Chapter 8
The American Republic

There is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and I believe further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.(1)

Benjamin Franklin, Elliott’s Debates 5:554

      Governments Instituted of God.      We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life . . . .

      We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience. (Prophet Joseph Smith, 1835, D&C 134:1-5) [See P. 551 for full text of Church’s statement on Government.]

      Good Government Depends On Good People.      I like a good government, and then I like to have it wisely and justly administered. The government of heaven, if wickedly administered, would become one of the worst governments upon the face of the earth. No matter how good a government is, unless it is administered [p. 108] by righteous men, an evil government will be made of it.(2) (President Brigham Young, 1863, JD-10:177)

      Paper itself cannot enforce its own precepts; and unhallowed principles in the people, or in the rulers which they choose, may pervert any form of government, however sacred, true, and liberal. They may overthrow and destroy the practical working of those very principles, which are so true, and so dear to us, and in which we so rejoice. It is the living administration, after all that is the government, although a good form opens the way for good results, if carried out; but if not carried out, the form becomes a dead letter. Much depends on the feeling and action of the people in their choice of men and measures, and much depends on the administration of those they may choose.(3) (Parley P. Pratt, 1853, JD-l: 139)

      Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

      And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. (Prophet Mosiah, Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29:26-27)

      Character of a Nation Depends on Individuals. The character of a community or a nation is the sum of the individual [p. 109] qualities of its component members. To say so is to voice at once an ordinary platitude and an axiom of profound import. The stability of a material structure depends upon the integrity of its several parts and the maintenance of a proper correlation of the units in harmony with the laws of forces. The same may be said of institutions, systems, and organizations in general.

      Some of the gravest mistakes of men, in administrative affairs, in politics, in statesmanship, are the consequence of misdirected efforts to strengthen the fabric as a whole instead of applying remedial measures to the defective parts, or correcting the discordant relationship. When citizens can be taught to live right lives, the grandeur and perpetuity of the nation will be assured.

      The voice of the pessimistic agitator is heard in the land today. He is loud in denunciation of existing systems and vigorous in demand for new laws and governmental reforms. Progressive legislation is undoubtedly necessary, and abuse of power, neglect of duty, or other evils in national or local administration, should be promptly corrected; but the crying need of mankind is individual reformation. The thorough purification and effective regulation of society as a system through repressive legislation is a stupendous and well-nigh hopeless undertaking. The natural and rational plan of improvement must deal largely with the education of the society unity, the individual citizen. (President Joseph F. Smith, 1917, E-20:738)

      Constitutional Government—An Eternal Principle.      The bond of our secular covenant is the principle of constitutional government. That principle is, in itself, eternal and everlasting, despite the pretensions of temporary tyrannies. The principle of tyranny maintains that human beings are incurably selfish and therefore cannot govern themselves. This concept flies in the face of the wonderful declaration of the Prophet Joseph Smith that the people are to be taught correct principles and then they are to govern themselves.(4)

      Dictatorship, however, argues that the people should be governed by the individual or a clique who can seize power through subversion or outright bloodshed. Further, the people [p. 110] are declared to be without guarantees or rights, and the regime is claimed to exist beholden only to the plans and whims of the ruling tyrant. (President David O. McKay, CR-10/62:6)

      Wisdom of an Informed People.      I have a complete confidence in the aggregate wisdom of the American people if they are given and made to understand the facts. The wisdom of the mass is always greater than the wisdom of the individual or of the group. The few may be more subtle, more agile-minded, more resourceful; they may for a time push to the front and scamper ahead in the march; they may on occasion and for a time entice us down the wrong highway at the crossroads. But the great slow-moving, deliberate- thinking mass plods along over the years down the Divinely appointed way. Led astray, they slowly, cumberously swing back to the right road, no matter what the toil or the sacrifice may be, and when they start the return, they crush whatever lies in their path. So has humanity come up through the ages. So have free peoples climbed to the loftiest heights of liberty. Thus has truth and progress prevailed. So they will prevail, for God is a God of Truth, and God is at the helm.(5) (J. Reuben Clark, 10/7/43)

      Why Absolute Rulers Not Desired.      Now, it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just. Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you . . . .

      Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you. For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction . . . .

      And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood. For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, [p. 111] and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God; and he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness. (Prophet Mosiah, Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29:12-23)

      America Is A Republic.      The government of the United States is what is called a republic. In a form of government of this kind the foundation of all law, power and authority is the voice or will of the people; that is the genius of the government. It is based upon a written constitution granting unto the legislature power to do thus and so, and to go no further; and while they who make and administer the laws confine them selves within the limits of that constitution, their acts are what is called constitutional. When they go beyond that, their acts are called unconstitutional, that is, they deprive the people of certain rights guaranteed to them by the written compact that they have entered into . . . .

      If we—the people in this Territory, or in other Territories or in the States—confer certain powers on the General Government, we no longer retain them, they are ceded away by us to others. If we give to our legislators certain authority, they hold that authority, and it is for us to submit to the laws which may be enacted by them.(6) This is what is called republicanism,(7) and [p. 112] it is also in agreement with the theory of a limited monarchy. Whenever people give up certain rights they ought to honor the parties into whose hands they place them. (John Taylor, 1872, JD-15:212)

      We say that we live in a Republican Government, and we hold that we have the best national constitution in the world; but a wicked people will corrupt themselves and do wickedly under any government, and, in so doing, will sooner or later be destroyed.(8) The most excellent human or divine laws are of no use to earthly or heavenly beings, unless they are faithfully observed . . . .

