371 – “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

–James Madison, 4th President of the United States of America [See Source Notes for context of this quote]

Quote Number:  887

Source: Madison, James. “Speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention on the Control of the Military.” Richmond Theatre, Richmond, Virginia. June 16, 1788. in Hugh Blair Grigsby, ed. The History of the Virginia Federal Convention of 1788, with some account by eminent Virginians of that era who were members of that body Vol. I. 1890. pg 130.

Source Notes: “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes.”

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