America's Founding Fathers on War - They Weren't Neocon Warmongers


Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2007
America's Founders were opposed to intervention and pre-emptive wars. They would not have supported the Neoconservative Republicans in the current administration. In their view of foreign policy, America would have "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none." Hear them in their own words:

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison

"War has been avoided from a due sense of the miseries, and the demoralization it produces, and of the superior blessings of a state of peace and friendship with all mankind." - Thomas Jefferson

"Never was so much false arithmetic employed on any subject, as that which has been employed to persuade nations that it is their interest to go to war." - Thomas Jefferson

"There was never a good war or a bad peace." - Benjamin Franklin

"Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will." - James Monroe

"The fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace." - Alexander Hamilton

"My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth." - George Washington

"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes and armies are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people...
[There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and....degeneracy of manners and morals....No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." -- James Madison

"War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries. It is the art of conquering at home: the object of it is an increase of revenue: and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretence must be made for expenditures. In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice, nor warped by interest, would declare, that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, Part 1

"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world... As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils… Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences...constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard."

-George Washington’s Farewell Address, September 17, 1796

"The United States goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is a well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. If the United States took up all foreign affairs, it would become entangled in all the wars of interest and intrigue, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own soul." -President John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams

The vast majority of Founding Fathers, and a majority of the most influential Founding Fathers, supported the militia as the primary means of national defense. This majority allowed for the creation of a standing army for emergency situations, but did not intend for it to replace the militia as the primary means of defense. They believed the United States should remain neutral in foreign wars and should use the militia and army for defensive purposes only. They would not support current U.S. foreign policy.
They would not support current U.S. foreign policy.

we know that for sure:cool: we do not gain anything from this wars, only fall in debt, now its 9 trillion i think:eek::eek:
The Founding Fathers on the Constitution's War Power

Alexander Hamilton: "The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. . . . It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and Admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and the raising and regulating of fleets and armies, -- all of which by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature." (The Federalist, 69, 1788.)

". . . .'The Congress shall have the power to declare war'; the plain meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive duty of Congress, when the nation is at peace, to change that state into a state of war. . . ." (C. 1801.)

* * *

Thomas Jefferson: "We have already given in example one effectual check to the dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body. . . ." (Letter to Madison, 1789.)

"Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force in any degree which could be avoided." (Message to Congress, 1805.)

* * *
James Madison: ". . . The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature . . . the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war." (1793.)

"The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to the Legislature." (Letter to Jefferson, c. 1798.)

* * *

William Paterson framer and Supreme Court justice): ". . . It is the exclusive province of congress to change a state of peace into a state of war." (United States v. Smith, 1806.)

* * *
George Washington: "The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure." (1793.)

* * * * *

James Wilson: (framer and ratifier): "This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large. . . ." (To the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, 1787.)

The Founding Fathers on the Constitution's War Power
"Now Stephen Halbrook, an attorney and well-known Second Amendment expert (he's the author of 1984's That Every Man Be Armed), has taken a much-needed look at the Swiss wartime record in a new book titled "Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II." The book not only provides a starting point for all future discussions of Switzerland's military role in the war, but also makes an interesting contribution to the literature on both federalism and gun rights; according to Halbrook, Switzerland's traditions of extreme decentralization and of a well-armed populace played a key role in preserving its freedom in an hour of peril.

As Halbrook reminds us, the American Founders often cited Switzerland as an example of the kind of nation they hoped to build on these shores. They admired its survival for centuries as a democracy amid tyrannies of every kind, following its birth in 1291 as the result of a peasant revolt in the remote fastnesses of the Alps."

Rest of Article Here

"America’s Founding Fathers recognized that standing armies were dangerous to liberty because such armies oppressed the population domestically and engaged in wars of imperialist aggression. That is why the United States originally followed the Swiss model of republicanism, a militia army, and neutrality. America’s founders wished to avoid "entangling alliances" in Europe, and the US entered World Wars I and II reluctantly.

