A Despot in the End
Everett PiperEverett Piper's Blog
- 2011 Feb 25
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John Adams warned us that a "democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy" where "every man will do what is right in his own eyes…"
James Madison told us "democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention…and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
Thomas Jefferson added "[a] democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Fisher Ames, framer of the First Amendment to the Constitution, told us, "A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction."
James Witherspoon, another Founding Father, chimed in, "Pure democracy cannot subsist long…it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage."
Finally, Gouverneur Morris, writer of the final draft of the Constitution, offered this quick but pointed history lesson: "We have seen the tumults of democracy terminate, in France, as they have everywhere terminated, in despotism."
As you watch the riots in the Middle East or even the protests in Wisconsin, remember we've been warned by the wisdom of those who preceded us—those who intentionally anchored our nation in the humble harbor of a republic rather than let it drift aimlessly in arrogant seas of an unchecked democracy.
Remember the words of Edmund Burke: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."
Remember that the "madness of popular rage," whether in the streets of Madison or those of Tripoli, will always result in licentiousness not law, slavery not freedom, and that history has shown us time and again that a democracy that foolishly follows a demagogue always gets a despot in the end.