Countdown to Election 2010

Update (May 19, 2012): I published this post originally in the run up to the 2010 election. The quotes are still an amazing encouragement about civic duty and tyranny. Take a look and revisit some of our great statesmen for civic involvement.


Election 2010 is rapidly approaching, less than 100 days away, and something is stirring. A movement is afoot, a tide is welling up just below the surface so you can see the evidence but not yet the waves. Nothing less is at stake than the very bedrock principles upon which this fine country was founded. Americans sense it. To inspire and further the return to our great ideals, I offer the following 100 days of quotes. Many are from our greatest presidents and dignitaries. Come back every day for a new quote.

1. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. …And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to William S Smith, November 13, 1787

2. I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. Patrick Henry

3. Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. – George Washington, letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788

4. This is America! How many of you people want to pay your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise your hands? [Boos from the crowd.] President Obama are you listening? –Rick Santelli, father of the Tea Party Movement

5. The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny. –Abraham Lincoln

6. I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. – Thomas Jefferson

7. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. –Ronald Reagan

8. [A]ll power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty and the right of acquiring property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purpose of its institution. – James Madison

9. We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. –Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

United States Declaration of Independence
Image via Wikipedia

10. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –The Declaration of Independence

11. That, to secure these right, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. –The Declaration of Independence

12. 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. –The Declaration of Independence

13. 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. –The Declaration of Independence

14. When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood. –Daniel Webster

15. How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how to you tell an anti-communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin. – Ronald Reagan

16. Do you think I want to take a shower every hour? The last place I’m ever going to live or work is D.C. –Rick Santelli, father of the Tea Party Movement

17. Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. – Ronald Reagan

18. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. – George W. Bush, after the attacks of 9/11

19. 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

John Quincy Adams. Cropped copy of 1843 Daguer...
Image via Wikipedia

20. Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it. –John Quincy Adams

21. You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done. –Ronald Reagan

22. A Constitution of Government, once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever – John Adams Letter to Abigail Adams (July 17, 1775)

23. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments into one, and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just  estimate of that lover of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. –George Washington

24. We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. – John Adams

25. As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct an unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me that one good national government affords vastly more security against dangers of that sort than can be derived from any other quarter. –John Jay, Federalist #3

26. Let us by wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties. –James Monroe

27. 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

28. This government is acknowledged by all, to be one of enumerated powers. –John Marshall

29. In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. –Benjamin Franklin

30. Thank God! I – I also – am an American! –Daniel Webster

31. Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions, are the “latent spark”…If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sens of this difference? –John Adams

32. It behooves 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

33. Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable. –Daniel Webster

34. Liberty – The quality or state of being free: a) the power to do as one pleases, b) freedom from physical restraint, c) freedom from arbitrary or despotic control. –Definition of liberty in Mirriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition

35. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. –United States Constitution, First Amendment

36. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. –James Madison

37. The people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. –Daniel Webster

38. The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. –James Madison

39. An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation. –John Marshall

40. The Constitution requires that Congress treat similarly situated persons similarly, not that it engages in gestures of superficial equality. –William H. Rehnquist

41. This is not the time for political fun and games. This is the time for a new beginning. I ask you now to put aside any feelings of frustration or helplessness about our political institutions and join me in this dramatic but responsible plan to reduce the enormous burden of Federal taxation on you and your family. –Ronald Reagan

42. A legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law. –John Marshall

43. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in the United States where men were free. –Ronald Reagan

44. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. –Abraham Lincoln

45. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. –Abraham Lincoln

46. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. –Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787 (Happy Constitution Day!)

47. Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint. –Daniel Webster

48. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. –James Madison

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

49. Little strokes fell great oaks. –Benjamin Franklin (Wink at Delaware.)

50.Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. –John F. Kennedy

51. God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it. –Daniel Webster

52. We start with first principles. The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers. –William H. Rehnquist

53.An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation. –John Marshall

54. Coercion, afterall, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him. –Ronald Reagan

55. Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain. –John F. Kennedy

56. May our children and our children’s children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers. – Abraham Lincoln

57. A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government. –Thomas Jefferson

58. They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests of their country-they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on that head. That they were individually interested in the public liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as, after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and advisable. –John Jay

59. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. –The Constitution of the United States, The Fourth Amendment

60. I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American. –Daniel Webster

61. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. – John Quincy Adams

62. A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law. –Alexander Hamilton

63. Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. –Abraham Lincoln

64. America will never run…and we will always be grateful that liberty has found such brave defenders. –George W. Bush

65. The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow. –John Jay

66. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. – James Madison

67. The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” –Ronald Reagan

68. Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity. –George W. Bush

69. There are persons who constantly clamor. They complain of oppression, speculation, and pernicious influence of wealth. They cry out loudly against all bands and corporations, and a means by which small capitalists become united in order to produce important and beneficial results. They carry on mad hostility against all established institutions. They would choke the fountain of industry and dry all streams. –Daniel Webster

70. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. –Abraham Lincoln

71. The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. –James Madison

72. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. –The Constitution of the United States of America, The Second Amendment

73. I believe freedom is the deepest need of every soul. –George W. Bush

74. A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law. –Alexander Hamilton

75. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. – John Quincy Adams

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
Image via Wikipedia

76. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. – John Jay

77. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. –The Constitution of the United States, the Ninth Amendment

78. They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please … Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect.
 –Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on National Bank, 1791

79. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them. –Woodrow Wilson

80. A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. –Samuel Adams, 1779

81. I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth. –John Adams

82. There, I guess King George will be able to read that. –John Hancock, Remark, July 4, 1776

83. Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. –Thomas Jefferson

84. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. –The Constitution of the United States, the Tenth Amendment

85. There is America, which at this day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners, yet shall, before you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of the commerce which now attracts the envy of the world. –Edmund Burke in his Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775

86. The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally stacked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. –George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789

96. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. -Thomas Paine

87. The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men. –Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

88. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. –Thomas Jefferson

89. . . .In defense of the freedom that is our birthright. . .we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before. –John Hancock,
 In his pamphlet, Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of taking up Arms, July 6, 1775.

90. Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not tamely submit — appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free. –Joseph Warren, 1775

91. Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. -Samuel Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749

92. As far as an army may be considered as a dangerous weapon of power, it had better be in those has of which the people are most likely to be jealous than in those of which they are least likely to be jealous. For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion. –Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Number 25

93. Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principles. –Edmund Burke from Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)

John Adams:
Image via Wikipedia

94. Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was 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 Adams in a letter to Mrs. Adams (July 3, 1776)

95. We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of Nature has placed in our power…The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. –Patrick Henry

96. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. –Thomas Paine

97. Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. –Thomas Jefferson in his First Inaugural Address

98. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. –Edmund Burke

99. Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes. –Benjamin Franklin

100. Where law ends, tyranny begins. –William Pitt

Sign up for our FREE mailing list!

Be the first to know when new content comes out.

powered by MailChimp!