Address to the Vermont Legislature in Montpelier
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Legislature of the State of Vermont:
I am grateful to you for this cordial reception, which crowns a series of friendly demonstrations which began with my entry into this good State and have continued to this interesting and important occasion. I am glad to meet the chosen representatives of the towns of Vermont, appointed to the discharge of functions of legislating for the general good. The wisdom of our fathers devised that system of governmental division for the General Government which has found adoption or adaptation in all the States; the division of the powers of the Government into three great coordinate departments-each independent, and yet having close and important relations one with the other, and each adapted in the highest degree to secure the liberty of the individual, the welfare of our community, and the national honor and prosperity. It has been fortunate for us as a people that no serious clash has occurred to these great departments. The constitutional balance and counter-balance have preserved with marvelous exactness, with the perfection of the most perfect machinery, the relations of these several departments, each doing its appropriate work and producing the great result which had been intended. Surely there is no other country where the springs of government are higher than here. The impulses of our people are drawn from springs that lie high in the hills of duty and loyalty. They respect and obey the law, because it is the orderly expression of their own will. The compact of our Government is a rule by the majority. The sanction of all law is that it is the expression by popular election of the will of a majority of our people. Law has no other sanction than that with us; and happy are we, and happy are those communities where the election methods are so honestly and faithfully prescribed and observed that no doubt is thrown upon the popular expression and no question of the integrity of the ballot is ever raised. If we shall ever or anywhere allow a doubt to settle into the minds of our people whether the results of our elections are honestly attained, whether the laws made are framed by those who have been properly chosen by the majority, then all sanction is withdrawn from law and all respect from the rulers who by a false ballot are placed in public office.
I am glad to congratulate you upon your constituencies-intelligent, devoted, and patriotic. I am glad to congratulate you that the State of Vermont, from its earliest aspirations and efforts for liberty and self-government, which developed into your constitution in 1777, down through all the story of toil and the struggles which have beset you as a State and the vicissitudes which have beset the country of which you are an honored part-that the State of Vermont and her sons in the councils of the nation and on the blood-stained battlefields of the great war have borne themselves worthily. Will you permit me now to thank you again for this demonstration and for the opportunity to stand for a moment in your presence? I am sure that we may each, from this occasion, in the discharge of public duty, draw some impulse to a more perfect exercise of our powers for the public good.
Benjamin Harrison, Address to the Vermont Legislature in Montpelier Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/276728