      The American Government . . . is the best earthly Government that ever was framed by man, and the true and righteous are alone worthy of it. It cannot long be administered by wicked hands. “When the wicked rule, the people mourn.” (President Brigham Young, 1862, JD-9:4, 332, 368)

      While the people are pure, while they are upright, while they are willing to observe law, the best results must follow the establishment and maintenance of a government like this;(9) but, on the other hand, if the people become corrupt, if they give way to passion, if they disregard law, if they trample upon constitutional obligations, then a republican form of government like ours becomes the worst tyranny upon the face of the earth.(10) An autocracy is a government of one man, and if he be a tyrant, it is the tyranny of one man; but the tyranny and irresponsibility of a mob is one of the most grievous despotisms which can [p. 113] exist upon the face of the earth.(11) . . . (George Q. Cannon, 1881, JD-22:136)

      When misuse of power has reached a certain stage, the divinity that is within the people asserts its right and they free themselves from the power of despotism. The nation that lifts itself up against God and rules in unrighteousness he will call to an account in his own way. (President Brigham Young, 1863, JD-10:191)

      Why Jaredites’ Civilization in the Book of Mormon Fell.      We are not given the step-by- step backsliding of this Jareditic civilization till it reached the social and governmental chaos the record sets out, but those steps seem wholly clear from the results. Put into modern terms, we can understand them. First there was a forsaking of the righteous life, and the working of wickedness; then must have come the extortion and oppression of the poor by the rich; then retaliation and reprisal by the poor against the rich; then would come a cry to share the wealth which should belong to all; then the easy belief that society owed every man a living whether he worked or not; then the keeping of a great body of idlers; then when community revenues failed to do this, as they always have failed and always will fail, a self-helping by one to the goods of his neighbor; and finally when the neighbor resisted, as resist he must, or starve with his family, then death to the neighbor and all that belonged to him. This was the decreed “fulness of iniquity.”

      Then came the end; the Jaredites were wiped out in accordance with “the everlasting decree of God.” A nation had been born; it had grown to maturity; then to a powerful manhood; had then gone on to sin, decay, and destruction, and all because its people had refused to heed the promises and commandments of Him who is their Creator and Father, all because the people who possessed the land had failed “to serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ.” (Ether 2:12) (J. Reuben Clark, 1940, E-43:396)

      Why Rome Fell. I read recently volume three of that monumental work by Will Durant, The Story of Civilization. [p. 114] This volume, entitled Caesar and Christ, covers the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and the coming forth of Christianity. It covers a period of 1125 years, from 800 B.C. to 325 A.D. At the end of this six-hundred-page volume, the author writes an epilogue under the caption “Why Rome Fell.” It is generally agreed that not infrequently history repeats itself. The author lists the major causes why this great civilization fell apart. I wonder if there is anything in what he says for us to take note of today. As I read this volume, I was caused to reflect on the similarity of conditions and practices then and now. May I give you briefly his summary:

      The first group of causes he termed biological, and no doubt most fundamental. They had to do with the limitation of families, the deferment and avoidance of marriage, the refusal of men and women to shoulder the great responsibilities, God-ordained, of honorable parenthood. He mentioned that sexual excesses were indulged in commonly, both in and outside the marriage covenant. The operation of contraception and abortion was common. This together with other things, resulted in reduced fertility. Sex ran riot, and moral decay resulted.

      He mentioned as another cause of Rome’s decay, the waste of natural resources in mining, deforestation, erosion; the neglect of irrigation canals, but most important of all, the negligence of harassed and discouraged men, the failure to teach high moral principles so necessary for the building of real character.

      Then he lists with great emphasis the rising costs of government because of armies, doles, public works, expanding bureaucracy, a parasitic court, depreciation of currency, absorption of investment capital by confiscatory taxation.

      Is there anything suggestive in this summary? (Ezra Taft Benson, CR-4/52:59-60)

      Concentration of Power—A Dangerous Trend.      The framers of our Constitution knew that many forces work toward the concentration of power at the federal level.(12) They knew it somehow [p. 115] seems easier to impose so-called “progress” on localities than to wait for them to bring it about themselves. Raids on the federal treasury can be all too readily accomplished by an organized few over the feeble protests of an apethetic majority. With more and more activity centered in the federal government, the relationship between the costs and the benefits of government programs becomes obscure. What follows is the voting of public money without having to accept direct local responsibility for higher taxes.

      I know of no device of government which will lead more quickly to an increase in the number of federal programs than this. If this trend continues, the states may be left hollow shells, operating primarily as the field districts of federal departments and dependent upon the federal treasury for their support . . . .

      The history of all mankind shows very clearly that if we would be free—and if we would stay free—we must stand eternal watch against the accumulation of too much power in government.(13)

      There is hardly a single instance in all of history where the dictatorial centralization of power has been compatible with individual freedom—where it has not reduced the citizenry to the status of pawns and mere creatures of the state. God forbid that this should happen in America. Yet I am persuaded that the continuation of the trend of the past thirty years could make us pallbearers at the burial of the states as effective units of government. (Ezra Taft Benson, 9/29/62)

      State Responsibility.      The drift toward centralization of power is not inevitable. It can be slowed down, halted, reversed.

      How? By state and local governments insisting that theirs is the responsibility for problems that are essentially local and [p. 116] state problems—insisting upon this, with the knowledge that responsibility and authority go hand in hand.(14)

      Inevitably, in centralized federal programs the money is not as wisely spent as if the states participated financially.

      The people come to look to the federal government as the provider, at no cost to them, of whatever is needful.

      The truth is that the federal government has no funds which it does not first, in some manner, take from the people. A dollar cannot make the round trip to Washington and back without shrinking in the process. As taxpayers we need to recognize these facts; programs which obscure them are contrary to the public interest.

      The thought that the federal government is wealthy and the states poverty-stricken is a dangerous illusion. The federal debt in the United States is now sixteen times as great as the combined debt of the fifty states. It is difficult for the states to make a strong case for assistance from the federal government when anything the federal government spends must come from the states.

      The states not only have rights, they also have responsibilities, and they have opportunities.(15)

      In the last analysis, we are not trying to protect one government entity from another. We are trying to protect the rights of individual people. If we ever forget this, the whole process of government is pointless.

      George Washington said: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!” “It is hardly lack of due process,” said the Supreme Court, “for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.” But we must remember that a planned and subsidized economy weakens initiative, discourages industry, destroys character, and demoralizes the people. [p. 117]

      Our people must remain free. Our economy must remain free. Free of excessive government paternalism, regimentation, and control. (Ezra Taft Benson, 9/29/62)

      The State the Servant.      You are not just a cog in the wheel of the state. To be such I think is the greatest danger in the world today, and I find some in our Church who rather favor that.

