James Madison: Free examination of public characters and measures, free communication among the people
"The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."
-- James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, 1798
"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look to his character..."
-- Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789
_"Consider well the important trust...which God...[has] put into your hands...To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]...Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you...look well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust...Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity...Watch over your liberties and privileges - civil and religious - with a careful eye."
-- Matthias Burnett
"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government."