James Madison On War

A Message to America From the Father of the Constitution:

The Most Dreaded Enemy of Liberty
by James Madison, August 1793

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 debts and taxes; and
armies, and debts, and taxes 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 of morals. . . . No nation could preserve
its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . . .

[It should be well understood] that the powers proposed to be
surrendered [by the Third Congress] to the Executive were those which
the Constitution has most jealously appropriated to the Legislature. .
. .

The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature
the power of declaring a state of war . . . the power of raising
armies . . . the power of creating offices. . . .

A delegation of such powers [to the President] would have struck, not
only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all
well organized and well checked governments.

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.

The separation of the power of raising armies from the power of
commanding them, is intended to prevent the raising of armies for the
sake of commanding them.

The separation of the power of creating offices from that of filling
them, is an essential guard against the temptation to create offices
for the sake of gratifying favourites or multiplying dependents.