      They think the state is our protector. It isn’t. The state as a servant, is here to protect you in your work, on your farm and in your business, and to see that justice is administered, and you have a right to that protection.

      “The state has not anything that you do not give it.(16)

      The government has no means but that which you give it, and we give it to the government so that it will protect each individual in his right. That is a fundamental principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (President David O. McKay, CN-11/28/51)

      Too Many Laws.      The question may arise, “Must we not have law?” We have plenty of it, and sometimes we have a little too much. Legislators make too many laws; they make so many that the people do not know anything about them. Wise legislators will never make more laws than the people can understand. (President Brigham Young, 1871, JD-14:83)

      In the providence of God, governments were intended to be the servants, not the masters, of the people. This eternal truth needs to be emphasized and re-emphasized . . . .

      “The government is best which governs least.”(17) So taught the courageous founders of this nation. This simple declaration is diametrically opposed to the all too common philosophy that [p. 118] the government should protect one from the cradle to the grave. The policy of the founding fathers has made our people and our nation strong. The opposite philosophy leads to moral and spiritual decay. And we must never forget that our greatest weapon is spiritual strength. (Ezra Taft Benson, CN-9/2/61)

      The Presidency—Wisdom of Short Terms of Office.      Conscious that long terms of office serve to entrench and solidify individuals and parties into a power that tends towards tyranny;(18) realizing that the changing views and interests of the people required a frequent opportunity for expression through their chosen representatives, the fathers provided short terms of office for all national legislative and executive officers. The Father of His Country gave body and substance to this principle by refusing to prolong indefinitely his own tenure in public office.(19) (20) (j. Reuben Clark, 1938, Vital Speeches 5:174)

      The Presidency—No Partisanship.      Is a man fit to be President of the United States, who will bow and succumb to the whims of the people? No. A President should learn the true situation of his constituents, and deal out even-handed justice to all, utterly regardless of the clamour of party . . . .

      He ought not to pay attention to any party, but consider the nation as a family and deal out justice and mercy to them equally and independently. (President Brigham Young, 1857, JD-5:126)

      Needed—A President of United States. We have had Democratic Presidents, Whig Presidents, a pseudo-Democratic-Whig President, and now it is time to have a President of the United States; and let the people of the whole Union, like the inflexible Romans, whenever they find a promise made by a candidate that is not practiced as an officer, hurl the miserable sycophant from his exaltation, as God did Nebuchadnezzar, to [p. 119] crop the grass of the field with a beast’s heart among the cattle. (Prophet Joseph Smith, 1844, DHC-6:207)

      A man who sits as President of the United States, as a Governor of a State, or as a judge upon the bench, or a member of a legislative assembly, who would reduce himself to the feelings, and narrow contracted views of partyism, is not fit for the place. (President Brigham Young, 1872, JD-15:17)

      Power Tends to Corrupt.      But if he prostrates his high and honorable calling to base and unworthy purposes—if he makes use of the power which the people have placed in his hands for their interests to gratify his ambition,(21) for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or pecuniary interest—if he meanly pander with demagogues, loses sight of the interest of the nation, and sacrifice the Union on the altar of sectional interests or party views,(22) he renders himself unworthy of the dignified trust reposed in him, debases the nation in the eyes of the civilized world, and produces misery and confusion at home. “When the wicked rule, the people mourn.”(23) (John Taylor, 1844, DHC-6:214)

      It seems that when men gain power on this earth, whether it be political or otherwise, they build up within themselves an egotism which destroys that simple faith in God which is so essential for men who are charged with important responsibilities in public life and elsewhere to possess . . . .

      Men will be led to follow the course which will ultimately destroy the Constitution rather than uphold it against their very oaths of office, if they once throw off the cloak of morality and religion. No one can fail to uphold the Constitution and be a good citizen, much less a worthy public officer. One who disregards the Constitution is not worthy of our patronage, politically or otherwise. (Henry D. Moyle, CR-10/50:93)

      We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, [p. 120] as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.(24) (Prophet Joseph Smith, 1839, D&C 121:37-39)

      A Need For Courageous Leadership.      We now need, as much as during any crisis, the kind of courageous leadership which J. W. Hamilton called for when he said:

How much now we need a leadership that will tell the truth and talk straight, not about what is expedient or even what is advantageous to American interests, but about what is everlastingly right, and call our people to a crusade for it, and pledge America to the defense of it, so that all nations will be convinced that we mean it’ We need men who will ignore the consequences, tell the truth, and take a long chance with God.

      Such leadership must not be expected merely from those who serve in high offices. This is the kind of leadership we should be cultivating at every level—among parents, teachers, students, judges, the various professions, businessmen, laborers, technicians, ministers—all of us need to join in a crusade to develop men and women who talk straight, tell the truth and who are willing to take a course deserving of God’s blessings. (Ezra Taft Benson, 9/22/62)

      Legislative Principles.      We believe that all legislative assemblies should confine themselves to constitutional principles; and that all such laws should be implicitly obeyed by every American . . . .

      We believe that the president, governors, judges, and government officers ought to be respected, honored, and sustained in their stations; but that they ought to use their positions and power, not for political emolument, or party purposes, but for the administration of justice, and equity, and for the well being and happiness of the people.

      We believe that legislators ought to be chosen on account of their intelligence, honor, integrity, and virtue, and not because they belong to some particular party clique. [p. 121]

      We believe that the high party strife, logrolling, wirepulling, and political juggling, and spoliation, are a disgrace to any politician, that they are beneath the dignity of an American, and disgraceful and humiliating, alike to the people and statesmen of this great republic.

      We believe that legislative enactments ought to be for the good of the whole, and not for any particular location or district, and that anything else is at variance with the spirit and genius of our institutions.

      We believe that although there is much to lament, and room for very great improvement, both in our executive, judiciary, and legislative departments, that we have the most liberal, free, and enlightened government in the world. (John Taylor, 1855, Gospel Kingdom, p. 310)

      Supreme Court(25)—Not Revered Above Constitution.      The Supreme Court of the United States is a tribunal towards which I have ever looked with respect and reverence. Its decisions are entitled to the greatest consideration. They carry with them the weight of great authority. Individually, the members of the Court occupy a high place in the public confidence and esteem. Their lives, and the events and actions of their lives, for many years, are before the world, and form a conspicuous part of the history of the country. United as they are in the capacity of a Supreme Court of this great nation, they form a judicial tribunal which is not surpassed, if equalled, in dignity by any other on earth . . . .

