Thursday, June 29, 2006

Good to Remember

Today, a brief selection from Thomas Jefferson's inagural address on March 1, 1801. Consider how these quotes relate to our own political reality today, both in a positive and negative sense.

"We have passed through a hard year of bitter struggle between two political parties. We have shown the world that in America all can speak, write, and think freely. The debate is over. The people have decided. Now is the time for all of us to unite for the good of all. The majority of the people have won the contest. But we must always remember that there is a minority. True, the majority must rule. But the rule of the majority must be just. The rights of the minority are equal to the rights of the majority, and must be protected with equal laws."

"The rights of man will be of the highest importance in this government. Information, knowledge, and opinions must move easily and swiftly. We will support freedom of religion...freedom of the press...freedom of the person protected by the habeas corpus...and the right to trial by juries that are chosen fairly. These are the freedoms that brought us through a revolution and that made this nation. Our wise men wrote these freedoms. Our heroes gave their lives for these freedoms. They are the stones on which our political philosophy must be built. If we make the mistake of forgetting them, let us return to them quickly. For only these rights of man can bring us peace, liberty, and safety."

"I know that I shall make mistakes. And, even when I am right, there will be men who will say that I am wrong. I ask you to forgive my mistakes which, I promise, will at least be honest mistakes. And I ask you to support me when I am right against the attacks of those who are wrong. Always, my purpose will be to strengthen the happiness and freedom of all Americans . . . those who do not agree with me, as well as those who do. I need you. I go to my work as president of the United States, ready to leave that position when you and the American people decide that there is a better man for it. May the power that leads the universe tell us what is best, and bring to you peace and happiness."

Such prescient words, from one of our foremost patriots and leaders. As relevant today as they were 200 years ago, perhaps even more relevant, as our country is no longer a decade old. Take a moment to reflect upon them, what they mean to you as a person, to you as a citizen, to us as a nation.

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