These quotes have not been compiled by searching around on the Internet or email chains. Most of them were transcribed directly from the books or works I was reading at the time I encountered them. A very few have come from historians or authors who were quoting another source. I believe there are many Americans out there who think perhaps that we are bound by fate to live under the subjugation of our current government, and that because of its noble roots that we no longer have a right or indeed a duty to question its authority. The leaders of today are politically corrupt, morally bankrupt and socially useless. One need only sample the words of the great individuals who came before us to find justification in that belief, and to find that we are not alone in the contempt we feel for our own ruling class. Radical change is not only possible and desirable but necessary. As Barry Goldwater once said, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”:

Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
-Cassius to Brutus — Julius Caesar

Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
Remorse from power.
-Brutus — Julius Caesar

“Immoderate valour swells into a fault, And fear, admitted into public councils, Betrays like treason.”
-Cato to Sempronius and Lucius – Cato, A Tragedy

“My life is grafted on the fate of Rome: Would he save Cato? Bid him spare his country. Tell your dictator this: and tell him Cato Disdains a life which he has power to offer.”
-Cato to Decius – Cato, A Tragedy

“It is not now a time to talk of aught But chains or conquest, liberty or death.”
-Cato – Cato, A Tragedy Act II Scene IV

“When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, The post of honour is a private station.”
-Cato – Cato, A Tragedy Act IV, Scene IV

“With autocrats, we have nothing in common; in fact we and they are totally at variance. There is nothing unnatural about robbing – if you can – a man whom it is morally right even to kill. Indeed, the whole sinful and pestilential gang of dictatorial rulers ought to be cast out from human society. For when limbs have lost their life-blood and vital energy, their amputation may well follow. That is precisely how these ferocious, bestial monsters in human form ought to be severed from the body of mankind.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero – A Practical Code of Behavior (On Duties) Part IV

“The function of intelligence is to distinguish between good and bad; whereas trickery takes sides between them, actually preferring what is bad and wrong.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero – A Practical Code of Behavior (On Duties) Part VII

“A good magistrate is the brightest character upon earth, as being most conducive to the benefit of mankind; and a bad one is a greater monster than ever hell engendered: He is an enemy and traitor to his own species. Where there is the greatest trust, the betraying it is the greatest treason.”
-Cato’s Letters No. 20, March 11, 1720

“Civil tyrany is usually small in the beginning, like ‘the drop of a bucket,’ till at length, like a mighty torrent or the raging waves of the sea, it bears down all before it and deluges whole countries and empires.”
-Jonathan Mayhew – “Concerning Unlimited Submission and nonresistance to the Higher Powers”

“Those in authority may abuse their trust and power to such a degree that neither the law of reason nor of religion requires that any obedience or submission should be paid to them; but, on the contrary, that they should be totally discarded and the authority which they were before vested with transferred to others, who may exercise it more to those good purposes for which it was given.”
-Jonathan Mayhew – “Concerning Unlimited Submission and nonresistance to the Higher Powers”

“For a nation thus abused to arise unanimously and to resist their prince, even to the dethroning him, is not criminal, but a reasonable way of vindicating liberties and just rights; it is making use of the means, and the only means, which God has put into their power for mutual and self-defense. And it would be highly criminal in them not to make use of this means. it would be stupid tameness and unaccoutnable folly for whole nations to suffer one unreasonable, ambitious, and cruel man to wanton and riot in their misery. And in such a case it would, of the two, be more rational to suppose that they did not resist than that they who did would receive to themselves damnation.”
-Jonathan Mayhew – “Concerning Unlimited Submission and Nonresistance to the Higher Powers”

“The present involved state of the British nation, the rapacity and profuseness of many of her great men, the prodigious number of their dependents who want to be gratified with some office which may enable them to live lazily upon the labor of others, must convince us that we shall be taxed so long as we have a penny to pay, and that new offices will be constituted and new officers palmed upon us until the number is so great that we cannot by our constant labor toil maintain anymore.”
-Rev. Ebenezer Baldwin of Danbury (Transcribed from Bernard Bailyn’s “Pamphlets of the American Revolution”)

“The only distinction between freedom and slavery consists in this: In the former state, a man is governed by the laws to which he has given his consent, either in person, or by his represeantative: In the latter, he is governed by the will of another. In the one case his life and property are his own, in the other, they depend upon the pleasure of a master. It is easy to discern which of these two sates is preferable. No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a salve.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Mesaures of the Congress”

