Some Words Are Worth Repeating…

April 11th, 2010

“The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and ourselves united.

From the conclusion of their war for independence, a nation begins going down hill. It will not then be necessary for the government to resort every moment to the people for support. The people will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. The people will forget themselves but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights.

The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of that war will remain on them long, will be made heavier and heavier, till their rights shall revive . . . or expire in a convulsion.”
–Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782.  ME 2:225

Who can preserve the rights and liberties of the people, when they shall be abandoned by themselves? Who shall keep watch in the temple when the watchmen sleep at their posts? Who shall call upon the people to redeem their possessions, and revive the republic, when their own hands have deliberately and corruptly surrendered them to the oppressor, and have built the prisons or dug the graves of their own friends? America, free, happy, and enlightened as she is, must rest the preservation of her rights and liberties upon the virtue, independence, justice, and sagacity of her people. If either fails, the republic is gone. Its shadow may remain with all the pomp, and circumstance, and trickery of government, but its vital power will have departed.
In America the demagogue may arise as well as elsewhere. He is the natural, though spurious, growth of republics, and, like the courtier, he may, by his blandishments, delude the ears and blind the eyes of the people to their own destruction. If ever the day shall arrive in which the best talents and best virtues be driven from office by intrigue or corruption, by the ostracism of the press, or the still more unrelenting persecution of party, legislation will cease to be national. It will be wise by accident, and bad by system.”
–Supreme Court Justice Story,    February 3, 1812 – September 10, 1845
– in answer to the query as to the duration of our Republic

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