Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Speech

I cannot believe I didn't read this speech in high school, college, or law school. For God's sake, I took three college-level American history classes!

Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural speech (revised to modernize language):

The American citizen knows where his station should be. The law is his sovereign. We are but the servants of the law. In attempting to be more, we become nothing. Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question...

[We shall have] a wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry or improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

Yup, still one of my favorite Presidents.

1 comment:

Bob said...

So profound, and with such clarity. The angels abound in today’s government and where this will lead is anyone’s guess. I suspect it will not end happily for future generations. What would Thomas Jefferson think if he could see today’s “frugal government?”