“But if we impute their conduct to a wicked thirst of domination and disregard to justice, we have no hope of prevailing with them to alter it, by expatiating on our rights, and suing to their compassion for relief; especially since we have found, by various epxeriments, the inefficacy of such methods.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress”

“… humanity does not require us to sacrifice our own security and welfare to the convenience, or advantage of others. Self preservation is the first principle of nature. When our lives and properties are at stake, it would be foolish and unnatural to refrain from such measures as might preserve them, because they would be detrimental to others.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress”

“In a civil society, it is the duty of each particular branch to promote, not only the good of the whole community, but the good of every other particular branch: If one part endeavours to viloate the rights of another, the rest ought to assist in preventing the injury: When they do not, but remain neutral, they are deficient in their duty, and may be regarded, in some measure, as accomplices.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress”

“Under the auspices of tyranny, the life of the subject is often sported with; and the fruits of his daily toil are consumed in oppressive taxes, that serve to gratify the ambition, avarice and lusts of his superiors. Every court minion riots in the spoils of the honest labourer, and despises the hand by which he is fed. The page of history is replete with instances that loudly warn us to beware of slavery.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress”

“Bad men are apt to paint others like themselves.”
-Alexander Hamilton – “A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress”

“History has informed us that bodies of men, as well as individuals, are suceptible of the spirit of tyranny.”
-Thomas Jefferson – “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

“Were this to be admitted, instead of being a free people, as we have hitherto supposed, and mean to continue ourselves, we should suddenly be found the slaves, not of one, but of 160,000 tyrants, distinguished too from all others by this singular circumstance, that they are removed from the reach of fear, THE ONLY RESTRAINING MOTIVE WHICH MAY HOLD THE HAND OF A TYRANT.”
-Thomas Jefferson – “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

“Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art. To give praise which is not due might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nautre. They know, and will therefore say, that kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people.”
-Thomas Jefferson – “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

“The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”
-Thomas Jefferson – “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
-Thomas Jefferson – “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

“To understand Political Power right, and derive from its Original, we must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other Man.”
-John Locke – Second Treatise of Government

“…nay where an appeal to the Law, and constitutded Judges lies open, but the remedy is deny’d by a manifest perverting of Justice, and a barefaced wresting of the laws, to protect or indemnifie the violence or injuries of some Men, or Party of Men, there it is hard to imagine any thing but a State of War. For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour’d with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made up on the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.”
-John Locke – Second Treatise of Government

“God gave the World to Men in Common; but since he gave it them for their benefit, and the greatest Convenienceies of Life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed He meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the Industrious and Rational, (and Labour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quarrelsom and Contentious.”
-John Locke – Second Treatise of Government

“But shame, thrice shame to us, if we are so foolish as to make such wrongdoing an excuse for failing to perform a great and righteous task. Not only in our own land, but throughout the world, throughout all history, the advance of civilization has been of incalculable benefit to mankind, and those through whom it has advanced deserve the highest honor.”
-Theodore Roosevelt – “National Duties” speech to the Minnesota St. Fair September 2, 1901.

“We shall make mistakes; and if we let these mistakes frighten us from our work we shall show ourselves weaklings.”
-Theodore Roosevelt – “National Duties” speech to the Minnesota St. Fair September 2, 1901.

“If you will study our past history as a nation you will se we have made many blunders and have been guilty of many shortcomings, and yet we have always in the end come out victorious because we have refused to be daunted by blunders and defeats, have recognized them, but have persevered in spite of them. So it must be in the future.”
-Theodore Roosevelt – “National Duties” speech to the Minnesota St. Fair September 2, 1901.

“The passion for equality penetrates on every side into men’s hearts, expands there, and fills them entirely. Tell them not that, by this blind surrender of themselves to an exclusive passion, they risk their dearest interests: they are deaf. Show them not freedom escaping from their grasp whilst they are looking another way: they are blind, or, rather, they can discern but one object to be desired in the universe.”
-Alexis De Tocqueville – Democracy in America

“You are right, gentlemen, overrun the country: it belongs to the strong or the crafty man who siezes it. You have profited from the times of ignorance, of superstition, of folly, to despoil us of our heritage and to trample us underfoot in order to fatten yourselves on the substance of the wretched: tremble lest the day of reason arrive.”
-Voltaire – Philosophical Dictionary

