The first pillar in the temple of Republicanism is correct and stabile morality. All republics are predicated upon this principle; without it they cannot exist. Without virtue, honesty, and tolerance in rulers, and obedience and respect in people Constitutions are waste paper and laws of mockery. When ambition, wild and lawless, seizes on the citizen entrusted with the government; when licentiousness diffuses itself through the community and corrupts the sources of power, that Republic is doomed to destruction. Mounds of paper and parchment cannot arrest its progress; the voice of reason will be drowned and Liberty expire. Over men void of principle laws have no force, when they can be transgressed with impunity. If you can stay the current of the ocean by a bullrush, then may you impede the course of an aspiring, triumphing demagogue by throwing in his way the laws of his Country. A power of restraining the tumultuous passions of the human heart, is found only in the dictates of solid morality; this therefore is as necessary To Republican Governments as blood to the Constitution of man.
Source: Daniel Webster: From an oration 5 July 1802, as quoted in The Letters of Daniel Webster, Haskell House Publishers, New York, N.Y., 1902, p. 11.
The Liberty Letters are researched, and edited (with occasional commentary) by Steve Farrell. Liberty Letters as a collective project, and individual letters when edited, or accompanied by our commentary and or introductory notes: Copyright © 2012 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal. The original copyright of the full Daniel Webster oration delivered on 5 July 1802 is held in the Public Domain.