America's Founders and Founding Principles

Founders' Quotes

These are the quotes from our founders featured on the monuments at Founders Corner. They are listed here as they appear on the granite monuments at the site.  While the quotes are categorized under a variety of the founding principles, many of the quotes apply to many separate founding principles.



Individual Liberty


The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves. 


The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative     authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be   under no other legislative power, but that established, by     consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative power shall enact, according to the trust put in it…


…a liberty to follow my own will in all things, where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant,            uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man; as freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of       nature.


John Locke

 It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.


Avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.


George Washington


Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  


And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40


Jesus Christ

  A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.


Thomas Jefferson




Consent of The Governed


There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.


This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

Ronald Reagan

A Republic, if you can keep it!


When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic


Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.



Benjamin Franklin

  The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.


What the American Revolution did was to give to the common man a voice, a veto, elbow room and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of his “betters".


…democracy by itself implies nothing about either freedom or the rule of law. A majority may destroy the freedom of a minority or make the issuance of edicts as arbitrary and discriminatory as it wishes.


Thomas Sowell




Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality - an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order.

If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.



Friedrich Hayek


Free Markets


So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear. That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.


Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.


Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.


Milton Friedman


 Free-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at.


It is in war that the State really comes into its own: swelling in power, in number, in pride, in absolute dominion over the economy and the society.


Murray Rothbard



 It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest”


Adam Smith



Do to others as you would have them do to you. 

Luke 6:31



Jesus Christ


Rule of Law

A government of laws and not of men.


Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.


All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.


John Adams


 I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.


Martin Luther King, Jr.


No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.


I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.


James Madison


I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.


The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities


Ayn Rand