Skip to comments.Daniel Webster quote - "good intentions"
Posted on 10/10/2012 6:23:37 PM PDT by arfingcat
"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." Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
Does anyone know where or when Daniel Webster made this statement?
a perfect quote
WHERE ARE WE GOING and what’s the deal with the handbasket?
Thanks; i was just searching sources for some Websters quotes today, but for this i do not find the whole quote in The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12606/12606.txt)
“The rapid advancement of the executive authority is a topic which has already been alluded to.... I believe the power of the executive has increased, is increasing, and ought now to be brought back within its ancient constitutional limits...
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power; but they cannot justify it, even if we were sure that they existed. It is hardly too strong to say, that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intention, real or pretended.”
Besides what it added here, what is missing is “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.”
Google books search has it in The Journal of historical review - Volume 15 - Page 27, but it is only a snippet: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=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+p&btnG=
Also lacking sufficient attribution is,
“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”
It apparently first appeared in the Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bible Society (1870), p. 27, and perhaps was a condensed paraphrase of the below, expressing its thought:
“And let me say, gentlemen, that if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations,...It will go on prospering and to prosper.
But if we and our posterity reject religious institutions and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifile with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history!” (The Dignity and Importance of History, address to the Historical Society of New York, February 23, 1852. Source: Shewmaker, 130-137 http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dwebster/speeches/dignity-history.html
The next quote also lacks sufficient attribution, as the earliest source I have found is from a compilation of quotes first published in 1908, and without details of when and where it was said (which details I suspect were not a priority in that era):
“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be;
If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will;
If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.” (A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern Tryon Edwards. p. 49)
But we have,
“Lastly, our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits.... Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. (Daniel Webster, The life, eulogy, and great orations of Daniel Webster, p. 49)
“Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in full conviction that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity.” (Daniel Webster, The life, eulogy, and great orations of Daniel Webster, p. 51)
And on June 17, 1843, at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charleston, Massachusetts, Webster declared,
“The Bible came with them. And it is not to be doubted, that to free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty.
The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man.” (Address at the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument , June 17, 1843, p. 17; in A discourse, delivered at Plymouth,” December 22, 1820: Volume 45, Issue 4)
I am working on more for this page: http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Quotes_compare.pdf