4143 HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes
of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which,
nevertheless, ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common
and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make
it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the
public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded
jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against
another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the
door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated
access to the government itself through the channel of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected
to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties, in free countries, are useful
checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to
keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and, in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism
may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party.
But in those of popular character, in governments purely elective,
it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency,
it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every
statutory purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess,
the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and
assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming,
it should consume.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain
would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor
to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest
props of the destinies of men and citizens. The mere politician,
equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A
volume could not trace all their connection with private and public
felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property,
for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the
oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can
be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to