Moderation means to be mild and measured in actions and thoughts, avoiding extremes or excesses.

The Founders were committed to moderation as a private virtue that would support public happiness. Thomas Paine said “Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.” In his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin advocated moderation: “avoid extremes, forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.” In his Farewell Address, President George Washington urged moderation as a principle when dealing with future foreign conflicts.

The Constitution’s system of checks and balances is designed to encourage moderation in government and prevent the excesses that can flow from an abuse of power. The Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments also promotes the value of moderation.

Citizens can practice moderation by avoiding too much of anything: too much food, drink, work, play, sleep, emotions, etc. When individuals or groups in society disagree, violent conflicts can be avoided by practicing moderation.

American individuals who demonstrated moderation include George Washington, James Wilson, William Penn, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Ronald Reagan.