Sermon – Thanksgiving – 1815

John Lathrop (1740-1816) Biography:
John Lathrop, also spelled Lothrop, was born in Norwich, Connecticut. He graduated from Princeton in 1763 and began working as an assistant teacher with the Rev. Dr. Eleazar Wheelock of Lebanon, Connecticut, at Moor’s Indian Charity School. He studied theology under Dr. Wheelock (who later founded Dartmouth College) and became licensed to preach in 1767, ministering among the Indians. In 1768, he became the preacher of the Second Church of Boston, but as Boston was central in the rising tensions and violence with the British leading up to the American War for Independence, he relocated to Providence, Rhode Island. When the Founding Fathers declared independence from Britain in 1776, Lathrop returned to Boston. When Dr. Pemberton of New Brick Church was taken ill, Lathrop was asked to become the assistant to the pastor. When Pemberton passed away a year later, Lathrop became pastor of New Brick Church but also retained the pastorate of Second Church, merging it into New Brick in 1779. Lathrop remained pastor until his death from lung fever in 1816. He had served as President of the Massachusetts Bible Society and the Society of Propagating the Gospel in North America, and he was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Antiquarian Society. Numerous of his sermons were published.











“Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk you of all his wondrous works.”

NEVER, my friends, did we assemble with more cheerful hearts to offer praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God, than we do on the present occasion. Never have we witnessed joy more universal than the joy expressed by the American people at the return of peace. This event, like the sun breaking from a cloud, hath scattered the darkness which hung over our afflicted country, and given new spirits and new life to many who were “bowed down to the dust,” and “covered with the shadow of death.”

On such an occasion, it is highly proper, that people professing the Christian religion, do assemble in places of worship, and offer praise and thanksgiving to Him who ruleth over the nations, and turneth the hearts of the kings, and of the mighty men of the earth, as the waters are turned.

Not only the people of our country but the greatest part of the Christian world, have been in deep affliction. Modern history presents no period to our recollection, in which the miseries of war have been more generally felt, than during the last few years; and it is with great pleasure that we hear, peace was no sooner restored to the bleeding nations of Europe, than the temples of the Most High were filled with praises and thanksgivings.

As the American people were the last to take the cup of affliction, which the Sovereign of the world hath caused to pass from one nation to another, so are they the last, but we trust, not the least, in sincere and humble gratitude, to the giver of all mercies for granting salvation to many millions of people, by a general peace.
The text points out to us a course of exercises, proper on the present occasion. We are called upon by a sense of gratitude; by a recollection of the benefits which a merciful God hath bestowed upon us, – we are called upon to give thanks, – to worship Him, – to talk of all his wondrous works.

It would be pleasant, and it would be useful, to talk of those wondrous works which proclaim the Eternal Power and Godhead; and which have called forth the reverence and love of the wise and good, in all parts of the world. By the things which our eyes behold, we have convincing evidence, that a Being of infinite perfection, presides over the universe and guides all the movements of it, according to his pleasure. But on the present occasion, we feel disposed to talk more particularly of the loving kindness and of the mercy, which God was pleased to show to the Fathers of our Country; of the protection grated to them and their children, in seasons of weakness and danger, and when they were exposed to the savages of the wilderness, and to other powerful enemies; – of the wars in which our country has been engaged; – of the late war, and of the peace which God hath now given to us. From a review of the wondrous works of mercy and goodness, “which were done in the times of old,” and which have been done in later years, we will endeavour to excite those grateful and pious feelings, which alone can render our public expressions of thanksgiving acceptable to a gracious Benefactor.

When we speak of the Fathers of our Country, we have respect to those Europeans, who early adventured to this quarter of the world, and made settlements in various parts of the extensive region now called The United States of America : but when we speak of the Fathers of New England, we have respect to those protestant Christians, who, having been oppressed and persecuted by a race of despotic sovereigns, and by an intolerant hierarchy, left “the places of their fathers sepulchers,” and made the first permanent settlements, in the region which we inhabit, and which still bears the name of the country from whence they emigrated.

The views of the early adventurers to North America, even from Columbus in 1492, to the time when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, in 1620, where extremely various. The object of some of them was, discovery. — Men best acquainted, in those times with the principles of geography, expected to find a passage to India, by the Western Ocean. Others were excited to the hazardous undertaking, and made voyages to this quarter of the world, with the expectation of wealth: reports were spread abroad, that on the islands and on the continent there was plenty of silver and gold. But it was for the express purpose of securing for themselves and for their children the rights of freemen, and more particularly the rights of conscience, that the Fathers of New England exchanged their dwelling places, in a country abounding with the means of subsistence, for a wilderness, where wants and sufferings were to be expected.

The first Christian pilgrims approached these northern shores at an inclement season of the year. At their landing they found no shelter from the cold and from the tempest. They were in want of those refreshments which would have been peculiarly grateful after the fatigues and dangers of a long voyage. By reason of the privations and the sufferings, which were unavoidable in their miserable habitations, they soon became sickly; and before the opening of the spring, forty-five of the one hundred and one, who landed on the last of the preceding December, were dead.