A militia army includes virtually all able-bodied males under arms in a country, and thus challenges any invader with unending guerilla warfare. A standing army consists of professional soldiers forming a small proportion of a country’s population. Numerous standing armies in Europe collapsed before the onslaught of Hitler’s blitzkrieg – the governmental elites surrendered and ordered the soldiers to lay down their arms. An attack on Switzerland would have encountered no elite to surrender, and instead armed resistance at every turn.

The organization of the Swiss military as a militia meant that, while it could protect its country, it could not have invaded another country. This was the experience since medieval times. Armed Swiss commoners defeated the mightiest armies of invading knights at numerous battles – they left Charles the Bold in a ditch with his head crushed by a halberd at Nancy in 1477 – but were themselves defeated when they ventured into foreign lands, such as at Marignano in 1515.

The above is the key to Swiss neutrality. Militia armies are good at defending their own countries, but are no good at attacking other countries, and thus avoid foreign wars. Both militia defense and neutrality thus promote the ideals of peace.


Proof that the Founders did indeed want a national militia composed of the people and not standing armies:

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington

"None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important, but especially so at a moment when rights the most essential to our welfare have been violated." --Thomas Jefferson to -----, 1803. ME 10:365

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country" - James Madison, Annals of Congress

"What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty . . . Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts

"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." - George Mason

"A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." - Senator Richard Henry Lee

"Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace." - James Madison

"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation . . . Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." - James Madison

"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun." - Patrick Henry

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." - Alexander Hamilton
"The fundamental constitutional institution for "homeland security" is not even the Army or Navy. America's Founding Fathers profoundly distrusted standing armed forces under the control of any government as potential enemies of liberty, not least of all because of their own experiences with the British Army's attempts to suppress freedom in the Colonies and independent States. So, in the Constitution, the Founders refused to adopt any preexisting army or navy, or to create new ones, as permanent establishments for the United States.

True, the Constitution delegates to Congress the powers "[t]o raise and support Armies" and "[t]o provide and maintain a Navy". Article I, Section 8, Clauses 12 and 13. And with such powers comes a duty to exercise them, when necessary and proper. Compare United States v. Marigold, 50 U.S. (9 Howard) 560, 567 (1850), with Article I, Section 8, Clause 18. Otherwise, though, Congress need never "raise and support", and need not continuously "provide and maintain", an army or a navy. Furthermore, the Constitution requires that, even when Congress does "raise" an army, "no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years". Article I, Section 8, Clause 12. This enables the House of Representatives--the House of Congress electorally closest to the people and (in political theory, at least) most chary of their lives, liberties, and property--to prevent an army from continuing in existence when it serves no purpose that justifies its expense, or when it threatens Americans' freedoms.

In addition, the Constitution provides that "[n]o State shall, without the Consent of Congress, * * * keep Troops, or Ships of War, in time of Peace". Article I, Section 10, Clause 3. So, nowhere in the federal system does the supreme law of the land treat an army or navy as an inevitable, indispensable, permanent, or perpetual institution.

Where, then, should Americans look for constitutional "homeland security"? The Second Amendment to the Constitution provides the first giant steps towards the answer:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

By definition, "the security of a free State" is "homeland security" (the "homeland" being, not simply a geographical area, but a special political conception rooted in freedom). The Amendment describes "[a] well regulated Militia" as "necessary" (not simply useful) for such "security". And the Amendment singles out "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" as so important to the existence of such a "Militia" that "the right * * * shall not be infringed". Therefore, the fundamental constitutional institution of "homeland security" must be "[a] well regulated Militia" based upon "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms".

Perhaps more importantly, the body of the Constitution itself is not silent on this matter, either. To be sure, the Constitution does not create any "well regulated Militia". It delegates no power to Congress to "raise and support" (as with an army), to "provide and maintain" (as with a navy), or in any other words to fashion from whole cloth any "well regulated Militia". And it does not even define what constitutes such a Militia. That is because it did not have to: In the late 1700s, every adult American knew that "well regulated Militia" had existed in the Colonies and independent States from the mid-1600s, and were established in every State of the Union even as the Constitution was being drafted and ratified. For that reason, the Constitution simply acknowledged "the Militia of the several States" as already in existence, adopted and incorporated them according to the historical legal principles by which they had long and even then operated, and thereby perpetuated them in that form. See Article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 and 16; and Article II, Section 2, Clause 1.

