Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Our Stalwart Forebears

Many conservatives, including a recent Presidential candidate, seem to believe we've lost our way and become too dependent on "gifts" from the government.   In reading a paper on the early days preceding the establishment of USDA I ran across this quote from the Commissioner of Patents, with respect to the seed distribution program:
It has been the special desire and object to provide and place within the reach of the
people, wherever scattered, the means of propagating such new and improved varieties of plants as they would not otherwise have had access to, and which are adapted to their
respective climates. It certainly was never the purpose of Congress to convert this O ce
into a common seed-store, intended to supply the public at large gratuitously with the
means of planting their ordinary vegetable gardens. This fact seems frequently overlooked by applicants to the O ce. It requires no little care and discrimination to guard against a growing tendency of this species of abuse. It would not only be overstepping the bounds of propriety, but would be doing injustice to the people at large, if, instead of their being accustomed to depend mainly upon their own e orts for the means of supplying their wants, they should be encouraged to turn their eyes habitually to the government, as a reliance for such purposes. If this were once established as the rule of action, it would be silently but certainly doing much to work a change in the very character of the government itself, by causing it to be regarded in this particular as the fountain of favors and bene ts. The   people would gradually be parting with that self-reliance which is the parent of energy and the main-spring of success in every undertaking, and which is so necessary to the preservation of individual self respect, and therefore of personal, and nally of national independence.
 This was in 1856.

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