"Our political leaders traded in the free commerce of ideas with lasting results" long ago. He named Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster among others.
He said when freedom is endangered, politicians and intellectuals "should be natural allies, working more closely together for the common cause against the common enemy."
He ended saying "if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live on this commencement day of 1956."
He also said one of his contemporaries spoke of Jefferson as a man for all seasons. He called him "A gentleman of 32, who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin."
He was also a statesman, third US president, and supporter of public and university education. He said "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
"".whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."
He called education fundamental for democracy. He believed ignorance and sound government can't co-exist. He said government must provide education.
Only popular government can safeguard democracy. "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree"."- Advertisement -
"Democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment".it cannot function without wise and honest officials."
In free societies, everyone "should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental conditions".Children of the poor must be educated at common expense."