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charles evans hughes Quotes

Charles Evans Hughes Quotes

Birth Date: 1862-04-11 (Friday, April 11th, 1862)
Date of Death: 1948-08-27 (Friday, August 27th, 1948)



    • We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is, and the judiciary is the safeguard of our liberty and of our property under the Constitution.
    • While democracy must have its organizations and controls, its vital breath is individual liberty.
    • No greater mistake can be made than to think that our institutions are fixed or may not be changed for the worse. ... Increasing prosperity tends to breed indifference and to corrupt moral soundness. Glaring inequalities in condition create discontent and strain the democratic relation. The vicious are the willing, and the ignorant are unconscious instruments of political artifice. Selfishness and demagoguery take advantage of liberty. The selfish hand constantly seeks to control government, and every increase of governmental power, even to meet just needs, furnishes opportunity for abuse and stimulates the effort to bend it to improper uses. .. The peril of this Nation is not in any foreign foe! We, the people, are its power, its peril, and its hope!
    • A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.
    • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.
    • The most ominous spirit of our times, as it seems to me, is the indication of the growth of an intolerent spirit. It is the more dangerous when armed, as it usually is, with sincere conviction. It is a spirit whose wrath must be turned away by the soft answers of a sweet reasonableness. It can be exorcised only by invoking the Genius which watched over our infancy and has guided our development- a good Genius- still potent let us believe - the American spirit of civil and religious liberty. Our institutions were not devised to bring about uniformity of opinion; if they had we might well abandon hope. It is important to remember, as has well been said, 'the essential characteristic of true liberty is that under its shelter many different types of life and character and opinion and belief can develop unmolested and unobstructed.'
    • The power of administrative bodies to make finding of fact which may be treated as conclusive, if there is evidence both ways, is a power of enormous consequence. An unscrupulous administrator might be tempted to say 'Let me find the facts for the people of my country, and I care little who lays down the general principles.'
    • We still proclam the old ideals of liberty but we cannot voice them without anxiety in our hearts. The question is no longer one of establishing democratic institutions but of preserving them. ... The arch enemies of society are those who know better but by indirection, misstatement, understatement, and slander, seek to accomplish their concealed purposes or to gain profit of some sort by misleading the public. The antidote for these poisons must be found in the sincere and courageous efforts of those who would preserve their cherished freedom by a wise and responsible use of it. Freedom of expression gives the essential democratic oppurtunity, but self-restraint is the essential civic discipline.
    • I think that it is a fallacy to suppose that helpful cooperation in the future will be assured by the attempted compulsion of an inflexible rule. Rather will such cooperation depend upon the fostering of firm friendships springing from an appreciation of community ideals, interests, and purposes, and such friendships are more likely to be promoted by freedom of conference than by the effort to create hard and fast engagements.
    • At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections.
    • [Dissents are] appeals to the brooding spirit of the law, to the intelligence of another day.
    • We may gain something in our quest for peace if we recognize at once that war is not an abnormality. In the truest sense, it is not the mere play of brute force. It is the expression of the insistent human will, inflexible in its purpose. When we consider the inability to maintain a just peace attests to the failure of civilization itself, we may be less confident of the success of any artificial contrivances to prevent war. We must recognize that we are dealing with the very woof and warp of human nature. The war to end war has left its curse of hate, its lasting injuries, its breeding grounds of strife, and to secure an abiding peace appears to be more difficult than ever. There is no advantage to shutting our eyes to the facts; nor should we turn in disgust of panaceas to the counsel of despair. The pathway of peace is the longest and most beset with obstacles the human race has to tread; the goal may be distant, but we must press on.
    • It is not surprising that many should be captivated by the proposal, with its delusive simplicity and adequacey, for the outlawry of war. War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals. The suggestion, however futile in itself, has at least the merit of bringing us to the core of the problem. Even among its sponsors appear at once the qualifications which reflect the old distinction, so elaborately argued by Grotius, between just and unjust wars. 