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READ STUDY GUIDE: Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs in America

 
Section 3:
THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF AMERICAN AFFAIRS
 

IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put ON, or rather that he will not put OFF, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.

Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between
England and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the
controversy, from different motives, and with various designs; but
all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms,
as the last resource, decide the contest; the appeal was the choice
of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge.
It hath been reported of the late Mr Pelham (who tho' an able
minister was not without his faults) that on his being attacked in
the house of commons, on the score, that his measures were only of a
temporary kind, replied, "THEY WILL LAST MY TIME." Should a thought
so fatal and unmanly possess the colonies in the present contest, the
name of ancestors will be remembered by future generations with
detestation.
The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis not the
affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a
continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis
not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually
involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to
the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed time of
continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be
like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a
young oak; The wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read
it in full grown characters.
By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new era for
politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans,
proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April, I. E. to the
commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacks of the last year;
which, though proper then, are superceded and useless now. Whatever
was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then,
terminated in one and the same point, viz. a union with
Great Britain; the only difference between the parties was the method
of effecting it; the one proposing force, the other friendship; but
it hath so far happened that the first hath failed, and the second
hath withdrawn her influence.
As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which,
like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it
is but right, that we should examine the contrary side of the
argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries which
these colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected
with, and dependant on Great Britain. To examine that connexion and
dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what
we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if
dependant.
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished
under her former connexion with Great Britain, that the same
connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always
have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind
of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived
upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty
years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But
even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that
America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no
European power had any thing to do with her. The commerce, by which
she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will
always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is
true, and defended the continent at our expence as well as her own is
admitted, and she would have defended Turkey from the same motive,
viz. the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made
large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of
Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was INTEREST
not ATTACHMENT; that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on
OUR ACCOUNT, but from HER ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from
those who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT, and who will
always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT. Let Britain wave her
pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the
dependance, and we should be at peace with France and Spain were they
at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn
us against connexions.
It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have
no relation to each other but through the parent country, I. E.
that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister
colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about
way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way
of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never
were, nor perhaps ever will be our enemies as AMERICANS, but as our
being the SUBJECTS OF GREAT BRITAIN.
But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame
upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages
make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns
to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so,
and the phrase PARENT or MOTHER COUNTRY hath been jesuitically
adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design
of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds.
Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new
world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and
religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled,
not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of
the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny
which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants
still.
In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits
of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England) and carry
our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every
European christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.
It is pleasant to observe by what regular gradations we surmount
the force of local prejudice, as we enlarge our acquaintance with the
world. A man born in any town in England divided into parishes, will
naturally associate most with his fellow parishioners (because their
interests in many cases will be common) and distinguish him by the
name of NEIGHBOUR; if he meet him but a few miles from home, he
drops the narrow idea of a street, and salutes him by the name of
TOWNSMAN; if he travel out of the county, and meet him in any
other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls
him COUNTRYMAN; i. e. COUNTY-MAN; but if in their foreign
excursions they should associate in France or any other part of
EUROPE, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that of
ENGLISHMEN. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans
meeting in America, or any other quarter of the globe, are
COUNTRYMEN; for England, Holland, Germany, or Sweden, when compared
with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale, which
the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller ones;
distinctions too limited for continental minds. Not one third of the
inhabitants, even of this province, are of English descent. Wherefore
I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother country applied to England
only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.
But admitting, that we were all of English descent, what does it
amount to? Nothing. Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes
every other name and title: And to say that reconciliation is our
duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present
line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the Peers of
England are descendants from the same country; wherefore, by the same
method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.
Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the
colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world.
But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither
do the expressions mean any thing; for this continent would never
suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British
arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.
Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our
plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the
peace and friendship of all Europe; because, it is the interest of
all Europe to have America a FREE PORT. Her trade will always be a
protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from
invaders.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to shew, a
single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected
with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge, not a single advantage is
derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and
our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection,
are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to
ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: Because, any
submission to, or dependance on Great Britain, tends directly to
involve this continent in European wars and quarrels; and sets us at
variance with nations, who would otherwise seek our friendship, and
against whom, we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our
market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any
part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of
European contentions, which she never can do, while by her dependance
on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale on British
politics.
Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace,
and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power,
the trade of America goes to ruin, BECAUSE OF HER CONNECTION WITH
BRITAIN. The next war may not turn out like the last, and should it
not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for
separation then, because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer
convoy than a man of war. Every thing that is right or natural pleads
for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature
cries, 'TIS TIME TO PART. Even the distance at which the Almighty
hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that
the authority of the one, over the other, was never the design of
Heaven. The time likewise at which the continent was discovered, adds
weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled
encreases the force of it. The reformation was preceded by the
discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a
sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford
neither friendship nor safety.
