James MadisonJames Madison, (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President

James Madison Quote

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

James MadisonJames Madison
~ James Madison

1792, in disapproval of Congress appropriating $15,000 to assist some French refugees

Ratings and Comments

E Archer, NYC

Hello...! How conditioned Americans are now to socialism... Madison must be rolling in his grave.

E Gravitt, Carnesville, GA.

Obviously James Madison's dream for a limited government is not shared by today's socialist minded Americans.

Joel, Rochester, MI

Congress should pay attention to the Constitution. Congress is worse than socialists, they are a tyranny.

S. Engel, Fredericksburg

If the leaders in government today are so obviously brazen in breaking their own laws, can one conclude anything other than that we now have a government consisting largely of criminals?

John-Douglas, Nassau

Well, at least one specialist arose to the occasion to maul Madison. He must have been mesmerised by GWB's oratory!

MK, Houston, TX

Obviously James Madison had no idea what the Constitution really means (yuk! yuk!)....except for the fact that HE WROTE IT!!!. We have piddled away the awesome freedom our fore-fathers bequeathed to us... Of course...he also said silly things like: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country", "Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power", and “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]. Silly guy.

Me Again
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Me Again    4/28/06

I'd love to go back in time to the point where Our Constitution started getting chiselled away and make note of each usurpation since then. Then take each of those moments in American History and somehow correct them. Well, everybody.... Now what do we do ? I'd love to have a dialogue on how to correct these Constitutional Infringements!

Mike, Norwalk

astute {I looked it up :)} in the obvious! The 9th and 10th Ammendments, if implemented instead of ignored, would help explain Madison's statement. It is a real pleasure to read most of the comments here, thank you!

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

I'm still trying to figure out what French refugees have to do with socialism . - ? Help me out here.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

MK, It's true, the Ten Commandments do not forbid living off the labor of indentured servants and slaves.

Joe, Rochester, MI

In socialism everyone is equal, therefore even French refugees deserve a handout. Rather than simply giving them money, they should work to earn their keep. Current day ... immigrants may enter the U.S. but are not entitled to welfare.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Joe, - so·cial·ism n. 1.a. A social system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are owned collectively and political power is exercised by the whole community. - AHD
- refugees?
I guess. You've evidently made a connection there.

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Ken    4/28/06

No, it's not socialism. It is just another example of politicians playing a charitable benefactor with other people's work. It's so easy to be benevolent when it costs you nothing. Same as it ever was.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Madison was indeed a blessing in the formation of this nation's constitution and the nation in general. He was also, as everyone was at the time, a product of the tribulations of the Colonies as well as the mores of the age - and - he was rich by the standards of his day.
"... his (Madison's) parents Colonel James Madison, Sr. and Eleanor Rose "Nellie" Conway were the prosperous owners of the tobacco plantation in Orange County, Virginia, where Madison spent most of his childhood years. Madison's plantation life was made possible by his paternal great-great-grandfather, James Madison, who utilized Virginia's headright system to import a significant number of indentured servants, thereby allowing him to accumulate a large tract of land." -

In his last act before leaving office, Madison vetoed a bill for "internal improvements," including roads, bridges, and canals:
"Having considered the bill...I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling this bill with the Constitution of the United States...The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified...in the...Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers..."
Madison would support internal improvement schemes only through constitutional amendment; but he urged a variety of measures that he felt were "best executed under the national authority," including federal support for roads and canals that would "bind more closely together the various parts of our extended confederacy." - Wikipedia

In Madison's view, no federal funds ought to be allocated to anything except by amendment to the Constitution. Were that philosophy to have been followed during Hitler's reign, WWII might easily have resulted in the defeat of the US by Hitler's ultimate designs. We, after all, were not under attack - yet - when we entered WWII in support of the 'Allies'.

There was a bit of aristocracy in Madison considering his position was made possible by the hard work and labor of indentured servants and slaves. That's really making good by one's own hard work! The fact is, Madison really was diligent - in his own calling. He just would never have been in a position to do what he did, had he not been privileged (on the backs of others).

