icehouse. As an aid in the removal of melted ice, he replaced the usual pump with a square tube running from the ground through the top. A servant hauled up melted ice in a bucket, which was fitted with a leather valve in the bottom and moved vertically up the square tube for emptying. The resulting ice water he transferred to his four cisterns, which he devised to store rainwater for domestic use and fire protection.
In his letters, Jefferson mentions his numerous and varied interest in inventions, particularly the application of steam power to navigation and manufacturing. He redesigned the moldboard plow, which farmers on both sides of the Atlantic used, and introduced rice, olives, and sheep to American farmers. Eager to standardize money, weights, and measures, he also drew up a decimal system for coins, helped regulate patent procedures, and served as the nation's first patent officer.
In 1797, Jefferson entered public office, first as vice president, then as president of the United States. On his return to Monticello, he founded the University of Virginia, one of his most satisfying accomplishments. He also devoted himself to reading the classics and helped establish the Library of Congress by donating his personal library. Jefferson tried to improve agriculture techniques at Monticello until his death in 1826.

Famous Quotes by Thomas Jefferson

Famous Quotes by Thomas Jefferson
  • "I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another."  —Thomas Jefferson on Advice
  • "My only fear is that I may live too long. This would be a subject of dread to me."  —Thomas Jefferson on Age
  • "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . ."  —Thomas Jefferson on America
  • "The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."  —Thomas Jefferson on America
  • "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."  —Thomas Jefferson on Brevity
  • "Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."  —Thomas Jefferson on Business
  • "I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too."  —Thomas Jefferson on Censorship
  • "I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise."  —Thomas Jefferson on Censure
  • "I find that the pain of a little censure, even when it is unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise."  —Thomas Jefferson on Censure
  • "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."  —Thomas Jefferson on Constitution
  • "The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."  —Thomas Jefferson on Constitution
  • "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."  —Thomas Jefferson on Country
  • "A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit."  —Thomas Jefferson on Cowardice
  • "And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude."  —Thomas Jefferson on Debt
  • "Never spend your money before you have it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Debt
  • "We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness."  —Thomas Jefferson on Independence
  • "Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail."  —Thomas Jefferson on Duty
  • "The earth is given as a common for men to labor and live in."  —Thomas Jefferson on Earth
  • "I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers ... We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the."  —Thomas Jefferson on Economy
  • "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."  —Thomas Jefferson on Education
  • "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded faith."  —Thomas Jefferson on Faith
  • "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."  —Thomas Jefferson on Freedom of the Press
  • "Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life."  —Thomas Jefferson on Friendship
  • "But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine."  —Thomas Jefferson on Friendship
  • "I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labour of the industrious."  —Thomas Jefferson on Government
  • "That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves."  —Thomas Jefferson on Government
  • "It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself."  —Thomas Jefferson on Government
  • "It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape."  —Thomas Jefferson on Guilt
  • "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."  —Thomas Jefferson on History
  • "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. . . ."  —Thomas Jefferson on Independence
  • "I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another."  —Thomas Jefferson on Inspirational
  • "I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another."  —Thomas Jefferson on Inspirational
  • "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  —Thomas Jefferson on Jury
  • "It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and to talk by the hour."  —Thomas Jefferson on Law
  • "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time."  —Thomas Jefferson on Liberty
  • "It is my principle that the will of the majority should always prevail."  —Thomas Jefferson on Majority
  • "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."  —Thomas Jefferson on Newspapers
  • "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."  —Thomas Jefferson on Obedience
  • "It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquillity and occupation which give happiness."  —Thomas Jefferson on Occupation
  • "Monuments of the safety with which errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Opinion
  • "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none."  —Thomas Jefferson on Peace
  • "Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Peace
  • "Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Peace
  • "Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Peace
  • "Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct."  —Thomas Jefferson on Politics Government
  • "No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it."  —Thomas Jefferson on President
  • "When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property."  —Thomas Jefferson on Public Trust
  • "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to admit it."  —Thomas Jefferson on Reason
  • "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing."  —Thomas Jefferson on Rebellion
  • "A little rebellion now and then ... is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."  —Thomas Jefferson on Rebellion
  • "The hole and the patch should be commensurate."  —Thomas Jefferson on Reform
  • "Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."  —Thomas Jefferson on Resignation
  • "Resort is had to ridicule only when reason is against us."  —Thomas Jefferson on Ridicule
  • "We hold these truths to be self-evident,--that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  —Thomas Jefferson on Rights
  • "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  —Thomas Jefferson on Rights
  • "Peace. commerce, and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none."  —Thomas Jefferson on Statesmanship
  • "Taste cannot be controlled by law."  —Thomas Jefferson on Taste
  • "Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty."  —Thomas Jefferson on Timidity
  • "The man who fears no truths has nothing to fear from lies."  —Thomas Jefferson on Truth
  • "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."  —Thomas Jefferson on Tyranny
  • "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."  —Thomas Jefferson on Tyranny
  • "Victory and defeat are each of the same price."  —Thomas Jefferson on Victory
  • "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."  —Thomas Jefferson on Vigilance
  • "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."  —Thomas Jefferson on Wisdom