Sunday, October 17, 2004

Jefferson on amending

Just came across a great quote from one of TJ's letters in 1816 regarding the necessity of amending the Constitution from time to time (in this case, he was actually referring to the constitution of Virginia):

"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonius reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceeding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead."

"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accomodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

This has great relevance for the mission of Amend, Inc.

Comment for today: The first several sentences could have been written today to describe Kerry, and his opposition to the marriage amendment. He is constantly denigrating the push to amend the Constitution, and accusing Bush of "politicizing" it. All this, notwithstanding the fact that he supposedly does not support gay marriages.

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