Front Page Quotations Other Quotes Week of 17 December, 2012
About this Quotation:
Madison’s worries about the ineffectiveness of what he called “parchment barriers” to the violation of individual liberties were substantial. He thought that many of his contemporaries were too focused on the threats posed by the executive branch, which he thought understandable given the fact that they had just fought a revolutionary war against an overbearing monarch who headed an empire. He thought a bigger problem lay with the legislative branch because it “alone has access to the pockets of the people” and could be dominated by self-interested factions who could manipulate the chamber. Nevertheless, he also was aware that the executive branch might pose a similar threat to the liberties of the people, especially when “the necessities of the war” demanded action by the executive, but seemed to downplay these fears in his final analysis. Madison seemed to glumly conclude that the effectiveness of parchment barriers were overrated in limiting “the encroaching spirit of power” and that something else was needed to protect individuals from seeing their liberties and property being sucked into the “impetuous vortex” of government. Unfortunately he did not specify here what a “sufficient guard” against this might be.
Other quotes from this week:
Other quotes about Liberty:
17 December, 2012
Read the full quote in context here.
Although in the Federalist Papers (1787-88) James Madison (1751-1836) urged ratification of the U.S. constitution he was also aware of the things it left undone. Here he worries about the weakness of “parchment barriers” such as the constitution in protecting the liberties of the people when the government increasingly “draw(s) all power into its impetuous vortex”:
The full passage from which this quotation was taken can be be viewed below (front page quote in bold):