— James Madison 4th president of the United States (1809 to 1817) 1751 - 1836
Message delivered to Dey Omar Agha, by Isaac Chauncey and William Shaler , summarizing the Treaty with Algiers (1815) http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/bar1815t.asp, and U.S attitudes and actions in the Barbary Wars, in refusing to pay ransom or tribute to pirates of the Barbary States, as quoted in History and Present Condition of Tripoli: With Some Accounts of the Other Barbary States http://books.google.com/books?id=YMwRAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA46 (1835) by Robert Greenhow, p. 46<!-- published by T. W. White -->
A paraphrased variant of this seems to have arisen on the internet around 2007: It is … a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.
Kontext: The United States while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none, it being a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, so war is better than tribute.