“And yet you have taken your degrees, and your gown is furred, and so is your cap, and you are called master. And this conceited upstart who has bought an office thinks that he has bought the right to judge and to condemn what he does not understand.”
-Voltaire – Philosophical Dictionary

“This does not satisfy me: the nature of him I am to obey signifies less to me than the fact of extorted obedience”
-Alexis De Tocqueville – Democracy in America

“Politics? one column, two stentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl a man’s mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought!”
-Fire-Captain Beatty – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.”
-Fire-Captain Beatty – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“The important thing for you to remember, Montag, is we’re the Happiness Boys, the Dixie Duo, you and I and the others. We stand against the small tide of those who to make everyone unhappy with conflicting theory and thought. We have our fingers in the dike. Hold steady. Don’t let the torrent of melacholy and drear philosophy drown our world. We depend on you. I don’t think you realize how important you are, we are, to our happy world as it stands now.
-Fire-Captain Beatty – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”
-Fire-Captain Beatty – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right? Haven’t you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren’t they? Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun? That’s all we live for, isn’t it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these.”
-Fire-Captain Beatty – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
-Alexander Hamilton

“Call it the fault of civilization. God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your chocie. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That’s why I have to keep these books locked up in this safe. They’re smut.”
-His Fordship Mustapha Mond, Resident World Controller for Western Europe – Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

“A single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies, and frailties of an individual; subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasim, partialities, or prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“A single assembly is apt to be avaricious, and in time will not scruple to exempt itself from burdens, which it will lay, without compunction, on its constituents.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“A single assembly is apt to grow ambitious, and after a time will not hesitate to vote itself perpetual.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“A representative assembly, although extremely well qualified, and absolutely necessary, as a branch of the legislative, is unfit to exercise the executive power, for want of two essential properties, secrecy and despatch.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“…and if a continental constitution should be formed … its authority should sacredly be confined to these cases, namely, war, trade, disputes between colony and colony, the post-office, and the unappropriated lands of the crown, as they used to be called.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“And these and all other elections, especially of representatives and counsellors, should be annual, there not being in the whole circle of the sciences a maxim more infallible than this, ‘where annual elections end, there slavery begins.’

These great men, in this respect, should be, once a year,
‘Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
They rise, they break, and to that sea return.’

This will teach them the great political virtues of humility, patience, and moderation, without which every man in power becomes a ravenous beast of prey.”
-John Adams – Thoughts on Government

“But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain.”
-Thomas Paine – Common Sense

“Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism and military defence … With the increase of commerce, England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.”
-Thomas Paine – Common Sense

“O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.”
-Thomas Paine – Common Sense

“There should, so far as possible, be equality of opportunity to render service; but just so long as there is inequality of service there should be inequality of reward. We may be sorry for the general, the painter, the artist, the worker in any profession or of any kind, whose misfortune rather than whose fault it is that he does his work ill. But the reward must go to the man who does his work well; for any other course is to create a new kind of privilege, the privilege of folly and weakness; and special privilege is injustice, whatever form it takes.”
- Theodore Roosevelt – Citizenship in a Republic Speech given at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

“If a man stumbles, it is a good thing to help him to his feet. Every one of us needs a helping hand now and then. But if a man lies down, it is a waste of time to try to carry him; and it is a very bad thing for every one if we make men feel that the same reward will come to those who shirk their work and to those who do it.”
- Theodore Roosevelt – Citizenship in a Republic Speech given at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”
- John Bradshaw, President of the Parliamentary Commission to try King Charles I and suggested by Jefferson and Franklin as the motto for the Great Seal of the United States

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
- Thomas Jefferson

“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall toward the earth’s center. With the feeling that he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
- Winston Smith, 1984 – George Orwell

“The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living.”
- George Orwell – 1984

Salus populi suprema lex esto: That the benefit and safety of the people constitutes the supreme law, is an universal and everlasting maxim in government; It can never be altered by municipal statutes: No customs can change, no positive instutitions can abrogate, no time can efface, this primary law of nature and nations. The sole end of men’s entering into political societies, was mutual protection and defence; and whatever power does not contribute to those purposes, is not government, but usurpation.”
-Cato’s Letters No. 11, January 7, 1720

“Tis agreed upon by mankind, that subjection and protection are relative; and that he who cannot protect those that are under him, in vain pretends to a dominion over them. The only ends for which governments are constituted, and obedience render’d to them, are the obtaining of justice and protection; and they who cannot provide for both, give the people a right of taking such ways as best please themselves, in order to their own safety.”
- Algernon Sidney – Discourses Concerning Government