Although the first Christian pilgrims had been brought to this northern region, contrary to the contract which they had been careful to make before they left their native country, divine providence seems to have prepared a place for them, in which they might plant themselves without any immediate opposition. The Indians, who had before inhabited the ground on which they landed, and the wilderness bordering on them were nearly extinct. The had some time before been beaten in bloody wars with other savage nations; and, to complete their destruction, an awful pestilence had raged among them, sweeping away both the old and the young, until it might be said, “The land was left without inhabitants.” With great propriety we quote and apply a part of the XLIV. Psalm. — “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them : how thou didst afflict the people and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.”

The feeble pilgrims, at the first, had indeed no enemy to oppose them. None of the original lords of the soil came to protest against their landing. The first visit made them by an Indian, was in the month of March. One of the chiefs of a tribe, living a considerable distance, appeared, unexpectedly; and in their own language which he had imperfectly learned from Europeans, who had visited the country, he addressed them saying, “Welcome, Englishmen; Welcome, Englishmen!” 1

The fathers of New England were not, however, permitted to continue many years unmolested. The tribes of Indians, who inhabited the vast wilderness, observing the increase of English settlements, and hearing of the arrival of new adventurers, indulged suspicions, that the strangers, who were not only spreading along on the sea shore, but were extending into the country, would, ere long, compel them to relinquish the possessions which their fathers had enjoyed, from time immemorial.

Jealousies and apprehensions, such as we have no mentioned, were greatly strengthened by the intercourse which the natives of the wilderness had afterwards with the French, whose settlements were progressing in Nova Scotia and in Canada. The most dangerous wars in which the fathers of New England were engaged, are traced to the sources which we have now mentioned. Philip, son and successor of Massasciet, the historian observes, “could not bear to see the English of New Plymouth, extending their settlements over the dominions of his ancestors; and although his father had, at one time or another conveyed to them all that they were possessed of, yet he had sense enough, to distinguish a free voluntary covenant, from one he made under a sort of duress; and he could never rest until he brought on the war, which ended in his destruction.” The same historian adds; “The eastern wars have been caused by the attachment of those Indians to the French, who have taken all opportunities of exciting them to hostilities against the English.” 2

During the wars with Philip, and with various tribes of Indians, after the death of Philip, assisted by the French from Canada and Nova Scotia, the New England Colonies, more especially Massachusetts and New Hampshire, were exposed to great sufferings. Such was the influence which Phillip had over his own tribe, and over many other tribes of the savages that he was able to send the calamities of war to almost every town in New England. Many innocent people were killed while laboring in their fields; many women and children were killed in their houses; many were taken and carried away into captivity. Between the month of June 1675, when this noted warrior began his work of murder and depredation, and the month of August, 1676, when he fell in battle, many of the towns in this then colony, which are now beautiful and opulent, were visited by the savage invaders, and either in whole, or in part were destroyed. I will mention some of them. — Brookfield was among the first, seven days after was laid in ashes. Springfield, partly destroyed. Groton, wholly destroyed. Lancaster, and Medfield, and Warwick, and Sudbury, and Marlborough, and Chelmsford, and Weymouth, and Bridgewater, and Scituate, and Middleborough, and Plymouth, and several other towns, were attacked, and in most cases some of the inhabitants were killed, and some carried into captivity; and many of the buildings left in flames.

Nor did the work of devastation and murder end with the death of Phillip. 3 Expeditions were made from Canada and from Nova Scotia. Saco, and Wells, and York, and Dover, and Berwick, and other places, were invaded by French and Indians from the east. Many people were killed, and many houses were destroyed. Several towns, which were destroyed in the time of Philip’s war were again visited and destroyed by parties of French from Canada, and the Indians who united with them. So late as 1704, Deerfield was again invaded and burnt; many of the people were killed, and their minister, Rev. Mr. Williams was carried into captivity. And four years after, Haverhill was attacked, and in part burnt; Rev. Mr. Rolfe the minister of the town, and thirty or forty of the people were killed.

During the long reign of Lewis XIV king of France, great exertions were made by that monarch to gain an ascendency over the powerful kingdoms of Europe, and, in the end, make all of the nations of the world bow to his authority. He found the English were making settlements on the atlantick coasts, and rapidly extending their borders into a country capable of high cultivation, and promising a lucrative commerce. He, too, had colonies in North America; but he had an impression, that his colonies would be of but little advantage to him, unless he could prevent the growth of the English colonies, but eventually, would have extirpated them. We find a plan for the purpose now mentioned, adopted by the court of France, as early as 1687. 4

The French project to obtain, and to hold the dominion of all North America, was simple, while it was deep. It was to secure the great rivers at the north east, and at the south west, viz. the St. Lawrence, and the Mississippi, as well as the inland seas, which complete the line of water communication, and which give facility to an immense commerce. They very well knew, that the power, which shall be able to command on those waters, will be able to command and to direct the numerous tribes of savages who inhabit the vast wilderness between the English colonies and the French settlements. To carry this plan in to effect, we find the French exploring the waters of the Mississippi, in the year 1687. Some years after, we hear of them making settlements on the borders of that river. We hear of them erecting forts, at the most commanding places, near the lakes, and other navigable waters at the west; and at the same time, making unreasonable demands of territory at the east. 5

Having thus prepared, the French lost no time in attempting to carry their plan into execution. They availed themselves of the jealousies which already existed in the minds of many of the native Indians, that the English would take from them their hunting grounds, and destroy them. In this state of jealousy and irritation, they were excited to deeds of savage cruelty. They not only invaded the frontier settlements, and penetrated the country, laying waste and destroying, as has been already related; but formidable fleets were sent to attack the whole extent of sea coast. In 1697, the historian informs us, “an invasion was every day expected for several weeks together; and news was brought to Boston, that a formidable French fleet had been seen upon the coast.”
The reality of a plan to destroy English colonies, and particularly New England, is stated by Charlevoix, in the account given him, of the above mentioned expedition. A powerful army from Canada, was to meet a fleet from France early in the season at Penobscot; and, “as soon as the junction was made, and the troops embarked, the fleet, without loss of time, was to go to Boston, and that town being taken, it was to range the coast, — destroying settlements as far into the country as they could.” 6 — This projected expedition, had it been executed, might have been fatal to our country; but, by reason of contrary winds, the fleet did not arrive in season, and the plan was frustrated.

