Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Jefferson on What Is Necessary for Tyranny to Gain a Foothold, on the Sum of Good Government, and on Associations of Men Which Do Not Quarrel

Today is the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, the statesman (1743-1826) who wrote:
All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government.

A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.

An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.

At last now you can be what the old cannot recall and the young long for in dreams, yet still include them all.
And concerning the European ideal of multilateralism, in which a group of powers brings about a benevolent status quo and in which an altruistic United Nations brings an end to all quarrels and can be counted on to bring about the common good:
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.

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