The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered. [Query XIII, “Constitution”]
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our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.
a good citizen should take his stand where the public authority marshals him.
there is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature & fortune have measured to him.
I love to see honest men & honorable men at the helm, men who will not bend their politics to their purses, nor pursue measures by which they may profit, & then profit by their measures.
the man who loves his country on it’s own account, and not merely for it’s trappings of interest or power, can never be divorced from it: can never refuse to come forward when he finds that she is engaged in dangers which he has the means of warding off.
I have not observed men’s honesty to increase with their riches.
I sincerely wish with you we could see our government so secured as to depend less on the character of the person in whose hands it is trusted. bad men will sometimes get in, & with such an immense patronage, may make great progress in corrupting the public mind & principles. this is a...
some men are born for the public. nature by fitting them for the service of the human race on a broad scale, has stamped them with the evidences of her destination & their duty
our duty to ourselves to posterity & to mankind call on us by every motive which is sacred or honorable, to watch over the safety of our beloved country, during the troubles which agitate & convulse the residue of the world, & to sacrifice to that all personal & local...
I thank you for the kindness towards myself which breathes through your letter. the first of all our consolations is that of having faithfully fulfilled our duties: the next, the approbation & good will of those who have witnessed it
I console myself with the reflection that those who will come after us will be as wise as we are, & as able to take care of themselves as we have been.
it is more a subject of joy that we have so few of the desperate characters which compose modern regular armies....
nature hath implanted in our breasts a love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct in short, which prompts us irresistibly to feel and to succor their distresses
truth advances, & error recedes step by step only; and to do to our fellow-men the most good in our power, we must lead where we can, follow where we cannot, and still go with them, watching always the favorable moment for helping them to another step.
to do wrong is a melancholy resource. even where retaliation renders it indispensably necessary. it is better to suffer much from the scalpings, the incensions conflagrations, the rapes and rapine of savages, than to countenance and strengthen such barbarisms by retortion. I have ever deemed it...
I find more amusement in studies to which I was always more attached, and from which I was dragged by the events of the times in which I have happened to live.
how can expedition be expected from a body which we have saddled with an hundred lawyers, whose trade is talking?
the truth is that I have been drawn by the history of the times from Physical & mathematical sciences, which were my passion, to those of politics & government towards which I had naturally no inclination.
peace & prosperity are twin-brothers; so are war & demoralisation.
I am very happy in being able, at last, to congratulate you on the success of the Bill for the establishment of an University at the Central college. It was carried, on yesterday, by in the House of Delegates by the overwhelming & unexpected majority of 141 to 28 ... Among the many sources of...
I am happy to hear of his good health. I think he will outlive us all, I mean the Declaration-men, altho’ our senior since the death of Colo Floyd. it is a race in which I have no ambition to win. man, like the fruit he eats, has his period of ripeness. like that too, if he continues longer...
it has been peculiarly fortunate too that the Professors brought from abroad were as happy a selection as could have been hoped, as well for their qualifications in science as correctness and amiableness of character. I think the example will be followed and that it cannot fail to be one of the...