"I like people in the cities, in the States and in the Nation to ask themselves now and then: What can I do for my city? not How much can I get out of my city? I like people to speak now and then in the same devotion to State and Nation, because, after all, my countrymen, whenever a man contributes to the betterment of his community, whenever he contributes to the enlarged influence of his State, whenever he contributes to the greater glory of the Republic and makes it a better place in which to live and in which to invite men to participate and aspire, he contributes to himself as he contributes to the welfare of his fellow men. "
"The genius of Republican liberty, seems to demand on one side, not only that all power should be derived from the people; but, that those entrusted with it should be kept in dependence on the people, by a short duration of their appointments; and, that, even during this short period, the trust should be placed not in a few, but in a number of hands. Stability, on the contrary, requires, that the hands, in which power is lodged, should continue for a length of time, the same. A frequent change of men will result from a frequent return of electors, and a frequent change of measures, from a frequent change of men; whilst energy in Government requires not only a certain duration of power, but the execution of it by a single hand. "
"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. "
"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. "
"Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. "
"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. "
"Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavour to warp and spoil it to their turn. "
"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. "
"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. "
"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. "
"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 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. "
"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. "
"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. "
"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. "
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