emperor knows how to govern when poets are free to make verses, people to
act plays, historians to tell the truth, ministers to give advice, the poor to
grumble at taxes, students to learn lessons aloud, workmen to praise their
skill and seek work, people to speak of anything, and old men to find fault
(Address of the Duke of Shao to King
Li-Wang, ca 845 B.C.)
eyes of mankind will be upon you to see whether the Government, which is
now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of
more virtue moral and political. We may look up to Armies for our
Defense, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any
State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.
may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that
every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a
proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense
wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one
another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of
industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread
it has earned. This is the sum of good government.
know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people
themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their
control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them,
but to inform their discretion by education. What is necessary to make
us a happy and prosperous people? A wise and frugal government, which
shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise
free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not
take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
preservation of a free government requires not merely, that the metes and
bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but
more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier
which defends the rights of the people.
Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from
which they derive their authority and are Tyrants. The people who submit
to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority
derived from them, and are slaves.
intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of
authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made
to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are
men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They
promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member
of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to
others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient
government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however
free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed
autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances
but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.
you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never
regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all the
people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time;
but you can't fool all of the people all the time.
forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of
sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or
all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of
government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to