“Term limits aren’t enough. We need jail.”
- P.J. O’Rourke – The Liberty Manifesto May, 6, 1993

“Nations are then free, when their magistrates are their servants; and then slaves, when their magistrates are their masters: The commonwealth does not belong to them, but they belong to the commonwealth. Tacitus says with great truth, Nec unquam satis fida potentia ubi nimis est (When a man possesses excessive power, he can never have complete trust): ‘Power without control is never to be trusted.’ Every nation has most to fear from its own magistrates; because almost all nations have suffered most from their own magistrates.”
- Cato’s Letters No. 76, May 12, 1722

“Nothing but fear and selfish considerations can keep men within any reasonable bounds; and nothing but the absence of fear can set men at defiance with society, and prompt them to oppress it.”
- Cato’s Letters No. 75, May 5, 1722

“As we all know, democracy is not the best form of government. In pure democracies — which thankfully do not exist — 51 percent of the people can vote to atomic-wedgie 49 percent of the people.”
- Jonah Goldberg, October 10, 2001

“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
- Frederick Douglass – Speech at Canandaigua, New York August 3, 1857

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
- Samuel Adams – speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776.

“… the generation to which we belong is now learning from experience what happens when men retreat from freedom to a coercive organisation of their affairs. Though they promise themselves a more abundant life, they must in practice renounce it; as the organized direction increases, the variety of ends must give way to uniformity. That is the nemesis of the planned society and the authoritarian principle in human affairs.”
- Dr. Walter Lippmann quoted in The Road to Serfdom by F.A.Hayek

“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
- Alexis de Tocqueville – September 12, 1848

“To the great apostles of political freedom the word had meant freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men, release from the ties which left the individual no choice but obedience to the orders of a superior to whom he was attached. The new freedom promised, however, was to be freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us, although for some very much more than for others. Before man could be truly free, the ‘despotism of physical want’ had to be broken, the ‘restraints of the economic system’ relaxed. Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power or wealth.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“Though in the short run the price we have to pay for variety and freedom of choice may sometimes be high, in the long run even material progress will depend on this very variety, because we can never predict from which of the many forms in which a good or service can be provided something better may develop … But the argument for freedom is precisely that we ought to leave room for the unforseeable free growth. It applies, therefore, no less when, on the basis of our present knowledge, compulsion would seem to bring only advantages, and although in a particular instance it may actually do no harm.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.”
- Friedrich Höderlin quoted in The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

“If Hillary is elected President, she’ll have a new border problem to worry about: Americans flooding out of the country.”
- Mike Bellomo – Florida

“Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested Hitler, he yet seemed the only man strong enough to get things done.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“Democratic government has worked successfully where, and so long as, the functions of government were, by a widely accepted creed, restricted to fields where agreement among a majority could be achieved by free discussion; and it is the great merit of the liberal creed that it reduced the range of subjects on which agreement was necessary to one on which it was likely to exist in a society of free men. It is now often said that democracy will not tolerate ‘capitalism’. If ‘capitalism’ means here a competitive system based on a free disposal over private property, it is far more important to realise that only within this system is democracy possible. When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“That people should wish to be relieved of the bitter choice which hard facts often impose upon them is not surprising. But few want to be relieved through the choice being made for them by others. People just wish that the choice should not be necessary at all. And they are only too ready to believe that the choice is not really necessary, that it is imposed upon them merely by the particular economic system under which we live. What they resent is in truth that there is an economic problem.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“The idea that the object of constitutions is not to confirm the predominance of any interest, but to prevent it; to preserve with equal care the independence of labour and the security of property; to make the rich safe against envy, and the poor against oppression, marks the highest level attained by the statesmanship of Greece. It hardly survived the great patriot who conceived it; and all history has been occupied with the endeavour to upset the balance of power by giving the advantage to money, land, or numbers.”
Lord John Dalberg-Acton– The History of Freedom in Antiquity

“It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.”
Lord John Dalberg-Acton – The History of Freedom in Antiquity

