Sunday, December 17, 2006

ANDREW JOHNSON, Washington, December 4, 1865....

"To form a more perfect Union," by an ordinance of the people of the United States, is the declared purpose of the Constitution. The hand of Divine Providence was never more plainly visible in the affairs of men than in the framing and the adopting of that instrument. It is, beyond comparison, the greatest event in American history; and indeed is it not, of all events in modern times, the most pregnant with consequences for every people of the earth? ..."

"...In case of the usurpation of the government of a State by one man, or an oligarchy, it becomes a duty of the United States to make good the guarantee to that State of a republican form of government, and so to maintain the homogeneousness of all...."

"...The parting advice of the Father of his Country, while yet President, to the people of the United States, was, that "the free Constitution, which was the work of their hands, might be sacredly maintained;" and the inaugural words of President Jefferson held up "the preservation of the general government, in its constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad." The Constitution is the work of "the people of the United States," and it should be as indestructible as the people...."

"...It is not strange that the framers of the Constitution, which had no model in the past, should not have fully comprehended the excellence of their own work. Fresh from a struggle against arbitrary power...."

"...The largest liberty is to be maintained in the discussion of the acts of the federal government; but there is no appeal from its laws, except to the various branches of that government itself, or to the people, who grant to the members of the legislative and of the executive departments no tenure but a limited one, and in that manner always retain the powers of redress...."

"...Certainly the government of the United States is a limited government; and so is every State government a limited government. With us this idea of limitation spreads through every form of administration, general, State, and municipal, and rests on the great distinguishing principle of the recognition of the rights of man. The ancient republics absorbed the individual in the State, prescribed his religion, and controlled his activity. The American system rests on the assertion of the equal right of every man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to freedom of conscience; to the culture and exercise of all his faculties. As a consequence the State government is limited, as to the general government in the interest of union, as to the individual citizen in the interest of freedom...."

"...When the vast extent of our country is considered, it is plain that every obstacle to the free circulation of commerce between the States ought to be sternly guarded against by appropriate legislation within the limits of the Constitution...."

"...The throngs of emigrants that crowd to our shores are witnesses of the confidence of all peoples in our permanence. Here is the great land of free labor, where industry is blessed with unexampled rewards, and the bread of the workingman is sweetened by the consciousness that the cause of the country "is his own cause, his own safety, his own dignity." Here every one enjoys the free use of his faculties and the choice of activity as a natural right...."

- Journal of the Senate of the United States

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