Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Foundational Law Quotes XVI

“That is the best government which most effectually restrains the dissocial passions, prevents crimes, and, with the least restriction of natural liberty, preserves order, dispenses justice, and procures to the whole the greatest happiness. To these ends the fundamental principles of every government, and all the laws of the state, should be adapted. The government, whose object or tendency is any other than the public good, or whose administration is guided by other motives than the general interest, neither comports with the design of heaven, nor merits the esteem and confidence of men.

But such is the imperfection of man, that nothing depending on human authority only is adequate to the proposed end of civil government.

. . .

If such a system [of government] is to rest solely on the authority of human laws, and to be the result of human wisdom only, its fitness will be always liable to doubts, and a violation of its principles and rules thought no great crime. It being, as I think it must be conceded that morality is essential to the support and due administration of government, let it be considered whether the laws of morality must not have some higher origin than the consent of political bodies, and be enforced by other authority than that to whose aid they are deemed necessary. Nothing is gained if they are not supposed to proceed from some superior power, to which human beings are amenable. This can be no other than God. Religious faith, or sentiment, must then be called in to the support of that morality, which is essential to the order and well being of society; and is, therefore, the basis on which good government ultimately rests.”

- Samuel Kendal (1753 – 1814)

Thanks to Charles S. Hyneman and Donald Lutz’ book American Political Writing during the Founding Era.

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