The authority of Great Britain over this continent, is a form of
government, which sooner or later must have an end: And a serious
mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful
and positive conviction, that what he calls "the present
constitution" is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy,
knowing that THIS GOVERNMENT is not sufficiently lasting to ensure
any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method
of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we
ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and
pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we
should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years
farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few
present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am
inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of
reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions.
Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who CANNOT
see; prejudiced men, who WILL NOT see; and a certain set of
moderate men, who think better of the European world than it
deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be
the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other
three.
It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of
sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to THEIR doors to make
THEM feel the precariousness with which all American property is
possessed. But let our imaginations transport us for a few moments to
Boston, that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct
us for ever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The
inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were
in ease and affluence, have now, no other alternative than to stay
and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their
friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the
soldiery if they leave it. In their present condition they are
prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for
their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.
Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offences of
Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, "COME,
COME, WE SHALL BE FRIENDS AGAIN, FOR ALL THIS." But examine the
passions and feelings of mankind, Bring the doctrine of
reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me, whether
you can hereafter love, honour, and faithfully serve the power that
hath carried fire and sword into your land? If you cannot do all
these, then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your delay
bringing ruin upon posterity. Your future connection with Britain,
whom you can neither love nor honour, will be forced and unnatural,
and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a
little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. But if
you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, Hath
your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your
face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or
bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands,
and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then
are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and still can
shake hands with the murderers, then you are unworthy of the name of
husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or
title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a
sycophant.
This is not inflaming or exaggerating matters, but trying them by
those feelings and affections which nature justifies, and without
which, we should be incapable of discharging the social duties of
life, or enjoying the felicities of it. I mean not to exhibit horror
for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and
unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object.
It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if
she do not conquer herself by DELAY and TIMIDITY. The present
winter is worth an age if rightly employed, but if lost or neglected,
the whole continent will partake of the misfortune; and there is no
punishment which that man will not deserve, be he who, or what, or
where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so
precious and useful.
It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things to all
examples from former ages, to suppose, that this continent can longer
remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain
does not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this
time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the
continent even a year's security. Reconciliation is NOW a falacious
dream. Nature hath deserted the connexion, and Art cannot supply her
place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, "never can true reconcilement
grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep."
Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers
have been rejected with disdain; and only tended to convince us, that
nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in Kings more than
repeated petitioning—and noting hath contributed more than that very
measure to make the Kings of Europe absolute: Witness Denmark and
Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God's sake,
let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation
to be cutting throats, under the violated unmeaning names of parent
and child.
To say, they will never attempt it again is idle and visionary, we
thought so at the repeal of the stamp act, yet a year or two
undeceived us; as well may we suppose that nations, which have been
once defeated, will never renew the quarrel.
As to government matters, it is not in the power of Britain to do
this continent justice: The business of it will soon be too weighty,
and intricate, to be managed with any tolerable degree of
convenience, by a power, so distant from us, and so very ignorant of
us; for if they cannot conquer us, they cannot govern us. To be
always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a
petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which when
obtained requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few
years be looked upon as folly and childishness—There was a time when
it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.
Small islands not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper
objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something
very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by
an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than
its primary planet, and as England and America, with respect to each
other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident they belong
to different systems: England to Europe, America to itself.
I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to
espouse the doctrine of separation and independance; I am clearly,
positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true
interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of THAT
is mere patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity,—that it is
leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time,
when, a little more, a little farther, would have rendered this
continent the glory of the earth.
As Britain hath not manifested the least inclination towards a
compromise, we may be assured that no terms can be obtained worthy
the acceptance of the continent, or any ways equal to the expense of
blood and treasure we have been already put to.
The object, contended for, ought always to bear some just
proportion to the expense. The removal of North, or the whole
detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions we have expended.
A temporary stoppage of trade, was an inconvenience, which would have
sufficiently ballanced the repeal of all the acts complained of, had
such repeals been obtained; but if the whole continent must take up
arms, if every man must be a soldier, it is scarcely worth our while
to fight against a contemptible ministry only. Dearly, dearly, do we
pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight for; for in a
just estimation, it is as great a folly to pay a Bunker-hill price
for law, as for land. As I have always considered the independancy of
this continent, as an event, which sooner or later must arrive, so
from the late rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event
could not be far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities,
it was not worth the while to have disputed a matter, which time
would have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in earnest;
otherwise, it is like wasting an estate on a suit at law, to regulate
the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is just expiring. No man was
a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal
nineteenth of April 1775, but the moment the event of that day was
made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of
England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended
title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE, can unfeelingly hear of their
slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.
