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When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.
- Benjamin Disraeli
British politician (1804 - 1881)
Samuel Adams, “We may look up to Armies for our Defence, but Virtue is our best Security. It is not possible that any State should long remain free, where Virtue is not supremely honored.”
John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Society requires both freedom and virtue to flourish, and neither cause will be helped by playing them off against each other. Ultimately neither is likely to survive without the other.
“...a democratic republic requires a citizenry capable of exercising the kind of self-restraint and public-mindedness that would permit freedom to flourish. One of the great contributions of the American Founders was to articulate a modern understanding of ‘virtue’ grounded in a realistic assessment of human nature, which recognized that certain primary institutions played an essential role in fostering and stimulating those ‘virtues.’ In so doing, the Founders neither deified nor degraded human beings, but concentrated on the notion that a broad spectrum of potential motivations drive human behavior, there being no simple ‘nature of man,’ either good or evil.