"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars...Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle...Morality is a necessary spring of popular government...Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation?
And of fatal tendency...to put, in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party; - often a small but artful and enterprising minority...They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People and to usurp for the themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion...
But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism...Disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual...(who) turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty...The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism..."
Let there be no change by usurpation...It is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
-- George Washington, Farewell Address
"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."
-- James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
"What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them ... the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers."
-- James Madison, Federalist No. 44, 1788
"It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression ... that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one."
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, 1821