Rest of Article Here
George Washington et al are rolling over in their graves at what their country - the one they sacrificed so much to give us - has become at the hands of politicians and greedy sons of *****es.
Is a national milita practical in todays world of highly specialized weaponry systems and nuclear bombs?

Well, our technology certainly isn't helping us secure Iraq. Technology hasn't yet been able to overcome the realities of guerrilla warfare. But note that I did not say that we should give up our nuclear weapons or stop military research. I don't think it would be a wise step at the present time. However, the national militia works quite well for Switzerland. They have proven that the best way to stay out of a conflict is to have a neutrality policy and a strong military.
This thread is hysterical. Back when wars started with a ship firing a cannon into a coastal town, you could give the other guy a first shot. Would Washington agree with that NOW, when the first shot could be a suitcase nuke going up in a major city? Nooooooooooo....... :) And appeasers presume to speak for Washington??? :):D:)
We are not the Planet Police. Let's quit sticking our noses in other countries business and take care of business here at home.
This thread is hysterical. Back when wars started with a ship firing a cannon into a coastal town, you could give the other guy a first shot. Would Washington agree with that NOW, when the first shot could be a suitcase nuke going up in a major city? Nooooooooooo....... :) And appeasers presume to speak for Washington??? :):D:)

I wish you guys would stop with your neverending fearmongering. First of all, we're no safer against terrorist attacks than we were eight years ago. Bush has done nothing to secure the border, and hasn't secured Iraq or Afghanistan. Secondly, so that would be first shot in a war? Who would we go to war against after the attack? Another country that didn't attack us? No nation state wants a war with us.

Even if a nation state did try to invade and occupy us, they would fail miserably. For one thing, they couldn't afford it. We're practically the richest country in the world, yet look what it's costing us to invade and occupy the tiny country of Iraq - and we're FAILING. And add to this that private Americans are far more heavily armed that Iraqis were. Our insurgency would be devastating to any invader. They can certainly try to attack me, but I'm well-trained in the use of firearms, so I doubt they'll get close enough to try.

And we have enough nuclear weapons to nuke every square inch of every country on earth. We are not helpless and we are not defenseless. No one could ever successfully invade and occupy the U.S. No other country's economy could stand the strain, let alone the bombardment that would follow.

If we want to stop terrorism, we first need to remove the cause of the fatwa against the U.S. Then the terrorists will have no reason to come into our territory if we're not in their territory and not interfering in their region. So there should be no reason for them to waste time attacking a neutral people. After all, they're not attacking anyone in Switzerland, Sweden or New Zealand, now are they?
If we want to stop terrorism, we first need to remove the cause of the fatwa against the U.S.

Tell us then, what did we do to "cause" the terrorism against us? Oh yeah, we let our women drive without burkas, we watch Paris Hilton sex tapes, and as infidels we refused to submit to the "religion of peace".

After all, they're not attacking anyone in Switzerland, Sweden or New Zealand, now are they?

Well sure, if you're willing to call rape-fest with impunity "not attacking" anyone.
Tell us then, what did we do to "cause" the terrorism against us?

I've already told you, and you ran from the truth and refused to address the facts.

Well sure, if you're willing to call rape-fest with impunity "not attacking" anyone.

Those are criminals. We have illegal immigrant gang rapists here in the U.S. So why aren't we sending troops into Mexico? Why aren't you enlisting in the military to go fight the country that's sending gang rapists into America?
Hang on jackass, I have to catch my breath I'm so tired from "running from the truth".

How many decades do you want to go back with your reed-thin attempts to draw cause and effect in order justify terrorists acts. Would Peru and Chile be justified in terrorist attacks against Spain since Spain conquered and oppressed those countries?
How many decades do you want to go back with your reed-thin attempts to draw cause and effect in order justify terrorists acts. Would Peru and Chile be justified in terrorist attacks against Spain since Spain conquered and oppressed those countries?

There is a difference between a "reason" and a "justification."