Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Message to the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina, Nov. 26, 1844 >> Page 90

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Page 90

Documents | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 90
problem of how far Freedom and Security are com-
patible. Sixty years which constitute but a brief
portion of a nation's cycle have not convinced the
world, nor wholly satisfied ourselves. The momen-
tous question yet remains, Will our institutions en-
dure? They have passed to three generations they
may fail in the fourth or fifth, or tenth. They cer-
tainly will fail, and with them the best hopes of man-
kind, unless the most anxious and unremitted care is
bestowed on the education of those, on whom it will
devolve to sustain them. Ignorance and free institu-
tions cannot co-exist. An ignorant people can never
long have any other than a despotic government.
They are not fit to be free ; and though they may
possibly achieve, they cannot maintain their liberty.
It is an old and trite saying, that the price of freedom
is eternal vigilance. It is, nevertheless, profoundly
true. It is usually interpreted to mean that the people
must watch over their rulers. This is important. But
in this country, where the people are truly and prac-
tically the source of all power, the application must
go farther. They must watch themselves. They must
guard against their own prejudices and passions ;
against local and narrow views ; against party spirit ;
against their proverbial love of change ; in short, they
must guard against their own ignorance, which is the
fruitful parent of all these dangers, and which will
otherwise speedily degrade them, from the rank of a
people, to that of a populace.
In obedience to a resolution of the last session, I
have had the repairs made in the Secretary of State's
office, which were indispensably necessary for the pre-
servation of the records. There are still many im-