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Favorite Quotations on the RKBA, politics and life in general

FAVORITE
QUOTATIONS

The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.

Isaac D'Israeli (1766-1848)

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go
about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.

Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948)

A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.

Jesus of Nazareth in Matthew 13:57, Holy Bible, New Living Translation

A fine genius in his own country is like gold in the mine.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1733

They that won't be counselled, can't be helped.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18, Holy Bible, New Living Translation

In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself. You will see it perhaps often in this History. For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my Humility.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, The Autobiography, this section believed written in 1784

Poor is the pupil that does not surpass his master.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian scientist, inventor, artist and writer, Notebook I

...for in the sciences the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man. Besides, the modern observations deprive all former writers of any authority, since if they had seen what we see, they would have judged as we judge.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Italian physicist and astronomer, third letter on sunspots to Mark Wesler, December 1612

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.

Attributed to George S. Patton, Jr. (1885-1945), U.S. general

To call any science settled is sheer idiocy. Had mankind acted as though any science could possibly be settled, we'd be living in caves, as opposed to having the standard of living we enjoy today. That higher standard of living stems from challenges to what might have been seen as "scientific fact."

According to mathematician Samuel Arbesman's book, "The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date," many ideas taken as facts today will be shown to be wrong as early as five years from now. Arbesman argues that a study published in a physics journal will lose half its value in 10 years.

Many academics know that to call any science settled is nonsense. But their leftist political sentiments and lack of academic integrity prevent them from criticizing public officials and the media for misleading a gullible public about global warming.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Intellectual Dishonesty," June 2015

Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist, Smithsonian, 1979

It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.

James Grover Thurber (1894–1961), American humorist and cartoonist, "The Scotty Who Knew Too Much," The New Yorker (February 18, 1939)

Believe those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it; doubt all, but do not doubt yourself.

André Paul Guillaume Gide (1869–1951), French author, Ainsi soit-il ou Les jeux sont faits, 1952

When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Second Inaugural Address, 1805

Learning is, in too many cases, but a foil to common sense; a substitute for true knowledge. Books are less often made use of as "spectacles" to look at nature with, than as blinds to keep out its strong light and shifting scenery from weak eyes and indolent dispositions.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English essayist. "On the Ignorance of the Learned,"
in Edinburgh Magazine, July 1818; reprinted in Table Talk, 1821

Strange as it may seem, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and formal education positively fortifies it.

Stephen Vizinczey (b. 1933), Hungarian novelist, critic. "Europe's Inner Demons," review of Norman Cohn, An Inquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt, in The Sunday Telegraph, London, March 2, 1975

Two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the former.

Attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Attributed to Albert Einstein, this may actually be a bowdlerization of a longer quotation from his June 10, 1933 lecture at Oxford University

You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.

"Heinlein's Razor," from Logic of Empire, Robert A. Heinlein, 1941

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

"Hanlon's Razor," attributed to Robert J. Hanlon in Murphy's Law, Book Two: More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong! , Arthur Bloch, 1980

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice.

Attributed to Albert Einstein in Wired for War, Peter W. Singer, 2009

There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Brainy Bunch," September 2009

Let's face it, most of us are not half as smart as we may sometimes think we are - and for intellectuals, not one-tenth as smart.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," December 2010

Too many intellectuals are too impressed with the fact that they know more than other people. Even if an intellectual knows more than anybody else, that is not the same as saying that he knows more than everybody else put together - which is what would be needed to justify substituting his judgment for that expressed by millions of others through the market or through the ballot box.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," October 2014

Unlike engineers, physicians, or scientists, the intelligentsia face no serious constraint or sanction based on empirical verification. None could be sued for malpractice, for example, for having contributed to the hysteria over the insecticide DDT, which led to its banning in many countries around the world, costing the lives of literally millions of people through a resurgence of malaria. By contrast, doctors whose actions have had a far more tenuous connection with the medical complications suffered by their patients have had to pay millions of dollars in damages - illustrating once again a fundamental difference between the circumstances of the intelligentsia and the circumstances of people in other mentally demanding professions.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

Things look very different in a vision built on a foundation of inherent constraints - that is, the tragic vision. Progress, including remarkable progress when favorable conditions are maintained over long spans of time, is possible within the tragic vision. But such progress does not necessarily entail the extermination or subordination of those currently less capable, as many intellectuals assumed in the Progressive era. Nor does progress necessarily take the form of "liberation" of the less fortunate from evils created by the fortunate, as many of the intelligentsia have assumed in later times. Once that is recognized, it means a much reduced role for intellectuals in either case, which may be why this conclusion is not more readily considered. Moreover, what is called "liberation" is often the abandonment of the restraints socially evolved from experience over generations or centuries, and replacing them with newly minted and very different restraints and taboos of contemporary intellectuals.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, Revised and Enlarged Edition, 2011

If the internal dangers to a free society arose only from individuals "of towering genius," those dangers might not be as great as they are today. But towering presumptions of genius can drive both politicians and intellectuals to undermine or destroy the institutions and norms of the existing society, precisely because these are the existing norms of the existing society, and ambitious politicians - like intellectuals - want to create different norms and a different society, even if that means sacrificing other people's freedom. In this, some politicians are not only like intellectuals, in the incentives they respond to, but may also share the same vision of the anointed as the intellectuals and likewise treat its principles and beliefs as axioms rather than hypotheses. A coalescing of a political leader bent on remaking a free society to fit a vision widely shared among the intelligentsia can bring together the ingredients of a "perfect storm" that a free society may or may not be able to survive.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, Revised and Enlarged Edition, 2011

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

When Senator Sanders cries, "The system is rigged!" no one asks, "Just what specifically does that mean?" or "What facts do you have to back that up?"

In 2015, the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they could have rigged it better than that.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Socialism for the Uninformed," May 2016

Erudition. Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914), American author, The Cynic's Word Book, 1906, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), American philosopher. Reflections on the Human Condition, aph. 88, 1973

A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual's sense of worth as an automated economy is to the workingman's sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1883), American philosopher. The Ordeal of Change,1963

Education never helped morals. The smarter the guy, the bigger the rascal.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

Without education we are in the horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer, Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton : The Illustrated London News, 1905-1907, 1986

Teaching is very easy if you don't care about doing it right and very hard if you do.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," December 2007

Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist, "Conversations with Albert Einstein," 1920

Don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you can't be misunderstood.

Attributed to William Howard Taft (1857-1930), U.S President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Leadership is a gift. It's given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.

Mark A. Welsh, III (b. 1953), U.S. Air Force general, speech, U.S. Air Force Academy, November 1, 2011

[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, letter to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, 1795

I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter political hostility from those of adverse principles.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Richard M. Johnson, March 10, 1808

Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Adams, December 21, 1817

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to James Smith, 1822

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence; true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks and adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, letter to Bushrod Washington, 1783

Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights and duties, and to take none of them from us.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Francis W. Gilmer, 1816

Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Johnson, 1823

This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Henry Lee, 1825

Though defensive violence will always be 'a sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men.

Attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Self-defence is Nature's eldest law.

John Dryden (1631-1700), English poet, dramatist, critic, Absalom and Achitophel

...The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.

St. George Tucker (1752-1827), American jurist, Blackstone's Commentaries, Book 1, Appendix, Philadelphia, 1803

...Many respectable writers agree that if a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant he may stand his ground and that if he kills him he has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self defence. That has been the decision of this Court... Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife. Therefore in this Court, at least, it is not a condition of immunity that one in that situation should pause to consider whether a reasonable man might not think it possible to fly with safety or to disable his assailant rather than to kill him...

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335 (1921)

I believed then and still do that violent urges cannot be completely quashed, but they can be channeled into virtuous expression. There is all the difference in the world between using violence aggressively and using it defensively. As Bill Buckley used to say: One man pushes an old lady into the path of a truck. Another man pushes her out of the path of the truck. Are we to say there’s no difference between them because they both push old ladies around?

Mona Charen (b. 1957), American columinst and political analyst, "Manliness: An Unsung Trait of the Train Heroes,"
National Review, August 25, 2015

The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philospher and economist,On Liberty, Chapter 1, 1859

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809), American author, revolutionary, Common Sense, 1776

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, Federalist, No. 51, 1788

It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, 1775

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1782

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, 1802

Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Samuel Miller, 1808

If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Duane, 1811

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Stephens Smith, 1787

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Edward Carrington, 1788

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.
Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, First Inaugural Address, 1801

[A] wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, First Inaugural Address, 1801

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, First Inaugural Address, 1801

Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Randolph, 1803

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, 1809

A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high virtues of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter, September 20, 1810

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens... There has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends & books.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Melish, 1813

The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Cartwright, 1824

Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816.

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 20, 1820

[W]hen all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Charles Hammond, 1821.

[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore...never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Judge William Johnson, June 12, 1823

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Thomas Cooper, 1802

That we are overdone with banking institutions which have banished the precious metals and substituted a more fluctuating and unsafe medium, that these have withdrawn capital from useful improvements and employments to nourish idleness, that the wars of the world have swollen our commerce beyond the wholesome limits of exchanging our own productions for our own wants, and that, for the emolument of a small proportion of our society who prefer these demoralizing pursuits to labors useful to the whole, the peace of the whole is endangered and all our present difficulties produced, are evils more easily to be deplored than remedied.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Abbé Salimankis, 1810

Everything predicted by the enemies of banks, in the beginning, is now coming to pass. We are to be ruined now by the deluge of bank paper. It is cruel that such revolutions in private fortunes should be at the mercy of avaricious adventurers, who, instead of employing their capital, if any they have, in manufactures, commerce, and other useful pursuits, make it an instrument to burden all the interchanges of property with their swindling profits, profits which are the price of no useful industry of theirs.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Thomas Cooper, 1814

And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Taylor, 1816

The bank mania is one of the most threatening of these imitations. It is raising up a moneyed aristocracy in our country which has already set the government at defiance, and although forced at length to yield a little on this first essay of their strength, their principles are unyielded and unyielding. These have taken deep root in the hearts of that class from which our legislators are drawn, and the sop to Cerberus from fable has become history. Their principles lay hold of the good, their pelf of the bad, and thus those whom the Constitution had placed as guards to its portals, are sophisticated or suborned from their duties.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Josephus B. Stewart, May 10, 1817

Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Autobiography,, 1821

Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible. We see already germs of this, as might be expected. But we are not the less bound to press against them. The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning-knife; and I doubt not it will be employed; good principles being as yet prevalent enough for that.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821

[A] rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, 1823

I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Ludlow, 1824

On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1781

The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered?

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Notes on Virginia, Query 13, 1781

They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect...

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Opinion on a National Bank, February 15, 1791

On every question of construction 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.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823

Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life, yet so bewitched & perverted by the British example, as to be under thoro' conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, on Alexander Hamilton in The Anas
(essentially Jefferson's record of his service as Washington's Secretary of State)

I conceive the position to be undeniable, that the federal government will be principally in the hands of the natural aristocracy, and the state governments principally in the hands of the democracy, the representatives of the body of the people. These representatives in Great-Britain hold the purse, and have a negative upon all laws. We must yield to circumstances, and depart something from this plan, and strike out a new medium, so as to give efficacy to the whole system, supply the wants of the union, and leave the several states, or the people assembled in the state legislatures, the means of defence.

