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Government


An emperor knows how to govern when poets are free to make verses, people to act plays, historians to tell the truth, ministers to give advice, the poor to grumble at taxes, students to learn lessons aloud, workmen to praise their skill and seek work, people to speak of anything, and old men to find fault with everything. 
(Address of the Duke of Shao to King Li-Wang, ca 845 B.C.)
Will Durant  (18851981)
"The Story of Civilization" 1 (11), Our Oriental Heritage, 1935

Oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger.
Confucius  (551479 BC)

Every bad precedent originated as a justifiable measure.
Sallust  (8634 BC)

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
Tacitus  (AD 56115)

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.
Montesquieu  (16891755)

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
Voltaire  (16941778)

The eyes of mankind will be upon you to see whether the Government, which is now more popular than it has been for many years past, will be productive of more virtue moral and political.  We may look up to Armies for our Defense, but Virtue is our best Security.  It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.
Samuel Adams  (17221803)

The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.
George Washington  (17321799)

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force.  Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
George Washington  (17321799)

It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.
George Washington  (17321799)

Government governed least is government governed best.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

I own that I am not a friend to a very energetic government.  It is always oppressive.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

When the government fears the people, there is liberty.  When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.  This is the sum of good government.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.  The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.  What is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people?  A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
Thomas Jefferson  (17431826)

The preservation of a free government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people.
The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority and are Tyrants.  The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.
James Madison  (17511836)

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority.  It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.  There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern.  They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Noah Webster  (17581843)

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.  His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.
John Stuart Mill  (18061873)

A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.
John Stuart Mill  (18061873)

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.  It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time.
Abraham Lincoln  (18091865)

Liberty never came from government.  The history of liberty is a history of resistance.  The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it.
Woodrow Wilson  (18561924)
 (Speech in New York, September 9, 1912)

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.  No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Winston Churchill  (18741965)
Hansard, November 11, 1947

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.
Henry Mencken  (18801956)

We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt  (18821945)


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