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Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
Samuel Adams, essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749
The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.
Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775
A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.
Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779
I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous.
The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.
Fisher Ames, speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, January 15, 1788
Honesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just.
George Washington, Circular letter to the States, June 14, 1783
It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.
George Washington, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789