But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wicked situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any for 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 (1751-1836) American statesman, political theorist, US President (1809-17)
Speech at the Virginia Convention (20 Jun 1788)
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Added on 28-Jan-08 | Last updated 3-Nov-20
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