Another projected invasion is within the recollection of some of us. The elderly people have not yet forgotten their fears and apprehensions, when the strong force under the Duke D’Anville, was expected in this harbour; nor have they lost a remembrance of the joy they felt, when that fleet was scattered and many ships were destroyed by the winds and the waves.
Such of us, as are advanced in life, remember our fears during a course of years, while the French surrounded us, except on the Atlantic; and on that side also, they were threatening to invade us : — when our armies were defeated, which were sent to protect the frontiers; when the young Washington found it necessary to capitulate. 7 Washington, who about fourteen months after, by skill and bravery, saved the broken remains of an army, late commanded by General Braddock; and who, by the providence of God, was preserved to be the Saviour of his Country.
But I will weary you no longer with the sad detail of wars, in which the Fathers of New England suffered from the French and the savages of the wilderness. In short, they had but little rest from the time of Philip’s war, until Quebec was taken by the immortal Wolfe, and the whole country was ceded to Great Britain in 1763.

Having talked as long perhaps as may be proper, of the mercy which God was pleased to show to the Fathers of our Country; and of the protection granted to them and to their children in seasons of weakness and danger, and when exposed to the savages of the wilderness, and to other powerful enemies; we are prepared to talk of like protection and favours granted to the American people in later times : — of their dangers and sufferings during a severe conflict for the security of their most important interests; a conflict which terminated in the establishment of a new state of things in this quarter of the world, — a new empire, which, in process of time will probably be equal in extent, in power, and in wealth, to any nation in the world. But should we talk of the revolutionary war, — of the causes which produced it, — of its progress and important events; and of the honourable terms of peace, obtained by the plenipotentiaries of the United States at Paris in 1783, our discourse would not only be unreasonably long, but we should have no time left, to talk of the late war, in which our country has been engaged, — of the peace which is again restored to us; and to indulge in pleasing anticipation, the comforts and blessings which, not only the American people, but, we hope, the world may enjoy, in a state of tranquility.

As the events of that war which procured the independence and the sovereignty of the United States of America are within the recollection of such of you have passed a little over the middle of life; and the history of it is in almost every family, I shall omit any farther conversation with respect to it, and go on to talk of the late war, and of the peace, which we on this day celebrate.
It would certainly be attended with very little pleasure and probably with very little profit now that the war is ended, to talk much about the reason assigned for it when it was proclaimed, or of the important objects which were to be secured by it. We remember the many unpleasant feelings occasioned by the contentions of men of different opinions, concerning the origin, and the manner in which the late war was conducted. We hope such uncomfortable feelings may now wholly subside, and that no restless people among us, may hereafter, by rash speeches, or inflammatory publications, again revive them. Although we have not yet learned that the objects for which the late war was declared, have been obtained or secured, we rejoice that the conflict is at an end. We do sincerely rejoice at the return of peace. We will therefore talk of the wondrous goodness of God, both in conducting the American people through the war, and in giving the rulers of the late contending nations pacifick dispositions.

Should the peace continue, which is now established among the Christian nations of the earth, opportunities will offer for the execution of the most benevolent purposes of the human heart. A state of peace is favourable to the propagation of the gospel, — to the advancement of science and all the useful arts, — to commerce, — to every thing which gives true dignity to man, and tends to qualify him for the rank which he is designed to hold in creation.

Divine Providence seems to have been preparing the way for the spread of truth, and the farther establishment of the kingdom of Christ. That Being who superintends the changes and revolutions which take place among the nations of the world, will always bring good out of apparent evil; and therefore while we mourn over the late sufferings of a great portion of our fellow men on the continent of Europe, we find consolation in the belief, that good will result from those sufferings.
In the dark ages of ignorance and superstition, when the religion of Jesus was awfully corrupted, and civil liberty was poorly understood, combinations were formed by the rulers of the church, and by the princes of this world, to support each other in the most shameful acts of tyranny and oppression. Although much had been done at the time of the reformation, and at succeeding periods, to lessen the power, which kings and priests had usurped over the worldly estates, and over the spiritual concerns of the people, much remained to be done. Bigotry and superstition may still bluster and threaten, but they can no longer hold the minds of a great part of mankind in bondage; they can no longer prevent free inquiry such is the power of truth, that it will prevail. “Many shall run to and fro; and knowledge shall increase.”

