William Penn on Good Government


Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them are ruined too: wherefore governments rather depend on men, than men upon governments . Let men be good, and the government can’t be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good; they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.

I know some say, let us have good laws, and no matter for the men that execute them. But let them consider, that though good laws do well, good men do better…

The Frame of the Government of the Province of Pennsylvania in America, 1682

HT: John Daly of Santa Barbara, California via “The Commons” section of the June 2020 issue of The Atlantic.