The Necessity of Virtue

Overview

While the separation of powers is the greatest of the institutional restraints on government, the principal restraint is a virtuous people. Ultimately, the maintenance of free government depends on the people themselves. Auxiliary precautions such as separation of powers and checks and balances are necessary, but they are insufficient. Experience has shown that a people will either be virtuous and free or else corrupt and ruled.

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Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, where he is also a professor of politics and history. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate School.