On Constitution Day 2018


President Coolidge’s words given here on the occasion of his dedication of the Lafayette Memorial in Baltimore, September 6, 1924. Photo credit: Library of Congress.

“Very little danger exists of an open and avowed assault upon the principle of individual freedom. It is more likely to be in peril indirectly from the avowed intention of protecting it or enlarging it. Out of a long experience with many tyrannies abroad and a weak and inefficient government at home, the Constitution of the United States was adopted and ratified. The people who largely contributed to the early settlement of America came to escape the impositions of despotic kings. Many of the early inhabitants were separatists from the established church. They fled under the threat of the English King, that he would make them conform or harry them out of the land. Their descendants fought the Revolutionary war in order that they might escape the impositions of a despotic parliament.

“This lesson was firmly in the minds of those who made the American Constitution. They proposed to adopt institutions under which the people should be supreme, and the government should derive its just powers as they from time to time should confer upon it by a written constitution. They did not propose to be under the tyranny of either the executive or the legislature.

“They knew, however, that self-government is still government, and that the authority of the Constitution and the law is still authority. They knew that a government without power is a contradiction in terms. In order that their President and their Congress might not surpass the bounds of the authority granted to them, by the Constitution which the people had made, and so infringe upon the liberties of the people, they established a third independent department of the government, with the power to interpret and declare the Constitution and the law, the inferior courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. No President, however powerful, and no majority of Congress however large, can take from an individual, no matter how humble, that freedom and those rights which are guaranteed to him by the Constitution”

— President Calvin Coolidge, Baltimore, Maryland, September 6, 1924.

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