In order that the American citizen may discharge his duty in helping intelligently to preserve inviolate the blessings of our free institutions, it is necessary for him to understand certain fundamentals of government, as the history of this country shows that attempts are made with frequency to procure legislation which is in plain violation of such fundamentals, and that these attempts are made sometimes from selfish and unpatriotic motives and sometimes through ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

Examples of the first class occur when any set of persons seek to procure laws which will confer special privileges or benefits upon one class at the expense of the remainder of the people. If, to illustrate, an effort should now be made to obtain legislation under which a powerful monopoly for the manufacture of breadstuffs could be built up and maintained, it would at once be recognized to be an unmistakable crime against good government. Any false pretenses and plausible sophistries which might be put forward as arguments for such legislation would not now be able to deceive the country. Such an attempt would be foredoomed to failure because American citizens have already suffered too terribly from the disastrous laws procured under deceptive pretexts in the past, which have fostered greedy and insatiable monopolies to gnaw at the vitals of this land and to become a great menace to the purity of our government.

An illustration of the attempt to procure legislation which would confer special privileges or benefits upon a certain class is found in the effort made by the clergy during the last quarter of the eighteenth century to secure the passage of laws for the maintenance of churches by general taxation. This brought on a battle of the giants,—Madison, Henry, Jefferson, and others. It was argued by the clergy that such paternalism on the part of the government would be very useful in checking the increasing immorality of the people which had followed the war period through which the United States had just passed; that there could be no instrumentality so efficacious in counteracting the vicious tendencies of the time as a church supported in its good efforts by the federal government, and this plausible but sophistical argument won to its side for a time a powerful support. Even the great patriot and statesman, Patrick Henry, at first was deceived by it. But others, like Madison and Jefferson, were able to detect the very serious dangers inevitably lurking within all such laws. They were fresh from the Revolutionary war, and this had been not only a conflict of bayonets but also a most useful school for the education of the American people in the old-world evils of paternalism on the part of governments and the unjust and perilous discrimination by law between different classes of citizens.

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January 27, 1912

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