James Madison: No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare

September 15, 2013 by History in a Hurry

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

Speech, Constitutional Convention (1787-06-29), from Max Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. I (1911), p. 465

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Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

“Political Observations” (1795-04-20); also in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison

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