David, Missouri
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David, Missouri Terry Berg, Occidental, CA 11/25/19

Actually the timeline for our entry into WWII is as follows:
12/07/1941  Japanese attack US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines [all US Territories at the time] and declares war on the US and Great Britain [including commonwealth members Australia and New Zealand]
12/08/1941  US, Netherlands, Great Britain and New Zealand declare war on Japan
12/11/1941  Morning European Time [which was seven hours ahead of US Eastern Time] Germany and Italy declare war on the US
12/11/1941  Afternoon US Eastern Time, US declares war on Germany and Italy.
So we had already been attacked by the Axis powers [remember Japan was Allied with Germany and Italy] when we declared war on Japan.
And our Declaration of War against Germany and Italy came AFTER they had first declared war on the US.
So your inference that we entered WWII without any provocation is nonsense because it is contrary to the facts of history.

E Archer, NYC

Politics is and always will be the playground of the rich and powerful. George Washington was the richest man in America. Just pick a name from the signers of the Declaration of Independence -- all were the most powerful and influencial of the day. Check out the Magna Carta -- still a founding document -- rich landowners again trying to get out from under the King -- if we hadn't gotten that far then, 1776 may not have ever turned out an Independent nation. It is not too different today - the Bushs, Clintons, Reagan, Carter -- pick a president that wasn't a millionaire -- pick a presidential candidate that isn't a millionaire -- even Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are rich -- you have to be to get into such a game. What amazes me is that in 1776 the ideals of the representatives (despite their wealth or party affliation) seem to be miles apart from those of today. Wealth is not a sin, it is a blessing. Prosperity however does not mean the prosperous are honorable. Rather than judging a person by his wealth, we ought to judge a man by his word. Give me Madison over any President the USA has had since -- at least he understood the Constitution! Wealth does not automatically confer wisdom and honor -- just as wisdom and honor do not necessarily confer wealth. The argument that the Founders were all rich white men is usually used to defend principles and policies promoting wealth re-distribution and property confiscation in the name of 'equality'. Some may call the Founders hypocrytical -- and there is truth in that -- what about the rights of women and slaves? But aren't WE (not just our representatives) just as hypocritical? We justify all sorts of oppressions on each other in the name of freedom, equality, and general welfare. People today may be in more denial than the Founders were. That is the fate of the human race. The job today is the same as it was yesterday, in 1776, in 1215, and on and on. When we can settle our differences, then we can enjoy peace. Hmmm -- I wonder how long that is going to take? ... If history is any guide, it will happen when our kings and governors are wise and honorable, and the people are the same. (Looks like its going to be a long ride.)

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Madison was perfect for his time as Winston Churchill was for his. There is some question whether Churchill would have been as ideal after WWII as he was during the conflict. Likewise with Madison. Situations change.

i dnt noe, idnt noe

u SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

riki, austin

its ok but u need to have silly dumb things

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Just to let you all know, this quote has been sent out before -- the last time in 2006. We just thought it was apropos for 2009 as well.

jim k, austin

Madison seemed to be saying that he couldn't find in the Constitution where Congress had the right to rob one group of citizens and give to another. Of course, our government is in the business of robbery, it's business as usual.

Dave Wilber, St. Louis

The most repeated lie is that government spends money. They cannot get money from your banks when the Fed wrote that their system "works only with credit" and they have no need for money when all of us will risk our lives for credit. NO BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT SPENDS MONEY OR PAYS FOR ANYTHING AND THIS IS SLAVERY.

irv, Huntington Beach

It just seems wrong that in a country where we are promised that all men are created equal, that someone who has their salary paid by me, who drives a car paid for by me and who is sworn to defend my freedom and liberty can then take from me what I have worked hard for and give it to someone who has not worked for it because he thinks it is the right thing to do!!

warren, olathe

John Hancock was the wealthiest I do believe at the time of the declaration. He spent a great amount of his wealth securing our freedom. The British tried to put him out of business (prompted the Boston tea party) and the common folk understood that if the Crown could do that to the most powerful and wealthy it could and would do it to them as well. Today that common sense seems to be lost in most people. The incredibly selfish and arrogant left has cultivated a fertile ground to sew their seeds of hatred. It is incredible to look at comments and see thumbs down to our constitution and the freedom it once protected.

Anonymous, Anaconda

James Madison is rightly considered the Father of our Constitution He was also completely correct and sadly he lost the motion.. He was in the House of Representatives at the time and the resolution still passed. If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Constitution and History you should check out the recordings at http://www.patriotspub.us They are completely free and are not political. Even the debates of the Constitutional convention are covered day by day using Madison's notes.