“So we are here tonight in a kind of anti-matter protest — an unpolitical undemonstration by deeply uncommitted inactivists. We are part of a huge invisible picket line that circles the White House twenty-four hours a day. We are participants in an enormous non-march on Washington — millions and millions of Americans not descending upon the nation’s capital in order to demand nothing from the United States government. To demand nothing, that is, except the one thing which no government in history has been able to do — leave us alone.”
- P.J. O’Rourke – The Liberty Manifesto May, 6, 1993

“Once science has to serve, not truth, but the interest of a class, a community, or a state, the sole task of argument and discussion is to vindicate and to spread still further the beliefs by which the whole life of the community is directed.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“What are the fixed poles now which are regarded as sacrosanct, which no reformer dare touch, since they are treated as the immutable boundaries which must be respected in any plan for the future? They are no longer the liberty of the individual, his freedom of movement, and scarcely that of speech. They are the protected standards of this or that group, their ‘right’ to exclude others from providing their fellow-men with what they need.”
- F. A. Hayek – The Road to Serfdom

“In times of simplicity and innocence, ability and integrity will be the principal recommendations to the public service, and the sole title to those honors and emoluments which are in the power of the public to bestow. But when elegance, luxury, and effeminacy begin to be established, these rewards will begin to be distributed to vanity and folly; but when a government becomes totally corrupted, the system of God Almighty in the government of the world, and the rules of all good government upon earth, will be reversed, and virtue, integrity, and ability, will become the objects of the malice, hatred, and revenge of the men in power, and folly, vice, and villany will be cherished and supported.”
- John Adams – December 22, 1770

“People are grown too polite to have an old-fashioned religion, and are too weak to find out a new, from whence follows the most unbounded licentiousness and utter disregard of virtue, which is the unfailing cause of the destruction of all empires.”
- John Dickinson – 1754

“After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.”
- Ronald Reagan – Berlin, June 12, 1987

“I have not the slightest sympathy with the outcry against corporations as such, or against prosperous men of business. Most of the great material works by which the entire contry benefits have been due to the action of individual men, or of aggregates of men, who made money for themselves by doing that which was in the interest of the poeple as a whole. From an armor plant to a street railway no work which is really beneficial to the public can be performed to the best advantage of the public save by men of such business capacity that they will not do the work unless they themselves receive ample reward for doing it. The effort to deprive them of an ample reward merely means that they will turn their energies in some other direction; and the public will be by just so much the loser.”
- Theodore Roosevelt – January 3, 1900

“A man standing on the gallows, without hope of descending and mixing again with his fellow men, might trust himself to utter “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” as the law hath it; and a Crusoe on his island, without sail in sight or hope of sail, might be equally sincere, but I know of few other conditions in which I could follow a man through his account of himself with perfect confidence.”
-Joaquin Miller – Life Amongst The Modocs

“We should be false to the historic principles of our government if we discriminated, either by legislation or administration, either for or against a man because of either his wealth or his poverty. There is no proper place in our society either for the rich man who uses the power conferred by his riches to enable him to oppress and wrong his neighbors, nor yet for the demagogic agitator who, instead of attacking abuses as all abuses should be attacked wherever found, attacks property, attacks prosperity, attacks men of wealth, as such, whether they be good or bad, attacks corporations whether they do well or ill, and seeks, in a spirit of ignorant rancor, to overthrow the very foundations upon which rests our national well-being.”
- Theodore Roosevelt – April 3, 1903

“It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this.”
- Alexander Hamilton

“A perfect democracy is the most shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the most fearless.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“This was just the garb of the Athenian sophisters, as they are described by Plato; whatsoever pleased ‘the great beast’ (the multitude), they called holy, and just, and good; and whatsoever ‘the great beast’ disliked, they called evil, unjust, profane.”
- Bishop John Bramhall – The Catching of Leviathan

“The vanity, restlessness, petulance, and spirit of intrigue, of several petty cabals, who attempt to hide their total want of consequence in bustle and noise, and puffing, and mutual quotation of each other, makes you imagine that our contemptuous neglect of their abilities is a mark of general acquiescence in their opinions. No such thing, I assure you. Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“The arguments of tyranny are as contemptible as its force is dreadful.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“These professors of the rights of men are so busy in teaching others, that they have not leisure to learn anything themselves; otherwise they would have known, that it is to the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that the first and original faith of civil society is pedged.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“A brave people will certainly prefer liberty accompanied with a virtuous poverty to a depraved and wealthy servitude.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“it is not with much credulity I listen to any, when they speak evil of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or exaggerated, when profit is looked for in their punishment. An enemy is a bad witness; a robber is a worse.”
- Edmund Burke – Reflections on the Revolution in France