It has been often mentioned, that the objects of congress will be few and national, and require a small representation; that the objects of each state will be many and local, and require a numerous representation. This circumstance has not the weight of a feather in my mind. It is certainly unadvisable to lodge in 65 representatives, and 26 senators, unlimited power to establish systems of taxation, armies, navies, model the militia, and to do every thing that may essentially tend soon to change, totally, the affairs of the community; and to assemble 1500 state representatives, and 160 senators, to make fence laws, and laws to regulate the descent and conveyance of property, the administration of justice between man and man, to appoint militia officers, &c.

Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, No. 10, January 7, 1788

Temporary delusions, prejudices, excitements, and objects have irresistible influence in mere questions of policy. And the policy of one age may ill suit the wishes or the policy of another. The constitution is not subject to such fluctuations. It is to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes, for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted, which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

In the next place, the state governments are, by the very theory of the constitution, essential constituent parts of the general government. They can exist without the latter, but the latter cannot exist without them.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The state governments have a full superintendence and control over the immense mass of local interests of their respective states, which connect themselves with the feelings, the affections, the municipal institutions, and the internal arrangements of the whole population. They possess, too, the immediate administration of justice in all cases, civil and criminal, which concern the property, personal rights, and peaceful pursuits of their own citizens.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Another not unimportant consideration is, that the powers of the general government will be, and indeed must be, principally employed upon external objects, such as war, peace, negotiations with foreign powers, and foreign commerce. In its internal operations it can touch but few objects, except to introduce regulations beneficial to the commerce, intercourse, and other relations, between the states, and to lay taxes for the common good. The powers of the states, on the other hand, extend to all objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, and liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Whenever you hear people talking about "a living Constitution," almost invariably they are people who are in the process of slowly killing it by "interpreting" its restrictions on government out of existence.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," October 2012

Despite the left's portrayal of themselves as champions of the people, they consistently try to move decisions out of the hands of the general public and into the hands of officials insulated from the voters, such as unelected federal judges and anonymous bureaucrats with iron-clad job protection.

No wonder they don't want to have a convention that would restore a Constitution which begins with "We the People."

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Messing with the Constitution," January 2016

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to James Monroe, 1786

The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to controul one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1787

But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm... But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, Federalist, No. 46, 1788

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, Federalist, No. 58, 1788

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, Federalist, No. 62, 1788

In the state constitutions and indeed in the federal one also, no provision is made for the case of a disagreement in expounding them; and as the courts are generally the last in making the decision, it results to them by refusing or not refusing to execute a law, to stamp it with the final character. This makes the Judiciary Department paramount in fact to the legislature, which was never intended and can never be proper.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to John Brown, 1788

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense. And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founder, will I believe appear to all unbiassed Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792

If Congress can apply money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may establish teachers in every State, county, and parish, and pay them out of the public Treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post roads. In short, every thing, from the highest object of State legislation, down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, remarks on the House floor, debates on Cod Fishery bill, February 1792

If there be a principle that ought not to be questioned within the United States, it is, that every nation has a right to abolish an old government and establish a new one. This principle is not only recorded in every public archive, written in every American heart, and sealed with the blood of a host of American martyrs; but is the only lawful tenure by which the United States hold their existence as a nation.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, Helevidius, No. 3, 1793

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to W.T. Barry, 1822

The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching agst every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, "Detached Memoranda," 1823

If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, letter to Henry Lee, 1824

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, 1829

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume...

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. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, Farewell Address, published in American Daily Advertiser, September 19, 1796

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.

Attributed to Daniel Webster (1782-1852), American statesman, lawyer and orator

It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good disposition

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Peter Carr, August, 19 1785

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Peter Carr, 1785

One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to George Washington, June 19, 1796

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

Cesare Bonesana, marchese di Beccaria (1738-1794), Italian criminologist, Essay on Crimes and Punishments,
quoted by Thomas Jefferson in The Commonplace Book

Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, The Kentucky Resolutions, 1799

The instability of our laws is really an immense evil. I think it would be well to provide in our constitutions that there shall always be a twelve-month between the ingross-ing a bill & passing it: that it should then be offered to its passage without changing a word: and that if circum-stances should be thought to require a speedier passage, it should take two thirds of both houses instead of a bare majority.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Wilson Nicholas, 1803

[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804

The Constitution ... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, September 6, 1819

The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our Constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, 'boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem.' ...A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820

It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression, ...that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal Judiciary - an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction until all shall be usurped from the States and the government be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Monsieur A. Coray, October 31, 1823

When the legislature makes a bad law, or the first executive magistrate usurps upon the rights of the people, they discover the evil much sooner, than the abuses of power in the judicial department; the proceedings of which are far more intricate, complex, and out of their immediate view. A bad law immediately excites a general alarm; a bad judicial determination, though not less pernicious in its consequences, is immediately felt, probably, by a single individual only, and noticed only by his neighbours, and a few spectators in the court... Add to these considerations, that particular circumstances exist at this time to increase our inattention to limiting properly the judicial powers, we may fairly conclude, we are more in danger of sowing the seeds of arbitrary government in this department than in any other. In the unsettled state of things in this country, for several years past, it has been thought, that our popular legislatures have, sometimes, departed from the line of strict justice, while the law courts have shewn a disposition more punctually to keep to it. We are not sufficiently attentive to the circumstances, that the measures of popular legislatures naturally settle down in time, and gradually approach a mild and just medium; while the rigid systems of the law courts naturally become more severe and arbitrary, if not carefully tempered and guarded by the constitution, and by laws, from time to time. It is true, much has been written and said about some of these courts lately, in some of the states; but all has been about their fees, &c. and but very little to the purposes, as to their influence upon the freedom of the government.

Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, No. 15, January 18, 1788

The nature and extent of the judicial power of the United States, proposed to be granted by this constitution, claims our particular attention...

The real effect of this system of government, will therefore be brought home to the feelings of the people, through the medium of the judicial power. It is, moreover, of great importance, to examine with care the nature and extent of the judicial power, because those who are to be vested with it, are to be placed in a situation altogether unprecedented in a free country. They are to be rendered totally independent, both of the people and the legislature, both with respect to their offices and salaries. No errors they may commit can be corrected by any power above them, if any such power there be, nor can they be removed from office for making ever so many erroneous adjudications...

They will give the sense of every article of the constitution, that may from time to time come before them. And in their decisions they will not confine themselves to any fixed or established rules, but will determine, according to what appears to them, the reason and spirit of the constitution. The opinions of the supreme court, whatever they may be, will have the force of law; because there is no power provided in the constitution, that can correct their errors, or controul their adjudications. From this court there is no appeal. And I conceive the legislature themselves, cannot set aside a judgment of this court, because they are authorised by the constitution to decide in the last resort. The legislature must be controuled by the constitution, and not the constitution by them. They have therefore no more right to set aside any judgment pronounced upon the construction of the constitution, than they have to take from the president, the chief command of the army and navy, and commit it to some other person. The reason is plain; the judicial and executive derive their authority from the same source, that the legislature do theirs; and therefore in all cases, where the constitution does not make the one responsible to, or controulable by the other, they are altogether independent of each other...

This power in the judicial, will enable them to mould the government, into almost any shape they please. - The manner in which this may be effected we will hereafter examine.

Robert Yates (1738-1801), American politician and judge, writing as "Brutus" in Anti-Federalist Papers XI, January 31, 1788

The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Life is too short to pursue every human act to its most remote consequences; "for want of a nail, a kingdom was lost" is a commentary on fate, not the statement of a major cause of action against a blacksmith.

Antonin Gregory Scalia (1936-2016), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, concurring in Holmes v. SIPC, 1991

There can be no dependable framework of law where judges are free to impose as law their own individual notions of what is fair, compassionate or in accord with social justice. Whatever the merits or demerits of particular judges’ conceptions of these terms, they cannot be known in advance to others, nor uniform from one judge to another, so that they are not law in the full sense of rules known in advance to those subject to those rules. The Constitution of the United States explicitly forbids ex post facto laws, so that citizens cannot be punished or held liable for actions which were not illegal when those actions took place. But judges making decisions on the basis of their own conceptions of fairness, compassion or social justice are, in effect, creating laws after the fact, which those subject to such laws could not have known in advance.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

But to prohibit the citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm, except upon his own premises or when on a journey traveling through the country with baggage, or when acting as or in aid of an officer, is an unwarranted restriction upon his constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of a constitutional privilege.

Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52 (1878)

The right of the whole people, young and old, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained, the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to a free state.

Nunn v. State, 1 Kelly 243 (Ga. 1846)

The right existed at the adoption of the constitution; it had then no limits short of the moral power of the citizens to exercise it, and it in fact consisted in nothing else but in the liberty of the citizens to bear arms. Diminish that liberty, therefore, and you necessarily restrain the right; and such is the diminution and restraint, which the act in question most indisputably imports, by prohibiting the citizens wearing weapons in a manner which was lawful to wear them when the constitution was adopted. In truth, the right of the citizens to bear arms, has been as directly assailed by the provisions of the act, as though they were forbid carrying guns on their shoulders, swords in scabbards, or when in conflict with an enemy, were not allowed the use of bayonets; and if the act be consistent with the constitution, it cannot be incompatible with that instrument for the legislature, by successive enactments, to entirely cut off the exercise of the right of the citizens to bear arms. For, in principle, there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing concealed arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise.

Bliss v. Commonwealth, 12 Ky. (2 Litt.) 90, 13 Am. Dec. 251 (1822)

It is true that the invention of guns with a carrying range of probably 100 miles, submarines, deadly gasses, and of aeroplanes carrying bombs and other modern devices have much reduced the importance of the pistol in warfare except at close range. But the ordinary private citizen, whose right to carry arms cannot be infringed upon, is not likely to purchase these expensive and most modern devices just named. To him the rifle, the musket, the shotgun, and the pistol are about the only arms which he could be expected to "bear," and his right to do this is that which is guaranteed by the Constitution. To deprive him of bearing any of these arms is to infringe upon the right guaranteed to him by the Constitution.

State v. Kerner, 181 N.C. 574 (1921)

The next amendment is "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of a resort to the militia. The friends of a free government cannot be too watchful, to overcome the tendency of the public mind to sacrifice, for the sake of mere private convenience, this powerful check upon the designs of ambitious men.

The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt, and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, 1842

No free government was ever founded or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defence of the state... Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.

Josiah Quincy, Jr. (1744-1775), American lawyer, patriot, "Thoughts on Civil Society and Standing Armies," 1774

A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops in a great measure unnecessary. The powers to form and arm the militia, to appoint their officers, and to command their services, are very important; nor ought they in a confederated republic to be lodged, solely, in any one member of the government. First, the constitution ought to secure a genuine and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms; and that all regulations tending to render this general militia useless and defenceless, by establishing select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men, not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided. I am persuaded, I need not multiply words to convince you of the value and solidity of this principle, as it respects general liberty, and the duration of a free and mild government: having this principle well fixed by the constitution, then the federal head may prescribe a general uniform plan, on which the respective states shall form and train the militia, appoint their officers and solely manage them, except when called into the service of the union, and when called into that service, they may be commanded and governed by the union...

[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.

Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, No. 18, January 25, 1788

The power of the sword, say the minority... is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people.

Tench Coxe (1755-1824), American political economist, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788

[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, - who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.

George Mason (1725-1792), American statesman, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1788

What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty... Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.

Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814), U.S. Vice President, spoken during the Congressional floor debate over the Second Amendment, August 17, 1789

...All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin's atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel's mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The sheer ponderousness of the panel's opinion - the mountain of verbiage it must deploy to explain away these fourteen short words of constitutional text - refutes its thesis far more convincingly than anything I might say. The panel's labored effort to smother the Second Amendment by sheer body weight has all the grace of a sumo wrestler trying to kill a rattlesnake by sitting on it - and is just as likely to succeed.

Judge Alex Kozinski, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc: Silveira v. Lockyer, May 6, 2003

The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of these elements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues, and tends to permit uprising.

Attributed to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), Japanese warrior and lord

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let's not have any native militia or native police.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1045), German Führer und Reichskanzler, reportedly between February and September 1942,
Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-1944: Secret Conversations

Be not afraid of any man no matter what his size;
when danger threatens, call on me, and I will equalize.

Colt’s Pt. F.A, Mfg. Co., 19th century advertising slogan

The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It insures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed. When the British forgot that they got a revolution. And, as a result, we Americans got a Constitution; a Constitution that, as those who wrote it were determined, would keep men free. If we give up part of that Constitution we give up part of our freedom and increase the chance that we will lose it all.

Attributed to Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, circa 1975

The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an "equalizer." Egalité implies liberté. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed - but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.

Edward Paul Abbey (1927-1989), American author, Abbey's Road, 1979

The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals... [I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.

Albert Gallatin, (1761-1849), American financier and public official, letter to Alexander Adddison, October 7, 1789

There is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties; it tells the state to let the people alone; it does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1982)

As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.

James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. President, essay in the National Gazette, March 27, 1792

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 band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

Noah Webster (1758-1843), American lexicographer and author, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution,
Philadelphia, October 10, 1787

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Abigail Adams, 1787

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter William S. Smith, November 13, 1787

Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved always to be possible.

Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978), U.S. Senator and Vice President, GUNS Magazine, February 1960

The Second Amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," period. There is no mention of magazine size, rate of fire or to what extent these arms may resemble assault rifles. All rifles were assault rifles in those days. Furthermore, if the gun laws that Massachusetts has now had been in force in 1776, we'd all be Canadians, and you know what kind of weather Canada has.

P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947), American journalist, Parliament of Whores, 1991

Another feature of gun control zealotry is that sweeping assumptions are made, and enacted into law, on the basis of sheer ignorance. People who know nothing about guns, and have never fired a shot in their lives, much less lived in high-crime areas, blithely say such things as, "Nobody needs a 30-shot magazine."

Really? If three criminals invaded your home, endangering the lives of you and your loved ones, are you such a sharpshooter that you could take them all out with a clip holding ten bullets? Or a clip with just seven bullets, which is the limit you would be allowed under gun laws in some places?

Do you think that someone who is prepared to use a 30-shot magazine for criminal purposes is going to be deterred by a gun control law? All the wonderful-sounding safeguards in such laws restrict the victims of criminals, rather than the criminals themselves. That is why such laws cost lives, instead of saving lives.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Gun Control Farce, Part II," October 2015

Despite hundreds of thousands of times a year when Americans use firearms defensively, none of those incidents is likely to be reported in the mainstream media, even when lives are saved as a result. But one accidental firearm death in a home will be broadcast and rebroadcast from coast to coast.

Virtually all empirical studies in the United States show that tightening gun control laws has not reduced crime rates in general or murder rates in particular. Is this because only people opposed to gun control do empirical studies? Or is it because the facts uncovered in empirical studies make the arguments of gun control zealots untenable?

In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Gun Control Farce," June 2016

One of the most zealous crusades of the left has been to prevent law-abiding citizens from having guns, even though gun control laws have little or no effect on criminals who violate laws in general. You can read through reams of rhetoric from gun control advocates without encountering a single hard fact showing gun control laws reducing crime in general or murder in particular.

Such hard evidence as exists points in the opposite direction.

But the gun control gamble with other people's lives is undeterred. And the left still pays no price when they are wrong.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Left's Gambles," December 2016

Concealed guns protect not only those who carry them but also those who do not. If concealed guns become widespread, then a mugger or a car jacker has no way of knowing who has one and who does not. It makes being a mugger or a car jacker a less safe occupation. Gun control laws are in effect occupational safety laws - OSHA for burglars, muggers, car jackers and others.

The fatal fallacy of gun control laws in general is the assumption that such laws actually control guns. Criminals who disobey other laws are not likely to be stopped by gun control laws. What such laws actually do is increase the number of disarmed and defenseless victims.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "A Public Service," December 2016

I’ve come to realize what a good test one’s attitude towards guns is about whether someone’s mind is liberty oriented. If one is okay with police having guns - whoever is designated as having authority - but panicked at the thought of their fellow man or themselves having guns, then that is someone who does not think like a free person. He places a magical aura around whoever is in charge and only thinks they can wield power. This will come up again in other areas, such as letting government make economic decisions but fearing individual people making those decisions themselves. Is it any wonder Bloomberg who is archaically anti-gun is so hostile to individual freedom in so many other areas? Because, as reflected in his view on gun ownership, he just doesn’t fundamentally buy into the concept of liberty at all.

Frank J. Fleming, American author, columnist, IMAO blog posting, December 4, 2012

I hope no one is proposing you need a photo ID to buy a gun because we all know the racist implications of that.

Frank J. Fleming, American author, columnist, IMAO blog posting, May 28, 2014

Voter ID laws have been challenged because liberal Democrats deem them racist. I guess that's because they see blacks as being incapable of acquiring some kind of government-issued identification. Interesting enough is the fact that I've never heard of a challenge to other ID requirements as racist, such as those: to board a plane, open a charge account, have lab work done or cash a welfare check. Since liberal Democrats only challenge legal procedures to promote ballot-box integrity, the conclusion one reaches is that they are for vote fraud prevalent in many Democrat-controlled cities.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Destroying Your Vote," November 2015

Racism is not dead. But it is on life-support, kept alive mainly by the people who use it for an excuse or to keep minority communities fearful or resentful enough to turn out as a voting bloc on election day.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," November 2015

Completely ignored in most discussions of slavery is the fact that slavery was mankind's standard fare throughout history. Centuries before blacks were enslaved Europeans were enslaved. The word slavery comes from Slavs, referring to the Slavic people, who were early slaves. What distinguishes the West, namely Britain and the U.S., from other nations are the extraordinary measures they took to abolish slavery.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Attacking Our Founders," November 2015

Because the West has not been immune to the evils, errors and shortcomings of the human race around the world, the intelligentsia have been able to document these failings in a way that makes them look like peculiarities of "our society." In the case of slavery, what was peculiar about the West was that it was the first civilization to turn against slavery, beginning in the eighteenth century, and that it destroyed slavery around the world, beginning in the nineteenth century, not only within its own societies but also in non-Western societies it controlled, influenced or threatened. Yet there is virtually no interest among today’s intelligentsia in how a worldwide phenomenon like slavery was ended after thousands of years, for it did not simply die out of its own accord, but was forcibly suppressed by the West in campaigns around the world that lasted for more than a century, often over the bitter opposition of Africans, Asians and others who wanted slavery preserved. But that story seldom makes it through the filters.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

The central non sequitur of the political left is that, because America has never lived up to its ideals, it is to be condemned and repudiated. But what society of human beings has ever lived up to all its ideals? Despite all its achievements, America is condemned by the left because it is not exempt from all the sins and failings found in societies around the world.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," February 2016

Intellectual elites argue that different cultures and their values are morally equivalent. That's ludicrous. Western culture and values are superior to all others. I have a few questions for those who'd claim that such a statement is untrue or smacks of racism and Eurocentrism. Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limitations placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law, in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning. Thieves face the punishment of having their hands severed. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in some countries. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Western Values Are Superior," July 2017

Laws that require permits to carry or to own can be used for elitist purposes. A study in New York City found that most gun permits are issued to the rich elite, such as the publisher of The New York Times, whose paper crusades for even more gun-control laws, and the husband of pop psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, who ridicules gun owners as people with feelings of sexual inadequacy. Of course, the common people who are the prey of criminals can't get them.

It was a great and significant thing when the framers of the Bill of Rights included the Second Amendment to guarantee that private American citizens could own and bear arms. Modern elitists who don't exactly have a great reputation for intellectual or moral honesty claim the founders only meant a National Guard. Of course, at the time there was no National Guard, only militias of which every able-bodied man was automatically a member...

We have no rights that cannot be enforced. With one shot, the killer takes away your right to life; in one act, the burglar or robber takes away your right to property; and in one move, the rapist takes away the right to privacy in the most profound sense.

The Constitution intended that every American have rights and the arms to protect those rights. Elitists apparently believe that the Constitution is a means-tested document intended only for the affluent.

Charley Reese (1937-2013), American newspaper columnist, Orlando Sentinel, December 16, 1985

Gun control by definition affects only honest people. When a politician tells you he wants to forbid you from owning a firearm or force you to get a license, he is telling you he doesn’t trust you. That’s an insult. The government trusted me with a M-48 tank and assorted small arms when it claimed to have need of my services. It trusts common Americans with all kinds of arms when it wants them to go kill foreigners somewhere - usually for the financial benefit of some corporations. But when the men and women take off their uniforms and return to their homes and assume responsibility for their own and their families’ safety, suddenly the politicians don’t trust them to own a gun. This is pure elitism... Gun control is not about guns or crime. It is about an elite that fears and despises the common people.

Charley Reese (1937-2013), American newspaper columnist, Orlando Sentinel, March 31, 1994

As I've stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms ... are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain accepted thoughts and speech are mandated.

Charlton Heston (1923-2008), American actor, political activist and president of the National Rifle Association,
"Winning the Cultural War," speech, Harvard Law School, February 16, 1999

You say, "Williams, you're being too picky! What's the harm?" There's a great potential for harm when people come to believe that inanimate objects are capable of purposeful behavior. That's the implied thinking behind the pressure for gun control. People behave as if a gun could engage in purposeful behavior such as committing crime; thereby, our focus is directed more toward controlling inanimate objects than it is toward controlling evil people.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Petty Annoyances," June 2014

Gun control advocates argue that stricter gun control laws would reduce murders. They ignore the fact that Brazil, Mexico and Russia have some of the strictest gun control laws but murder rates higher than ours. On the other hand, Switzerland and Israel have higher gun ownership rates than we but much lower murder rates. These are realities that gun controllers ignore.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Reality May Be Optional," April 2015

As for Britain's lower murder rate than that in the United States, history undermines the notion that gun control laws explain the difference. New York City has had a murder rate some multiple of the murder rate in London for more than two centuries - and for most of those two centuries neither place had serious restrictions on acquiring firearms. At the beginning of the twentieth century, "anyone in England could buy any type of gun, no questions asked." Murders committed without guns have also been several times as high in New York as in London.

Within England, eras of increasing ownership of guns have not been eras of increasing murder rates, nor have eras of reduced gun ownership been eras of reduced murder rates...

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, Revised and Enlarged Edition, 2011

When we hear about rent control or gun control, we may think about rent or guns but the word that really matters is "control." That is what the political left is all about, as you can see by the incessant creation of new restrictions in places where they are strongly entrenched in power, such as San Francisco or New York.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," August 2008

If you don't want to have a gun in your home or in your school, that's your choice. But don't be such a damn fool as to advertise to the whole world that you are in "a gun-free environment" where you are a helpless target for any homicidal fiend who is armed. Is it worth a human life to be a politically correct moral exhibitionist?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," December 2012

Any number of empirical studies about domestic gun control laws tell much the same story. Gun control advocates seldom, if ever, present hard evidence that gun crimes in general, or murder rates in particular, go down after gun control laws are passed or tightened...

