In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.
It is far more rational to suppose that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority.
I never expect to see a perfect work from an imperfect man.
Every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.
The genius of the people will ill brook the inquisitive and preemptory spirit of excise laws.
I expect we shall be told, that the Militia of the country is its natural bulwark, and would be at all times equal to the national defence…The facts, which from our own experience forbid a reliance of this kind, are too recent to permit us to be the dupes of such a suggestion.
It is just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good.
It is evident from the state of the country, from the habits of the people, from the experience we have had on the point itself, that it is impracticable to raise any very considerable sums by direct taxation.
“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
“Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”
The variety of more minute interests, which will necessarily fall under the superintendence of the local administrations . . . cannot be particularized without involving a detail too tedious and uninteresting to compensate for the instruction it might afford.
“By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
“A powerful, victorious ally is yet another name for master.”
Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals for the most part governed by the impulse of passion.