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The history of mankind is pregnant with frequent, bloody and almost imperceptible transitions from freedom to slavery.

A Cumberland County Mutual
Improvement Society Addresses
the Pennsylvania Minority
Carlisle Gazette (Pennsylvania),
January 2, 1788

Mercy Otis Warren

And when patriotism is discountenanced and publick virtue becomes the ridicule of the sycophant – when every man of liberality, firmness, and penetration, who cannot lick the hand stretched out to oppress, is deemed an enemy to the State – then is the gulph of despotism set open, and the grades to slavery, though rapid, are scarce perceptible

“A Columbian Patriot”
February 1788

James Madison

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of the Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents

Letter to Thomas Jefferson
New York,
October 17, 1788

The just way of investigating any power given to a government, is to examine its operation supposing it to be put in exercise. If upon enquiry, it appears that the power, if exercised, would be prejudicial, it ought not to be given. For to answer objections made to a power given to a government, by saying it will never be exercised, is really admitting that the power ought not to be exercised, and therefore ought not to be granted.

“Brutus” XIV
New York Journal,
March 6, 1788

Mercy Otis Warren

Despotism usually while it is gaining ground, will suffer men to think, say, or write what they please; but when once established, if it is thought necessary to subserve the purposes of arbitrary power, the most unjust restrictions may take place in the first instance, and an imprimator on the Press in the next, may silence the complaints, and forbid the most decent remonstrances of an injured and oppressed people.

“A Columbian Patriot”
February 1788

George Washington

...it is evident that there is something amiss in the ruling political power which requires a steady, regulating and energetic hand to correct and control.

Letter to John Armstrong
Mount Vernon, Virginia
April 25, 1788

John Adams

...the jaws of power are always opened to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.

“A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”

Samuel Bryan

The lust for power is so universal, that a speculative unascertained rule of construction would be a poor security for the liberties of the people. Such as body as the intended Congress, unless particularly inhibited and restrained, must grasp at omnipotence...

“Centinel” II
Reply to James Wilson's Speech
Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia),
October 24, 1787

Thomas Jefferson

Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.

“A Summary View of the Rights of British America”

John Adams

There seems to be a direct and formal design on foot, to enslave all America. This, however, must be done by degrees. The first step that is intended, seems to be an entire subversion of the whole system of our fathers...

“A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”

Thomas Paine

The abuse of any power always operates to call the right of that power in question.

“Attack on Paper Money Laws”