If in fact tighter gun control laws reduced the murder rate, that would be the liberals' ace of trumps. Why then do the liberals not play their ace of trumps, by showing us such hard facts? Because they don't have any such hard facts. So they give us lofty rhetoric and outraged indignation instead.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The High Costs of Liberalism, Part II," April 2014

Since Illinois enacted a law permitting more people to carry concealed firearms, more than 65,000 people got permits to do so. Rates of robbery, burglary and motor vehicle thefts have dropped significantly, and the murder rate has fallen to a level not seen in more than half a century. If only the gun control fanatics would pay some attention to facts, a lot of lives could be saved.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," September 2014

A few gun control advocates may cherry-pick examples of countries with stronger gun control laws than ours that have lower murder rates (such as England) - and omit other countries with stronger gun control laws than ours that have far higher murder rates (such as Mexico, Russia and Brazil).

You don't test an assumption or belief by cherry-picking examples. Not if you are serious. And if you are not going to be serious about life and death, when are you going to be serious?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Fact-Free Left," July 2015

Want proof guns are not the problem? There reportedly are more than 300 million privately owned guns floating around the USA. If just 1 percent of those guns were used to kill someone every year, there would be 3 million gun homicides in the United States. In 2014, according to the FBI, there were 8,124 gun homicides. It’s still way too many, and most of them are in cities or states with strict gun laws. But if my calculator is correct [sic], that means 0.00002708 per cent of the guns in America were used in 2014 to kill someone and 99.99998 percent were not. I don’t know how many knives and sharp objects there are in the United States, but in 2014 about 1,561 of them were used to murder someone. Is an executive action on knife control next on the president’s emotional bucket list? Clubs and hammers? Didn’t Cain kill Abel with a rock?

Michael Reagan (b. 1945), American commentator and writer, "Joking About Gun Control," January 2016

Englishmen never will be slaves: they are free to do whatever the Government and public opinion allow them to do.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright and critic, spoken by the Devil, in Man and Superman, 1905

Freedom means nothing if it does not mean the freedom to do what other people don't like. Everyone was free to be a Communist under the Stalin dictatorship, and everyone is free to be a Muslim in Saudi Arabia. Yet whole generations are coming out of our colleges where only those who are politically correct are free to speak their minds. What kind of America will they create?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," May 2014

Let's ask ourselves what the characteristics of laws in a free society should be. Let's think about baseball rules (laws) as a way to approach this. Some players, through no fault of their own, hit fewer home runs than others. In order to create baseball justice, or what's sometimes called a level playing field, how about a rule requiring pitchers to throw easier pitches to poorer home run hitters? Alternatively, we could make a rule that what would be a double for a power hitter is a home run for someone who doesn't hit many homers.

Some pitchers aren't so good as others. How about allowing those pitchers to stand closer to home plate? Better yet, we could rule their first two pitches as strikes, regardless of whether they are or not. In the interest of baseball justice, we might make special rules for some players and not for others. That would level the playing field between old players and young players, black players and white players and fast runners and slow runners. Umpires would become arbiters of baseball justice.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "What's the Rule of Law?" December 2014

If referees exercised compassion, football games would not end so peaceably. Losing coaches and players would not feel a need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how they could improve themselves. Instead, they would focus their energies on choosing sympathetic referees.

The essence of a Supreme Court justice's job is just like that of a referee - namely, impartially enforcing the U.S. Constitution, our rules of the game. The status of a person appearing before the court should have absolutely nothing to do with the rendering of a decision. That's why Lady Justice, often appearing on court buildings, is shown wearing a blindfold. It's to indicate that justice should be meted out impartially, regardless of identity, power or weakness. Also, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "men should know the rules by which the game is played. Doubt as to the value of some of those rules is no sufficient reason why they should not be followed by the courts." In other words, the legislative branch makes the rules, not judges. True justice must be settled by process questions, such as: Were the rules unbiased and evenly applied? If so, any outcome of the game of life is just. Decisions based upon empathy would make it unjust.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Rules of the Game," November 2016

The original motto of our nation, E Pluribus Unum - meaning "out of many, one" - was proposed for the first great seal of the United States by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. It recognizes the diversity of the American people. You can bet that the campus call for diversity is everything but a patriotic celebration of America. If anything, it's a condemnation and criticism of the United States and Western values. The academic vision of diversity calls for the celebration of people based upon their race, religion, genitalia and sexual behavior. And the last thing academic diversity means is diversity in thought, opinions and political affiliation. Taxpayers and irresponsible donors foot the bill for this deviancy.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Odds and Ends," May 2015

What about inclusiveness in dating? Would academics criticize people who expressed a desire to date only people of their own race? Would they criticize people who openly refused to date someone of the same sex? Would the "inclusiveness and diversity" people condemn or sanction same-race marriages? In other words, what limits would they impose to bring about inclusiveness and diversity?

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Inclusiveness and Diversity," December 2016

Somehow liberals and progressives manage to cope with some realities but go ballistic with others. They cope well with black domination of basketball, football and track and with the near absence of black performers in classical concerts. They also accept the complete absence of women in the NFL and NBA. They even accept geographical disparities. For example, not a single player in the NHL's history can boast of having been born and raised in Hawaii, Louisiana or Mississippi. The reality that they go ballistic on is the reality that we are not all equally intelligent. There are many more male geniuses than female, and median male IQ is higher. Liberals might argue bias in the testing. Men are taller on average than women. If liberals don't like that, would they accuse the height-measuring device of being biased?

The lesson liberals need to learn is that despite their arrogance, they do not have the power to alter reality.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Liberals Struggle Against Reality," January 2017

In 2015, 986 people were shot and killed by police. Of that number, 495 were white (50 percent), and 258 were black (26 percent). Liberals portray shootings by police as racist attacks on blacks. To solve this problem, they want police departments to hire more black police officers. It turns out that the U.S. Justice Department has found that black police officers in San Francisco and Philadelphia are likelier than whites to shoot and use force against black suspects. That finding is consistent with a study of 2,699 fatal police killings between 2013 and 2015, conducted by John R. Lott Jr. and Carlisle E. Moody of the Crime Prevention Research Center, showing that the odds of a black suspect's being killed by a black police officer were consistently greater than the odds of a black suspect's being killed by a white officer. And little is said about cops killed. Mac Donald reports that in 2013, 42 percent of cop killers were black.

Academic liberals and civil rights spokespeople make the claim that the disproportionate number of blacks in prison is a result of racism. They ignore the fact that black criminal activity is many multiples of that of other racial groups. They argue that differential imprisonment of blacks is a result of the racist war on drugs. Mac Donald says that state prisons contain 88 percent of the nation's prison population. Just 4 percent of state prisoners are incarcerated for drug possession. She argues that if drug offenders were removed from the nation's prisons, the black incarceration rate would go down from about 37.6 percent to 37.4 percent. The vast majority of blacks in prison are there because of violent crime - and mostly against black people.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Pawns of Liberals," February 2017

Is diversity our strength? Or anybody's strength, anywhere in the world? Does Japan's homogeneous population cause the Japanese to suffer? Have the Balkans been blessed by their heterogeneity - or does the very word "Balkanization" remind us of centuries of strife, bloodshed and unspeakable atrocities, extending into our own times?

Has Europe become a safer place after importing vast numbers of people from the Middle East, with cultures hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization?

"When in Rome do as the Romans do" was once a common saying. Today, after generations in the West have been indoctrinated with the rhetoric of multiculturalism, the borders of Western nations on both sides of the Atlantic have been thrown open to people who think it is their prerogative to come as refugees and tell the Romans what to do - and to assault those who don't knuckle under to foreign religious standards.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Will Orlando Change Anything?" June 2016

Being a man, I find another disproportionality particularly disturbing. According to a recent study conducted by Bond University in Australia, sharks are nine times likelier to attack and kill men than they are women. Such a disproportionality leads to only one conclusion: Sharks are sexist. Another disturbing sex disparity is that despite the fact that men are 50 percent of the population and so are women, men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. Of those killed by lightning, 82 percent are men. I wonder what whoever is in charge of lightning has against men.

Differences are seen by many as signs of inequality. Nobel laureate Milton Friedman put it best: "A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both." Equality in conjunction with the general rules of law is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty that can be secured without destroying liberty.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Legal and Academic Equality Nonsense," August 2015

Now why might it be that men regard women as sex objects? Surely the ravenous purchase by females of stiletto heels, push-up bras, butt-hugging mini-skirts, plunging necklines, false eyelashes, hair extensions, breast implants, butt implants, lip implants, and mascara, rouge, and lipstick to the tune of billions a year has nothing to do with it. Females would never ever exploit their sexuality to seek attention from men.

Heather Lynn Mac Donald (b. 1956), American political commentator and journalist, "Trumped-Up Outrage," October 2016

In one of modern life’s bigger ironies, feminism has actually achieved the very opposite. In America today (as opposed to, let us say, Saudi Arabia, where it does take strength to be a feminist), the more stridently a woman identifies as a feminist, the less strong she is. Feminism has created what is undoubtedly the weakest generation of women in American history. My grandmother, who never heard the word "feminist" and who never graduated from high school, was incomparably stronger than almost any college-educated feminist I have ever personally encountered, or the many I have read and listened to.

My grandmother (and, I suspect, yours) would never have felt the need to retreat to a “safe space” when encountering an idea with which she differed. Yet we have a generation of young feminist women who are so weak that even if it is a woman who comes to their campus to argue, for example, that when all relevant factors are taken into account there is no gender wage gap, they seek the comfort of stuffed animals, balloons, and Play-Doh in “safe spaces.” They also need "trigger warnings" alerting them that they may read something that disturbs them.

Dennis Mark Prager (b. 1948), American talk-show host, columinst and author, "Feminism Makes Weak Women," November 2016

It could take a hundred years, or as little as a generation, to rediscover the freedom our Founders hammered into the U.S. Constitution. Much of our freedom has already been lost, but the rediscovery cannot even begin to emerge until the weight of government oppression grows too heavy to bear. Early Americans felt the weight of King George's oppression, until they could bear it no more. Then, they acted.

Not all of the early Americans had reached the tipping point in 1776. In fact, many, if not most of the people, preferred to suffer oppression by the king rather than pay the cost of freedom. Many, if not most, of the people in America today prefer to suffer governmental oppression rather than pay the cost of freedom. So far, governmental oppression is not too heavy; people can still do almost anything they wish - if they can get a permit.

Henry Lamb, "Freedom Isn't Free," World Net Daily, January 21, 2006

We Americans ought to keep the fact in mind that Hitler, Stalin and Mao would have had more success in their reign of terror if they had the kind of control and information about their citizens that agencies such as the NSA, the IRS and the ATF have about us. You might ask, "What are you saying, Williams?" Just put it this way: No German who died before 1930 would have believed the Holocaust possible.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "How to Assist Evil," April 2014

Liberals and progressives express alarm that there are an estimated 300 million privately held firearms in our country. Some have called for a national arms registry to be created to keep track of gun ownership. That's dangerous on at least two counts. Suppose there comes a time when a dictator takes over or a leader surrenders our nation. A dictator or foreign conqueror would love to have information on gun ownership. A tyrant would also like to take the IRS intact because of all the information held on Americans. As an aside, I would like to know what provisions there are to destroy such information if we ever have to surrender.

