Saturday, January 28, 2012

Liberty, Part XI

From Political Disquisitions, of which a copy was owned by John Adams, by Anonymous:

“That government only can be pronounced consistent with the design of all government, which allows the governed the liberty of doing what, consistently with the general good, they may desire to do, and which only forbids their doing the contrary. Liberty does not exclude restraint; it only excludes unreasonable restraint. To determine precisely how far personal liberty is compatible with the general good, and of the propriety of social conduct in all cases, is a matter of great extent, and demands the united wisdom of a whole people. And the consent of the whole people, as far as it can be obtained, is indispensably necessary to every law, by which the whole people are to be bound; else the whole people are enslaved to the one, or the few, who frame the laws for them.”

“All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people. Power in the people is like light in the sun, native, original, inherent and unlimited by any thing human. In governors, it may be compared to the reflected light of the moon; for it is only borrowed, delegated, and limited by the intention of the people, whose it is, and to whom governors are to consider themselves responsible, while the people are answerable only to God; themselves being the losers, if they pursue a false scheme of politics.”

“As the people are the fountain of power, and object of government, so are they the last resource, when governors betray their trust. And happy is that people, who have originally so principled their constitution, that they themselves can without violence to it, lay hold of its power, wield it as they please, and turn it, when necessary, against those whom it was entrusted, and who have exerted it to the prejudice of its original proprietors.”

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