Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains.
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
[Our Constitution] is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.
Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
The militia is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it. The great object is that every man be armed.
United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
Power is the great evil with which we are contending. We have divided power between three branches of government and erected checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. However, where is the check on the power of the judiciary? If we fail to check the power of the judiciary, I predict that we will eventually live under judicial tyranny.
Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
My most cherished possession I wish I could leave you is my faith in Jesus Christ, for with Him and nothing else you can be happy, but without Him and with all else you’ll never be happy.
You ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, jealous of your liberty; for instead of securing your rights, you may lose them forever.
Fear is the passion of slaves.
I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death.
Were my soul trembling on the wing of eternity, were this hand freezing to death, were my voice choking with the last struggle, I would still, with the last gasp of that voice, implore you to remember the truth: God has given America to be free.
Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty?
This house protected by an armed citizen. There is absolutely nothing here worth dying for.
We should transmit to posterity our abhorrence of slavery.
I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot and an abhorrence of slavery.
The officers of Congress, may come upon you now, fortified with all the terrors of paramount federal authority. Excisemen taxmen may come in multitudes; for the limitation of their numbers no man knows. They may, unless the general government be restrained … go into your cellars and rooms, and search, ransack, and measure, everything you eat, drink, and wear.
Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
. . . Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants.