"I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. -- From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy."
by:
Daniel Webster
(1782-1852) US Senator
Source:
June 1, 1837; Works 1:403
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Reader comments about this quote:
That is why the schools have dummied down the students and the media has become nothing more the a PR branch for despots.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Tom Osborne, Los Angeles, CA      
    Yes, yes, yes.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Mike summed it up.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    The secret to good government and self-government. The other day we were attacking intellectuals but just as we seek better performance from our schools and students to be A students we should seek to be educated, trained and knowledgable about our government, and thus we should all seek to be intellectuals, experts and watchdogs.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    On the money Mike and Waffler, adults and children should always seek to educate. Mentors and classics was how they did it in those days not the conveyor belt public school system we have today. Public school was for the very poor, so they could learn the basic, three r's. It wasn't meant to "educate". That my friends is something we do ourselves, and I know that this group DOES.
     -- M. Brown, Florida     
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    An intellectual has to be neither well educated or intelligent. He only has to think he is better than those around him. I am personally reasonably well educated and I have a respectable IQ, yet I don't consider myself an intellectual since I believe that description to be a pejorative. A racist believes himself to be better than someone else based upon the color of the skin. An intellectual believes himself to be better than someone else based upon the color of the sheepskin hanging on his wall. In fact some of the most intelligent men I have known have had the least formal education. They have had exceptionally sensitive BS meters that could detect a liar a mile away. I work with a great number of people from sailors to mechanics to engineers each with different education and experience. The great majority of them are competent at what they do and self-motivated to do it and I respect them. An intellectual wouldn't.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Ken, well said. I had a sister (she passed from cancer at a young age) that had an IQ well over 200 and was very athletic and musical besides. She taught herself to play the piano and by the time she was 14, she was giving concerts. She and we did not consider her an intellectual.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike, it is much more important to be a decent human being than a smart one. I find it amazing that so many "smart" people don't realize that.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Ken you are the one using the pejorative against others calling people at your will intellectuals or not as a term of insult. Einstein and computer nerds and people in political think tanks everywhere do not see themselves or call themselves "intelletuals". They see their pursuits and endeavors as normal and they play ball or fish on their time off also. I suggest your pejorative is a dumbing down of America.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Five stars to the statement. Now, what would be the means to prevent men from being "the dupes of their own undoing?" It could be through the media, through schools and what else? I believe in the word of mouth a lot. This forum is one of them. I have no idea how you got my e-mail, but I am really enjoying it. By the way, I did not see the word - or an inference to it - "intellectual" in Mr. Webster's statement. I think that "intelligent" and "vigilant" are more attractive and may lead more and more people to participate in top decisions.
     -- Elisabeth, Astoria, NY     
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    I first used the word "intellectual" Elizabeth and then Ken jumped on it. Yes it is unfortunate but words do matter. I don't think the word has to be used in a pejorative sense. Intelligent relates to intellect. Intellect refers to the power of knowing rather than to the power of feeling and emotion. Dealing with government based on feeling and emottion on issues like global warming, emigration etc rather than on intellect (knowledge) is not beneficial.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Self described intellectuals are engaging in pretense and self-deluding self-aggrandizement. They typically have an inflated opinion of themselves and apparently don't care that pride goes before the downfall. I have never heard of Einstein calling himself an intellectual, or anyone else who has ever produced anything of value. Most "intellectuals" are academics, cloistered in their protective environment with other "intellectuals" who stroke each others' egos and tell each other how brilliant they are.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    You don't get it Ken, it is you who are calling them "intellectuals" in a pejorative sense. There is such a think as intellect and there are people who are trained and knowledgable on various and sundry topics. You are setting up a straw man for you to have someone to blame for everything.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Can't say we weren't warned.
     -- J. Allen, Arlington, Va     
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    It's hard to be vigilant with your head up your a**. Introspection and self interest rather than a lack of intelligence/intellect lead to political indifference and ultimately danger and destruction.
     -- Mick, Manchester     
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    Liberty is best maintained by those who know they have it ! Then the Oath to protect their neighbors Liberty. Who, what, where, when, how, why and to what degree our Liberty is and exist. Teach you children well those Seven questions to be answered. Ordained by our God of Nature.The Creator blessed forever, Amen
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
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    In order to be truly vigilant of their government and its actions the people need to be perceptively intelligent and keenly knowledgeable,
     -- Mary - MI     
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