If Men Were Angels: James Madison

Liberty Letters Quote of the Day, James Madison

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

Source: James Madison: “The Federalist Papers”, No. 51,  (1788).

Liberty Letters are researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional commentary) by Steve Farrell. Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell

The Moral Liberal recommends: James Madison: Writings: Writings 1772-1836 (Library of America)