Seawolf, Va

The framers WERE rich men, yet they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the revolution. Are we such principled men, or are there any examples to be found in this gov't? We have an obligation to OUR posterity to defend what the framers gave us by their sacrifices.

Zsu, Twelve Hundred

When We the People become complacent, we the people become slaves. A criteria, in addition to 'if it's not in the Constitution it does not get passed.' is that no individual or no group is absolved from the dictatorial dictates of legislation. Two groups absolved from all the 2009 legislative and executive dictates are labor unions and members of congress. This should not be. "You pass the bill buster, you abide by every letter of that law." or "You spend millions to elect them, you abide by the legislation they pass."

InvaderZim, Sacramento

"the money of their constituents" If only they thought of it as being our money still today.

Anonymous, Chicago

One definition of a liberal that I really like is: "A liberal is a person who is generous with other people's money."

Mary - MI
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Mary - MI    4/16/13

I'm not one bit surprised that dear ol' Anonymous, Reston, VA US would give this quote by James Madison a thumbs down...since I'm sure Reston would love to shred and tear the constitution asunder.
Well, let me have a go at another quote from someone of like mind who I greatly admire and support. --
"But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."
-- Frederic Bastiat

It is not the place of government or is it within its authority to take the fruits of anyone's labor, whether rich or poor and dole it out to anyone which suits its whim.
Charity should only come through individual choice and conscience and not through or by the theft of the government.

J Carlton, Calgary

Only a government sycophant (parasite on society) could find fault with the principle of limited government and self reliance.

Mike, Norwalk

Joe, because Corporations, LLCs, etc are entities and extensions of the State (a bifurcation, the state owns the equitable substance, others allowed defined limited day to day operations) with no private ownership allowed by the State (at best titles, patents, etc. only - status of privilege), AND the occupying statist theocracy's unconstitutionally interpreted enforcement of interstate commerce, AND licensing at will, AND authorized theft of the noble laborer's fruit, your limited definition pretty well hits the nail on the head. The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land's dole system (complete with obamunistcare) proves absolute the once de jure Constitution exists no more.

G Lape, Lynchburg, VA

Mary (MI): nice - concise and I like it; but, doesn't the government have authority, given the amendment(s)?

Ronw13, Oregon

In the image of God, Creator. Divine and perfect, without waver. Plumb and Square, a just balance within the four corners. Wisdom, justice, judgment and equity. The first old king, said to the young keeper of goats and sheep. know ye not I have the right to set your family at liberty ? The old king had a son, who knew not the proclamation declared of, not too eat. But he ate of the honey and was enlighten. Without the respect of persons in judgment, is liberty granted from oppression. Wealth is a blessing, used wisely, continues to keep the fire burning for all. A State of Grace, under the Law of Faith, being set at Natural law. " Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you." ( Gala 5:7,8 KJB ) The ninth book, The number of the covenant ( deal ). A great blessing, just as nine months in the womb. Birth of the new creature at liberty. Obviously some of our founding fathers were led of the Spirit. We the People DO NOT lay our substance at the feet of ANY church. the trappings of protestant denominationalism clinging to the old mosaic law. Romes favorite trick ! Really good comments today. Great quote !

Mike, Norwalk

G Lape (I like the handle). I was a very small distant cog in a wheel of investigators that found the 16th Amendment had never been legally / lawfully / constitutionally ratified. Over the years, I have been aware of other attempts to get into court to prove the 16th Amendment had never been ratified. The courts are so corrupt that they will not accept such a case to be heard in front of them. The case I was involved with accidentally got accepted. In the first meeting, the judge called recess, never to be reconvened. That may have been 35 years ago now. Besides what was in the case I was involved with, other issues such as the 16th Amendment implicitly violates the 5th, 13th and 14th Amendments as well as originating premises at law like innocent until proven guilty, the individual sovereign is greater than the representative servant (each and every body politic); AND, the de jure authority and application of the constitution is to limit the actions of the government - not to address the individual in criminal pursuits, in any way.

SO, in answer to your question: "doesn't the government have authority, given the amendment(s)?"; the answer is an emphatic "NO" ! ! ! The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land, through threat, duress, menace at peril of theft, imminence of incarceration, danger of bodily harm and power of the gun does the godly master take its pound of flesh through ownership of slave and the fruits of the slave's labor. The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land is a criminal government of gods/carnal flesh, not law.


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