Those Senators who vote to allow the government to continue spying on the communications of Americans without warrants and to immunize those telecoms which complied with illegal directives by the Executive Branch — to a degree which is still unknown — should be haunted from here on out by the words of some of our Founders and historic figures.
But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
“Instead of that liberty which takes root and growth in the progress of reason, if recovered by mere force or accident, it becomes with an unprepared people a tyranny still of the many, the few, or the one.” — to Lafayette, 1815
“Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and a representative legislature… I consider as the essentials constituting free government, and… the organization of the executive is interesting as it may insure wisdom and integrity in the first place, but next as it may favor or endanger the preservation of these fundamentals.” — to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1815.
“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery.” –Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774.
“On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
— Letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy [Nov. 13, 1789]
“No man’s life, liberty or fortune is safe while our legislature is in session.”
“If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates, but let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
— George Washington, Farewell Address, September 17, 1796
“And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.”
— Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Benjamin Franklin, again:
Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.
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