But admitting that matters were now made up, what would be the
event? I answer, the ruin of the continent. And that for several
reasons.
FIRST. The powers of governing still remaining in the hands of
the king, he will have a negative over the whole legislation of this
continent. And as he hath shewn himself such an inveterate enemy to
liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power; is he, or
is he not, a proper man to say to these colonies, "YOU SHALL MAKE NO
LAWS BUT WHAT I PLEASE." And is there any inhabitant in America so
ignorant, as not to know, that according to what is called the
PRESENT CONSTITUTION, that this continent can make no laws but what
the king gives it leave to; and is there any man so unwise, as not to
see, that (considering what has happened) he will suffer no law to be
made here, but such as suit HIS purpose. We may be as effectually
enslaved by the want of laws in America, as by submitting to laws
made for us in England. After matters are made up (as it is called)
can there be any doubt, but the whole power of the crown will be
exerted, to keep this continent as low and humble as possible?
Instead of going forward we shall go backward, or be perpetually
quarrelling or ridiculously petitioning. We are already greater than
the king wishes us to be, and will he not hereafter endeavour to make
us less? To bring the matter to one point. Is the power who is
jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says
NO to this question is an INDEPENDANT, for independancy means no
more, than, whether we shall make our own laws, or, whether the king,
the greatest enemy this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us,
"THERE SHALL BE NO LAWS BUT SUCH AS I LIKE."
But the king you will say has a negative in England; the people
there can make no laws without his consent. In point of right and
good order, there is something very ridiculous, that a youth of
twenty-one (which hath often happened) shall say to several millions
of people, older and wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of
yours to be law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply,
though I will never cease to expose the absurdity of it, and only
answer, that England being the King's residence, and America not so,
make quite another case. The king's negative HERE is ten times more
dangerous and fatal than it can be in England, for THERE he will
scarcely refuse his consent to a bill for putting England into as
strong a state of defence as possible, and in America he would never
suffer such a bill to be passed.
America is only a secondary object in the system of British
politics, England consults the good of THIS country, no farther
than it answers her OWN purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads
her to suppress the growth of OURS in every case which doth not
promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it. A pretty
state we should soon be in under such a second-hand government,
considering what has happened! Men do not change from enemies to
friends by the alteration of a name: And in order to shew that
reconciliation NOW is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, THAT IT
WOULD BE POLICY IN THE KING AT THIS TIME, TO REPEAL THE ACTS FOR THE
SAKE OF REINSTATING HIMSELF IN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PROVINCES; in
order that HE MAY ACCOMPLISH BY CRAFT AND SUBTILITY, IN THE LONG RUN,
WHAT HE CANNOT DO BY FORCE AND VIOLENCE IN THE SHORT ONE.
Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.
SECONDLY. That as even the best terms, which we can expect to
obtain, can amount to no more than a temporary expedient, or a kind
of government by guardianship, which can last no longer than till the
colonies come of age, so the general face and state of things, in the
interim, will be unsettled and unpromising. Emigrants of property
will not choose to come to a country whose form of government hangs
but by a thread, and who is every day tottering on the brink of
commotion and disturbance; and numbers of the present inhabitants
would lay hold of the interval, to dispose of their effects, and quit
the continent.
But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but
independance, i. e. a continental form of government, can keep the
peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. I
dread the event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more
than probable, that it will followed by a revolt somewhere or other,
the consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice
of Britain.
Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more
will probably suffer the same fate.) Those men have other feelings
than us who have nothing suffered. All they NOW possess is liberty,
what they before enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and having
nothing more to lose, they disdain submission. Besides, the general
temper of the colonies, towards a British government, will be like
that of a youth, who is nearly out of his time; they will care very
little about her. And a government which cannot preserve the peace,
is no government at all, and in that case we pay our money for
nothing; and pray what is it that Britain can do, whose power will be
wholly on paper, should a civil tumult break out the very day after
reconciliation? I have heard some men say, many of whom I believe
spoke without thinking, that they dreaded an independance, fearing
that it would produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first
thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here; for there are
ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion than from
independance. I make the sufferers case my own, and I protest, that
were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed, and my
circumstances ruined, that as a man, sensible of injuries, I could
never relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound
thereby.
The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and
obedience to continental government, as is sufficient to make every
reasonable person easy and happy on that head. No man can assign the
least pretence for his fears, on any other grounds, that such as are
truly childish and ridiculous, viz. that one colony will be striving
for superiority over another.
Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority,
perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe are
all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Swisserland are
without wars, foreign or domestic: Monarchical governments, it is
true, are never long at rest; the crown itself is a temptation to
enterprizing ruffians at HOME; and that degree of pride and
insolence ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture
with foreign powers, in instances, where a republican government, by
being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.
