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Quotes of the day: William Henry Harrison

Published Friday, April 03, 2015 @ 3:44 PM EDT
Apr 03 2015

William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninth President of the United States (1841), an American military officer and politician, and the last President born as a British subject. He was also the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when inaugurated, the oldest president to take office until Ronald Reagan in 1981. Harrison died on his 32nd day in office of complications from pneumonia, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but its resolution settled many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967. He was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who was the 23rd President, from 1889 to 1893. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A decent and manly examination of the acts of government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.

I believe that all the measures of the Government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.

I proceed to state in as summary a manner as I can my opinion of the sources of the evils which have been so extensively complained of.... Some of the former are unquestionably to be found in the defects of the Constitution; others, in my judgment, are attributable to a misconstruction of some of its provisions. Of the former is the eligibility of the same individual to a second term of the Presidency.

If parties in a republic are necessary to secure a degree of vigilance sufficient to keep the public functionaries within the bounds of law and duty, at that point their usefulness ends. Beyond that they become destructive of public virtue, the parent of a spirit antagonist to that of liberty, and eventually its inevitable conqueror.

Our citizens must be content with the exercise of the powers with which the Constitution clothes them.

Sir, I wish to understand the true principles of the Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.

The broad foundation upon which our Constitution rests being the people-a breath of theirs having made, as a breath can unmake, change, or modify it-it can be assigned to none of the great divisions of government but to that of democracy.

The chains of military despotism, once fastened upon a nation, ages might pass away before they could be shaken off.

The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.

The people are the best guardians of their own rights and it is the duty of their executive to abstain from interfering in or thwarting the sacred exercise of the lawmaking functions of their government.

The plea of necessity, that eternal argument of all conspirators.

The prudent capitalist will never adventure his capital... if there exists a state of uncertainty as to whether the Government will repeal tomorrow what it has enacted today.

There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.

Times change, and we change with them.


(April 4 is also the birthday of Maya Angelou.)

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