Noah Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.

Noah
Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.
1758
1843

American Lexicographer, Textbook Pioneer, English Spelling Reformer, Political Writer, Editor and Author

Author Quotes

On the first view of men in society, we should suppose that no man would be bound by a law to which he had not given his consent. Such would be our first idea of political obligation. But experience, from time immemorial, has proved it to be impossible to unite the opinions of all the members of a community, in every case; and hence the doctrine, that the opinions of a majority must give law to the whole State: a doctrine as universally received, as any intuitive truth.

But the origin of the American Republic is distinguished by peculiar circumstances. Other nations have been driven together by fear and necessity—the governments have generally been the result of a single man's observations; or the offspring of particular interests. In the formation of our constitution, the wisdom of all ages is collected—the legislators of antiquity are consulted—as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, it is an empire of reason

It may be held as generally true, that respect spontaneously attaches itself to real worth; and the man of respectable virtues, never has occasion to run after respect. Whenever a man is known to seek promotion by intrigue, by temporizing, or by resorting to the haunts of vulgarity and vice for support, it may be inferred, with moral certainty, that he is not a man of real respectability, nor is he entitled to public confidence. As a general rule, it may be affirmed, that the man who never intrigues for office, may be most safely entrusted with office; for the same noble qualities, his pride, or his integrity and sense of dignity, which make him disdain the mean arts of flattery and intrigue, will restrain him from debasing himself by betraying his trust. Such a man cannot desire promotion, unless he receives it from the respectable part of the community; for he considers no other promotion to be honorable.

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character… When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor, he betrays the interest of his country.

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority...the Constitution was made to guard 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.

The causes which destroyed the ancient republics were numerous; but in Rome, one principal cause was the vast inequality of fortunes.

Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.

The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scripture ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.

Whenever a man is known to seek promotion by intrigue, by temporizing, or by resorting to the haunts of vulgarity and vice for support, it may be inferred, with moral certainty, that he is not a man of real respectability, nor is he entitled to public confidence.

The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it.

Principles, Sir, are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; & unless the progress of corruption, & perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property, will long be secure in this country. And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses.

Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas if they cannot retain an identity of language.

Knowledge, learning, talents are not necessarily connected with sound moral and political principles. And eminent abilities, accompanied with depravity of heart, render the possessor tenfold more dangerous in a community.

If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes.

An immense effect may be produced by small powers wisely and steadily directed.

The Bible is the Chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide.

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. the supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.

The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.

Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground.

It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political station. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility. He sacrifices not only his own interest but that of his neighbor, and he betrays the interest of his country.

When the will of man is raised above law it is always tyranny and despotism, whether it is the will of a bashaw or of bastard patriots.

Author Picture
First Name
Noah
Last Name
Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.
Birth Date
1758
Death Date
1843
Bio

American Lexicographer, Textbook Pioneer, English Spelling Reformer, Political Writer, Editor and Author