You say: "Williams, that's preposterous! A dictator or a foreign force could never take over our nation!" During the 1930s, the Germans or the French people might have said the same thing. Before 1945, the Japanese people would have said the same thing. By the way, yesteryear's Japanese were far tougher than today's soft Americans. It took only two relatively small atomic bombs to bring them to their knees. If a couple of our major cities were destroyed, a weak-kneed liberal/progressive president would surrender in a New York minute.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Liberal and Progressive Vision," October 2015

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809), American author, revolutionary, The American Crisis, No. 1, 1776

Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister, The Gathering Storm (vol. 1 of The Second World War), p. 348, 1948

I used to issue leaflets asking people to enlist as recruits. One of the arguments I had used was distasteful to the Commissioner: 'Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle class render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.' The Commissioner referred to this and said that he appreciated my presence in the conference in spite of the differences between us. And I had to justify my standpoint as courteously as I could.

Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869-1948), The Story of my Experiments with Truth - An Autobiography, 1927

Qui desiderat pacem, bellum praeparat
(Let him who desires peace prepare for war, more commonly rendered as
Si vis pacem, para bellum)

Flavius Vegetius Renatus (circa 360-400), Epitoma Rei Militari, circa 390

To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, First Annual Message, 1790

A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.

James Madison, (1751-1836), U.S. President, essay in the National Gazette, February 2, 1792

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, - is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philospher and economist, "The Contest in America," Dissertations and Discussions, vol. 1, p. 26 (1868), first published in Fraser's Magazine, February 1862

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

John Adams (1735-1826), U.S. President, letter to Abigail Adams, 1780

You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), American author, Time Enough for Love, 1973

History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, Address to the Nation, Jan 16, 1984

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered, at great human cost, wholly false.

Paul Bede Johnson (b. 1928), English historian, journalist author and speechwriter,
The Quotable Paul Johnson: A Topical Compilation of His Wit, Wisdom and Satire, 1994

When you start wiping out your history - sanitizing your history - to make you feel better, it’s a bad thing. I’m a firm believer in keeping your history before you. And so, I don’t actually want to rename things that were named for slave owners. I want us to have to look at the names and recognize what they did; and be able to tell our kids what they did and for them to have a sense of their own history.

Condoleezza Rice (b. 1954), U.S. Secretary of State and political scientist, interview on Fox and Friends, May 8, 2017

A willingness to fight can be a deterrence to attack and, conversely, an unwillingness to meet a challenge or provocation can make a nation a target for an all-out assault. "National honor" is simply an idiomatic expression for this long-run perspective on national interest, as distinguished from a one-day-at-a-time perspective, which may serve the short-run interests of politicians, by sparing them from making the hard decisions which distinguish a politician from a statesman. But many intellectuals have tried to reduce a sense of national honor, like patriotism, to a psychological quirk and certainly "a very insufficient reason for hostilities," in Godwin’s words. However, even British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the man most indelibly identified with the policy of appeasement of Hitler, belatedly seemed to acknowledge that national honor was consequential, just months before the Second World War began...

Despite a tendency in some intellectual circles to see the nation as just a subordinate part of the world at large - some acting, or even describing themselves, as citizens of the world - patriotism is, in one sense, little more than a recognition of the basic fact that one’s own material well-being, personal freedom, and sheer physical survival depend on the particular institutions, traditions and policies of the particular nation in which one lives. There is no comparable world government and, without the concrete institutions of government, there is nothing to be a citizen of or to have enforceable rights, however lofty or poetic it may sound to be a citizen of the world. When one’s fate is clearly recognized as dependent on the surrounding national framework - the institutions, traditions and norms of one’s country - then the preservation of that framework cannot be a matter of indifference while each individual pursues purely individual interests.

Patriotism is a recognition of a shared fate and the shared responsibilities that come with it. National honor is a recognition that one-day-at-a-time rationalism is a delusion that enables politicians to escape the responsibilities of statesmanship.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Adams, 1817

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

Aldous Leonard Huxley (1894-1963), British philosopher and author, "Case of Voluntary Ignorance" in Collected Essays, 1959

When you disarm your subjects you offend them by showing that either from cowardliness or lack of faith, you distrust them; and either conclusion will induce them to hate you.

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), The Prince, 1514

Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

John Adams (1735-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Taylor, 1814

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, A Little Book in C major (1916)

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, The Evening Sun [Baltimore], July 26, 1920

I have spoken hitherto of the possibility that democracy may be a self-limiting disease, like measles. It is, perhaps, something more: it is self-devouring. One cannot observe it objectively without being impressed by its curious distrust of itself - its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, Notes on Democracy, 1926

Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle - a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, The American Mercury, May 1930

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.

Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985), American essayist, columnist, poet and editor, The New Yorker, July 3, 1943

Successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular - not whether it will work well and prove itself but whether the active talking constituents like it immediately. Politicians rationalize this servitude by saying that in a democracy public men are the servants of the people.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), American journalist, The Public Philosophy, ch. 2, sct. 4, 1955

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams (1735-1826), U.S. President, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,
October 11, 1798

Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Ain't it funny how many hundreds of thousands of soldiers we can recruit with nerve. But we just can't find one politician in a million with backbone.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water until he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), British historian, Whig politician, "On Milton," Edinburgh Review, Aug. 1825

The maxim, that governments ought to train the people in the way in which they should go, sounds well. But is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people to fall into the right way of themselves?

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), British historian, Whig politician, Southey's Colloquies on Society, 1830

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789

The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institutions may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest of purposes. Should, hereafter, those who are intrusted with the management of this government, incited by the lust of power & prompted by the supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction & sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable - and if I may so express myself, that no wall of words - that no mound of parchmt can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, draft of a discarded and undelivered version of his first inaugural address, 1789

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, First Inaugural Address, 1789

The citizens of the United States of America have the right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of citizens that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 1790

Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reenactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Wayles Eppes, June 24, 1813

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

I... place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared... Taxation follows that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Letter to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, 1766

But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.

Adam Smith (1723-1790), Scottish economist and philosopher, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

North Korea's population density is 518 people per square mile, whereas South Korea's is more than double that, at 1,261 people per square mile. Hong Kong's population density is 16,444, whereas Somalia's is 36. Congo has 75 people per square mile, whereas Singapore has 18,513. Looking at the gross domestic products of these countries, one would have to be a lunatic to believe that smaller population density leads to greater riches. Here are some GDP data expressed in millions of U.S. dollars: North Korea ($17,396), South Korea ($1,411,246), Hong Kong ($320,668), Somalia ($5,707), Congo ($41,615) and Singapore ($296,967)...

The greatest threat to mankind's prosperity is government, not population growth. For example, Zimbabwe was agriculturally rich but, with government interference, was reduced to the brink of mass starvation. Any country faced with massive government interference can be brought to starvation. Blaming poverty on overpopulation not only lets governments off the hook but also encourages the enactment of harmful, inhumane policies.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Overpopulation Hoax," May 2017

Although the left likes to argue as if there was a stagnant world to which they added the magic ingredient of "change" in the 1960s, in reality there were many positive trends in the 1950s, which reversed and became negative trends in the 1960s.

Not only was the poverty rate going down, so was the rate of dependence on government to stay out of poverty. Teenage pregnancy rates were falling, and so were rates of venereal diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. Homicide rates among non-white males fell 22 percent in the 1950s.

In the wake of the massive expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s "war on poverty" program - with the repeatedly announced goal of enabling people to become self-supporting and end their dependence on government - in fact dependence on government increased and is today far higher than when the 1960s began.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Charlatans and Sheep, Part II" October, 2015

The people who are harmed by an increase in the minimum wage are low-skilled workers. Try this question to economists who argue against the unemployment effect of raising the minimum wage: Is it likely that an employer would find it in his interests to pay a worker $15 an hour when that worker has skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value an hour to the employer's output? Unlike my fellow economists who might argue to the contrary, I would say that most employers would view hiring such a worker as a losing economic proposition, but they might hire him at $5 an hour. Thus, one effect of the minimum wage law is that of discrimination against the employment of low-skilled workers.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Minimum Wage Dishonesty," January 2016

Here's a question for those of us who support trade restrictions in the name of saving jobs: In whose pockets did most of the $1.1 billion that Americans paid in higher prices go? It surely did not reach tire workers in the form of higher wages. According to the Peterson Institute study, "most of the money extracted by protection from household budgets goes to corporate coffers, at home or abroad, not paychecks of American workers. In the case of tire protection, our estimates indicate that fewer than 5 percent of the consumer costs per job saved reached the pockets of American workers." There is another side to this. When households have to pay higher prices for tires, they have less money to spend on other items - such as food, clothing and entertainment - thereby reducing employment in those industries.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "There's Nothing Free," February 2017

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, 1966

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), "Intermission: Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long," Time Enough for Love, 1973

How did our national government grow from a servant with sharply limited powers into a master with virtually unlimited power? In part, we were swindled. There are occasions when we have elevated men and political parties to power that promised to restore limited government and then proceeded, after their election, to expand the activities of government. But let us be honest with ourselves. Broken promises are not the major causes of our trouble. Kept promises are. All too often we have put men in office who have suggested spending a little more on this, a little more on that, who have proposed a new welfare program, who have thought of another variety of "security." We have taken the bait, preferring to put off to another day the recapture of freedom and the restoration of our constitutional system. We have gone the way of many a democratic society that has lost its freedom by persuading itself that if "the people" rule, all is well.

Barry M. Goldwater (1909-1998), U.S. senator, presidential nominee, The Conscience of a Conservative, 1960

The American people aren't undertaxed; the Government in Washington is overfed. You know, I sometimes think that the main difference between ourselves and the other side is we see an America where every day is the Fourth of July, and they see an America where every day is April 15th.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally, Endicott NY, Sep 12, 1984

With all the talk about people paying their "fair share" of income taxes, why do nearly half the people in this country pay no income taxes at all? Is that their "fair share"? Or is creating more recipients of government handouts, at no cost to themselves, simply a strategy to gain more votes?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," April, 2012

When politicians say, "spread the wealth," translate that as "concentrate the power," because that is the only way they can spread the wealth. And once they get the power concentrated, they can do anything else they want to, as people have discovered - often to their horror - in countries around the world.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," April, 2012

Increasing numbers of people seem to have convinced themselves that they are entitled to a "fair share" of what someone else has earned. Whole nations now seem to think that they should be bailed out from the consequences of their own reckless spending by nations that lived within their means.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," July, 2012

When someone tries to lay a guilt trip on you for being successful, remember that your guilt is some politician's license to take what you worked for and give it to someone else who is more likely to vote for the politician who plays Santa Claus with your money.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," January, 2015

Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama’s rhetoric, these producers are called "society’s lottery winners."

Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?

Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don’t want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want "the rich" to pay their undefined "fair share" of taxes. This "fair share" must remain undefined because all it really means is "more."

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Just Asking," May, 2015

What a "fair share" of taxes means in practice is simply "more." No matter how high the tax rate is on people with a given income, you can always raise the tax rate further by saying that they are still not paying their "fair share."

...This ignores mountains of evidence, going back for generations, showing that raising tax rates does not automatically mean raising tax revenues - and has often actually led to falling tax revenues. A fantasy expressed in numbers is still a fantasy.

When the state of Maryland raised its tax rate on people with incomes of a million dollars a year or more, the number of such people living in Maryland fell from nearly 8,000 to fewer than 6,000. Although it had been projected that the tax revenue collected from such people in Maryland would rise by $106 million, instead these revenues FELL by $257 million.