If there is any true cause of fear respecting independance, it is
because no plan is yet laid down. Men do not see their way
out—Wherefore, as an opening into that business, I offer the
following hints; at the same time modestly affirming, that I have no
other opinion of them myself, than that they may be the means of
giving rise to something better. Could the straggling thoughts of
individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for
wise and able men to improve into useful matter.
Let the assemblies be annual, with a President only. The
representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and
subject to the authority of a Continental Congress.
Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient
districts, each district to send a proper number of delegates to
Congress, so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number
in Congress will be least 390. Each Congress to sit and to choose
a president by the following method. When the delegates are met, let
a colony be taken from the whole thirteen colonies by lot, after
which, let the whole Congress choose (by ballot) a president from out
of the delegates of THAT province. In the next Congress, let a
colony be taken by lot from twelve only, omitting that colony from
which the president was taken in the former Congress, and so
proceeding on till the whole thirteen shall have had their proper
rotation. And in order that nothing may pass into a law but what is
satisfactorily just, not less than three fifths of the Congress to be
called a majority. He that will promote discord, under a government
so equally formed as this, would have joined Lucifer in his revolt.
But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner,
this business must first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and
consistent that it should come from some intermediate body between
the governed and the governors, that is, between the Congress and the
people, let a CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE be held, in the following
manner, and for the following purpose.
A committee of twenty-six members of Congress, viz. two for each
colony. Two members for each House of Assembly, or Provincial
Convention; and five representatives of the people at large, to be
chosen in the capital city or town of each province, for, and in
behalf of the whole province, by as many qualified voters as shall
think proper to attend from all parts of the province for that
purpose; or, if more convenient, the representatives may be chosen in
two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this conference,
thus assembled, will be united, the two grand principles of business,
KNOWLEDGE and POWER. The members of Congress, Assemblies, or
Conventions, by having had experience in national concerns, will be
able and useful counsellors, and the whole, being impowered by the
people, will have a truly legal authority.
The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a
CONTINENTAL CHARTER, or Charter of the United Colonies; (answering to
what is called the Magna Charta of England) fixing the number and
manner of choosing members of Congress, members of Assembly, with
their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and
jurisdiction between them: (Always remembering, that our strength is
continental, not provincial:) Securing freedom and property to all
men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according
to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as is necessary
for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said
Conference to dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen
comformable to the said charter, to be the legislators and governors
of this continent for the time being: Whose peace and happiness, may
God preserve, Amen.
Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or some
similar purpose, I offer them the following extracts from that wise
observer on governments DRAGONETTI. "The science" says he "of the
politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and
freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should
discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of
individual happiness, with the least national expense." "DRAGONETTI
ON VIRTUE AND REWARDS."
But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend,
he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal
Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in
earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the
charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word
of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know,
that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS
KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free
countries the law OUGHT to be King; and there ought to be no other.
But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the
conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the
people whose right it is.
A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man
seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will
become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a
constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it
in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and
chance. If we omit it now, some, [*1] Massanello may hereafter arise,
who laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the
desperate and discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers
of government, may sweep away the liberties of the continent like a
deluge. Should the government of America return again into the hands
of Britain, the tottering situation of things, will be a temptation
for some desperate adventurer to try his fortune; and in such a case,
what relief can Britain give? Ere she could hear the news, the fatal
business might be done; and ourselves suffering like the wretched
Britons under the oppression of the Conqueror. Ye that oppose
independance now, ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to
eternal tyranny, by keeping vacant the seat of government. There are
thousands, and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious to
expel from the continent, that barbarous and hellish power, which
hath stirred up the Indians and Negroes to destroy us, the cruelty
hath a double guilt, it is dealing brutally by us, and treacherously
by them.
To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to
have faith, and our affections wounded through a thousand pores
instruct us to detest, is madness and folly. Every day wears out the
little remains of kindred between us and them, and can there be any
reason to hope, that as the relationship expires, the affection will
increase, or that we shall agree better, when we have ten times more
and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?
Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us
the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former
innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last
cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses
against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would
cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the
ravisher of his mistress, as the continent forgive the murders of
Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable
feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of his
image in our hearts. They distinguish us from the herd of common
animals. The social compact would dissolve, and justice be extirpated
from the earth, or have only a casual existence were we callous to
the touches of affection. The robber, and the murderer, would often
escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain,
provoke us into justice.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny,
but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun
with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and
Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger,
and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the
fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

Note 1 Thomas Anello, otherwise Massanello, a fisherman of Naples, who after spiriting up his countrymen in the public market place, against the oppression of the Spaniards, to whom the place was then subject, prompted them to revolt, and in the space of a day became king.

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