Saturday, June 19, 2010

Andrew Jackson and equal protection

President Andrew Jackson made the following remarks during a speech regarding his veto of the controversial national bank bill that had passed by the Congress in the summer of 1832.  Jackson's view of the proper role of government is worth consideration.

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.  Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government.  Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions.  In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.  There are no necessary evils in government.  Its evils exist only in its abuses.  If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does it rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, ti would be an unqualified blessing."

from American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham, page 210.

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