There was a similar reaction in Oregon and in Britain. Rich people do not simply stand still to be sheared like sheep. They can either send their money somewhere else or they can leave themselves.

Currently, there are trillions of dollars of American money creating jobs overseas, in places where tax rates are lower. It is easy to transfer money electronically from country to country. But it is not nearly so easy for unemployed American workers to transfer themselves to where the jobs have been driven by high tax rates.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Politicians' Words," October, 2015

Free college of course has an appeal to the young, especially those who have never studied economics. But college cannot possibly be free. It would not be free even if there was no such thing as money...

More fundamentally, making all sorts of other things "free" means more of those things being wasted as well. Even worse, it means putting more and more of the decisions that shape our lives into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats who control the purse strings.

Obamacare has given us a foretaste of what that means in reality, despite how wonderful it may sound in political rhetoric.

Worst of all, government giveaways polarize society into segments, each trying to get what it wants at somebody else's expense, creating mutual bitterness that can tear a society apart. Some seem to blithely assume that "the rich" can be taxed to pay for what they want - as if "the rich" don't see what is coming and take their wealth elsewhere.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Lure of Socialism," February, 2016

History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, Emblematical Representation, circa 1774

Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), Time Enough for Love, 1973

You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream - the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order - or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, "A Time for Choosing," speech, October 27, 1964

Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the - or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, "A Time for Choosing," speech, October 27, 1964

Observe that both "socialism" and "fascism" involve the issue of property rights. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Observe the difference in those two theories: socialism negates private property rights altogether, and advocates "the vesting of ownership and control" in the community as a whole, i.e., in the state; fascism leaves ownership in the hands of private individuals, but transfers control of the property to the government.

Ownership without control is a contradiction in terms: it means “property,” without the right to use it or to dispose of it. It means that the citizens retain the responsibility of holding property, without any of its advantages, while the government acquires all the advantages without any of the responsibility.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus," 1965

Let anyone who believes that a high standard of living is the achievement of labor unions and government controls ask himself the following question: If one had a "time machine" and transported the united labor chieftains of America, plus three million government bureaucrats, back to the tenth century - would they be able to provide the medieval serf with electric light, refrigerators, automobiles, and television sets?

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 1966

...If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it's all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person's home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one's range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard - halfway around the world - for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Leonard Edward Read (1898-1983), American economic philosopher, "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read," December 1958

Resentment is at work when one so hates somebody for his more favorable circumstances that one is prepared to bear heavy losses if only the hated one might also come to harm. Many of those who attack capitalism know very well that their situation under any other economic system will be less favorable.

Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973), Austro-Hungarian philosopher, economist and sociologist, The Anit-Capitalistic Mentality, 1972

[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few.

John Adams (1735-1826), U.S. President, "An Essay on Man's Lust for Power," 1763

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.

John Adams (1735-1826), U.S. President, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

What many conceive of as freedom today is much more like anarchy: Who are the police to tell them what they cannot do?

But anarchy does not mean freedom. It means that people "become the slaves of ruffians." What was said in 19th century Britain remains painfully true in too many crime-ridden neighborhoods in 21st century America.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "What Are We Celebrating?" July 2016

Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.

George Mason (1725-1792), American statesman, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1788

Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than of your state.

George Mason (1725-1792), American statesman, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 14, 1788

How prone all human institutions have been to decay; how subject the best-formed and most wisely organized governments have been to lose their check and totally dissolve; how difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.

James Monroe (1758-1831), U.S. President, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail-maker.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Jean Nicolas Démeunier, 1795

I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), U.S. President, Speech on Taxes, Liberty, and the Philosophy of Government, Washington, D.C., August 11, 1924

The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be more successful.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), U.S. President, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1925

Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister, speech at Zurich University, September 19, 1946

Government spending cannot create additional jobs. If the government provides the funds required by taxing the citizens or by borrowing from the public, it abolishes on the one hand as many jobs as it creates on the other. If government spending is financed by borrowing from the commercial banks, it means credit expansion and inflation. If in the course of such an inflation the rise in commodity prices exceeds the rise in nominal wage rates, unemployment will drop. But what makes unemployment shrink is precisely the fact that real wage rates are falling.

Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973), Austro-Hungarian philosopher, economist and sociologist,
Epilogue (originally published as Planned Chaos), 1947

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman and author

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law - which may be an isolated case - is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman and author, The Law, 1850

Suppose there is an elderly widow in your neighborhood. She does not have the strength to mow her lawn, clean her windows and perform other household tasks. Plus she does not have the financial means to hire someone to perform them. Here is my question: Would you support a government mandate that forces one of your neighbors to mow the widow's lawn, clean her windows and perform other household tasks? ...

Most Americans would want to help this widow, but they would find anything that openly smacks of servitude or slavery deeply offensive. They would have a clearer conscience if government would use its taxing authority, say an income tax or property tax. A government agency could then send the widow a $50 check to hire someone to mow her lawn and perform other household tasks. This collective mechanism would make the servitude invisible, but it wouldn't change the fact that people are being forcibly used to serve the purposes of others. Putting the money into a government pot simply conceals an act that would otherwise be deemed morally repulsive...

If one American can use government to force another to serve his purpose, what is the basis for denying another American the right to do the same thing? For example, if farmers are able to use Congress to give them cash for crop subsidies, why should toymakers be denied the right for Congress to give them cash subsidies when their sales slump?

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Immorality and Contempt for Liberty," December 2015

Our demagogues also claim that corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. The fact of the matter, which even leftist economists understand but might not publicly admit, is corporations do not pay taxes. An important subject area in economics, called tax incidence, says the entity upon whom a tax is levied does not necessarily bear the full burden of the tax. Some of the tax burden can be shifted to another party. If a tax is levied on a corporation, and if the corporation hopes to survive, it will have one of three responses to that tax or some combination thereof. It will raise the price of its product, lower dividends or lay off workers. In each case a flesh-and-blood person is made worse off. The important point is that a corporation is a legal fiction and as such does not pay taxes. As it turns out, corporations are merely tax collectors for the government.

Politicians love to trick people by suggesting that they will not impose taxes on them but on some other entity instead. To demonstrate the trick, suppose you are a homeowner and a politician tells you that he is not going to tax you, he is just going to tax your land. You would easily see the political chicanery. Land cannot and does not pay taxes. Again, only people pay taxes.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "What Is the Fair Share of Taxes?" March 2016

As human beings, we all have certain natural rights. Of the rights we possess, we have a right to delegate them to government. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Because we possess that right, we can delegate it to government. By contrast, I do not have a right to take one person's earnings to give to another. Because I have no such right, I cannot delegate it to government. If I did take your earnings to provide medical services for another, it would rightfully be described and condemned as an act of theft. When government does the same, it's still theft, albeit legalized theft.

If you're a Christian or a Jew, you should be against these so-called rights. When God gave Moses the eighth commandment - "Thou shalt not steal" - I am sure that he did not mean "thou shalt not steal unless there is a majority vote in Congress." The bottom line is medical care, housing and decent jobs are not rights at all, at least not in a free society; they are wishes. As such, I would agree with most Americans - because I, too, wish that everyone had good medical care, decent housing and a good job.

Walter Edward Williams (b. 1936), American economist and commentator, "Rights Versus Wishes," April 2016

That which fundamentally distinguishes the slave is that he labors under coercion to satisfy another's desires. The relation admits of many gradations. Oppressive taxation is a form of slavery of the individual to the community as a whole. The essential question is - How much is he compelled to labor for other benefit than his own, and how much can he labor for his own benefit?

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist and sociologist, Man Versus the State, 1884

The Republican form of government is the highest form of government; but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature - a type nowhere at present existing.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist and sociologist, Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative,
Vol. 3, Ch. XV, The Americans, 1891

How should it happen that the individual should be without rights, but the combination of individuals should possess unlimited rights?

Auberon Edward William Molyneux Herbert (1838-1906), English writer, philosopher and Member of Parliament

Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a close look at the American Indian.

Attributed to Henry Ford (1863-1947), American industrialist

The trouble is the Communists got their theories out of a book by that guy Marx. He was like one of those efficiency experts; he could explain to you how you could save a million dollars, and he couldn't save enough himself to eat on.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, remarks in Arlington VA, Sep 25, 1987

It would not be difficult to put the Marxian exploitation thesis to a test. If capitalists' exploitation of the workers is what makes them poor, then in countries run by Marxists, the workers should have a higher standard of living than in countries with a capitalist economic system.

But among the many Communist countries that emerged around the world in the 20th century, there has not been a single one where the workers' standard of living has been as high as that of working people in the United States.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The Left and the Masses, Part III," October 2016

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.

Attributed to Milton Friedman (1912-2006), American economist, professor and author

Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink, and make the combination worthless.

Attributed to Milton Friedman (1912-2006), American economist, professor and author

I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.

Attributed to Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President

The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

Joan Robinson (1903-1983), British economist, Contributions to Modern Economics, Chapter 7, "Marx, Marshall and Keynes," 1978

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, In Defense of Women, 1918

The state - or, to make matters more concrete, the government - consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, Prejudices, First Series, 1919

Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent - the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, preface to the first edition
The American Credo: A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind, 1920

The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto "In God we trust" were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, "verboten," substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, The American Credo:
A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind
, 1920

The strange American ardor for passing laws, the insane belief in regulation and punishment, plays into the hands of the reformers, most of them quacks themselves. Their efforts, even when honest, seldom accomplish any appreciable good. The Harrison Act, despite its cruel provisions, has not diminished drug addiction in the slightest. The Mormons, after years of persecution, are still Mormons, and one of them is now a power in the Senate. Socialism in the United States was not laid by the Espionage Act; it was laid by the fact that the socialists, during the war, got their fair share of the loot. Nor was the stately progress of osteopathy and chiropractic halted by the early efforts to put them down. Oppressive laws do not destroy minorities; they simply make bootleggers.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, editorial in The American Mercury, May 1924

No one in this world, so far as I know - and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me - has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

(Often paraphrased as "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.")

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, "Notes on Journalism"
Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1926

Any frontal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession - their ignorance.

Attributed to Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882-1944), Dutch-American historian, journalist and author

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!

Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973), Austro-Hungarian philosopher, economist and sociologist, Bureaucracy, 1944

People who call themselves “progressives” assert not merely that they are for changes but that these are beneficial changes - that is, progress. But other people who advocate other very different changes likewise proclaim those to be changes for the better. In other words, everybody is a “progressive” by their own lights. That some people should imagine that they are peculiarly in favor of progress is not only another example of self-flattery but also of an evasion of the work of trying to show, with evidence and analysis, where and why their particular proposed changes would produce better end results than other people’s proposed changes. Instead, proponents of other changes have been dismissed by many, including John Dewey, as “apologists for the status quo.”

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

I am so old that I can remember when liberals were liberal, and when common decency was actually common.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," November 2016

When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice.

Attributed to Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1815-1809), German Chancellor

Politics is the art by which politicians obtain campaign contributions from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting each from the other.

