Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.
Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them.
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out.
Even in our own country there are still philosophers who deny the principles asserted in the Declaration, as self-evident truths--who deny the natural equality and inalienable rights of man--who deny that the people are the only legitimate source of power--who deny that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed.
Invited and urged by the open-hearted and truly benevolent people who had given them an asylum from the persecution of their own kindred to form their settlement within the territories then under their jurisdiction, the love of their country predominated over every influence save that of conscience alone, and they preferred the precarious chance of relaxation from the bigoted rigor of the English Government to the certain liberality and alluring offers of the Hollanders.
One of these remarkable incidents is the execution of that instrument of government by which they formed themselves into a body politic, the day after their arrival upon the coast, and previous to their first landing.
By the frame of the government
under which we live, this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals.
As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct and unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me that one good national government affords vastly more security against dangers of that sort than can be derived from any other quarter.
Not a single Indian war has yet been occasioned by aggressions of the present federal government, feeble as it is; but there are several instances of Indian hostilities having been provoked by the improper conduct of individual States, who, either unable or unwilling to restrain or punish offenses, have given occasion to the slaughter of many innocent inhabitants.
Such are the things which Plato proposes concerning government
in his book of Laws.
My civil neighbor, the tax-gatherer, is the very man I have to deal with -- for it is, after all, with men and not with parchment that I quarrel -- and he has voluntarily chosen to be an agent of the government.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.