      High as is my respect for the Supreme tribunal of the land, my respect for the Constitution and my reverence for God are higher. I cannot assume for human laws and human decisions that which I assume for God’s laws—that they are beyond question. To do this would be to claim for their fallible authors an infallibility which belongs only to the Creator. I cannot exalt man to an equality with God. That the laws of Congress have not always been constitutional and perfect, that the decisions of the Supreme Court have not always been infallible, the history of the nation clearly establishes. It requires no great age, no venerable experience, to remind citizens of this fact; men of middle age have but to contrast the present with the past, which they can recollect, to convince themselves of it. (George Q. Cannon, 1879, A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of” the United States, p. 5) [p. 122]

      Supreme Court—Extreme Political Ideas.      Following the war [Civil War] has been inaugurated an era of degeneracy in public morals, degeneracy in politics and religion, a degeneracy in the minds of our statesmen which has shown itself in a desire on their part to tamper with the sacred rights of man, to tamper with every part of the government, not even excepting the Supreme Court, which, up to the time of the civil war, was looked upon by the American people as almost beyond temptation, and beyond the probability of being corrupted or bribed. But alas! the Supreme Court itself has been tampered with.

      And for many years, almost from the commencement of that effort to break down the barriers of the Constitution and to settle this vexed question of slavery by violence—from that time politicians have sought to sustain themselves in violent, revolutionary and unconstitutional measures by foisting into the Supreme Court partisans who are already imbued with extreme political notions and ideas,(26) whose carrying them with them on the bench has resulted in many decisions which after ages will greatly deplore and point out as the stepping stones to the destruction of our free institutions.(27) (Erastus Snow, 1882, JD-23:91-2)

      The Judiciary—Intended to be Independent.      Knowing that the liberties of the people, the safety of their property, and the protection of their lives, depended upon the making of laws which conformed to the Constitution and upon the due and just administration of such laws, the fathers set up a judiciary that was not only independent of the other branches of Government, and free from political domination, but beyond their reach by any direct and legal interference. They did not assume that the time would ever come when either of the other branches of government would attempt by subterfuge and indirection to do what [p. 123] they could not do directly and so attempt to dictate the course and character of justice in the interest of any political theory or tenet. The fathers assumed an integrity and honesty in the public servants of the nation which would guarantee the people against indirect subversion of their institutions.(28) (J. Reuben Clark, 1938, Vital Speeches 5:174)

      From the earliest days of the Republic, there has been a doctrine held by some that our courts should neither have nor exercise the power of declaring laws unconstitutional. For a full generation now some publicists have been spreading the doctrine that John Marshall, who laid the foundations of the greatest system of constitutional jurisprudence of all time, was all wrong when he undertook to pronounce unconstitutional a law of the Federal Congress; that the true system is the British system which, as the alien explain it, regards the will and expression of the legislative branch as untouchable by the courts; that John Marshall thus usurped authority by his decisions; and that this usurpation should cease and that we should now adopt their British system.

      Under this doctrine the Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, would have no power to declare any act of Congress unconstitutional, their sole functions being to interpret and adjudicate the law as enacted.

      Thus whatever might be the law of Congress and whatever might be the “directives” or regulations, the courts, on this theory, would have no option but to enforce them, upholding them as constitutional, because they would possess no right to question their constitutionality.

      Obviously, under this system, amendments to the Constitution become unnecessary. A mere Act of Congress, indeed even a “directive,” can work the change.

      The proponents of this nostrum have not now forgotten it, nor abandoned it. What might they not do if this heresy could be established. It is a possible post-war factor of almost limitless [p. 124] power in a new order the aliens aim to set up. (J. Reuben Clark, 10/7/43)

      Impeachment—A Constitutional Procedure.      I hope with all my soul that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be loyal in their very hearts and souls, to the principles of the Constitution of our country. From them we have derived the liberty that we enjoy . . . . We cannot go back upon such principles as these. We may go back upon those who fail to execute the law as they should. We may be dissatisfied with the decision of judges, and may desire to have them removed out of their places. But the law provides ways and means for all these things to be done under the constitution of our country, and it is better for us to abide the evils that we have than to fly to greater evils that we know not what the results will be.

      All we have to do if an officer is not executing the duties of his office righteously is to impeach him or wait till his term of office is out and then shelve him in the lawful way. The people have the power to leave him out and put a better man in his place, and that is strictly in accordance with the commandments of God contained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants. (President Joseph F. Smith, CR-10/12:8)

      Local Self-Government—Vital to Liberty.      Knowing by experience the tendency of the central power to absorb all other powers, national and local, the fathers set up a dual system of government and left to the local unit(29) all governing powers not necessary for the carrying on of the central government, with prime reference to its international relationships. There was to be the largest possible measure of local self-government. The fathers did not assume that any appreciable number of the electorate would ever slip so far away from the actualities as to believe that a government thousands of miles away would know [p. 125] better what the locality needed, than the locality itself.(30) This was the very issue of the Revolution. The fathers did not assume that any part of the electorate would ever believe that John Doe, a mediocre or worse man in his own community, would, when transferred to a government job in Washington, be thereby endowed with supernatural wisdom, enabling him to tell the home folks how best to do things he himself had never been able to do at all when he lived amongst them. This was a fallacy they thought no foolishness could reach. The fathers did not assume that any great part of the electorate would ever fail to understand that while their franchise gave power, it could not and did not bestow wisdom.

