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Fisher Ames Quotes

A Representative in the United States Congress from the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts.
(1758 - 1808)

A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.

A feeble government produces more factions than an oppressive one.

A monarchy is a merchantman, which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock and go to the bottom, whilst a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always in water.

America is rising with a giant's strength. Its bones are yet but cartilages.

Intellectual superiority is so far from conciliating confidence that it is the very spirit of a democracy, as in France, to proscribe the aristocracy of talents! To be the favorite of an ignorant multitude, a man must descend to their level; he must desire what they desire, and detest all they do not approve: he must yield to their prejudices, and substitute them for principles. Instead of enlightening their errors, he must adopt them, and must furnish the sophistry that will propagate and defend them.

It seems really as if our newspapers were busy to spread superstition. Omens and dreams, and prodigies are recorded, as if they were worth minding. The increasing fashion for printing wonderful tales of crimes and accidents is worse than ridiculous, as it corrupts both the public taste and morals. It multiplies fables and crimes, and thus makes shocking things familiar while it withdraws popular attention from familiar truth, because it is not shocking. Surely, extraordinary events have not the best title to our studious attention. To study nature or man, we ought to know things that are in the ordinaiy course, not the unaccountable things that happen out of it.

No man can be a sound lawyer who is not well read in the laws of Moses.

No man ever did, or ever will become most truly eloquent without being a constant reader of the Bible, and an admirer of the purity and sublimity of its language.

No one ever became, or can become truly eloquent without being a reader of the Bible, and an admirer of the purity and sublimity of its language.

The gentleman puts me in mind of an old hen which persists in setting after her eggs are taken away.

The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be liberty.

The most substantial glory of a country is in its virtuous great men. - Its prosperity will depend on its docility to learn from their example.