Law and Order, Calvin Coolidge, Acceptance Speech as Governor of Massachusetts, 1920
It is preeminently the province of government to protect the weak. The average citizen
does not lead the life of independence that was his in former days under a less complex
order of society. When a family tilled the soil and produced its own support it was
independent. It may be infinitely better off now, but it is evident it needs a protection
which before was not required.
Let Massachusetts continue to regard with the greatest solicitude the well-being of her
people. By prescribed law, by authorized publicity, by informed public opinion, let her
continue to strive to provide that all conditions under which her citizens live are worthy
of the highest faith of man. Healthful housing, wholesome food, sanitary working conditions,
reasonable hours, a fair wage for a fair day's work, opportunity -- full and free, justice --
speedy and impartial, and at a cost within the reach of all, are among the objects not only
to be sought, but made absolutely certain and secure.
Government is not, must not be, a cold, impersonal machine, but a human and more human
agency: appealing to the reason, satisfying the heart, full of mercy, assisting the good,
resisting the wrong, delivering the weak from any impositions of the powerful. This is
not paternalism. It is not a servitude imposed from without, but the freedom of a right
to self-direction from within.
Industry must be humanized, not destroyed. It must be the instrument not of selfishness,
but of service. Change not the law, but the attitude of the mind. Let our citizens look not
to the false prophet but to the pilgrims. Let them fix their eyes on Plymouth Rock as well
as Beacon Hill. The supreme choice must be not to things that are seen, but to things
that are unseen.
Our government belongs to the people. Our property belongs to the people. It is distributed.
They own it. The taxes are paid by the people. They bear the burden. The benefits of
government must accrue to the people. Not to one class, but to all classes, to all the people.
The functions, the power, the sovereignty of the government, must be kept where they
have been placed by the Constitution and laws of the people. Not private will, but that
public will, which speaks with a divine sanction, must prevail.
There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not
seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their
works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be
overcome by the good others represent.
Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas
which are right. This can be done. The meaning of America is a power which cannot be
overcome. Massachusetts must lead in teaching it.
Prosecution of the criminal and education of the ignorant are the remedies. It is fundamental
that freedom is not to be secured by disobedience to law. Even the freedom of the slave
depended on the supremacy of the Constitution. There is no mystery about this. They who
sin are the servants of sin. They who break the laws are the slaves of their own kind. It is
not for the advantage of others that the citizen is abjured to obey the laws, but for his own
advantage. That what he claims a right to do to others, that must he admit others have a
right to do to him. His obedience is his own protection. He is not submitting himself
to the dictates of others, but responding to the requirements of his own nature.
Laws are not manufactured. They are not imposed. They are rules of action existing from
everlasting to everlasting. He who resists them, resists himself. He commits suicide.
The nature of man requires sovereignty. Government must govern. To obey is life. To
disobey is death. Organized government is the expression of the life of the commonwealth.
Into your hands is entrusted the grave responsibility of its protection and perpetuation.
Coolidge, Calvin. "Law and Order." Nation's Forum. New York. 1920. Authentichistory.com. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.
In lines 44-45, "Laws are not manufactured. They are not imposed. They are rules of action existing from everlasting to everlasting," Coolidge implies that laws are