Founders' Quote Database

John Adams

An Essay on Man's Lust for Power — 1763
Category: Democracy
[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few.

John Adams

letter to John Taylor — 1814
Category: Democracy
Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

James Madison

Federalist No. 10 — 1787
Category: Democracy
[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

Fisher Ames

speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention — 1788
Category: Democracy
The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.

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