At no period since the great opposition to popery by Luther, and the reformers who followed after him, have Christians of all denominations been so well united, as they are at the present time in laudable endeavours to extent the knowledge of salvation. Within a few years, societies have been formed in England and in various parts of Europe, consisting of members of great respectability having for their object “the distribution of the Bible.” Societies for the same purpose have been recently formed in the principal cities and towns in North America. The wonderful union of Christians of all denominations, and of all orders of people, from the highest to the lowest, in this noble work of charity, affords the highest encouragement to the friends of Zion, and is, we trust, a presage of that happy condition of the world, which we are taught to expect, when “All shall know the Lord.”

As the most benevolent purposes of God are brought to pass, by means adapted to the ends which are to be accomplished, wise observers may perceive a fitness in the means, and in working of providence, to accomplish such purposes. If there is to be a time, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord,” we shall have reason to think, God is preparing the way for a condition so desirable, when kings and mighty men, — when high and low, — when Christians of every creed, and of every mode of worship, unite their labours and good wishes to extend the only effectual means of religious knowledge to all countries, and to all regions.

There are other circumstances in the present state of the civilized nations of the earth, favourable to the propagation of truth, which have not heretofore existed to the extent in which they now exist. Civil liberty, and the rights of conscience, are better understood, and will no doubt, be more respected, than heretofore. Well informed Christians have more moderation, more candor, more charity for one another, although still differing in opinions, and in modes of worship, than have been exercised at any former period, since the church and the world were united, for the support of each other.

Under circumstances such as we have now mentioned, and on which we might enlarge with great pleasure would the time admit, under such circumstances, aided by peace, and by the intercourse now opened, and more widely opening among the different nations of the world, we indulge a pleasing hope, that the gospel shall be carried to every part of the globe; that the light of the sun; and “people of all kindreds and tongues, and nations, shall walk in the light.”

The peace which we this day celebrate has opened the American ports, not only to the nation with which we have been at war, but to a great part of the nations of the world. The commerce of our country, which had been languishing until there was scarcely an appearance of life, hath sprung up at the voice of peace, and is beginning to assume its wonted cheerful appearance. We again hear the noise of the axe and the hammer. “Zebulon is beginning to rejoice in his going out, and Issachar in his tents.”
Peace is highly favourable to science, to the useful arts, to agriculture, and to all the social connexions of life. In a time of war the mind is disturbed; the thoughts are divided; it is impossible to give that application to study, which is necessary to the acquirement of extensive knowledge.

In a time of war, multitudes are called from their usual occupations, and from domestic enjoyments, exposed to privations, to dangers, and to death. Ware is an evil; a judgment which God inflicts on the sinful nations of the earth. During the late war, our nation has suffered a variety of evils. Many lives have been lost. Vast property has been taken and carried away, or destroyed on the seas : vast sums have been expended, and vast debt hath been contracted. Towns have been invaded, — villages have been burnt, — the capitol has been laid in ashes. We are glad to set down in peace, under circumstances, no doubt, less eligible, than the friends and supporters of the war expected. We have reason to be thankful that our sufferings have not been greater : — that the conflict was no longer continued.

Truly we may say, “If it had not been that the Lord was on our side,” when a powerful enemy invaded our coasts, — “if it had not been that the Lord was on our side,” when men of renown, of uncommon strength and skilled in war, and men accustomed to conquer by sea and by land, — “if it had not been that the Lord was on our side,” when such men with powerful fleets and powerful armies came against us, — “then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us! Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broke and we are escaped.”

In a review of the wondrous works of God, as they relate to the fathers of our country, and to their children, and their children’s children, to the fifth and the sixth generation, we see many things which call for our gratitude, and many things which call for sober reflection and humiliation. Towards the American people, while they were under the government of Great Britain, and since they have been free and independent states, the dispensations of Providence have been merciful, and they have been afflictive. As the children of Israel were marvelously protected when they went out of the land of Egypt, but were afterwards corrected for their faults, and grievously afflicted; so were our fathers protected; but the first generation had not passed away, before the heathen brake in upon them, and they were afflicted.

The history of our country, is a history of its prosperities, and of its adversities; fo its happiness in times of peace, and of its sufferings in seasons of war.
On this day, we are invited by the supreme Magistrate of the United States, to assemble in our place of worship, and to unite our hearts and our voices, “in a free will offering,” of thanksgiving and praise to our Heavenly Benefactor for his great goodness manifested in restoring to us “the blessings of peace.” “No people,” the president observes in his proclamation, “No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of all events, and of the destiny of nations, than the people of the United States. His kind Providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allowed for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them, under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under his fostering care, their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits, prepared them for a transition, in due time, to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of his benign interposition. And to the same Divine Author of every good and perfect gift, we are indebted for all the privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favoured land.”

While making our offering of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, for the peace which he hath been pleased to ordain for us, many circumstances occur to our minds, which render the event which we now celebrate, peculiarly grateful, and which call for the exercise of our best affections.
Had the war continued another season, it would have become more fierce and cruel. A disposition to plunder, and retaliate injuries, on both sides, had been for some time increasing, and we have reason to fear, that a continuance of the war would not only have afforded opportunities, but excitements to still more shocking deeds’ in which, not only men in arms, but un offending citizens in the peaceful walks of life, would have been subjected to inexpressible sufferings.