Oscar Ameringer (1870-1943), German-American Socialist organizer, If You Don't Weaken, 1940

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright and critic, Everybody's Political What's What? Chapter 30, p. 256, 1944

The vocabulary of the political left is fascinating. For example, it is considered to be "materialistic" and "greedy" to want to keep what you have earned. But it is "idealistic" to want to take away what someone else has earned and spend it for your own political benefit or to feel good about yourself.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," March 2011

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, 1st Baron Acton, better known as Lord Acton (1834-1902), letter to Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887

It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), American philosopher. The Passionate State of Mind, aph. 41, 1955

The corruption inherent in absolute power derives from the fact that such power is never free from the tendency to turn man into a thing, and press him back into the matrix of nature from which he has risen. For the impulse of power is to turn every variable into a constant, and give to commands the inexorableness and relentlessness of laws of nature. Hence absolute power corrupts even when exercised for humane purposes. The benevolent despot who sees himself as a shepherd of the people still demands from others the submissiveness of sheep. The taint inherent in absolute power is not its inhumanity but its anti-humanity..

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983), American philosopher. The Ordeal of Change, Chapter 15, 1963

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Barry M. Goldwater (1909-1998), U.S. senator, presidential nominee, acceptance speech at the 28th Republican convention, July 16, 1964

The principle feature of contemporary American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things - war and hunger and date rape - liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. People who care a lot are naturally superior to we who don't care any more than we have to. By virtue of this superiority the caring have a moral right to lead the nation. It's a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don't have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal. Kidnapping the moral high ground also serves to inflate liberal ranks. People who are, in fact, just kindhearted are told that because they care, they must be liberals, too.

P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947), American journalist. Give War a Chance, Introduction, 1992

...If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values and other features of the tragic vision, then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation resulting from those beliefs. But to be for "social justice" and "saving the environment," or to be "anti-war" is more than just a set of beliefs about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate, someone who is for peace in the world, a defender of the downtrodden, and someone who wants to preserve the beauty of nature and save the planet from being polluted by others less caring. In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other vision does not. These visions are not symmetrical.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, Intellectuals and Society, 2009

Conservative. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914), American author, The Cynic's Word Book, 1906, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm - but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), American-English poet, playwright, critic and editor, The Cocktail Party, 1949

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), Irish author, lay theologian, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology), published 1979

All this threatens us even if the form of society which our needs point to should prove an unparalleled success. But is that certain? What assurance have we that our masters will or can keep the promise which induced us to sell ourselves? Let us not be deceived by phrases about 'Man taking charge of his own destiny'. All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of the others. They will be simply men; none perfect; some greedy, cruel and dishonest. The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be. Have we discovered some new reason why, this time, power should not corrupt as it has done before?

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963), Irish author, lay theologian, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology), published 1979

The world is a dangerous place to live - not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

Paraphrased from Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Patrick Henry (1736-1799), American statestman, speech to the Virginia Convention, 1775

It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to M. Pictet, 1803

No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to John Tyler, 1804

During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation.

Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth - whether a government, conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation. The experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow citizens have looked on, cool and collected; they saw the latent source from which these outrages proceeded; they gathered around their public functionaries, and when the constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict, honorable to those who had served them, and consolatory to the friend of man, who believes he may be intrusted with his own affairs.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Second Inaugural Address, 1805

The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

John Swinton ((1829-1901), Scottish-American journalist, speech at a banquet to honor him, probably in 1880

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common.

Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer, The Ball and the Cross, part IV: "A Discussion at Dawn," 1909

A newspaper has three things to do. One is to amuse, another is to entertain and the rest is to mislead.

Ernest Bevin (1881-1951), British Foreign Minister, speech at the London Conference of Foreign Ministers, Feb. 10, 1946,
quoted in The Barnes Review, vol. 5, no. 3, May/June 1999, p. 29

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.

Attributed to Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (1900-1965), American politician, statesman

It was when "reporters" became "journalists" and when "objectivity" gave way to "searching for truth," that an aura of distrust and fear arose around the New Journalist.

Georgie Anne Geyer (b. 1935), American author, columnist. "Whatever Happened to Lois Lane?" Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1979

Everybody is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister "The Coalmining Situation,"
Speech to the House of Commons, October 13, 1943

Many people take pride in defying the conventions of society. Those conventions of society are also known as civilization. Defying them wholesale means going back to barbarism. Barbarians with electronic devices are still barbarians.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," November 2013

For the use of laws (which are but rules authorized) is not to bind the people from all voluntary actions, but to direct and keep them in such a motion as not to hurt themselves by their own impetuous desires, rashness, or indiscretion; as hedges are set, not to stop travellers, but to keep them in the way. And therefore a law that is not needful, having not the true end of a law, is not good. A law may be conceived to be good when it is for the benefit of the sovereign, though it be not necessary for the people, but it is not so. For the good of the sovereign and people cannot be separated. It is a weak sovereign that has weak subjects; and a weak people whose sovereign wanteth power to rule them at his will. Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money which, where the right of sovereign power is acknowledged, are superfluous; and where it is not acknowledged, insufficient to defend the people.

Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (1588-1679), English philosopher,
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, Chapter XXX, 1651

The wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, poet, philosopher, Essays, "Politics," Second Series, 1844

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in the United States is closely connected with this.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), theoretical physicist, My First Impressions of the U.S.A., 1921

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means - to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal - would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941), U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice,
dissenting in Olmstead v. United States, 1928

Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws, or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence.

Tom Campbell Clark (1899-1977), U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice, Mapp v. Ohio, 1961

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.

Attributed to Thomas B. Reed (1839-1902), Speaker of the House, 51st, 54th and 55th U.S. Congresses, 1886

Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

There is good news from Washington today. The Congress is deadlocked and can't act.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

There should be a tax on every man that wanted to get a government appointment, or be elected to office. In two years that tax alone would pay our national debt.

Attributed to William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist

The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.

William ("Will") Penn Adair Rogers (1879-1935), American humorist, The Illiterate Digest, 1924

Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven't been taxed before.

Atributed to Arthur "Art" Buchwald (1925-2007), American humorist and newspaper columnist

Too many people in Washington are full of themselves, among other things that they are full of.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," August 2014

He that falls in love with himself, will have no Rivals.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1739

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.

William Burroughs (1914-1997), taped conversation (published in Grand Street, no. 37)

We should establish shooting galleries in all the large public and military schools, should maintain national target ranges in different parts of the country, and should in every way encourage the formation of rifle clubs throughout all parts of the land. The little Republic of Switzerland offers us an excellent example in all matters connected with building up an efficient citizen soldiery.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. President, Sixth Annual Message to Congress, December 6, 1906

Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.

Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), American physician and politician, letter to His Fellow Countrymen: On Patriotism, 1773

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.

Noah Webster (1758-1843), American lexicographer and author, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788

It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.

George Washington (1732-1799), U.S. President, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, 1789

It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government.

Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), American writer, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805

Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.

Joseph Story (1779-1845), U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

The reason this country continues its drift toward socialism and big nanny government is because too many people vote in the expectation of getting something for nothing, not because they have a concern for what is good for the country. A better educated electorate might change the reason many persons vote. If children were forced to learn about the Constitution, about how government works, about how this nation came into being, about taxes and about how government forever threatens the cause of liberty perhaps we wouldn't see so many foolish ideas coming out of the mouths of silly old men.

Attributed to Franklyn Curran "Lyn" Nofziger (1924-2006), American journalist, political consultant and author

Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new wonderful good society which shall now be Rome's, interpreted to mean more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.

Attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), Roman philosopher, statesman, in "Cicero's Prognosis," speech by Justice Millard F. Caldwell (Florida Supreme Court) to the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Columbus OH, October 1965

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.

Edmund Burke (1729-97), Irish philosopher, statesman, letter, April 3, 1777, to the Sheriffs of Bristol

Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790),American statesman, scientist, quoted in Poor Richard's Alamanck, 1738

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to gain a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790),American statesman, scientist, as quoted by Richard Jackson on the title page of
An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, 1759

Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804). U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Federalist, No. 1, 1787

Eeconomic control is not merely control of a sector of human life that can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rated higher and which lower, in short, what men should believe and strive for.

Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Austrian economist, The Road to Serfdom, 1944

That proposals of this sort have in the past proved so little acceptable is due to the fact that those who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so...

Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Austrian economist, The Road to Serfdom, 1944

From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one or the other, but not both at the same time. The equality before the law which freedom requires leads to material inequality. Our argument will be that, though where the state must use coercion for other reasons, it should treat all people alike, the desire of making people more alike in their condition cannot be accepted in a free society as a justification for further and discriminatory coercion.

Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Austrian economist, "Equality, Value, and Merit" in The Constitution of Libery, 1960

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), British Prime Minister, Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941), U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice,
dissenting in Olmstead v. United States, 1928

Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of "emergency." It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And "emergency" became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.

Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964), U.S. President, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Great Depression, 1929-1941, 1952

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

Albert Camus (1913-1960), French author and philosopher, speech delivered December 7, 1955

Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: "Things must change - no matter how, Anything is better than what we have." Totalitarian rulers organize this kind of mass sentiment, and by organizing it articulate it, and by articulating it make the people somehow love it. They were told before, thou shalt not kill; and they didn’t kill. Now they are told, thou shalt kill; and although they think it’s very difficult to kill, they do it because it’s now part of the code of behavior. They learn whom to kill and how to kill and how to do it together. This is the much talked about Gleichschaltung - the coordination process. You are coordinated not with the powers that be, but with your neighbor - coordinated with the majority. But instead of communicating with the other you are now glued to him. And you feel of course marvelous. Totalitarianism appeals to the very dangerous emotional needs of people who live in complete isolation and in fear of one another.

Johanna "Hannah" Arendt (1906-1975), German-American political theorist, from 1974 interview with Roger Errera,
published in The NewYork Review of Books Interview, October 26, 1978

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve. This is true even of the pious brethren who carry the gospel to foreign parts.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, published 1956

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They'll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969), U.S. President, speech to luncheon clubs, Galveston TX, December 8, 1949,
The New York Times, December 9, 1949, p. 23

A "liberal paradise" would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed exist... It's called prison.

Attributed to Joseph M. "Joe" Arpaio (b. 1932), sheriff of Maricopa County AZ, circa 2012

Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset telling our children and our children's children what is was once like in the United States where men were free.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004), U.S. President, address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, March 30, 1961

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, letter to Archibald Stewart, December 23, 1791

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man's haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country.

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, from an essay in The Advertiser, 1748

Hence as a private man has a right to say what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a community to determine what they will give and grant of their substance for the administration of public affairs.

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, The Rights of the Colonists, The Report of the
Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, November 20, 1772

No people will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and virtue is preserved. On the contrary, when people are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders.

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, letter to James Warren, 1775

...If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom - go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, speech to the State House in Philadelphia, August 1, 1776

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, letter to James Warren, 1779

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

Samuel Adams (1722-1803), American statesman, in the Boston Gazette, 1781

Despite many people who urge us all to vote, as a civic duty, the purpose of elections is not participation. The purpose is to select individuals for offices, including President of the United States. Whoever has that office has our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the fate of the entire nation in his or her hands.

An election is not a popularity contest, or an award for showmanship. If you want to fulfill your duty as a citizen, then you need to become an informed voter. And if you are not informed, then the most patriotic thing you can do on election day is stay home. Otherwise your vote, based on whims or emotions, is playing Russian roulette with the fate of this nation.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Why Have Elections?" September 2015

What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it…

Billings Learned Hand (1872-1961), U.S. federal judge, judicial philosopher, "The Spirit of Liberty,"
speech at "I Am an American Day" ceremony, New York City, May 21, 1944

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Barry M. Goldwater (1909-1998), U.S. senator, presidential nominee, acceptance speech at the 28th Republican convention,
July 16, 1964, reportedly paraphrased from Marcus Tullio Cicero

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941), American singer, songwriter. Interview in booklet accompanying the Biograph album set, 1985

Every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.

