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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Importance of Virtue

In the Virginia convention, the soft-spoken, five-foot-four-inch Madison faced the sparkling oratory of Patrick Henry, the Constitution's chief opponent. Such luminaries as George Mason, Edmund Randolph, and future President James Monroe also opposed the Constitution. Virginia's ratification came on an 89-79 vote; this was only a few days after New Hampshire had become the necessary ninth state to ratify. Meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton led the fight for the Constitution in the New York convention, which climaxed in a 30-27 vote for ratification.

"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 on their virtue, or put confidence
in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

-- James Madison (speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 20 June 1788)

Reference: The True Republican, French edition (28-29)

"[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the
liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."

-- Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, who opposed the Constitution


Blogger D.K. said...

Doesn't the same lack of virtue exist in the votes that are cast for the representatives needed to lead a society without virtue?

Tue Dec 04, 10:04:00 AM CST  

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