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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: William Penn (1644–1718)
QUOTATION: Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavour to warp and spoil it to their turn.
ATTRIBUTION: WILLIAM PENN, in his Preface to the First Frame of Government [constitution] for Pennsylvania, which was formally adopted in England, April 25, 1682.—The William Penn Tercentenary Committee, Remember William Penn, 2d ed., p. 81 (1945).

The committee noted that the preface was perhaps “Penn’s best expression of his ideas of government” (p. 80).
SUBJECTS: Government