      The experience of the ages tells only one story: that Liberty lives only where there is local self-government; and that she lives best and fullest where there is the largest measure of such governments. (J. Reuben Clark, 11/16/38)

      Local self-government is vital to human liberty and free institutions; free men cannot live still free without it.(31) To the amount that any far off central government takes over the ordering of the people in their daily lives, in that amount freedom walks out and tyranny walks in.(32) This is true because free government is a going forward of the people together, with a [p. 126] common motive, in a common purpose, to a common end; free government is not a driving of the people, either openly or covertly as if it were a leading of them, on a path self-conceived and evolved by an autocracy or a dictatorship, either in law or in fact. And it is not a matter worthy of weight as to how wise such a dictatorship may be, nor how holy and altruistic it may proclaim or even may believe its motive. (J. Reuben Clark, 2/22/35)

      Principles of Self Government.      Observing the orderliness and unity of purpose obtaining among his followers, who had been gathered from various countries of the world and from numerous nationalities and creeds, a visitor to the Prophet Joseph Smith asked:

      “Mr. Smith, how do you govern these people?”

      Promptly came the pregnant reply, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”(33)

      Thus tersely is stated a concept fundamental in the creed of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—self-government, fashioned upon fixed and enduring principles. It is a statement of the ideal in government. As concerns the individual, it is a statement of the law of progress, the law of salvation.(34) . . .

      Life and religion are inseparably intertwined. There can be no gap between them. Since the political government under which a man lives touches so intimately his life, curtailing his freedom and compelling his obedience, it inescapably follows that any system of political government which goes beyond the establishment of the basic principles upon which self-government rests, and undertakes to regiment the lives of its citizens into mere vassalage to the state, hampers them in their spiritual development. [p. 127]

      What Lincoln called the sentiments of the Declaration of Independence—the whole essence of it—is that every human being, and every community of human beings, has some rights which no power on earth, not even government itself, is authorized to infringe . . . .

      Any system of government which depends for its continuance upon the compelled obedience of any considerable part of its citizens is foredoomed to ultimate failure, because it is violative of the principle of freedom, which is a God-given quality, co extensive with life, and, like life, one of man’s inalienable rights . . . .

      Our institutions which protect us in our freedom of thought and of worship were the product of a thousand years of struggle against tyranny. But they have no guarantee of immortality except such guarantee as inheres in the will and the fitness of our people to be free.

      Freedom is not bestowed; it is achieved. It is not a gift, but a conquest. It does not abide; it must be preserved. Long ago John Stuart Mill wrote:

A people may prefer a free government, but if from indolence or carelessness or want of public spirit they are unequal to the exertion necessary for its preservation; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by temporary panic or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions, they are unfit for liberty.

      Today, before our very eyes, this process has been enacted. We have witnessed the spectacle of effete legislative bodies, after having for a time gone through the hollow form of registering the will of one who has seized and absorbed their powers, voting with cheers their own extinction. The menace to a nation’s freedom lies within. Its destruction does not come from without.

      When signing the Constitution, Franklin said that the government it created “can only end in despotism . . . when the people become so corrupted as to need a despotic government, being incapable of any other.”

      So important is the principle of liberty, so essential is it to man’s higher self- realization and so inexorably necessary to dignity of his status as the issue of Deity that the omnipotent God Himself does not countenance compulsion. Ample ancient and modern evidences of this have been scripturally recorded . . . . [p. 128]

      Self-government involves self-control, self-discipline, an acceptance of and the most unremitting obedience to correct principles.(35) Its demands are commensurate with its high privileges. Duties are the inseparable companions of rights. No other form of government requires so high a degree of individual morality . . . .

      Before we import despotic principles into our own land, which are so raucously clamoring for admission, we would better count the costs. (Albert E. Bowen, 1938, E-41:266)

      Why I Am an American.      I am an American because I believe in a government of laws and not of men, and in a national allegiance to high principle and lofty ideal instead of to a personal sovereign.

      I am an American because I believe in a government with three distinct, separate branches, each mutually independent of the other, with no power of delegation or appropriation of rights or powers by any one to or from any other.

      I am an American because I believe that government “must derive its just powers from the consent of the governed” and that branches of government and officers shall have such powers and such only as shall be given by the people; because I believe that the assumption by branches of government or by officers of rights or powers not specifically conferred upon them is usurpation,(36) and because impeachment or other trial lies against any officer who so usurps rights or powers not specifically conferred.

      I am an American because I believe in the greatest possible measure of self- government(37) and because I believe in a federal [p. 129] system of government which keeps local affairs in the hands of local governments.

      I am an American because I believe in a bill of rights which places wholly beyond the reach of lawful government certain matters affecting “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and specifically the right of freedom of conscience and worship, the right of free speech and a free press, the right peaceably to assemble and petition government, and the right to gain and hold property without molestation except by due process of law.

      I am an American because under our form of government the people of the United States have made a progress never before made by any other people in the world in an equal time during the whole period of recorded history.

      I am an American because standards of life and of living of the entire American people are far beyond those enjoyed by any other people in any other part of the world, either now or at any other time, which is a living testimony and evidence of the kindly beneficence of our free institution . . . .

      I am an American because I firmly and earnestly believe that the Constitution is an inspired document designed by our Maker to set up a government which would make sure and secure the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights, and particularly the right of freedom of conscience and worship.

      I am an American because I believe that the destiny of America is to be the abiding place of liberty and free institutions, and that its own practice and enjoyment of these blessings shall be to the world a beacon light which shall radiate its influence by peaceful means to the uttermost parts of the world, to the uplifting of all humanity. (J. Reuben Clark, Congressional Record, 6/11/40)

      Political and Economic Creed.      My own political and economic creed is a simple one. I commend it to you:

      I am for freedom and against slavery.

      I am for social progress and against Socialism.

      I am for a dynamic economy and against waste.

      I am for the private competitive market and against unnecessary government intervention.(38)

      I am for private ownership and against governmental ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. [p. 130]

      I am for national security and against appeasement and capitulation to an obvious enemy. (Ezra Taft Benson, 9/22/62)

      Today’s Liberal.      A liberal today, instead of being one to preserve individual liberty, is constantly seeking to restrict it by giving more and more powers to government. A George Washington, a Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams or Thomas Jefferson instead of being known as the great patriots which they were because of their great love for country and their zeal for its welfare, would now be known in some circles as “isolationists” of the worst variety.

