Browse our archive of original historical documents on the themes of this book:

- Founding Principles

- Slavery

- Property Rights

- Women and the Right to Vote

- Women and the Family

- Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting

- Poverty and Welfare

- Immigration and the Moral Conditions of Citizenship

- Afterword: Liberals and Conservatives Abandon the Principles of the Founding

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Home > Document Library > Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting > Speech in the Constitutional Convention on voting rights


Speech in the Constitutional Convention on voting rights

James Madison
August 7, 1787


[Madison fears that the dependent situation of the poor will make them tools of the rich. — TGW]

 

Viewing the subject in its merits alone, the freeholders [that is, landowners] of the country would be the safest depositories of republican liberty. In future times the great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but any other sort of property. These will either combine under the influence of their common situation, in which case the rights of property and the public liberty will not be secure in their hands; or, which is more probable, they will become the tools of opulence and ambition, in which case there will be equal danger on another side.

[From Max Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937), 2:203-4.]





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