I find few things more personally enriching than exploring the parameters of my own ignorance.
The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a pet notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different.
How, then, can the rights of three men exceed the rights of two men? In what possible way can the rights of three men absorb the rights of two men, and make them as if they had never existed. . . . It is not possible to suppose, without absurdity, than a man should have no rights over his own body and mind, and yet have a 1/10,000,000th share in unlimited rights over all other bodies and minds?
The career of a politician mainly consists in making one part of the nation do what it does not want to do, in order to please and satisfy the other part of the nation. It is the prolonged sacrifice of the rights of some persons at the bidding and for the satisfaction of other persons. The ruling idea of the politician - stated rather bluntly - is that those who are opposed to him exist for the purpose of being made to serve his ends, if he can get power enough in his hands to force these ends upon them.
It is inherent in the nature of sovereignty not to be amenable to the suit of any individual without its consent. This is the general sense and the general practice of mankind; and the exemption, as one of the attributes of sovereignty, is now enjoyed by the government of every State in the Union. . . . The contracts between a nation and individuals are only binding on the conscience of the sovereign, and have no pretensions to a compulsory force. They confer no right of action, independent of the sovereign will. To...authorize suits against States for the debts they owe...could not be done without waging war against the contracting State..., a power which would involve such a consequence, would be altogether forced and unwarranted.
Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.