There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience, a readiness to attempt the impossible, a bias for simple solutionsto cut the knot rather than unravel it, the viewing of compromise as surrender. Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence, absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
From this we learn that a wise prince sees to it that never, in order to attack someone, does he become the ally of a prince more powerful than himself, except when necessity forces him, as I said above. If you win, you are the powerful kings prisoner, and wise princes avoid as much as they can being in other mens power.
The power of Kings and Magistrates is nothing else, but what is only derivative, transferrd and committed to them in trust from the People, to the Common good of them all, in whom the power yet remaines fundamentally, and cannot be takn from them, without a violation of thir natural birthright.
They realize that in thirty-four months we have built up new instruments of public power. In the hands of a peoples Government this power is wholesome and proper. But in the hands of political puppets of an economic autocracy such power would provide shackles for the liberties of the people.
My cool judgement is, that if all the other doctrines of devils which have been committed to writing since letters were in the world were collected together in one volume, it would fall short of this; and that, should a Prince form himself by this book, so calmly recommending hypocrisy, treachery, lying, robbery, oppression, adultery, whoredom, and murder of all kinds, Domitian or Nero would be an angel of light compared to that man.
I am about courting a girl I have had but little acquaintance with. How shall I come to a knowledge of her faults, and whether she has the virtues I imagine she has? Answer. Commend her among her female acquaintance.
Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peacethat he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best not only in our own lands, but throughout the world. And in that faith let us march toward the clean world our hands can make.
For Mercy has a human heartPity, a human face:And Love, the human form divine,And Peace, the human dress. Then every man of every clime,That prays in his distress,Prays to the human form divineLove Mercy Pity Peace.
I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean [i. e. , comport] ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religionsbound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities. Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races. Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religion.
But I believe this: by and large, the United States ought to be able to choose for its President anybody that it wants, regardless of the number of terms he has served. That is what I believe. Now, some people have said You let him get enough power and this will lead toward a one-party government. That, I dont believe. I have got the utmost faith in the long-term common sense of the American people. Therefore, I dont think there should be any inhibitions other than those that were in the 35-year age limit and so on. I think that was enough, myself.
The Senator says the territory of California is three times greater than the average extent of the new States of the Union. Well, Sir, suppose it is. We all know that it has more than three times as many mountains, inaccessible and rocky hills, and sandy wastes, as are possessed by any State of the Union. But how much is there of useful land? how much that may be made to contribute to the support of man and of society? These ought to be the questions. Well, with respect to that, I am sure that everybody has become satisfied that, although California may have a very great sea-board, and a large city or two, yet that the agricultural products of the whole surface now are not, and never will be, equal to one half part of those of the State of Illinois; no, nor yet a fourth, or perhaps a tenth part.
I once told you that I am not a saint, and I hope never to see the day that I cannot admit having made a mistake. So I will close with another confession. Frequently, along the tortuous road of recent months from this chamber to the Presidents House, I protested that I was my own man. Now I realize that I was wrong. I am your man, for it was your carefully weighed confirmation that changed my occupation. The truth is I am the peoples man, for you acted in their name, and I accepted and began my new and solemn trust with a promise to serve all the people and do the best that I can for America.
If you have not chosen me by secret ballot, neither have I gained office by any secret promises. I have not campaigned either for the Presidency or the Vice Presidency. I have not subscribed to any partisan platform. I am indebted to no man, and only to one womanmy dear wifeas I begin this very difficult job.
And so it is that I carry with me from this State to that high and lonely office to which I now succeed more than fond memories and fast friendships. The enduring qualities of Massachusettsthe common threads woven by the Pilgrim and the Puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrantwill not be and could not be forgotten in the Nations Executive Mansion. They are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past, my hopes for the future.
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purposeand you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, I see no probability of the British invading us but he will say to you be silent; I see it, if you dont. The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.
In a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he [the president] is the representative of the people. He is elected by them, as well as congress is. But can he, in the nature [of] things, know the wants of the people, as well as three hundred other men, coming from all the various localities of the nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a congress?
My friends I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail.
You have heard the story, havent you, about the man who was tarred and feathered and carried out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it. His reply was that if it was not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.
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.
Why would anyone want to be President today? The answer is not one of glory, or fame; today the burdens of the office outweigh its privileges. Its not because the Presidency offers a chance to be somebody, but because it offers a chance to do something.
The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. Thats the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.
My view was that every executive officer, and above all every executive officer in high position, was a steward of the people bound actively and affirmatively to do all he could for the people, and not to content himself with the negative merit of keeping his talents undamaged in a napkin. I declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the Nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it. My belief was that it was not only his right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws. Under this interpretation of executive power I did and caused to be done many things not previously done by the President and the heads of the departments. I did not usurp power, but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power. In other words, I acted for the public welfare, I acted for the common well-being of all our people, whenever and in whatever manner was necessary, unless prevented by direct constitutional or legislative prohibition.