Had the war continued another season, the forces of the enemy in the Canada’s, on the lakes, and on our sea coasts, would have been greatly increased: much greater exertions therefore would have been required on the part of the United States. What ways and means should have been devised for the support of such armies as must have been called out to defend an extensive sea coast, and an equally extensive frontier, those public men may, perhaps be able to say, who had the management of the finances during the two last seasons.
Had the war continued, multitudes must have been called from the fields of husbandry, from manufacturing establishments, and other useful and necessary employments, and hurried away to exposed parts of the country, to suffer in camps and to die in battle.

Had the war continued, the spring would have opened upon us with gloomy forebodings. In the winter season, the ice and the snow were our best defense. With the returning sun, our fears would have increased our apprehensions. But with the peace, which God in mercy hath granted us, the whole scene of things is changed. We hail each lengthening day with the smile of cheerfulness. We behold the vernal skies, and we receive the vernal showers, with unmingled pleasure. “We will now give thanks unto the Lord; we will call upon his name; we will make known his deeds among the people; we will sing unto him; we will sing psalms unto him; we will talk of all his wondrous works.”
That our offering of thanksgiving and praise, may be acceptable to God, let it be accompanied with kind affection towards all our fellow citizens, and towards the people whom we lately considered as our enemies.

“Whatever differences of opinion may have existed,” with respect to the origin of the late war, or any of the measures in which it hath been conducted, all now rejoice, in that the conflict is at an end. “All good citizens will unite in providing still farther for our external security, as well as internal prosperity and happiness, by fidelity to the union, by reverence for the laws, by discountenancing all local and other prejudices, and by promoting everywhere the concord and brotherly affection becoming members of one great political family.” 8
As we are again at peace with the government and people of Great Britain, let us suppress, as much as possible, the feelings of resentment which are apt to rise from a recollection of sufferings and injuries,. The brave are always generous: they are the first to forgive and forget. If we have suffered, our enemy too has suffered. Let the balm of peace now heal every wound. If the scar remain, lest us be careful, lest by fretting, the blood be made again to appear.

As the brave are always generous, the brave will never exult, when a powerful enemy has been beaten. We are to remember, the race is not always swift, nor is the battle always to the strong. While the American arms have, without question, secured immortal fame, it must be confessed that little else has been secured, for the United States, by a vast expense in blood and treasure. 9
It is now devoutly to be wished, that all ill will, and all party spirit may be put away. Why should party spirit and party feelings continue, when, it is presumed, there can now be no foreign influence to support a party? Whatever there may have been in times past, at present there can be no particular attachments to foreign nations, to influence American citizens. If any internal contentions be kept alive, they must be such as are found to a certain degree, in all elective governments : a contention for power, for places, — for “the loaves and fishes.” A man surely can have very little modesty, who seeks for honours and preferments which the public is not willing to give him. In an uncorrupted state of society, men will not be seen making interest for places of honour and profit. Men well known to be qualified men of approved integrity and uprightness, will be sought for, and solicited, to accept offices of high responsibility. God grant that we may live to see a return of something like that golden age of purity and simplicity, which our country once enjoyed!

My beloved people, although I have now talked with you a long time, I feel unwilling to close my discourse, without offering my very particular and most affectionate congratulations on the present joyous occasion. On a like occasion I once addressed some of you. The peace of 1783, after a sever contest for independence and sovereignty, was a glorious peace. It is to the highest degree improbable, that I shall again, at any future time, address you on a similar occasion: or on any political subject. Four seasons of distressing warfare are within my recollection. The war of 1745, the war of 1755, the war of 1775, and the late war declared on the part of the United States June 18, 1812. I have seen important changes and revolutions in my own country, and among the nations of the world I have seen one generation pass away, and another generation come forward. I have seen a nation rise up in this quarter of the world, powerful in men and in arms, and taking rank among the other nations of the earth. Such changes I have seen; but my days of vision on earth are drawing to an end. My country, now at peace, I hope will continue in peace long. Very long, after it shall please God to take me to that “better country,” where wars are unknown.

My heart’s desire and prayer has been for the prosperity and peace of our Jerusalem. May those always prosper who seek her peace!
It was for the love which I had for my country; — the country in which I was born —in which my friends live — in which the people live with whom I am connected by ties which have made, and which still make my abode pleasant to me; for the love which I had, and which I still have for this country, I have discoursed to you several times on its rights and its liberties — on its dangers and its sufferings. I have rejoiced with my country when in prosperity; and mourned when in adversity. As the Comforts which we enjoy in the peace and prosperity of our country, are as truly the gifts of God, as the comforts which we hope to enjoy a future life, we should be unjust to ourselves, and ungrateful to our heavenly Benefactor, did we not endeavour to defend and secure them, when men of violence attempt to take them away from us: I therefore thought, and still think, it was my duty to give warning when the important interests of my country appeared to be in danger. When those important interests were actually invaded, I thought, and still think, it was my duty to say and to do what I was able, to support them. In this I thought, and still think, I had great and good examples, in the prophets and apostles. Jesus Christ also, with the perfect feelings of a perfect man, loved his country, and wept over its capital, when he knew its destruction was approaching. In my youth I was taught to regard civil and religious liberty, with a kind of reverential respect. That sort of devotion I strengthened afterwards, by reading and meditation; nor do I perceive that my attachment to those objects of my early affection, has in any measure abated now I am old.