      A true patriot in our generation, as a prominent speaker recently declared, is seemingly one who chiefly concerns himself with the welfare of other countries than his own. (Harold B. Lee, CN-6/6/51)

      Today’s Conservative.      I am a libertarian. I want to be known as a libertarian and as a constitutionalist in the tradition of the early James Madison—father of the Constitution. Labels change and perhaps in the old tradition I would be considered one of the original whigs. The new title I would wear today is that of conservative though in its original British connotation the term liberal fits me better than the original meaning of the word, conservative.

      To show how labels can change or be stolen, a liberal today believes in greater government intervention and less personal freedom for the people, which is practically the opposite of what the old liberals believed years ago.

      It is practically impossible to group American political beliefs today under two or three labels because there are so many shades. Yet, if necessity demanded you would probably end up with the modern labels of “conservative, middle-of-the-roader and liberal,” with the liberal sympathetic with much if not most of the goals of the socialist—government ownership and operation of the essential means of production and distribution of goods. Under this breakdown, as a lover of liberty, I would have to be at the opposite end of the modern day liberal. In other words I would be a conservative—yes even a conservative, conservative.

      I want my fellowmen to know what this conservative stands for and not to accept the myths with which the enemies of the conservative cause have surrounded the word and by means of which they endeavor to strangle that cause.

      Foremost among these myths is the assumption so widely credited today that a conservative wants to turn back the clock, that he lives in the past, longs for the days of McKinley, and [p. 131] has had to be “dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century.”(39)

      As a conservative I believe we must continually seek progress. We must prepare for progress, strive for it, insist on it. But this does not mean that we must accept every proposed change on the assumption that all change is progress. Change is a two-way street. We can follow it forward or we can travel it backward. It is the reactionary, who resists all change.

      However, I have never felt that constantly stirring things up and changing policy by continually presenting new emergency programs to the people is the solution. I have great faith in the free enterprise system which is based on the choice of the people and I would be slow to interfere in the workings of that system. To me this has nothing to do with turning back the clock . . . . (40)

      As myth number two, the conservatives are classed as negative individuals; they are always against, never for. I must admit that here again our antagonists have done an effective job on us. But U. S. conservatism is essentially positive. We stand for the preservation and improvement of American traditional ideals. What we oppose we oppose only because it is negative, and destructive of these ideals. We are against creeping socialism because we are for American freedom. We are against the easy turning to the federal government for financial aid whenever a pinch is felt, because we are for individual initiative and responsibility.

      As the third myth, conservatives are said to be more interested in property rights than in human rights. This statement is meaningless; it obscures the truth that the right to property is a human right. Property as such has no rights. Only human beings have rights, and among these is that of acquiring and owning property. As a conservative, I deplore as a violation of human rights the efforts to place more and more of the functions [p. 132] of private business and free enterprise in the hands of government. Few people realize how far this trend has already gone.

      As a conservative I deplore this trend because I am for the human right of human beings to acquire and own property . . . .

      The greatest right humans possess is the right of free choice, free will, free agency. This, above all, is what today’s true conservative strives to preserve for his fellowmen and for himself. Ironically, it is this very objective that has helped to give credence to the myths. Because the conservative fervently believes in human freedom, he is slow to tell everybody else how to run their lives. It goes against the conservative grain to be a political, social, or economic busybody, and especially to beat the drums for government action on virtually every existing problem. The modern liberal, unfortunately, has few such scruples.

      Then there is a fourth myth. It is that conservatives lack the courage to face the future realistically. The truth is that conservatives act as they do simply because they do face up to the future. As a conservative, I refuse to barter the long-time future for a fleeting advantage in the short-time present. It is the liberal, who, whether from lack of courage or lack of judgment, turns his back on tomorrow.

      The liberal tends to be a compulsive spender of government funds. To go on spending and committing future income in a reckless way is to be unrealistic. This is indeed turning one’s back on the future . . . .

      Myth number five is that the conservatives are conformists who wish to cast all people in their own mold. Nothing could be sillier or more easily refuted than this myth. Surely it is not the conservative who wants a “planned society,” everything figured out for everybody in advance from the cradle to the grave . . . . (41)

      What it seems to come down to is this: The conservative has faith in the human person to make his own decisions. The liberal has faith in the ability of Washington to make more and more decisions for us.

      The liberal would impose on the people their version of progress whether the people want it or not. Conservatives believe that the best way to achieve progress in our country is through individual effort and not government force which in the end will destroy all progress and all freedom. In the long run we do things better for ourselves than the government can do them for us. Government serves best when it protects the freedom of the individual. But the moment the government steps in and [p. 133] dictates the economic or agricultural life of the nation, the individual’s rights begin to diminish and are in danger ultimately of vanishing.

      The conservative has the deepest respect for law. He believes in a government of laws, not of men. The Liberal? Robert Taft put it bluntly:

      The whole trouble with the New Dealers is that they believe that whatever they desire the Court should hold to be constitutional. They do not care what happens to the fundamental principles on which this country was founded. Most of them would be willing to abolish the states and turn over all local government to federal control. All of them favor the delegation of legislative power to the President and seem to forget that this was the first step in the growth of autocracy in Germany and Italy. (Ezra Taft Benson, 1962, The Red Carpet, pp. 206-212)


1.       “He who gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue, willed also the necessary means of its perfection.—He willed therefore the state.—He willed its connection with the source and original archetype of all perfection . . . .
      “Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure, Man . . .” (Edmund Burke, quoted in Modern Age, 1961, p. 273)

2.       “When ambition, wild and lawless, seizes on the citizen entrusted with the government; when licentiousness diffuses itself through the community and corrupts the sources of power, that Republic is doomed to destruction. Mounds of paper and parchment cannot arrest its progress; the voice of reason will be drowned and Liberty expire. Over men void of principle laws have no force, when they can be transgressed with impunity. If you can stay the current of the ocean by a bullrush, then may you impede the course of an aspiring, triumphing demagogue by throwing in his way the laws of his Country. A power of restraining the tumultuous passions of the human heart, is found only in the dictates of solid morality; this therefore is as necessary To Republican Governments as blood to the Constitution of man.’” (Daniel Webster, 1802, quoted in The Freeman, April, 1957, p. 10)

