Alexander Hamilton on the best defense of the American system of government, namely respect for the laws that govern us:
- Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Tully No. III, Aug. 28, 1794, reprinted in Alexander Hamilton: Writings (Library of America: 2001), pg. 830.If it were to be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest security in a Republic? the answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last. It is by this, in a great degree, that the rich and powerful are to be restrained from enterprises against the common liberty -- operated upon by the influence of a general sentiment, by their interest in the principle, and by the obstacles which the habit it produces erects against innovation and encroachment. It is by this, in a still greater degree, that caballers, intriguers, and demagogues are prevented from climbing on the shoulders of faction to the tempting seats of usurpation and tyranny.
Of course, it helps if those laws are themselves respectable.