Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Principles of Government Most Effective to Secure Liberty and Happiness

Principle #4: Governments is Instituted for the Purpose of Securing to the Individual Their Rights

What are the essential principles of establishing Governments for the purpose of securing liberty and happiness to individual citizens as well as order to the civil society? Thomas Jefferson took to the task of articulating the parameters of such a government in his first inaugural address and produced what may be the most sound explanation possible in so few words.

"What I deem the essential principles of our Government… I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear… Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against “anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people...absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority… a well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid… the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.” (“Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address,” Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801)

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