“It is not the architect but the occupant who determines the character of a city.”
- Kurt von Schuschnigg – Austrian Requiem

“Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it does this task so well. It gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”
- Milton Friedman – Capitalism and Freedom

“The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated – a system of checks and balances. By removing the organization of economic activity from the control of political authority, the market eliminates this source of coercive power. It enables economic strength to be a check to political power rather than a reinforcement.”
- Milton Friedman – Capitalism and Freedom

“Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.”
- Mark Twain – Tom Sawyer

“The public are not slow in the matter of sifting evidence and arriving at a verdict”
- Mark Twain – Tom Sawyer

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”
- John Steinbeck – East of Eden

“Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”
- Calvin Coolidge

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.”
- John Steinbeck – East of Eden

“It is interesting to observe that the two who have attained the highest pinnacles are not to be found among the millions of Americans who have dreamed of power and fame for themselves. Washington and Lincoln reached their preeminence by thinking about their work and forgetting themselves.”
- Elihu Root – Lincoln as a Leader of Men

“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? and ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
- The king, Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

“Only God, supposedly, and Wrigley Field, actually, are perfect.”
- George F. Will June 30, 2009

“Furthermore, excuses for seizing property are never lacking and, indeed, anyone who begins to live by plunder will always find pretexts for taking over what belongs to someone else.”
- Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince

“Here it is worth noting that hatred may be engendered by good deeds as well as by bad ones. Therefore, as I said before, a prince who wishes to remain in power is often forced to be other than good. When the group whose support he deems vital to his survival is corrupt – be it the common people, the soldiers, or the nobility – he must follow their inclinations in order to satisfy them. In such a case, good deeds become his enemies.”
- Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external or internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
- James Madison – Federalist 51

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
- John Stuart Mill – On Liberty

“The disposition of mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow citizens, to impose their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on others is so energetically supported by some of the best and by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature that it is hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of power; and as the power is not declining, but growing, unless a strong barrier of moral conviction can be raised against mischief, we must expect, in the present circumstances of the world, to see it increase.”
- John Stuart Mill – On Liberty

“Governments don’t tax to get the money they need, governments will always find a need for the money they get.”
- Ronald Reagan – 1961

“Love that word—stimulus … It’s like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of a pool and dumping it into the shallow end. Funny thing—the water in the shallow end doesn’t get any deeper.”
- Russ Roberts, January 16 – 2008

“One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”
- Martin Luther King Jr. – Letter from a Birmingham Jail

“Only the restless, shallow, self-intoxicated atheist, who refuses to admit the existence of anything greater than himself, really can have the impudence to deny these sources of religious insight.”
- Russell Kirk – The Conservative Mind

“The sentimental advocacy of indiscriminately generous human sympathies, or the prevalence of universal pity, cannot suffice to save a society which has denied its divine ordination.”
- Russell Kirk – The Conservative Mind

“The era of big government is over.”
- Bill Clinton (yes, Bill Clinton) – January 27, 1996

“Although all men are born free, and all nations might be so, yet too true it is, that slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant – they have been cheated; asleep – they have been suprized; divided – the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? That because the people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up, blindfold, to those who have an interest in betraying them? Rather conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it, as well as obey it.”
- James Madison, Who Are the Best keepers of the People’s Liberties? National Gazette, December 22, 1792

“…but behind this stood aristocracies, sucking their nourishment from industry, producing nothing themselves, employing little or no active capital or intelligent labor, but pressing on the energies and ambition of society with the weight of an incubus.”
- Henry Adams, History of the United States of America during the Administrations of of Thomas Jefferson

“There is the moral of all human tales;
‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page.”
- Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgramage

“As tedious as is the operation of reasoning with every individual on whom we are obliged to exercise disagreeable powers, yet free people think they have a right to an explanation of the circumstances which give rise to the necessity under which they suffer.”
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, April 5, 1781

“That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up: and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil powers.”
- The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to their Constituents, December 18, 1787

“To my great-grandfather I owed the advice to dispense with the education of the schools and have good masters at home instead – and to realize that no expense should be grudged for this purpose.”
- Marcus Aurelius

"It was the fashion of the times to attribute every remarkable event to the particular will of the Deity; the alterations of nature were connected, by an invisible chain, with the moral and metaphysical opinions of the human mind; and the most sagaciouis divines could distinguish, according to the colour of their respective prejudices, that the establishment of heresy tended to produce an earthquake, or that a deluge was the inevitable consequence of the progress of sin and error.  Without presuming to discuss the truth or propriety of these lofty speculations, the historian may content himself with the observation, which seems to be justified by experience, that man has much more to fear from the passions of his fellow-creatures than from the convulsions of the elements."