3.       “Virtue is not advanced by written laws but by the habits of everyday life; for the majority of men tend to assimilate the manners and morals amid which they have been reared. Furthermore, they held that where there is a multitude of specific laws, it is a sign that the state is badly governed; for it is in the attempt to build up dikes against the spread of crime that men in such a state feel constrained to multiply the laws. Those who are rightly governed, on the other hand, do not need to fill their porticoes with written statutes, but only to cherish justice in their souls; for it is not legislation, but by morals, that states are well directed, since men who are badly reared will venture to transgress even laws which are drawn up with minute exactness, whereas those who are well brought up will be willing to respect even a simple code.” (Isocrates, 436-338 B.C., Ideas on Liberty, Sept., 1955, p. 66)

4.       “Government is said to be a necessary evil. The saying appears to be without merit. For can anything be at once necessary and evil? True, all governments have had a history of evil-doing, more or less. However, it does not follow from this experience that their good is indistinguishable from their evil. Governments—assuming a proper limitation of their activities—are necessary and not evil. Their evil begins when they step out of bounds. The only necessity is that their evil actions be discontinued. Such an achievement is unlikely until the principles prescribing the boundary lines are searched for and found.” (Leonard Read, Government—An Ideal Concept, p. 9)

5.       “In the last analysis, the thought and conscience of the individual man are the only thought and conscience there are. We talk about the state as if. it were a single organism with a mind and will of its own; for the most part this figure of speech serves well enough, but it is a mere analogy, and at this point it fails. There is, in literal truth, no public mind; there are only the minds of the persons composing the public. There is no public conscience; there are only their several consciences. Dry these functions up, or bind the life out of them, and all the mental and moral life of the public is stopped at its source.” (William Ernest Hocking, The Freeman, Nov., 1956, p. 21)

6.       “It is not true that the legislator has absolute power over our persons and property. The existence of persons and property preceded the existence of the legislator, and his function is only to guarantee their safety.
      “’It is not true that the function of law is to regulate our consciences, our ideas, our wills, our education, our opinions, our work, our trade, our talents, or our pleasures. The function of law is to protect the free exercise of these rights, and to prevent any person from interfering with the free exercise of these same rights by any other person.
      “Since law necessarily .requires the support of force, its lawful domain is only in the areas where the use of force is necessary. This is justice.
      “Every individual has the right to use force for lawful self- defense. It is for this reason that the collective force—which is only the organized com bination of the individual forces—may lawfully be used for the same purpose; and it cannot be used legitimately for any other purpose.
      “Law is solely the organization of the individual right of self-defense which existed before law was formalized. Law is justice.” (Frederic Bastiat The Law, pp. 67-68)

7.       “No government of human device and human administration can be perfect; that . . . which is the least imperfect is therefore the best government; that the abuses of all other governments have led to the preference of republican government as the best of all governments, because the least imperfect . . . .” (James Madison, The Complete Madison, p. 49)

8.       “. . . It can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any other despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the people.” (George Washington, The Washington Papers, p. 244)

9.       “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents . . . . Wherever there is an interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done, and not less readily by a powerful and interested party than by a powerful and interested prince. The difference, so far as it relates to the superiority of republics over monarchies, lies in the less degree of probability that interest may prompt abuses of power in the former than in the latter.” (James Madison, Works 1:425)

10.       “It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.” (Lord Acton, Essays On Freedom and Power, p. 40)

11.       “In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger. What motives are to restrain them? A prudent regard to the maxim, that honesty is the best policy, is found, by experience, to be as little regarded by bodies of men as by individuals. Respect for character is always diminished in proportion to the number among whom the blame or praise is to be divided. Conscience—the only remaining tie—is known to be inadequate in individuals; in large numbers, little is to be expected from it. Besides, religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression. These observations are verified by the histories of every country, ancient and modern.” (James Madison, Elliot’s Debates 5:162)

12.       “I see, as you do, and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power. Take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the miscon structions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal branch, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions foreign and domestic.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 7:426)

13.       “Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty . . . . The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness . . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector . . . . At first, in the early days of his power, he is full of smiles, and he salutes every one whom he meets—he to be called a tyrant, who is making promises in public and also in private liberating debtors, and distributing land to the people and his followers, and wanting to be so kind and good to every one . . . then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader . . . . Has he not also another object, which is that they may be impoverished by payment of taxes, and thus compelled to devote themselves to their daily wants and therefore less likely to conspire against him? . . . Thus liberty, getting out of all order and reason, passes into the harshest and bitterest form of slavery.” (Plato, 400 B.C., The Republic, VIII)

14.       “. . . let us consider the powers of the national government, and compare them with the objects of state legislation. The powers of the new government are general, and calculated to embrace the aggregate interests of the Union, and the general interest of each state, so far as it stands in relation to the whole. The object of the state governments is to provide for their internal interests, as unconnected with the United States, and as composed of minute parts or districts.” (Alexander Hamilton, Elliot’s Debates 2:265)

15.       “The rule that all authorities, of which the States are not explicitly divested in favor of the Union, remain with them in full vigor, is not a theoretical consequence of that division, but is clearly admitted by the whole tenor of the instrument which contains the articles of the proposed Constitution.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32)

16.       “The State has two hands, one for receiving and the other for giving—a rough hand and a smooth one. The activity of the second is necessarily subordinate to the activity of the first. Strictly speaking, the State can take and not give back. This can be seen and can be explained by the porous, absorbing nature of its hands, which always retain part and sometimes all of what it touches. But that which is never seen, which never will be seen, and which cannot even be imagined, is that The State can return more to the people than it has taken from them. Therefore it is ridiculous for us to appear before The State in the humble attitude of beggars. It is utterly impossible for it to confer a specific benefit upon some of the individuals who make up the community, without inflicting a greater injury upon the community as a whole.” (Frederic Bastiat, quoted in Ideas on Liberty, Nov., 1955, p. 7)

17.       “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 also I 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.” (Henry D. Thoreau, quoted in The Freeman, Aug., 1963, p. 52)

