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How much freedom for man? How much power for government?

… Can man govern himself? … [This is] the one great object of proving that a government may be so free as to leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights, while it has energy enough to protect him from every wrong …
To Nathaniel Macon, July 17, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-governing leaders promote a self-limiting government.
Jefferson held strongly that America was an experiment that all the world was watching. That experiment was summed in the first four words, “Can man govern himself?”

Man could govern himself, provided government would keep to its essential constitutional role. Government needed enough power to protect its citizens from other nations, and that was all. Doing so would “leave every man in the unrestrained exercise of all his rights.” In other words, man would indeed be left in the position of doing what only he could do best, govern himself.

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2 Responses to How much freedom for man? How much power for government?

  1. Ray Tewksbury says:

    The United States “experiment” worked well because most of its people were God-fearing of strongly influenced by God-fearing people. Democracy doesn’t work well or at all when people don’t have basic respect for God’s law, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  2. Randall Reeder says:

    Wow, how far have we moved from that simple concept. I wonder how many of our current government programs would Jefferson eliminate.

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