For the full enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, together with the inestimable blessings connected with them, the fathers of New England exchanged the wealth and the accommodations of their native country, for the poverty and the sufferings of a wilderness. I pray God, the offspring of those excellent men, may never suffer their birth-rights to be taken from them.
I rejoice that my country is again at peace with the government and people of Great Britain; a people of high spirits and somewhat vindictive; but a people possessing many strong virtues. A people, who, with all their faults, have done more to encourage useful institution and to send the true knowledge of salvation to the dark parts of the earth than any other nation, and I may say, than all the other nations in the world. It would be unjust, and base, and wicked, to impute to the present inhabitants of Great Britain, the bigotry and the persecuting spirit of their great grandfathers.

I rejoice that the world is again at peace. The temple of Janus is again shut. The earth is at rest. God grant that henceforth the only contest may be, who shall do most to enlighten the ignorant; who shall do most to reform the guilty; and to use the words of the great Washington, the beloved father of our country, with whose words I conclude, — who shall do most “to make our neighbours and fellow men as happy, as their frail conditions and perishing natures will permit them to be.” 10

Note A. Some persons who heard the discourse expressed their surprise that this Indian warrior should be known by an English name. We have an explanation in Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts. Vol. 1st. p276.After the Indians became acquainted with the Europeans who had settled among them, “they were fond of having names given to them.” In 1662 when Massasoiet’s two sons were at Plymouth the governor gave them their English names.” To Wamsutta the eldest son of Massasoiet, governor Prince gave the English name Alexander: to the second son, whose Indian name was Metacom, the governor gave the English name, Philip.
In Neal’s History of New England, Philip is said to be “grandson of old Massasoiet.” “He was a bold and daring prince, having all the pride, fierceness, and cruelty of a savage.” Neal’s Hist. Vol. II. p. 23.The wonderful destruction of the Indians by wars and sickness, before the arrival of the fathers of New England, is related by Mr. Gookin. See Historical Collections, Vol 1st, p. 148. Morton’s New England’s Memorial. P 37, 38. Prince’s Chronology, p.69.

Note B.The quotation to which this note has relation is made from the president’s excellent Answer to the “Tribute of Respect,” or “Congratulatory Address of the Republican member of both branches of the Legislature of Massachusetts, and other citizens.” Which “was voted to be communicated to the President, on the restoration of peace.” Feb. 23, 1815.

Note C.Hon. William Gaston, member of congress from North Carolina, in his circular letter dated at Washington, March 1, 1815, writes thus : “Some time must yet elapse before we ascertain with certainty the addition the war has made to our publick debt. Claims are even now brought before congress which had their origin in the war of the revolution; and this which has just past, short as was its continuance has given rise to many more than our revolutionary struggle.”
Hon. Cyrus King, member of congress from Massachusetts, in a speech delivered Feb. 27, 1815, states the loss of men, “brave Americans,” 30,000. And the amount of treasures sacrificed, “150,000,000.”

Note D.As the words of Washington are words of wisdom, the reader will be gratified by having a few more from the letter quoted at the end of the discourse.
—“I observe with singular satisfaction, the cases in which your benevolent institution,” (the Massachusetts Humane Society,) “has been instrumental in recalling some of our fellow creatures, as it were, from beyond the gates of eternity, and has given occasion for the hearts of parents and friends to leap for joy. The provisions made for shipwrecked mariners is also highly estimable in the view of every philanthropic mind, and greatly consolatory to that suffering part of the community. These things will draw upon you the blessings of those who were ready to perish. These works of charity and goodwill towards men, reflect, in my estimation, great lustre upon the authors, and presage an era of still farther improvements. How pitiful, in the eye of reason and religion, is that false ambition which desolates the world with fire and sword for the purposes of conquest and fame; when compared to the milder virtues of making our neighbours and our fellow men, as happy, as their frail conditions and perishable natures permit them to be!”
Now the writer of the above almost divine sentences is no more among the living, may we exclaim, “How pitiful in the eye of reason and religion” are the heroes of antiquity, — the Alexanders and the Caesars, the Pompies, the Charleses, the Edwards, the Henries, and all who have “desolated the world with fire and sword for the purposes of conquest and fame, when compared” with Washington, who fought only for the liberties and the safety of his country’ and having accomplished the great objects for which he drew his sword, returned to private life!

1. Holmes’s Annals, Vol. i. p. 207.
Samoset, it may be supposed, obtained some knowledge of the English language from Capt. John Smith and others, who visited this country and began a commerce with the Indians in the years 1614 and 1615.
2. Hutchinson’s Hist. Vol. i. p. 176 and 283.
3. See Note A:
4. Holmes’s Annals. Vol. i. p. 472.
5. As far as the river Kennebeck. Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts, Vol. ii. p. 111.
6. Hutchinson’s Hist. V. ii. p. 102.
7. Holmes’s Annuals, V. ii. p. 199.
8. See Note B.
9. See Note C.
10. A letter, dated at Mount Vernon June 22, 1788. See Note D.
* Originally Posted: April 12, 2021.

Sermon – Duty of Americans


Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) graduated from Yale in 1769. He was principal of the New Haven grammar school (1769-1771) and a tutor at Yale (1771-1777). A lack of chaplains during the Revolutionary War led him to become a preacher and he served as a chaplain in a Connecticut brigade. Dwight served as preacher in neighboring churches in Northampton, MA (1778-1782) and in Fairfield, CT (1783). He also served as president of Yale College (1795-1817).

Citizens of New-Haven.



“Behold I come as a thief: Blessed is he
that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he
walk naked, and they see his shame.”

