"It is the consequence of this institution that not a school- house, a public pew, a bridge, a pound, a mill-dam, hath been set up, or pulled down, or altered, or bought, or sold, without the whole population of this town having a voice in the affair. A general contentment is the result. And the people truly feel that they are lords of the soil. In every winding road, in every stone fence, in the smokes of the poor-house chimney, in the clock on the church, they read their own power, and consider, at leisure, the wisdom and error of their judgments."
"In a town-meeting, the great secret of political science was uncovered, and the problem solved, how to give every individual his fair weight in the government, without any disorder from numbers. In a town-meeting, the roots of society were reached. Here the rich gave counsel, but the poor also; and moreover, the just and the unjust."
"There exists in a great part of the Northern people a gloomy diffidence in the moral character of the government. On the broaching of this question, as general expression of despondency, of disbelief that any good will accrue from a remonstrance on an act of fraud and robbery, appeared in those men to whom we naturally turn for aid and counsel. Will the American government steal? Will it lie? Will it kill?--We ask triumphantly."
"Although knaves win in every political struggle, although society seems to be delivered over from the hands of one set of criminals into the hands of another set of criminals, as fast as the government is changed, and the march of civilization is a train of felonies, yet, general ends are somehow answered."
"The superstition respecting power and office is going to the ground. The stream of human affairs flows its own way, and is very little affected by the activity of legislators. What great masses of men wish done, will be done; and they do not wish it for a freak, but because it is their state and natural end."
"By the way--about Bolshevism: one has to remember that all that is published in the press is propaganda, that the Bolsheviki are the moderate social-revolutionaries, a political party, and the Soviets are a system of government based on the idea of "pure democracy" (Mso called in the textbooks on gov't) that every man shall take direct part in the government of the country--which is arrived at by industrial representation through the heirarchy of soviets, and that much the same system would be in vogue in America--(geographical instead of industrial units) if Hamilton and the rest had taken the New England town-meeting as the unit of government instead of importing Montesquieu's ideas. It's silly to idealize things in Russia, but it is criminal to condemn them unheard."
"It has been the struggle between privileged men who have managed to get hold of the levers of power and the people in general with their vague and changing aspirations for equality, for justice, for some kind of gentler brotherhood and peace, which has kept that balance of forces we call our system of government in equilibrium."
"I may as well say, what all men feel, that whilst our every amiable and very innocent representatives and senators at Washington are accomplished lawyers and merchants, and every eloquent at dinners and at caucuses, there is a disastrous want of men in New England."
"Men are to be guided only by their self-interests. Good government is a good balancing of these; and, except a keen eye and appetite for self-interest, requires no virtue in any quarter. To both parties it is emphatically a machine: to the discontented, a "taxing- machine;" to the contented, a "machine for securing property." Its duties and its faults are not those of a father, but of an active parish-constable."
"Our system of government, in spite of Vietnam, Cambodia, CIA, Watergate, is still the best system of government on earth. And the greatest resource of all are the 215 million Americans who still have within us the strength, the character, the intelligence, the experience, the patriotism, the idealism, the compassion, the sense of brotherhood on which we can rely in the future to restore the greatness to our country."
"There is an enormous chasm between the relatively rich and powerful people who make decisions in government, business, and finance and our poorer neighbors who must depend on these decisions to alleviate the problems caused by their lack of power and influence."