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minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened. Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give mankind the magnanimous, and too novel, example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?
Extract from Thomas Jefferson's Inuugural Address on entering upon the Presidency of the United States.
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions, has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely, and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the constitution, all will of course arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All too will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable ; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.'
Let us then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind, let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection, without which, liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things. And let us reflect, that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance
a political intolerance, as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.
During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore ; that this should be more felt and feared by some, and less by others; and should divide opinions as to measures of safety ; but every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.
We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans: we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough.
But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this government, the world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.
I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said, that man cannot be trusted with the government
of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others ? Or, have we found angels in the form of kings, to govern him ? Let history answer this question.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently, those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principles, but not all their limitations :
Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political ; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none: the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies ; the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigour, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home, and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people : a mild and safe corrective of abuses, which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided : absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital prin: ciple and immediate parent of despotism: a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them : the supremacy of the civil over the military authority: economy in the public expense, that labour may be lightly burdened: the honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation of the public faith: encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its hand-maid: the diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason: freedom of religion: freedom of the press ; and freedom of person, under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected.
These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages, and blood of our heroes, have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.
FISHER A MES.
(1758 – 1808.)
It seems as if newspaper wares were made to suit a market, as much as any other. The starers, and wonderers, and gapers, engross a very large share of the attention of all the sons of the type. Extraordinary