18.       “It has been said that a successful politician is a man who can rock the boat himself and persuade everybody else that there is a terrible storm at sea. So if the boat rocks violently enough, and if people are thoroughly frightened, they will agree to jettison the chains of which Jefferson spoke. After that, it is only a matter of time until the politicians—thus released—forge new and stronger chains with which to bind the people.” (Irving S. Olds, The Freeman, Sept., 1958, p. 9)

19.       “The executive, in our governments, is not the sole, it is scarcely the principle object of my jealousy. The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for many years. That of the executive will come in its turn; but it will be at a remote period.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 3:5)

20.       [I told Washington] “That if the equilibrium of the three great bodies, legislative, executive, and judiciary, could be preserved, if the legislature could be kept independent, I should never fear the result of such a government; but that I could not but be uneasy, when I saw that the executive had swallowed up the legislative branch.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 9:122)

21.       “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely . . . . There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” (Lord Acton, Essays On Freedom and Power, p. 364)

22.       “He that thinks absolute power purifies men’s blood, and corrects the baseness of human nature, need read but the history of this, or any other age, to be convinced to the contrary. He that would have been insolent and injurious in the woods of America would not probably be much better on a throne, where perhaps learning and religion shall be found out to justify all that he shall do to his subjects, and the sword presently silence all those that dare question it.” (John Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 92)

23.       “Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty. I say that the loss of that dearest privilege has ever followed, with absolute certainty, every such mad attempt.” (Patrick Henry, Elliot’s Debates 3:59)

24.       “. . . a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants . . . . For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1 & 25)

25.       Refer to the index for reference to President David O. McKay’s comments concerning some recent Supreme Court decisions.

26.       “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone . . . . Having found, from experience, that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scare-crow, they consider themselves secure for life; they sculk from responsibility to public opinion, the only remaining hold on them . . . . An opinion is huddled up in conclave, perhaps by a majority of one, delivered as if unanimous, and with the silent acquiescence of lazy or timid associates, by a crafty chief judge, who sophisticates the law to his mind, by the turn of his own reasoning.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 7:192)

27.       “It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretence of a repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature . . . . The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78)

28.       “It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little to-day and a little to-morrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed; be cause, when all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 7:216)

29.       “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” (James Madison, Federalist No. 45)

30.       “Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government . . . . The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the General Government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our General Government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very unexpensive one; a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 4:331)

31.       “It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.’” (James Madison, Federalist No. 39)

32.       “The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man’s farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 6:543)

33.       “What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? 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. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.’” (James Madison, Federalist No. 51)

34.       “I could not omit to urge on every man to remember that self-government politically can only be successful if it is accompanied by self-government personally; that there must be government somewhere; and that, if indeed the people are to be the sovereigns, they must exercise their sovereignty over themselves individually, as well as over themselves in the aggregate—regulating their own lives, resisting their own temptations, subduing their own passions, and voluntarily imposing upon themselves some measure of that restraint and discipline which, under other systems, is supplied from armories of arbitrary power.” (Robert C. Winthrop, 1809-1894, quoted in The Freeman, July, 1956, p. 43)

35.       “Of course we look to the past for inspiration, but inspiration is not enough. We must have action. Action can come only from ourselves; society, government, the state, call it what you will, cannot act; our only strength, our only security, lies in the individual. American institutions are builded on that foundation. That is the meaning of self-government, the worth and the responsibility of the individual. In that America has put all her trust. If that fails, democracy fails, freedom is a delusion, and slavery must prevail.” (Calvin Coolidge, His Ideals of Citizenship, p. 151)

36.       “Do you know of any action now being performed by government that would be illegitimate and immoral for you to do as an individual? If so, here is a disturbing question: What is the source of the government’s authority to perform that action? For ii no individual possesses the right in the first place, it is sell-evident that no individual can logically and legitimately delegate it to government. Nor can two or more individuals legitimately do in common what is forbidden to them individually. (Dean Russell, Essays On Liberty 10:344-5)

37.       “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” (Thomas Jefferson, Works 8:3)

38.       “I believe that no government ever yet perished from any other direct cause than its own weakness. My opinion is against an overdoing of any sort of administration, and more especially against this most momentous of all meddling on the part of authority,—the meddling with the subsistence of the people.” (Edmund Burke, Works 5:169)

39.       “We are repeatedly admonished by breast-beating politicians of both parties that we cannot turn back the clock, that we must not surrender the ‘great social gains’ of the past thirty years. In reply to which I ask, ‘What social gains,’ If we measure social gains by the alarming increase in dependence of our people on paternalistic government . . . . I will concede that such ‘gains’ have been achieved. But if we measure social gains in terms of strengthening the moral fiber of the individual and raising the level of his spiritual consciousness, I protest. The current rapidly increasing national crime rates, especially major crimes of violence, and of divorce, juvenile delinquency, illegitimate births, and the sneering derision of religious faiths as an important regulator of our social behavior, and other indices, cause thoughtful citizens to wonder what yard-sticks political demagogues use to measure the ‘great social gains’ which they claim.” (Admiral Ben Moreell, Human Events, Feb. 1, 1964, P. 7).

40.       “Conservatism, we are told, is out-of-date. The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. The principles on which the Conservative political position is based have been established by a process that has nothing to do with the social, economic and political landscape that changes from decade to decade and from century to century. These principles are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation. Circum stances do change. So do the problems that are shaped by circumstances. But the principles that govern the solution of the problems do not. To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out-of-date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments or Aristotle’s Politics are out of date. The Conservative approach is nothing more or less than an attempt to apply the wisdom and experience and the revealed truths of the past to the problems of today.” (Senator Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative, p. 5)

41.       “Conservatism is a natural philosophy which recognizes man as having a spiritual and a material side, and that the two are intertwined. One cannot be affected without a reaction taking place in the other. Consequently as the focus is placed on the material side, the spiritual side weakens. From this comes a weakening of man which can today be seen in our apathy toward crime in all categories, in man’s greater and greater reliance on a government for the solution of his daily problems, and in man’s reluctance to face the real dangers in the world today.” (Senator Barry Goldwater, Why Not Victory?, P. 14) [p. 134]

Previous pageNext Page