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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Fisher Ames (1758–1808)
QUOTATION: The House is composed of very good men, not shining, but honest and reasonably well-informed, and in time they will be found to improve, and not to be much inferior in eloquence, science, and dignity, to the British Commons. They are patriotic enough, and I believe there are more stupid (as well as more shining) people in the latter, in proportion.
ATTRIBUTION: FISHER AMES, letter to George Richard Minot, May 27, 1789.—Works of Fisher Ames, ed. Seth Ames, vol. 1, p. 45 (1854).

Ames was a Federalist Representative from Massachusetts at the first Congress, which met in New York City. Representative Hale Boggs quoted Ames at the end of the first session of the 89th Congress: “You know, Mr. Speaker, a long time ago there was a congressman here from the great State of Massachusetts. His name was Fisher Ames. Speaking of the Congress which met in 1789 he wrote a letter to his constituents and this is what he said about his colleagues who served in the Congress of 1789 in describing them. He said: ‘On the whole they were very good men, not shining, but honest and reasonably well informed.’ I believe it is a very apt description because we come from the people and we are of the people, and, thank God, we have a system that makes that possible.”—Congressional Record, October 22, 1965, vol. 111, p. 28566.
SUBJECTS: Congress—House of Representatives