Founders' Quote Database

Alexander Hamilton

Federalist No. 34 — 1788
Category: Human Nature
To model our political system upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.

Benjamin Franklin

Autobiography — 1771
Category: Human Nature
In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself.

Alexander Hamilton

The Farmer Refuted — 1775
Category: Human Nature
There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.

James Madison

Federalist No. 10 — 1787
Category: Human Nature
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.

James Madison

Federalist No. 51 — 1788
Category: Human Nature
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?

John Adams

the Novanglus — 1775
Category: Human Nature
Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of virtue. These amiable passions, are the "latent spark"... If the people are capable of understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense of this difference?

George Washington

The Newburgh Address — 1783
Category: Human Nature
And you will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion for Posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.

George Washington

letter to John Jay — 1786
Category: Human Nature
We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.

Alexander Hamilton

speech to the New York Ratifying Convention — 1788
Category: Human Nature
As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature; it is what neither the honorable member nor myself can correct. It is a common misfortunate that awaits our State constitution, as well as all others.

James Madison

Federalist No. 55 — 1788
Category: Human Nature
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

Alexander Hamilton

speech at the New York Ratifying Convention — 1788
Category: Human Nature
There are certain social principles in human nature, from which we may draw the most solid conclusions with respect to the conduct of individuals and of communities. We love our families more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our countrymen in general. The human affections, like solar heat, lose their intensity as they depart from the centre... On these principles, the attachment of the individual will be first and for ever secured by the State governments. They will be a mutual protection and support.

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison

Federalist No. 55 — 1788
Category: Human Nature
Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not sufficient virture among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

James Madison

Federalist No. 51 — 1788
Category: Human Nature
In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature.

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