Fisher AmesFisher Ames, (1758-1808), American statesman, orator and political writer

Fisher Ames Quote

“Liberty has never lasted long in a democracy, nor has it ever ended in anything better than despotism.”

Fisher AmesFisher Ames
~ Fisher Ames

Ratings and Comments

Logan, Memphis, TN

I love truth when it's spoken! 10 stars! The massive amounts of empirical evidence that supports this statement stand for themselves! Undoubtedly, there will be some one this blog who cannot rap their minds around how a Democracy (majority rule all of the time, no exceptions) can naturally arrive at despotism. Such people merely need to read a history book, or take a political history class.

warren, olathe

Great pessimist. Gets the big P award.

jim k, austin, tx

If you need proof that this quote is true, just look around . We have people running for president who think that we need government to solve all our problems. This is socialism, plain and simple.

Guess Who, Libertyville,USA-Earth

As for this quote,I believe it's true but there is a reason for everything! WHAT WE MUST ASK OURSELVES,AS ALWAYS,IS: W H Y!!! When we have answered that question,we can resolve to change it!!! WHEN YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THINGS,THE THINGS YOU LOOK AT CHANGE!!!!

Mike, Norwalk

When individuals choose to give up their faculty of birth noble sovereignty and personal responsibility for the dole and power to mandate social slavery, democracy is born. When sufficient choose to genuflect at tyranny's mass hysteria and consume from the troff of the mob's despotism, democracy is born. When truth is held self evident, exposing a long train of abuses, usurpations and absolute despotism, more than is disposed to be suffered, 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, and a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires democracy’s death

E Archer, NYC

The People have been voting themselves money from the pockets of their neighbors. By accepting this in the name of 'democracy,' they have guaranteed their own servitude for their own good (supposedly). The American Revolution was a revolution of the American mind. As always, the battle for Freedom is waged in the hearts and minds of the citizens. I hope one day the American mind will rise up again against all forms of tyranny -- especially in their own land!

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

The greatest amount of liberty is obtained by those who can dictate their own lives and choices. The ability to so dictate is limited by ones proximity to others. Democracy gives one this opportunity until you bump up against your fellow citizen. If there is a nexus or connection between LIBERTY and political style of government, I believe there is greater LIBERTY to be had in Democracy than in Monarchy or Dictatorship. At least in democracy you have some say (one vote) over the limits to your freedom that you will accept. "Democracy is the worst type of government in the world, except for all of the others." Winston Churchill

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, thanks for that comparison; Churchill the socialist's precepts, vs. Fisher Aims the freeman's precepts.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Churchill a socialist? What Fisher is saying is that in a democracy each individual limts the other by the use of the vote. Thus stalemate. Every one is a little bit free, no one is absolutely free. If one person or group of persons is absolutely free they can step on everyone else's freedom. So where is the freedom in absolute freedom for a few. Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler were absolutely free to have their own way. Is that your idea of freedom Mike?

E Archer, NYC

Waffler, you are confusing freedom with power. The fact that we are unequal in abilities, resources, age, knowlege -- i.e. power -- is self-evident. Each of us can do whatever we can do, as long as it doesn't infringe upon the rights of others. It is a gross assumption that when given the freedom of choice one would chose to oppress another. Instead, you favor compelled performance and tribute (i.e. oppression) to protect you from those exercising their freedom because they might infringe your rights.. ?! By respecting the inalienable rights of humankind, those with unimaginable power are not lawfully permitted to use it against another. Might does not make right. Only certain things are subject to vote -- and my bank account balance should not be up for scrutiny to see if I have anything to spare for the corporate supporters of the current political 'representative..'