'The grounds of war,' said he, ' are as numerous as those of judicial actions. For where the power of law ceases, there war begins.' He found the justifiable causes generally assigned for war to be three - defense, indemnity, and punishment. War is self-help, and the right to make war has been recognized as the corollary of independence, the permitted means by which injured nations protect their territory and maintain their rights. International law leaves aggrieved states who cannot obtain redress for their wrongs by peaceful means to exact it by force. If war is outlawed, other means of redress of injuries must be provided. Moreover, few, if any, intend to outlaw self-defense, a right still accorded to individuals under all systems of law. To meet this difficulty, the usual formula is limited to wars of aggression. But justification for war, as recently demonstrated, is ready at hand for those who desire to make war, and there is rarely a case of admitted aggression, or where on each side the cause is not believed to be just by the peoples who support the war. There is a further difficulty that lies deeper. There is no lawgiver for independent States. There is no legislature to impose its will by majority vote, no executive to give effect even to accepted rules. The outlawry of war necessarily implies a self-imposed restraint, and free peoples, jealous of their national safety, of their freedom of opportunity, of the rights and privileges they deem essential to their well-being, will not forego the only sanction at their command in extreme exigencies. The restraints they may be willing to place upon themselves will always be subject to such conditions as will leave them able to afford self-protection by force, and in this freedom there is abundant room for strife sought to be justified by deep-seated convictions of national interests, by long-standing grievances by the apprehension of aggression to be forestalled. The outlawry of war, by appropriate rule of law making war a crime, requires the common accord needed to establish and maintain a rule of international law, the common consent to abandon war; and the suggested remedy thus implies a state of mind in which no cure is needed. As the restraint is self-imposed it will prove to be of avail only while there is a will to peace.
    • Time has shown how illusory are alliances of great powers so far as the maintenance of peace is concerned. In considering the use of international force to secure peace, we are again brought to the fundamental necessity of common accord. If the feasibility of such a force be conceded for the purpose of maintaining adjudications of legal right, this is only because such an adjudication would proceed upon principles commonly accepted, and thus forming part of international law, and upon the common agreement to respect the decision of an impartial tribunal in the application of such principles. This is a limited field where force is rarely needed and where the sanctions of public opinion and the demands of national honor are generally quite sufficient to bring about acquiescence in judicial awards. But in the field of conflicting national policies, and what are deemed essential interests, when the smoldering fires of old grievances have been fanned into a flame by a passionate sense of immediate injury, or the imagination of peoples is dominated by apprehension of present danger to national safety, or by what is believed to be an assault upon national honor, what force is to control the outbreak? Great powers agreeing among themselves may indeed hold small powers in check. But who will hold great powers in check when great powers disagree?
    • There is no path to peace except as the will of peoples may open to it. The way of peace is through agreement, not through force. The question then is not of any ambitious scheme to prevent war, but simply of the constant effort, which is the highest task of statesmanship in relation to every possible cause of strife, to diminish a people's disposition to resort to force and to find a just and reasonable basis for accord. If the energy, ability, and sagacity equal to that now devoted to preparation for war could be concentrated upon such efforts aided by the urgent demands of an intelligent public opinion, addressed not to impossibilities but to the removal or adjustment of actual differences, we should make a sure approach to our goal.
    • The only real progress to abiding peace is found in the friendly disposition of peoples and ... facilities for maintaining peace are useful only to the extent that this friendly disposition exists and finds expression. War is not only possible, but probable, where mistrust and hatred and desire for revenge are the dominant motives. Our first duty is at home with our own opinion, by education and unceasing effort to bring to naught the mischievous exhortation of chauvinists; our next is to aid in every practicable way in promoting a better feeling among peoples, the healing of wounds, and the just settlement of differences.
    • Now largely forgotten, Hughes was one of the great political figures of his age, both in America and on the world stage, and was very much the intellectual rival of his opponent in the narrowly lost presidential election of 1916, Woodrow Wilson. Hughes public career was distinguished and wide-ranging. A progressive Republican New York City lawyer catapulted overnight into the public eye by his service on public commissions investigating corruption in the utility and insurance industries, Hughes served as governor of New York from 1907 to 1910, stepping down to accept William Howard Taft's appointment as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite pressures from supporters in the Republican Party, Hughes refused to leave the court to run for president in 1912; in 1916, he declined to seek his party's nomination (or, indeed, even to indicate a willingness to accept it) but having received it, stepped down from the court to take up the race against Wilson.
    • Always a Progressive in outlook, Hughes believed in the organic growth and evolution of polities and political relationships; any effort to freeze conditions would inevitably become a reactionary defense of the rights of the privileged against what might, in some cases, be the reasonable and legitimate demands of the dispossessed and the interests of the community as a whole.
    • I don't know the man I admire more than Hughes. If ever I have the chance I shall offer him the Chief Justiceship.
    • charles evans hughes

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