Founding Fathers: Quotes on Liberty and Freedom from America's Revolutionaries

An iconic group of men who led the American Revolution against the British Crown, the Founding Fathers' legacy lives on today as we continue our fight for liberty and freedom. Below are our favorite quotes from a few of our Founding Fathers. Second Amendment Quotes by the Founding Fathers

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”

“You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.”

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.”

“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

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

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”

“One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.”

“No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms...”

“The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people...that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”

“Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state.”

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed ― unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

“The right of the people to keep and bear...arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”

“From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms! Through the land let the sound of it flee; Let the far and the near all unite, with a cheer, In defense of our Liberty Tree.”

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined...The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.”

“The militia is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it.”

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for few public officials.”

“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man – who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.”

“Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American...The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

“The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.”

“The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”

“Before a standing army or a tyrannical government can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular (or professional) troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”

“Those that can give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“Of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trial by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms...If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny.”

“Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defence of the country, the over-throw of tyranny, or in private self-defense.”

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them.”

“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty...The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest possible limits...Wherever standing armies are kept up and [when] the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”

“The rights of conscience, of bearing arms, of changing the government, are declared to be inherent in the people.”

“Free men have arms; slaves do not.”

“The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.”

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

“If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms – never – never – never!”

“[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.”