JoW, Utah
  • Reply
JoW, Utah    4/18/08

Granted, liberty does usually deteriorate in a democracy. But in what form of government doesn't deteriorate? Most governments die by wearing down, growing old and getting to fat to hold there own weight. Any good government is attained entirely by a virtuous people, the form of All government can only slow corruption this doesn't just apply to democracy.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, that is not my idea of freedom, it is yours. Freedom and liberty do not exist where and when: your rights do NOT end at my nose. (My rights end at your nose)By your statements, you seem to support the government's (the theocratic collective) right to compel compliance, license, commit larceny with impunity - including theft of the labor's fruit, and perpetrate victimless crimes. Power to abuse is neither freedom or liberty for the criminal or the victim. Archer was correct, you have confused power to abuse with freedom.

Mike, Norwalk

JoW, democracy by definition is a deteriorated state. A representative republic doesn't deteriorate. It either is or, it is not. Once my representative no longer represents me, but rather the state or some other entity (by way of example compelling my compliance, committing larceny with impunity, issuing licenses, perpetrating victimless crimes), the representative republic no longer exists. Once the representative republic is abandon, rights deteriorate.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

We are not free Archer to excercise all of the power we have at our command. We must be discrete in the exercise of our power. Thus we are not truly "free". We however freer in democracy than in any other form of government. Ask the Iraqis who were giddy with freedom when they were able to vote.

Mike, Norwalk
  • 1
  • Reply
Mike, Norwalk Waffler, Smith, Arkansas 12/3/20

Waffler, confusing power with liberty exposes the tyranny of a democracy. A democracy is the power or force of the palpable group; while, liberty is all are equal in inalienable rights before an intangible law and justice.

Again, Liberty is: “The power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature.” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary)

Liberty is the “exemption from extraneous control. The power of the will, in its moral freedom, to follow the dictates of its unrestricted choice, and to direct the external acts of the individual without restraint, coercion, or control from other persons. Liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind of disposing of their persons and property after the manner they judge most consistent with their happiness, on condition of their acting within the limits of the law of nature, and so as not to interfere with an equal exercise of the same rights by other men.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 1st ed.).

Clarifying original fact, natural law intent, and de jure jurisprudence: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“The Natural Liberty of Man is to be free from any Superior Power on Earth, and not to be under the Will or Legislative Authority of Man, but to have only the Law of Nature for his Rule.” (John Locke - second most quoted source for creation of the Constitution)

“Personal liberty, or the Right to enjoyment of life and liberty, is one of the fundamental or natural Rights, which has been protected by its inclusion as a guarantee in the various constitutions, which is not derived from, or dependent on, the U.S. Constitution, which may not be submitted to a vote and may not depend on the outcome of an election. It is one of the most sacred and valuable Rights, as sacred as the Right to private property ⋯ and is regarded as inalienable.” (16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, Sect.202, p.987).

Liberty, under “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence) – natural law, is the state of exercising all inalienable rights. “All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing the obtaining of happiness and safety.” (George Mason)

E Archer, NYC

Waffler, who says which of my abilities, resources, or power I may use or not, hmm? You are grossly mistaken. Only when I have violated the rights of another does anyone have anything to say about it. Until then, I am free to exercise my personal responsibilities. I agree that in a society mutual respect is important -- but it cannot be compelled, mandated, or legislated by someone other than myself. That is the very difference between a free country and a statist country. Don't bring Iraq into this -- the war in Iraq has nothing to do with Liberty -- it does have to do with control -- and the US now controls Iraq and ALL their resources. So what if they can vote -- where did the candidates come from, hmm? Who funds their campaigns? Talk about giddy.

E. Lupus, Medford

Democracy assumes the majority is wise... the truth is the majority that is greedy and afraid.

OHE-one handed economist, Hilo

Government of the people, by the people, for the people vanished from the earth a long time ago.

Bob Leavitt, No. Ferrisburgh, VT

We must remember to continue wearing our critical caps, especially when the apparent meaning of the word appeals. THE problem with saying "Liberty has never lasted long ..." is in using "never" and "long." NEVER is a BIG word .. and 'long' calls for definition.
Yes, I understand the point, but ...


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.