The Founders


“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.”

“In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.”

“The executive has no right, in any case to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

“The separation of the power of declaring war, from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived, to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.”


“Father of the Constitution,” Co-author of the Federalist Papers, Congressman, Secretary of State, and President of the United States

“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.”


Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, President of the Constitutional Convention, and President of the United States

“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…considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war.”


Author of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of Virginia, Ambassador to France, Secretary of State, and President of the United States

“‘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.”


Major General in the Continental Army, Co-author of the Federalist Papers, and Secretary of the Treasury

“The operation of measures thus unconstitutional and illegal ought to be prevented by a resort to other measures which are both constitutional and legal. It will be the solemn duty of the State governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power [by the federal government]. These are among the objects for which the State governments exist.”


Congressman, Senator, and Secretary of State to three U.S. Presidents