The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching agst every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.
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There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by...corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.
In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the meaning of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
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Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
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The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less informed part of the community. They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.
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In civilized communities, property as well as personal rights are the essential object of the laws, which encourage industry by securing the enjoyment of its fruits: that industry from which property results, and that enjoyment which consists not merely in its immediate use, but in its posthumous destination to objects of choice and of kindred affection. In a just and free government, therefore, the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded.
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[The Republican Party] consists of those who, believing in the doctrine that mankind are capable of governing themselves and hating hereditary power as an insult to the reason and an outrage to the rights of men, are naturally offended at every public measure that does not appeal to the understanding and to the general interest of the community.
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It is due to justice; due to humanity; due to truth; due to the sympathies of our nature; in fine, to our character as a people, both abroad and at home, that they should be considered, as much as possible, in the light of human beings, and not as mere property. As such, they are acted on by our laws, and have an interest in our laws. They may be considered as making a part, though a degraded part, of the families to which they belong.
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The rich man, when contributing to a permanent plan for the education of the poor, ought to reflect that he is providing for that of his own descendants; and the poor man who concurs in a provision for those who are not poor that at no distant day it may be enjoyed by descendants from himself. It does not require a long life to witness these vicissitudes of fortune.
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It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to unsurpastion on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded agst. by an entire abstinence of the Gov't from interfence in any way whatsoever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect agst. trespasses on its legal rights by others.
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As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory, to recur to the same original authority, not only whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of the government, but also whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.
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[T]he delegation of the government, in [a republic], to a small number of citizens elected by the rest . . . [is] to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.
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How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these rules, and by no others . . . . If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army, ready for service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions.
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It may be considered as an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to the people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals would in great measure deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not possess the requisite stability . . . a constitutional road to the decision of the people ought to be marked out and kept open, for certain great and extraordinary occasions
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We may be assured by past experience, that such a practice [as some states charging high taxes on goods from other states] would be introduced by future contrivances; and both by that and a common knowledge of human affairs, that it would nourish unceasing animosities, and not improbably terminate in serious interruptions of the public tranquility.
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Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured. But what particular degree of frequency may be absolutely necessary for the purpose, does not appear to be susceptible of any precise calculation; and must depend on a variety of circumstances with which it may be connected. Let us consult experience, the guide that ought always to be followed, whenever it can be found.
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In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example . . . of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness.
No man will subject himself to the ridicule of pretending that any natural connection subsists between the sun or the seasons, and the period within which human virtue can bear the temptations of power. Happily for mankind, liberty is not, in this respect, confined to any single point of time, but lies within extremes, which afford sufficient latitude for all the variations which may be required by the various situations and circumstances of civil society.
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But cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them, that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the GREATER, not the PERFECT good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness, involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused.
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It may not be improper, however, to remark two consequences, evidently flowing from an extension of the federal power to every subject falling within the idea of the "general welfare." One consequence must be, to enlarge the sphere of discretion allotted to the executive magistrate... The other consequence would be, that of an excessive augmentation of the offices, honors, and emoluments, depending on the executive will.
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THE Constitution proposed by the convention may be considered under two general points of view. The FIRST relates to the sum or quantity of power which it vests in the government, including the restraints imposed on the States. The SECOND, to the particular structure of the government, and the distribution of this power among its branches.
Attempts to enforce by legal sanctions, acts obnoxious to so great a proportion of Citizens, tend to enervate the laws in general, and to slacken the bands of Society. If it be difficult to execute any law which is not generally deemed necessary or salutary, what must be the case, where it is deemed invalid and dangerous? And what may be the effect of so striking an example of impotency in the Government, on its general authority?
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To what expedient then shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the constitution? The only answer that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government, as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.
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It is not certain that with this aid alone [possession of arms], they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to posses the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will, and direct the national force; and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned, in spite of the legions which surround it.
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I have sometimes thought there could be no stronger testimony in favor of Religion or against temporal Enjoyments even the most rational and manly than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent Advocates in the cause of Christ, & I wish you may give in your Evidence in this way. Such instances have seldom occurred, therefore they would be more striking and would be instead of a "Cloud of Witnesses.
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The American people owe it to themselves, and to the cause of free Government, to prove by their establishments for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge, that their political Institutionsare as favorable to the intellectual and moral improvement of Man as they are conformable to his individual and social rights.
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The States then being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their authority, to decide in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently that as the parties to it, they must themselves decide in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.
The Constitution expressly and exclusively vests in the Legislature the power of declaring a state of war [and] the power of raising armies.... A delegation of such powers [to the President] would have struck, not only at the fabric of our Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments. The separation of the power of declaring war from that of conducting it, is wisely contrived to exclude the danger of its being declared for the sake of its being conducted.
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Every answer he [President John Adams] gives to his addressers unmasks more and more his principles and views. His language to the young men at Philadelphia is the most abominable and degrading that could fall from the lips of the first magistrate of an independent people, and particularly from a Revolutionary patriot.
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I think it absolutely necessary that the President should have the power of removing his subordinates from office; it will make him, in a peculiar manner, responsible for their conduct, and subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.
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...several of the first presidents, including Jefferson and Madison, generally refused to issue public prayers, despite importunings to do so. Under pressure, Madison relented in the War Of 1812, but held to his belief that chaplains shouldn't be appointed to the military or be allowed to open Congress.
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The important distinction so well understood in America between a constitution established by the people, and unalterable by the government; and a law established by the government, and alterable by the government, seems to have been little understood and less observed in any other country. Wherever the supreme power of legislation has resided, has been supposed to reside also, a full power to change the form of government.
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There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence.
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Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise... During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
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Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.
It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
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