In his first annual address to Congress, our first President shared these very wise words:
"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.
Whether this desirable object will be best promoted by affording aids to seminaries of learning already established, by the institution of a national university, or by any other expedients will be well worthy of a place in the deliberations of the legislature."Washington's language is often hard to understand, so here is a summary of his points.
- Know and value your own rights.
- Discern and fight off invasion against your rights.
- Distinguish between oppression and needful lawful authority.
- Identify unnecessary burdens versus burdens of urgency.
- Cherish the "spirit of liberty"; avoid immorality.
- Be vigilant about your rights, yet respectful of the law.