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Noah Webster on Selecting Men for Office

Noah Webster

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.

It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness. But if we had no divine instruction on the subject, our own interest would demand of us a strict observance of the principle of these injunctions. And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which
tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government; and which will tend to reconcile men to monarchy in other countries and even in our own.

When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality, he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. Nor is it of slight importance, that men elected to office should he able men, men of talents equal to their stations, men of mature age, experience, and judgement; men of firmness and impartiality. This is particularly true with regard to men who constitute tribunals of justice — the main bulwark of our rights — the citadel that maintains the last struggle of freedom against the inroads of corruption and tyranny. In this citadel should be stationed no raw, inexperienced soldier, no weak temporizing defender, who will obsequiously bend to power, or parley with corruption.

One of the surest tests of a man’s real worth, is the esteem and confidence of those who have long known him, and his conduct in domestic and social life. It may be held as generally true, that respect spontaneously attaches itself to real worth; and the man of respectable virtues, never has occasion to run after respect Whenever a man is known to seek promotion by intrigue, by temporizing, or by resorting to the haunts of vulgarity and vice for support, it may be inferred, with moral certainty, that he is not a man of real respectability, nor is he entitled to public confidence. As a general rule, it may be affirmed, that the man who never intrigues for office, may be most safely entrusted with office; for the same noble qualities, his pride, or his integrity and sense of dignity, which make him disdain the mean arts of flattery and intrigue, will restrain him from debasing himself by betraying his trust Such a man cannot desire promotion, unless he receives it from the respectable part of the community; for he considers no other promotion to be honorable.

~ Noah Webster, Letters to A Young Man Commencing His Education: To Which is Subjoined A Brief History of the United States, Letter I.

Cheryl L. Stansberry
Cheryl L. Stansberry is a Reformed Christian (OPC) writer with a desire to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of the people.


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My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth." ~ J.C. Ryle

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