Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quotes Taken From a Discourse by Jeffrey R Holland

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites. . . . Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. [The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, vol. 4 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1889), pp. 51-52]

Such public and personal virtue was understood by the Founding Fathers to be the precondition for republican government, the base upon which the structure of all government would be built. Such personal ideals as John Adams' "virtuous citizen" and Thomas Jefferson's "moral sense" and "aristocracy of talent and virtue" were fundamental. Even the pessimistic James Madison said:

I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. [20 June 1788, in The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, arr. Jonathan Elliot, vol. 3 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1901), pp. 536­37]

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