THIS passage is inserted as a parenthesis in the account of the sixth vial. To feel its whole force it will be necessary to recur to that account, and to examine it with some attention. It is given in these words.

  1. 12. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the king of the east might be prepared.”
  2. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
  3. “For they are the spirits of devils (Gr. Demons), working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
  4. “Behold I come as a thief: Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
  5. “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

TO this account is subjoined that of the seventh vial; at the effusion of which is accomplished a wonderful and most affecting convulsion of this guilty world, and the final ruin of the Antichristian empire. The circumstances of this amazing event are exhibited at large in the remainder of this, and in the three succeeding chapters.

INSTEAD of employing the time, allowed by the present occasion, in stating the several opinions of commentators concerning this remarkable prophecy, opinions which you can examine at your leisure, I shall, as briefly as may be, state to you that, which appears to me to be its true meaning. This is necessary to be done, to prepare you for the use of it, which is now intended to be made.

IN the 12th verse, under a natural allusion to the manner in which the ancient Babylon was destroyed, a description is given us of the measures, used by the Most High to prepare the way for the destruction of the spiritual Babylon. The river Euphrates surrounded the walls, and ran through the middle, of the ancient Babylon, and thus became the means of its wealth, strength and safety. When Cyrus and Cyaxares (The Darius of Daniel), the kings of Persia and Media, or, in the Jewish phraseology, of the east, took this celebrated city, they dried up, or emptied, the waters of the Euphrates, out of its proper channel, by turning them into a lake, or more probably a sunken region of the country, above the city. They then entered by the channel which passed through the city, made themselves masters of it, and overturned the empire. The emptying, or drying up, of the waters of the real Euphrates thus prepared the way of the real kings of the east for the destruction of the city and empire of the real Babylon. The drying up of the waters of the figurative Euphrates in the like manner prepares the way of the figurative kings of the east for the destruction of the city and empire of the figurative Babylon. The terms waters, Euphrates, kings, east, Babylon, are all figurative or symbolical; and are not to be understood as denoting real kings, or a real east, any more than a real Euphrates, or a real Babylon. The whole meaning of the prophet is, I apprehend, that God will, under this vial, so diminish the wealth, strength, and safety, of the spiritual or figurative Babylon, as effectually to prepare the way for its destroyers.

IN the remaining verses an event is predicted, of a totally different kind; which is also to take place in the same period. Three unclean spirits; like frogs, are exhibited as proceeding out of the mouth of the Dragon or Devil, of the Beast or Romish Government, and of the False Prophet, or, as I apprehend, of the regular Clergy of that Hierarchy. These spirits are represented as working miracles, as going forth to the kings, of the whole world, to gather them; and as actually gathering them together to the battle of that great day of God Almighty, described in the remainder of this chapter, and in the three succeeding ones. Of this vast enterprise the miserable end is strongly marked, in the name of the place, into which they are said to be gathered—Armageddon—the mountain of destruction and mourning.

THE writer of this book will himself explain to us what he intended by the word spirits in this passage. In his 1st Epistle, ch. iv. v. 1. he says,

Beloved, believe not every spirit; but try the spirits, whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (See also v. 2, 3, 6.)

  1. E. Believe not every teacher, or doctrine, professing to come from God; but examine all carefully, that ye may know whether they come from God, or not; for many false prophets, or teachers passing themselves upon the Church for teachers of truth, but in reality teachers of false doctrines, are gone out into the world.

IN the same sense, if I am not deceived, is the word used in the passage under consideration. One great characteristic and calamity of this period is, therefore, that unclean teachers, or teachers of unclean doctrines, will spread through the world, to unite mankind against God. They are said to be three; i. e. several; a definite number being used here, as in many other passages of this book, for an indefinite one; to come out of the mouths of the three evil agents abovementioned; i. e. to originate in those countries, where they have principally co-operated against the kingdom of God; to be unclean; to resemble frogs; i. e. to be lothesome, clamorous, impudent, and pertinacious; to be the spirits of demons, i. e. to be impious, malicious, proud, deceitful, and cruel; to work miracles, or wonders; and to gather great multitudes of men to battle, i. e. to embark them in an open, professed enterprise, against God Almighty.

HAVING thus summarily explained my views of this prophecy, I shall now for the purpose of presenting it in a more distinct and comprehensive view draw together the several parts of it in a paraphrase.

IN the sixth great division of the period of providence, denoted by the vials filled with divine judgments and emptied on the world, the wealth, strength and safety of the Antichristian empire will be greatly lessened, and thus effectual preparation will be made for its final overthrow.

IN the meantime several teachers of false and immoral doctrines will arise in those countries, where the Powers of the Antichristian empire have especially distinguished themselves, by corrupting the truth, and persecuting the followers, of Christ; the character of which teachers and their doctrines will be impure, lothesome, impudent, pertinacious, proud, deceitful, impious, malicious, and cruel.

THESE teachers will, by their doctrines and labours, openly, professedly, and in an unusual manner, contend against God, and against his kingdom in this world, and will strive to unite mankind in this opposition.

NOR will they fail of astonishing success; for they will actually unite a large part of the human race, particularly in Christendom, in this impious undertaking.

BUT they will only unite them to their destruction; a destruction most awfully accomplished at the effusion of the seventh vial.

