Martin Van Buren
I tread in the footsteps of illustrious men . . . in receiving from the people the sacred trust confided to my illustrious predecessor.
All the lessons of history and experience must be lost upon us if we are content to trust alone to the peculiar advantages we happen to possess.
As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.
For myself, therefore, I desire to declare that the principle that will govern me in the high duty to which my country calls me is a strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution as it was designed by those who framed it.
All communities are apt to look to government for too much. Even in our own country, where its powers and duties are so strictly limited, we are prone to do so, especially at periods of sudden embarrassment and distress.
It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't.
No evil can result from its inhibition more pernicious than its toleration.
On receiving from the people the sacred trust twice confided on my illustrious predecessor, and which he has discharged so faithfully and so well, I know that I can not expect to perform the arduous task with equal ability and success.
The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.
The people under our system, like the king in a monarchy, never dies.
There is a power in public opinion in this country—and I thank God for it: for it is the most honest and best of all powers—which will not tolerate an incompetent or unworthy man to hold in his weak or wicked hands the lives and fortunes of his fellow-citizens.
To avoid the necessity of a permanent debt and its inevitable consequences, I have advocated and endeavored to carry into effect the policy of confining the appropriations for the public service to such objects only as are clearly with the constitutional authority of the Federal Government.
Unlike all who have preceded me, the Revolution that gave us existence as one people was achieved at the period of my birth; and whilst I contemplate with grateful reverence that memorable event, I feel that I belong to a later age and that I may not expect my countrymen to weigh my actions with the same kind and partial hand.
Mutual forbearance and reciprocal concessions: thro’ their agency the Union was established—the patriotic spirit from which they emanated will forever sustain it.
Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs; but always by exciting the multitude. The first is the resource of intrigue and produces only secondary results, the second is the resort of genius and transforms the universe.
The government should not be guided by Temporary Excitement, but by Sober Second Thought.
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