"A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either."
Thomas Paine
(1737-1809) US Founding father, pamphleteer, author
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Reader comments about this quote:
The thought that "all delegated power is trust" sounds really good. Wonder if we will ever reach that level of trust in government again. Didn't the Supreme Court just vote for "assumed power", i.e., corporations get wide breach in affecting campaigns. Sounds like the peoples vote has been usurped, or am I complaining.
 -- Judith, New Mexico     
    The Warren Court was but one of the greatest illustrative nails in the coffin of the U.S. Constitutionally delegated government of power with right. Said court's declaration concerning its inherent right (assumed power of usurpation), created a tyrannical alien statist theocracy, in toto aloof from 'We The People'. The people's vote has been usurped ! ; being reduced to nothing more than choosing the foreign despot's representative(s) to rule over a once free and noble sovereign people. "Man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years." (Lysander Spoonner)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
     -- Anonymous      
    Thomas Paine was a truly great American. It's interesting to note that some of the fundamentalist preachers of his time branded him as an Atheist. This, of course, was not true as Paine was a Deist as were Jefferson, Franklin and others of our founding fathers.
     -- jim k, Austin     
    That's right Mike. Barry Goldwater warned us in 1964 that if you give the courts the power of the CIVIL RIGHTS LAW then you give them ALL POWER. Earl Warren took this law with Lyndon Johnson and the Federal government became all power.
     -- Cal, lewisville, tx     
    The American people are waking up. It will take decades if not generations to repair the damage done by the Progressives over the last 100 years, but we will once again prevail. We must! And maybe in the meantime we can get some much needed mental help for the Progressives. Read "The Liberal Mind," The Psychological Causes of Political Madness by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., M.D.
     -- Carol, Georgia     
    Perfect! Time only provides us with proof that man still doesn't get it!
     -- RBESRQ     
    P.s. The theory is absolute hence 'Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.' The result of delegation is neither here or there - the key is the word Trust. Trust like Truth is absolute.
     -- RBESRQ     
    Brilliant!! I hope the American people re-discover this timeless truth.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    The king will always believe in the divine right of kings.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    A genius in his time and his writings genuis for all time.
     -- Anon     
     -- Abigail Adams, hb      
     -- Les, WEST COLLINGSWOOD      
    A concise perspective and useful point of reference. Dovetails nicely with "That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..."
     -- Ralph, New London, Connecticut     
    Duplicate quote. Please consolidate.
     -- John, Sartell, MN, USA     
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