George S. Patton, Jr. (1885-1945), U.S. general, speech to the Third Army, June 5, 1944

The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It's the age-old struggle - the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.

Attributed to Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), U.S. general

Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.

Attributed to Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English author

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.

Andrew Jackson (1767-1865), quoted as "a maxim of Gen. Jackson's" in Supplement to the Courant
Vol. XXII No. 25, Hartford, Saturday, December 12, 1857

Everybody has a plan until they get hit.

Mike Tyson (b. 1966), American professional boxer, October 1987

Well, in the first place an armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization. That's a personal evaluation only. But gunfighting has a strong biological use. We do not have enough things that kill off the weak and the stupid these days. But to stay alive as an armed citizen a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both. It's a good thing.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), spoken by Mordan Claude in Beyond This Horizon, 1942

As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), spoken by Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois (Ret.) in Starship Troopers, 1959

...The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man...

The idea came to me then, vaguely but unmistakably, that if the primary intention of government was not to abolish crime but merely to monopolize crime, no better device could be found for doing it than the inculcation of precisely this frame of mind in the officials and in the public; for the effect of this was to exempt both from any allegiance to those sanctions of humanity or decency which anyone of either class, acting as an individual, would have felt himself bound to respect - nay, would have wished to respect.

Albert Jay Nock (1870 - 1945), American author, "Anarchist's Progress" in The American Mercury (1927);
§ III: To Abolish Crime or to Monopolize It?

"Did you really think we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken...There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law breakers - and then you cash in on guilt."

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), spoken by Dr. Floyd Ferris in Atlas Shrugged, 1957

We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. President, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1782

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.

James Wilson (1742-1798), American jurist, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790

The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.

James Wilson (1742-1798), American jurist, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790

Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness.

James Wilson (1742-1798), American jurist, Of the Study of the Law in the United States, 1790

The opinion has been very general, that, in order to obtain the blessings of a good government, a sacrifice must be made of a part of our natural liberty. I am much inclined to believe, that, upon examination, this opinion will prove to be fallacious.

James Wilson (1742-1798), American jurist, Lectures on Law, 1790

There is not in the whole science of politics a more solid or a more important maxim than this - that of all governments, those are the best, which, by the natural effect of their constitutions, are frequently renewed or drawn back to their first principles.

James Wilson (1742-1798), American jurist, Lectures on Law, 1791

[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.

Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), American physician and politician, letter to David Ramsay, circa April 1788

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Irish writer, satirist, A Critical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind, 1707

You can hire logic, in the shape of a lawyer, to prove anything that you want to prove.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894), American physician, writer and poet, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, 1858

The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), spoken by Sewell Endicott, in The Long Goodbye, 1953

As a result of "evolving standards" and "nuanced" judicial decisions, we no longer have clear-cut rights. We have a ticket to a crapshoot in a courtroom. That ticket is worth a lot more to those with slick lawyers than to ordinary citizens.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," August 2005

However fascinated the U.S. Supreme Court may be with the concept of "diversity," every one of the 9 justices has a degree from one of the 8 Ivy League institutions, out of the thousands of institutions of higher learning in this country. How diverse is that?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," February 2014

Will a Supreme Court without a single Protestant justice rule that an "under-representation" of any group is evidence of discrimination?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," March 2016

Many people are looking at the recent Supreme Court decisions about ObamaCare and same-sex marriage in terms of whether they think these are good or bad policies. That is certainly a legitimate concern, for both those who favor those policies and those who oppose them...

But there is a deeper and more long-lasting impact of these decisions that raise the question whether we are still living in America, where "we the people" are supposed to decide what kind of society we want, not have our betters impose their notions on us.

When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, "we the people" are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our "public servants" are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Supreme Court Disasters," June 2015

Trial. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors. In order to effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person of one who is called the defendant, the prisoner or the accused. If the contrast is made sufficiently clear this person is made to undergo such an affliction as will give the virtuous gentlemen a comfortable sense of their immunity, added to that of their worth...

Appeal. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914), American author, The Cynic's Word Book, 1906, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

If he who breaks the law is not punished, he who obeys it is cheated. This, and this alone, is why lawbreakers ought to be punished: to authenticate as good, and to encourage as useful, law-abiding behavior. The aim of criminal law cannot be correction or deterrence; it can only be the maintenance of the legal order.

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012), American psychiatrist. "Punishment," The Second Sin, 1973

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. One of the big problems that those who are pushing "comprehensive immigration reform" want solved is how to help people who came here illegally and are now "living in the shadows" as a result.

What about embezzlers or burglars who are "living in the shadows" in fear that someone will discover their crimes? Why not "reform" the laws against embezzlement or burglary, so that such people can also come out of the shadows?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, ""Republicans to the Rescue?" February 4, 2014

Historians of the future, when they look back on our times, may be completely baffled when trying to understand how Western civilization welcomed vast numbers of people hostile to the fundamental values of Western civilization, people who had been taught that they have a right to kill those who do not share their beliefs.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, ""Random Thoughts" March 4, 2016

It would not be unjust to ask of every alien: What will you contribute to the common good, once you are admitted through the gates of liberty? Our history is full of answers of which we might be justly proud. But of late, the answers have not been so readily or so eloquently given. Our country must cease to be regarded as a dumping ground.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), U.S. President, "Whose Country Is This?" Good Housekeeping Magazine, February 1921

Men are not governed by justice, but by law or persuasion. When they refuse to be governed by law or persuasion, they have to be governed by force or fraud, or both.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright and critic, spoken by Lord Summerhays, in Misalliance, 1910

There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns.

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Philosophy: Who Needs It, 1982

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe, 1920-1936, p. 279

The only guarantee of the Bill of Rights which continues to have any force and effect is the one prohibiting quartering troops on citizens in time of peace. All the rest have been disposed of by judicial interpretation and legislative whittling. Probably the worst thing that has happened in America in my time is the decay of confidence in the courts. No one can be sure any more that in a given case they will uphold the plainest mandate of the Constitution. On the contrary, everyone begins to be more or less convinced in advance that they won't. Judges are chosen not because they know the Constitution and are in favor of it, but precisely because they appear to be against it.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, published 1956

A policeman is a charlatan who offers, in return for obedience, to protect him (a) from his superiors, (b) from his equals, and (c) from himself. This last service, under democracy, is commonly the most esteemed of them all. In the United States, at least theoretically, it is the only thing that keeps ice-wagon drivers, Y.M.C.A. secretaries, insurance collectors and other such human camels from smoking opium, ruining themselves in the night clubs, and going to Palm Beach with Follies girls.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, Notes on Democracy, 1926

Do the people who are always demanding that there be more "training" for police ever say that the hoodlums that the police have to deal with should have had more training by their parents, instead of being allowed to grow wild, like weeds?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," August 2015

People who are willing to consider virtually any conceivable excuse for criminals' acts cut no slack at all for decisions that police have to make in a split second, at the risk of their lives. For some people, it is not enough that cops put themselves at risk to protect the rest of us. They want cops to risk their lives for the sake of handling criminals more gently.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," March 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
(Who watches the watchers?)

Attributed to Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, Roman poet active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), American psychologist, The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance, 1966

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), "Intermission: Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long," Time Enough for Love, 1973

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.

Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), American editor, author and critic, "The Divine Afflatus," New York Evening Mail, November 16, 1917

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.

Attributed to Jean Giraudoux (1882 - 1944), French diplomat, dramatist, novelist

It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.

Attributed to Noël Peirce Coward (1899-1973), English actor, playwright, composer

Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American statesman, scientist, Autobiography, 1771

The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society except their constant criticisms can feel both intellectually and morally superior.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Random Thoughts," June 2006

Only the mediocre are always at their best.

Attributed to Jean Giraudoux (1882 - 1944), French diplomat, dramatist, novelist

William John Henry Boetcker (1873-1962), American minister, motivational speaker, The Ten Cannots, 1916


In countries around the world, and for centuries of recorded history, people living up in the mountains have usually been poorer than people living on the land below. Does this mean that people in the lowlands have somehow been robbing mountain people? Or does it mean that the circumstances of people living in mountains have usually been less promising than the circumstances of others?

If poverty among blacks is due to whites, why has the poverty rate among black married couples been in single digits every year since 1994, despite far higher poverty rates among other blacks? Do most white employers even know - or care - which blacks are married?

When the imprisonment rate of blacks with a college education is a fraction of the imprisonment rate of other blacks, does that mean that white cops check out the education of blacks before they decide to arrest them?

Or does it mean that blacks who have chosen one way of life have very different prospects than those who have chosen a very different way of life - as is true among whites, Asians, Hispanics and others?

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "Paranoid Politics," February 2016


Although many people regard these "disparate impact" statistics as evidence, or virtually proof, of racial discrimination, suppose that I should tell you that black basketball players are penalized by NBA referees out of all proportion to the 13 percent that blacks are in the American population.

"Wait a minute!" you might respond. "Blacks are more than just 13 percent of the players in the NBA."

Black basketball players are several times more numerous than 13 percent of all NBA players. This is especially so among the star players, who are more likely to be on the floor, rather than sitting on the bench. And players on the floor most are the ones most likely to get penalized.

Thomas Sowell (b. 1930), American economist and writer, "The War on Cops, Part II," July 2016


...If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American clergyman and activist, speech at Barratt Junior High School, Philadelphia, October 26, 1967


I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don't believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn't want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn't know how to return the treatment.

Malcolm X (1925-1965), speech, December 12, 1964, New York City

The Gadsden Flag

Arguably the first official American flag, the Gadsden flag was presented to Commodore Esek Hopkins, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy, by Colonel Christopher Gadsden in 1775. Gadsden was South Carolina's representative to the Continental Congress and he also presented a copy of the flag to his own state's legislature. This flag probably preceded the First Navy Jack, which features an uncoiled rattlesnake on a background of thirteen stripes with the same motto. (More details are available at the Founding Fathers site.)


The Arizona Flag

The Arizona flag not only predates statehood, it is linked to the territory's and the state's tradition of the right to keep and bear arms. It was designed by Col. Charles W. Harris, territorial adjutant-general, for display by the territorial rifle team at the 1911 National Rifle Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. The 1910 team had complained that they were the only team that had not had a flag to fly at that year's matches. The original flag, carried by the team, was sewn by Nan D. Hayden. The design incorporates red and yellow, the colors of the Spanish conquistadores; blue and yellow, the Arizona colors; and a copper star, in honor of the territory's position as the nation's leading producer of copper. A flag of this design was presented by a group of citizens to the captain and crew of the USS Arizona when that battleship was commissioned in 1916. On February 17, 1917, five years and three days after Arizona's admission to the Union, it was adopted as the state flag, over the governor's veto.


The Arizona Ranger Company in Clifton, June 11, 1903

The Gonzales Flag

Apparently the first flag of the Texas Revolution, this flag was designed and painted by Cynthia Burns and Evaline DeWitt and was allegedly used at the battle of Gonzales in October 1835. It is claimed that it was the Texans' reply to a request to give up a cannon which it had borrowed from a Mexican garrison to defend itself from Indians. A single shot in early October 1835 kept the Mexicans from retaking the cannon. This flag may have been carried by Stephen F. Austin's volunteer army to the siege of Bexar. It is unknown if the early Texans had in mind "Molon Labe," the reply of Leonidas of Sparta to Xerxes of Persia, when asked to have his troops lay down their arms in exchange for their lives.


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