President Barack Obama addresses the class of 2010 at the University of Michigan

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University of Michigan
"On the last day of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was famously asked, "Well, doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?" And Franklin gave an answer that's been quoted for ages. He said, 'A republic, if you can keep it.'

"Well, for more than 200 years, we have kept it. Through revolution and civil war, our democracy has survived. Through depression and world war, it has prevailed. Through periods of great social and economic unrest, from civil rights to women's rights, it has allowed us slowly, sometimes painfully, to move towards a more perfect union. And so now, class of 2010, the question for your generation is this: How will you keep our democracy going? At a moment when our challenges seem so big and our politics seem so small, how will you keep our democracy alive and vibrant? How will you keep it well in this century?"

— President Barack Obama

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