Quotes Supporting Principle Four

From The American Ideal...

PUBLIC OFFICIALS ARE PUBLIC SERVANTS

Rulers are the servants and agents of the people; the people are their masters.

Patrick Henry (Va. Ratifying Convention, 1788)

That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants . . .

Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

Here, [in America] the people are masters of the government: there, [in Britain] the government is master of the people.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Wilson (Lectures, 1790-1791 )

Governors have no right to seek what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honourable servants of the society, they would soon become Absolute masters, Despots, and Tyrants. (Emphasis added.)

Resolutions of Town of Boston, 1772 ("The Rights of the Colonists . . .")

The multitude I am speaking of, is the body of the people--no contemptible multitude--for whose sake government is instituted; or rather, who have themselves erected it, solely for their own good--to whom even kings and all in subordination to them, are strictly speaking, servants and not masters. (Emphasis Adams'.)

Samuel Adams (Essay in Boston Gazette, 1771)

It seems to have been imagined by some that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In free Governments the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors & sovereigns. For the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them--and it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in a State of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the Masters. Benjamin Franklin (Emphasis per original.)

(Remarks in Framing Convention, 1787 as summarized by Madison in his record)

THE PEOPLE'S POWER TO CONTROL THEIR CREATURE AND TOOL: GOVERNMENT

All [American] writers on government agree . . . That the origin of all power is in the people, and that they have an incontestible right to check the creatures of their own creation, vested with certain powers to guard the life, liberty, and property of the community . . .

Elbridge Gerry (An essay, 1788)

THE PEOPLE SUPREME OVER PUBLIC SERVANTS

Rulers surely, even the most dignified and powerful of them, should not be so elevated with the thoughts of their power, as to forget from whom it comes; for what purposes it is delegated to them . . .

Rev. Jonathan Mayhew (Election Sermon, 1754 )

NO POWER IN GOVERNMENT, OR OTHERS, TO OBSTRUCT A MAN'S EARNING A LIVELIHOOD

I believe . . . that no one has a right to obstruct another, exercising his faculties innocently for the relief of sensibilities made a part of his nature . . .

Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Dupont de Nemours, 1816) (Note: refers, for example, to Man's work to earn a livelihood)

UNJUST OF GOVERNMENT TO DENY FREE USE OF FACULTIES, FREE CHOICE OF OCCUPATIONS

That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations, which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word; but are the means of acquiring property strictly so called . . .

James Madison (Essay, National Gazette, 1792) (Note: Full text is quoted at pages 232-233 of this study-guide.)

LIKE EVERY OTHER TOOL OF MAN, GOVERNMENT HAS A SPECIAL FUNCTION AND IS RESTRICTED IN USEFULNESS

. . . government is, or ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community . . .

Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

That government governs best which governs least.

(A traditional American maxim) (Erroneously attributed by some to Jefferson's writings, but typical of his views and of the views of most of his fellow Americans.)

Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. (Emphasis added)

President Thomas Jefferson (First Inaugural Address)

Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now [under a State-established church]. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potatoe as an article of food. Government is just as infallible, too, when it fixes systems in physics. Galileo was sent to the inquisition for affirming that the earth was a sphere; the government had declared it to be as flat as a trencher, and Galileo was obliged to abjure his error. This error however at length prevailed, the earth became a globe, and Descartes declared it was whirled round its axis by a vortex. The government in which he lived was wise enough to see that this was no question of civil jurisdiction, or we should all have been involved by authority in vortices. In fact the vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian principle of gravitation is now more firmly established on the basis of reason, than it would be were the government to step in and to make it an article of necessary faith. Reason and experiment have been indulged, and error has fled before them. It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

Thomas Jefferson ("Notes on the State of Virginia," 1782)