Founders’ Fridays – Advice for Public Service

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Proper candidate vetting has always been an issue due to man’s unchanging nature. Our founders had some things to say on the topic of public service and character – and below are a few quotes from them. I encourage everyone to turn into Glenn Beck’s TV show every Friday for his ongoing series about the Founding generation.


“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character….” ~ Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789

“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, in the Boston Gazette, 1781

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” ~ James Madison, Federalist No. 57

“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, Opinion on National Bank, 1791

“An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.” ~ Justice John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819

“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, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1782

“If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, autobiography, 1821

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.” ~ Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

“The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” ~ Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775


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