What did the Founding Fathers & others have to say about freedoms?


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Author  Quote
George Washington "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence."
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790),  "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- reply of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the governor, November 11, 1755 
Thomas Jefferson  "The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) asserts that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills." -- October 1776
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.", in letter to William S. Smith, 1787
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr Paris, Aug 19, 1785 A strong body makes a strong mind. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for
the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks.
George Mason "That the people have a Right to mass and to bear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the Body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper natural and safe defense of a free State..."
George Mason "...who are the militia, if they be not the people of this country...? I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers."
James Monroe "... of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trail by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms.... If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny."
"No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
Alexis de Tocqueville "No private rights are so unimportant that they can be surrendered with impunity to the caprices of government ... the principle of public utility is called in, the doctrine of political necessity is conjured up, and men accustom themselves to sacrifice private interest without scruple, and to trample upon the rights of individuals in order more speedily to accomplish any public purpose."
"Democracy in America", Part II, Book 4, Number 56, 1835.
Samuel Adams  "If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." 
-- 1776 
Samuel Adams  "And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peacable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent teh people from petitioning, in a peacable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possesions."
- Samuel Adams, Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788
Patrick Henry "Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possesion and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
Patrick Henry "Gaurd with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.... O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people!"
Richard H. Lee "... whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..."
Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer 53, 1788
Rev. Nicholas Collin "While the people have property, arms in their hands, and only a spark of nobilie spirit, the most corrupt Congress must be mad to form any project of tyranny."
- Fayetteville NC Gazette 10-12-1789 
Noah Webster  "Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that axists among the people, or which they can command; for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive." 
An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, 1787 
Tench Coxe  "The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them"
An American Citizen IV, October 21, 1787
-William Pitt  Necessity is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. 
UNKNOWN  "... the loyalists in the beginning of the late war, who objected to associating, arming and fighting, in defense of our liberties, because these measures were not constitutional. A free people should always be left... with every possible power to promote their own happiness."
- Pennsylvania Gazette, April 23, 1788
UNKNOWN "No free government was ever founded or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state.... Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen."
- State Gazette (Charleston), September 8, 1788
UNKNOWN  "The powers of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress have no right to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American.... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
- Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788
Justice Louis Brandeis "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent . . . the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."
Olmstead vs. United States, 
United States Supreme Court, 1928 

also as

 [T]"he greatest danger to our liberty lurks when government's purposes are beneficent, promoted by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding"

Thomas Jefferson "The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear ar as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
Gerry Spence "Although we give lip service to the notion of freedom, we know the government is no longer the servant of the people but, at last has become the people's master. We have stood by like timid sheep while the wolf killed - first the weak, then the strays, then those on the outer edges of the flock, until at last the entire flock belonged to the wolf."
- From Freedom To Slavery
Thomas Sowell 

(Just because I like him!)

"Deep thinkers who look everywhere for the mysterious causes of poverty, ignorance, crime and war need look no further than their own mirrors. We are all born into this world poor and ignorant, and with thoroughly selfish and barbaric impulses. Those of us who turn out any other way do so largely through the efforts of others, who civilized us before we got big enough to do too much damage to the world or ourselves." 
Rick Scott "How does giving up my gun make me any safer?" -- 1995

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