Tuesday, April 20, 2021 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Daniel Webster

« All quotes from this author

Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.
The earliest version of this seems to be from Savings and Loan Annual 1963, p. 56 published by the United States Savings and Loan League. Variants of it were quoted by President Ronald Reagan, here, here, and here, for example. A similar quote can be found in a speech by Edwin Meese, a longtime associate of Reagan, part of a 1986 book (pamphlet?), The Great debate: interpreting our written Constitution, page 56
Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution of your country and the government established under it. Leave evils which exist in some parts of the country, but which are beyond your control, to the all-wise direction of an over-ruling Providence. Perform those duties which are present, plain and positive. Respect the laws of your country." (1851 letter from Daniel Webster to Dr. William B. Gooch of West Dennis, Massachusetts, quoted in an 1898 publication of the Bay State Monthly)
We live under the only government that ever existed, which was formed by the deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years, cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once destroyed, would have a void to be filled, perhaps for centuries, with evolution and tumult, riot and despotism. (From an 1882 book, which says it is printing an oration given by Webster in 1802; similar but not exactly the same wording can be found in The Granite monthly: a magazine of literature, history and state ...: Volume 5 - Page 7, 1882, which said that it was printing an 1805 address given by Webster in Concord, Massachusetts.) [That Webster would use similar wording in separate orations could be expected, of course.]

Daniel Webster

» Daniel Webster - all quotes »

Tags: Daniel Webster Quotes, Authors starting by W

Similar quotes


The most momentous chapter in American history is the story of the making and ratifying of the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution has so long been rooted so deeply in American life — or American life rooted so deeply in it — that the drama of its origins is often overlooked. Even historical novelists, who hunt everywhere for memorable events to celebrate, have hardly touched the event without which there would have been a United States very different from the one that now exists; or might have been no United States at all.
The prevailing conceptions of those origins have varied with the times. In the early days of the Republic it was held, by devout friends of the Constitution, that its makers had received it somewhat as Moses received the Tables of the Law on Sinai. During the years of conflict which led to the Civil War the Constitution was regarded, by one party or the other, as the rule of order or the misrule of tyranny. In still later generations the Federal Convention of 1787 has been accused of evolving a scheme for the support of special economic interests, or even a conspiracy for depriving the majority of the people of their liberties. Opinion has swung back and forth, while the Constitution itself has grown into a strong yet flexible organism, generally, if now and then slowly, responsive to the national circumstances and necessities.

Carl Van Doren

It is true, indeed, that the national domain is ours. It is true that it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation. But we hold no arbitrary authority over it. We hold no arbitrary authority over anything, whether lawfully acquired or seized by usurpation. The constitution regulates our stewardship; the constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defense, to welfare and to liberty.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.

William H. Seward

We have a constitution, where it is plainly stated, that a person can serve as president for two consecutive terms. That doesn’t mean never afterwards. After four years he is welcome to try to run for president again. And mind, when I told this a major American figure just the other day, he said: “Your constitution is right, and ours is wrong, because we have it thus: two terms, that’s it, and never again. For instance, if we had it as in your constitution, now Bill Clinton would stand for president, and he would have won.” And basically I think that this is the right viewpoint, because if after a four-year break a person can be elected once more, well, obviously, he deserves it, that’s what I make of it. After all, four years is a big stretch of time. So, I guess president Putin shares this viewpoint as well. That is why he does not alter the constitution, he firmly refuses to do so. I am sorry to say that not all people share this viewpoint. Well, Nikita Mikhalkov, for one, or Zurab Tsereteli, who wrote to president and by that said to him, as it were: don’t you care for that constitution, change it, then go ahead and stay for third term. And speaker of Federation Council, head of “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” party Sergey Mironov is expostulating with president on not altering, but outskirting the constitution, and still staying for third term.

Vladimir Posner

The Court's justification for consulting its own notions rather than following the original meaning of the Constitution, as I would, apparently is based on the belief of the majority of the Court that for this Court to be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution is an intolerable and debilitating evil; that our Constitution should not be 'shackled to the political theory of a particular era,' and that to save the country from the original Constitution the Court must have constant power to renew it and keep it abreast of this Court's more enlightened theories of what is best for our society. It seems to me that this is an attack not only on the great value of our Constitution itself but also on the concept of a written constitution which is to survive through the years as originally written unless changed through the amendment process which the Framers wisely provided.

Hugo Black

[T]he constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it. . . . It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. . . . So if a law be in opposition to the constitution; if both the law and the constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case conformably to the law, disregarding the constitution; or conformably to the constitution disregarding the law; the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is the very essence of judicial duty. . . . Those then who controvert the principle that the constitution is to be considered, in court, as a paramount law, are reduced to the necessity of maintaining that courts must close their eyes on the constitution, and see only the law. This doctrine would subvert the very foundation of all written constitutions . . . It would be giving the legislature a practical and real omnipotence . . . The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution.

John Marshall
© 2009–2013Quotes Privacy Policy | Contact