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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

He Shall Recommend To Their Consideration Such Measures...

Washington's first SOTU address, January 8, 1790:

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.
...

Various considerations also render it expedient that the terms on which foreigners may be admitted to the rights of citizens should be speedily ascertained by a uniform rule of naturalization.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.
...

[T]here is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential.

To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways - by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness - cherishing the first, avoiding the last - and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.

Naturally, certain people like to misquote and cherrypick the speech.  Anyway, trivia:

Although Federalists Washington and Adams had personally addressed the Congress, Jefferson was concerned that the practice of appearing before the representatives of the people was too similar to the British monarch's ritual of addressing the opening of each new Parliament with a list of policy mandates, rather than "recommendations."  This changed in 1913.  Wilson believed the presidency was more than a impersonal institution; that instead the presidency is dynamic, alive, and personal (see Tulis).  In articulating this philosophy, Wilson delivered an oral message to Congress.

Just for once, I'd like to see Obama say, "the state of our Union is NOT strong because of you nullifying crackers."

ntodd

January 8, 2014 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink

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