"Indeed nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty: For as violations of the rights of the governed, are commonly not only specious, but small at the beginning, they spread over the multitude in such a manner, as to touch individuals but slightly. Thus they are disregarded. The power or profit that arises from these violations centering in few persons, is to them considerable. For this reason the governors having in view their particular purposes, successively preserve an uniformity of conduct for attaining them. They regularly increase the first injuries, till at length the inattentive people are compelled to perceive the heaviness of their burthens — They begin to complain and inquire — but too late. They find their oppressors so strengthened by success, and themselves so entangled in examples of express authority on the part of their rulers, and of tacit recognition on their own part, that they are quite confounded: for millions entertain no other idea of the legality of power, than it is founded on the exercise of power."
by:
John Dickenson
(1732-1808)
Source:
John Dickenson, in The Political Writings of John Dickinson, Esquire Vol. I (1801), Letter XI
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Reader comments about this quote:
He who forgets history is doomed to relive it. The power yielded under vain claimed authority by the statist theocracy that infests this land proves the quotes accuracy.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The quote I think is true. So like zero based budgeting we should and of a truth we are free to change the laws and the incremental increase in law at any time. A free people have the right to make these changes. Now are Constitution is a relatively conservative document only allowing changes by a super majority 2/3 of the states, but the fact remains as Jefferson said every generation should have its own revolution and make laws and governance that suits them. And I respectfully suggest that in the USA we do or we leave the old law alone as best suits us.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    That the slow road to tyrrany has been expertly explained by so many should have presented the masses from being duped so easily.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    Waffler, I'm not sure you got the gist of the quote. But I'm also not sure if I understand your analysis of it.
     -- Justin, Elkland     
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    I got it and my answer is succint. He says nations go bad inherently. I said America is different because we can change anything we want to. What exactly do you not understand Justin.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    The system bares no change for it is without conscience and therefore doomed - there was a time when brightness appeared on the horizon but alas it was short lived and now all we can wish for is a speedy demise so we can rise again from the ashes. Mike, there are only seven plots we can expound upon and this last few decades has used every one of them.
     -- RBESRQ     
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     -- Anonymous      
    OK Robert, I'll bite. My education has missed the list of seven. Would you pretty please enlighten me?
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Hence the reason for republican jurisprudence in which power is distributed throughout the nation, not a centralized 'democracy' that centrally plans and controls all its parts by a handful of elite. America is founded in such a way as to give the individual primary jurisdiction over himself and his property, second is the republican jurisdiction of the County, then the 3rd republican jurisdiction is the sovereign State, then the federal jurisdiction of Washington, DC. When the people allow their powers to be usurped and centralized, it indeed is too late to do anything but completely reject and separate from the unlawful assumption of power over them. With time, the people eventually forget (or more likely, are 'taught') that they are no longer sovereigns in a free nation but wards of a bankrupt state in receivership to its creditors. As sovereign lords over ourselves, we can only reject and refuse the statist de facto authorities, refuse to accept their script, refuse to accept their bills, and eventually fight them off physically if necessary.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Wake up America!
     -- Anon     
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