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

"Under the Roman empire, the labor of an industrious and ingenious people was variously, but incessantly, employed in the service of the rich.  In their dress, their table, their houses, and their furniture, the favorites of fortune united every refinement of conveniency, of elegance, and of splendor, whatever could soothe their pride or gratify their sensuality.  Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely arraigned by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness, of mankind, if all possessed the necessaries, and none the superfluities, of life.  But in the present imperfect condition of soceity, luxury, though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems to be the only means that can correct the unequal distribution of property."

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

"The name of Poet was almost forgotten; that of Orator was usurped by the sophists.  A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste."

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

"The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost when the legislative power is nominated by the executive."

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

"The rich and polite Italians, who had almost universally embraced the philosophy of Epicurus, enjoyed the present blessings of ease and tranquility, and suffered not the pleasing dream to be interrrupted by the memory of their old and tumultuous freedom.

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of theRoman Empire

"Nothing is so embarrassing nor so mischievous in a great assembly as the details of execution.  The smallest trifle of that kind occupies as long as the most important act of legislation, and takes the place of everything else."

- Thomas Jefferson - Letter to Edward Carrington, August 4, 1787

"I declare that the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the states, and especially the right of each stateh to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and I denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as the gravest of crimes."

- Abraham Lincoln - Letter to Lyman Trumbull and General Duff Green December 28, 1860

"Tyranny has been sapped, the departments kept within their own spheres, the citizens protected, and general liberty promoted.  But this beneficial result attains to higher perfection when, those who hold the purse and the sword differing as to the powers which each may exercise, impartially between them.  If the whole legistlature - an event to be deprecated - should attempt to overlap the boundaries prescribed to them by the people, I, in administering the justice of the country, will meet the united powers at my seat in this tribunel, and, pointint to the Constitution, will say to them:  'Here is the limit of your authority; hither shall you go, but no further.'"

- Geroge Wythe - Richmond, 1782

"At one time also the french adopted and acclaimed the American notion that the end of government is liberty, not happiness, or prosperity, or power, or the preservation of an historic inheritance, or the adaptation of national law to national character, or the progress of enligthenment and the promotion of virtue; that the private individual should not feel the pressure of public authority, and should direct his life by the influences that are within him, not around him."

- Lord John Dalberg-Acton - Lectures at Cambridge 1895-1899

"All bad precedents originate from measures good in themselves.  When power passes into the hands of ignorant or unworthy men, the precedent which you establish by inflicting an extraordinary penalty on guilty men who deserve it will be used against innocent men who do not deserve it."

- Julius Caesar - Speech to the Senate during the Second Catilianrian Conspiracy in 63BC (and irony so rich, it must be fattening)

"But it is always easy, as well as agreeable, for the inferior ranks of mankind to claim a merit from the contempt of that pomp and pleasure which fortune has placed beyond their reach.  The virtue of the primitive Christians, like that of the first Romans, was very frequently guarded by poverty and ignorance."

- Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of theRoman Empire

"We are rich and easy prey.  No country is so vulnerable, and no country would better repay pillage than our own... With our enormous metropolis here, the greatest target in the world, a kind of tremendous, fat, valuable cow tied up to attract the beast of prey, we are in a position in which we have never been before, and in which no other coutry is at the present time." 

- Winston Chruchill, July 20, 1934

"It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.  The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none."

- James Madison

"I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classses of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When Know-Nothings get control, it willl read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base allow of hypcracy [sic]."
- Abraham Lincoln, 1855

"The Federalists, in a character new to them, posed as the defenders of the Constitution against sacrilegious attacks; while the Republicans, for the first time in their history as a party, made light of constitutional objections, and closed their ears to warnings in which they had themselves hitherto found their chielf rhetorical success."
- Henry Adams - History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson

"The glory of wounding Caesar on his throne was one thing; that of adding one more stab to his prostrate body was another."
- Henry Adams, History of the United State of America during the Administration of Thomas Jefferson

"In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the scepter from reason.  Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob."
- James Madison, Federalist No. 55