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3402. GENERATIONS, The Earth and.—[further continued].

Can one generation bind
another, and all others, in succession forever?
I think not. The Creator has made the earth
for the living, not the dead. Rights and


Page 378
powers can only belong to persons, not to
things, not to mere matter, unendowed with
will. The dead are not even things. The particles
of matter which composed their bodies,
make part now of the bodies of other animals,
vegetables, or minerals, of a thousand forms.
To what, then, are attached the rights and
powers they held while in the form of men? A
generation may bind itself as long as its majority
continues in life; when that has disappeared,
another majority is in place, holds all
the rights and powers their predecessors once
held, and may change their laws and institutions
to suit themselves. Nothing, then, is
unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable
rights of man.—
To John Cartwright. Washington ed. vii, 359.
(M. 1824)