Liberty or Happiness Without Virtue a Chimerical Idea


Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.

James Madison. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, J.B. Lippincoat Company, Philadelphia, 1901, Volume 3:536-537.

They Were Believers is researched, compiled, edited (with occasional commentary and explanatory notes), and formatted for the Internet by Steve Farrell. As uniquely edited and formatted Copyright © 2016 Steve Farrell.