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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Famous Quotes by James Monroe
- "A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue." —James Monroe on Fatigue
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.
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.