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When someone asked Abraham Lincoln, after he was elected president, what he was going to do about his enemies, he replied, I am going to destroy them. I am going to make them my friends.

The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization. The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning. The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what it adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods. But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.
For if Freedom and Communism were to compete for mans allegiance in a world at peace, I would look to the future with ever increasing confidence.
But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.
Yet this corporate being, though so insubstantial to our senses, binds, in Burkes words, a man to his country with ties which though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. That is why young men die in battle for their countrys sake and why old men plant trees they will never sit under.
So youve been over into Russia? said Bernard Baruch, and I answered very literally, I have been over into the future and it works.
The nation is burdened with the heavy curse on those who come afterwards. The generation before us was inspired by an activism and a naive enthusiasm, which we cannot rekindle, because we confront tasks of a different kind from those which our fathers faced.
With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth Gods work must truly be our own.
I say, the acknowledgment of God in ChristAccepted by thy reason, solves for theeAll questions in the earth and out of it,And has so far advanced thee to be wise.
Let us hope, I prayed, that a kind Providence will put a speedy end to the acts of God under which we have been laboring.
It is the final proof of Gods omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
Had I but servd my God with half the zealI servd my king, He would not in mine ageHave left me naked to mine enemies.
We cannot meet it [the threat of dictatorship] if we turn this country into a wishy-washy imitation of totalitarianism, where every mans hand is out for pabulum and virile creativeness has given place to the patronizing favor of swollen bureaucracy.
Only perhaps in the United States, which alone of countries can do without governing,every man being at least able to live, and move off into the wilderness, let Congress jargon as it will,can such a form of so-called Government continue for any length of time to torment men with the semblance, when the indispensable substance is not there.
The administration of government, like a guardianship ought to be directed to the good of those who confer, not of those who receive the trust.
For nearly five years the present Ministers have harassed every trade, worried every profession, and assailed or menaced every class, institution, and species of property in the country. Occasionally they have varied this state of civil warfare by perpetrating some job which outraged public opinion, or by stumbling into mistakes which have been always discreditable, and sometimes ruinous. All this they call a policy, and seem quite proud of it; but the country has, I think, made up its mind to close this career of plundering and blundering.
The American wage earner and the American housewife are a lot better economists than most economists care to admit. They know that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
In a political sense, there is one problem that currently underlies all of the others. That problem is making Government sufficiently responsive to the people. If we dont make government responsive to the people, we dont make it believable. And we must make government believable if we are to have a functioning democracy.
The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist.
The system is the best that the present views and circumstances of the country will permit.
I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.
I believe that the essence of government lies with unceasing concern for the welfare and dignity and decency and innate integrity of life for every individual. I dont like to say this and wish I didnt have to add these words to make it clear but I willregardless of color, creed, ancestry, sex or age.
Parties do not maintain themselves. They are maintained by effort. The government is not self-existent. It is maintained by the effort of those who believe in it. The people of America believe in American institutions, the American form of government and the American method of transacting business.
Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain.
Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope, would you shake the cable, or keep shouting out to himBlondin, stand up a little straighterBlondin, stoop a little morego a little fasterlean a little more to the northlean a little more to the south? No, you would hold your breath as well as your tongue, and keep your hands off until he was safe over. The Government are carrying an immense weight. Untold treasures are in their hands. They are doing the very best they can. Dont badger them. Keep silence, and well get you safe across.
I am struggling to maintain the government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it.
There is an important sense in which government is distinctive from administration. One is perpetual, the other is temporary and changeable. A man may be loyal to his government and yet oppose the particular principles and methods of administration.
While the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government, in the short space of four years.
The free system of government we have established is so congenial with reason, with common sense, and with a universal feeling, that it must produce approbation and a desire of imitation, as avenues may be found for truth to the knowledge of nations.
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.
I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage. I want progress, and I want problemsolving which requires my best efforts and also your best efforts. I have no need to learn how Congress speaks for the people. As President, I intend to listen. But I also intend to listen to the people themselvesall the peopleas I promised last Friday. I want to be sure that we are all tuned in to the real voice of America.
Thus, a people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.
When the people are too much attached to savage independence, to be tolerant of the amount of power to which it is for their good that they should be subject, the state of society is not yet ripe for representative government.
The great art of governing consists in not letting men grow old in their jobs.
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right nor the knowledge nor the virtue.
There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole Government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I dont even have to exaggerate.
History proves that dictatorships do not grow out of strong and successful governments, but out of weak and helpless ones. If by democratic methods people get a government strong enough to protect them from fear and starvation, their democracy succeeds; but if they do not, they grow impatient. Therefore, the only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over its government.
I heartily accept the motto,That government is best which governs least; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.
Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; It were but a trifle even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? No, if these columns fall, they will be raised not again. they will be the remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw, the edifice of constitutional American liberty.
Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may.

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