Great Quotes By: NOAH WEBSTER
Oration, 4 July 1814:
Knowledge, learning, talents are not necessarily connected with sound moral and political principles.… And eminent abilities, accompanied with depravity of heart, render the possessor tenfold more dangerous in a community.
Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1823:
Whenever a man is known to seek promotion by intrigue, by temporizing, or by resorting to the haunts of vulgarity and vice for support, it may be inferred, with moral certainty, that he is not a man of real respectability, nor is he entitled to public confidence.
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History of the United States, 1832:
Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion.…
It is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.…
The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.…
The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all of our civil constitutions and laws.… All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
Value of the Bible (unpublished manuscript), 1834:
They choose men, not because they are just men, men of religion and integrity, but solely for the sake of supporting a party. This is a fruitful source of public evils. But as surely as there is a God in heaven, who exercises a moral government over the affairs of this world, so certainly will the neglect of the divine command, in the choice of rulers, be followed by bad laws and as bad administration; by laws unjust or partial, by corruption, tyranny, impunity of crimes, waste of public money, and a thousand other evils. Men may desire and adopt a new form of government; they may amend old forms, repair breaches and punish violators of the constitution; but there is, there can be no effectual remedy, but obedience to the divine law.
Letter to Daniel Webster, 6 September 1834:
The freedom of the press is a valuable privilege; but the abuse of it, in this country, … is a frightful evil. The licentiousness of the press is a deep stain upon the character of the country; & in addition to the evil of calumniating good men, & giving a wrong direction to public measures, it corrupts the people by rendering them insensible to the value of truth & of reputation.
Instructive and Entertaining Lessons for Youth, 1835:
This general disposition to subject the slight and fleeting influence of human example and opinions, for the controlling authority of divine commands, is among the most gloomy presages of the present times. Without a great change of public taste … the progress of depravity will be as rapid, as the ultimate loss of morals, of religion, and of civil liberty, is certain. God has provided but one way, by which nations can secure their rights and privileges … by obedience to his laws. Without this, a nation may be great in population, great in wealth, and great in military strength; but it must be corrupt in morals, degraded in character, and distracted with factions. This is the order of God’s moral government, as firm as his throne, and unchangeable as his purpose; and nations, disregarding this order, are doomed to incessant internal evils, and ultimately to ruin.
Letter to David McClure, 25 October 1836:
An attempt to conduct the affairs of a free government with wisdom and impartiality, and to preserve the just rights of all classes of citizens, without the guidance of Divine precepts, will certainly end in disappointment. God is the supreme moral Governor of the world He has made, and as He Himself governs with perfect rectitude, He requires His rational creatures to govern themselves in like manner. If men will not submit to be controlled by His laws, He will punish them by the evils resulting from their own disobedience.…
Any system of education, therefore, which limits instruction to the arts and sciences, and rejects the aids of religion in forming the characters of citizens, is essentially defective.…
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed.… No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.
Letter to Charles Chauncey, 17 October 1837:
Principles, Sir, are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; & unless the progress of corruption, & perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property, will long be secure in this country. And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses.
On Suffrage (unpublished, undated manuscript):
In correcting public evils, great reliance is placed on schools.… But schools no more make statesmen than human learning makes christians. Literature & scientific attainments have never prevented the corruption of government. Knowledge derived from experience & from the evils of bad measures may produce a change of measures to correct a particular evil. But learning & sciences have no material effect in subduing ambition & selfishness, reconciling parties or subjecting private interest to the influence of a ruling preference of public good.
Selected by Dr. Alan Snyder