Sunday, May 01, 2016

 

Quotable: The Military Threat to Liberty

A standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a Body distinct from the rest of the Citizens. They have their Arms always in their hands. Their Rules and their Discipline is severe. They soon become attachd to their officers and disposd to yield implicit Obedience to their Commands. Such a Power should be watchd with a jealous Eye ... Men who have been long subject to military Laws and inured to military Customs and Habits, may lose the Spirit and Feeling of Citizens. And even Citizens, having been used to admire the Heroism which the Commanders of their own Army have displayd, and to look up to them as their Saviors may be prevaild upon to surrender to them those Rights for the protection of which against Invaders they had employd and paid them. We have seen too much of this Disposition among some of our Countrymen.

Source: Samuel Adams, "Founding Father" and American revolutionary, in his letter to James Warren (January 7, 1776) in the Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence Among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren, Vol. 1, 1743-1777, (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917) pp. 197-198.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded ... War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. ... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Source: James Madison, "Father of the US Constitution" and 4th US President, from his pamphlet entitled Political Observations (April 20, 1795) in the Selected Writings of James Madison (Hackett, 2006) p. 236.

See also:  "John Adams on the Military Threat"

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