The powers of congress must be defined, but their means must be adequate to the purposes of their constitution. It is possible there may be abuses and misapplications; still, it is better to hazard something than to hazard at all.
All good men wish the entire abolition of slavery, as soon as it can take place with safety to the public, and for the lasting good of the present wretched race of slaves. The only possible step that could be taken towards it by the convention was to fix a period after which they should not be imported.
Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world.
The sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution and to secure the important right of religious liberty.
Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world. Justly understood it is sacred next to those which we appropriate in divine adoration; but in the mouths of some it means anything, which enervate a necessary government; excite a jealousy of the rulers who are our own choice, and keep society in confusion for want of a power sufficiently concentered to promote good.
Legislatures have no right to set up an inquisition and examine into the private opinions of men. Test-laws are useless and ineffectual, unjust and tyrannical.
The Thirteen States are Thirteen Sovereign bodies.
Systems of religious error have been adopted in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.