William Grayson: On Preventing Bad Man from Abusing Power

William graysonFounders Corner Library: Speeches, Pamphlets, Letters, Quotes

Mr. Chairman, it seems to have been a rule with the gentlemen on the other side, to argue the excellency of human nature, in order to induce us to grant away the rights and liberties of our country. I have no doubt the same arguments were used in a variety of occasions. I suppose, Sir, that same argument was used when Cromwell was invested with power. The same argument was used to gain our assent to the stamp act. I have no doubt it has been invariably the argument in all countries, when the concession of power has been in agitation. But power ought to have such checks and limitations as to prevent bad men from abusing it. It ought to be granted on a supposition that men will be bad; for it may be eventually so.

Source: William Grayson addressing the Virginia Convention on June 21, 1788.

Founders Corner Library is researched, compiled, edited (with occasional commentary, introductory, and explanatory notes) by Steve Farrell. Quotes as uniquely edited and formatted, as well as the collection as a whole Copyright © 2013-2014 Steve Farrell.

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