I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to William
Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820
ON APRIL 14, 1789, GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS OUT WALKING through the fields at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, when Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, rode up on horseback. Thomson had a letter for Washington from the president pro tempore of the new, constitutionally created United States ...