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Former President Harry S. Truman Speaks on Liberty and Justice in America (Post number 2 of 6)

Liberty and justice under the rule of law are primary American principles. Our struggle to understand and execute them in our country never stops.

A beautiful and update restatement of how our Democracy should work comes from Former President, Harry S. Truman, in a little known address he made to Missouri Bar enrollees almost 60 years ago. This blog will serialize his remarks. (Quoted as it was printed in the June 1958 and November 2014 issues of the Journal of the Missouri Bar.)

"Everyone who holds office in the Federal government or in the government of one of our states takes an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. I have taken such an oath many times; including the two times I took the special oath required of the President of the United States.

It actually says "to support and defend" the Constitution. Every lawyer subscribes to that oath when he is admitted to the Bar.

This oath we take has a deep significance. Its simple words compress a lot of our history and a lot of our philosophy of government into one small space. In many countries, men swear to be loyal to their king, or their nation. Here we promise to uphold and defend a document.

This is because the document sets forth our idea of government. And beyond this, with the Declaration of Independence, it expresses our idea of man and his place in the world. We believe that man should be free. And these documents establish a system under which man can be free and set up a framework to protect and expand this freedom.

The longer I live, the more I am impressed by the significance of our simple official oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Perhaps it takes a lifetime of experience to understand how much the Constitution means in our national life. "

The speech will continue next week in post number 3 of 6. The full text of the speech is available on my website under the articles tab.

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