I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
Most bad government has grown out of too much government
Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny
The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first
Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Government is not wisdom; it is not eloquence; it is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.