FROM this explanation it is manifest, that the prediction consists of two great and distinct parts; the preparation for the overthrow of the Antichristian empire; and the embarkation of men in a professed and unusual opposition to God, and to his kingdom, accomplished by means of false doctrines, and impious teachers.

BY the ablest Commentators the fifth vial is considered as having been poured out at the time of the Reformation. The first is supposed, and with almost absolute certainty, to have begun to operate not long after the year 800. If we calculate from that period to the year 1517, the year in which the Reformation began in Germany, the four first vials will be found to have occupied about four times 180 years. 180 years may therefore be estimated as the greatest, and 170 years as the least duration of a single vial. From the year 1517 to the year 1798 there are 281 years. If the fifth vial be supposed to have continued 180 years, its termination was in the year 1697; if 170, in 1687. Of course the sixth vial may be viewed as having been in operation more than 100 years.

YOU will now naturally ask, What events in the Providence of God, found in this period, verify the prediction?

TO this question I answer, generally, that the whole complexion of things appears to me to have, in a manner surprisingly exact, corresponded with the prediction. The following particulars will evince with what propriety this answer is returned.

WITHIN this period the Jesuits, who constituted the strongest branch, and the most formidable internal support, of the Romish hierarchy, have been suppressed.

WITHIN this period various other orders of the regular Romish Clergy have in some countries been suppressed, and in others greatly reduced. Their permanent possessions have been confiscated, and their wealth and power greatly lessened.

WITHIN this period the Antichristian secular powers have been in most instances exceedingly weakened. Poland as a body politic is nearly annihilated. Austria has deeply suffered. Venice and the popish part of Switzerland as bodies politic have vanished. The Sardinian monarchy is on the eve of dissolution. Spain, Naples, Tuscany, and Genoa, are sorely wounded; and Portugal totters to its fall. By the treaty, now on the tapis in Germany, the Romish Archbishoprics and Bishoprics, in that empire, are proposed to be secularized, and as distinct governments to be destroyed. As the strength of these powers was the foundation, on which the Hierarchy rested; so their destruction, or diminution, is a final preparation for its ruin.

IN France, Belgium, the Italian, and Cis-rhenane republics, a new form of government has been instituted, the effect of which, whether it shall prove permanent, or not, must be greatly and finally to diminish the strength of the Hierarchy.

IN France, and in Belgium, the whole power and influence of the Clergy of all descriptions have, in a sense, been destroyed; and their immense wealth has been diverted into new channels. In France, also, an open, violent, and inveterate war has been made upon the Hierarchy, and carried on with unexampled bitterness and cruelty. (In the mention of all these evils brought on the Romish Hierarchy, I beg he may be remembered that I am far from justifying the iniquitous conduct of their persecutors. I know not that any person holds it, and all other persecution, more in abhorrence. Neither have I a doubt of the integrity and piety of multitudes of the unhappy sufferers. In my view they claim, and I trust will receive, the commiseration, and, as occasion offers, the kind offices of all men possessed even of common humanity.)

WITHIN this period, also, the revenues of the Pope have been greatly curtailed; the territory of Avignon has been taken out of his hands; and his general weight and authority have exceedingly declined.

WITHIN the present year his person has been seized, his secular government overturned, a republic formed out of his dominions, and an apparent and at least temporary end put to his dominion.

TO all these mighty preparations for the ruin of the Antichristian empire may be added, as of the highest efficacy, that great change of character, of views, feelings, and habits, throughout many Antichristian countries, which assures us completely, that its former strength can never return.

THUS has the first part of this remarkable prophecy been accomplished. Not less remarkable has been the fulfilment of the second.

ABOUT the year 1728, Voltaire, so celebrated for his wit and brilliancy, and not less distinguished for his hatred of christianity and his abandonment of principle, formed a systematical design to destroy christianity, and to introduce in its stead a general diffusion of irreligion and atheism. For this purpose he associated with himself Frederic the II, king of Prussia, and Mess. D’Alembert and Diderot, the principal compilers of the Encyclopedie; all men of talents, atheists, and in the like manner abandoned. The principal parts of this system were, 1st. The compilation of the Encyclopedie (The celebrated French Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, in which articles of Theology were speciously and decently written; but, by references artfully made to other articles, all the truth of the former was entirely and insidiously overthrown to most readers, but the sophistry of the latter.); in which with great art and insidiousness the doctrines of Natural as well as Christian Theology were rendered absurd and ridiculous; and the mind of the reader was insensibly steeled against conviction and duty. 2. The overthrow of the religious orders in Catholic countries; a step essentially necessary to the destruction of the religion professed in those countries. 3. The establishment of a sect of philosophists to serve, it is presumed, as a conclave, a rallying point, for all their followers. 4. The appropriation to themselves, and their disciples, of the places and honours of members of the French Academy, the most respectable literary society in France, and always considered as containing none but men of prime learning and talents. In this way they designed to hold out themselves, and their friends, as the only persons of great literary and intellectual distinction in that country, and to dictate all literary opinions to the nation. (So far was this carried, that a Mr. Beauzet, a layman, but a sincere Christian, who was one of the forty members, once asked D’Alembert how they came to admit him among them? D’Alembert answered, without hesitation, “I am sensible, this must seem astonishing to you; but we wanted a skillful grammarian, and among our party, not one had acquired a reputation in this line. We know that you believe in God, but, being a good sort of man, we cast our eyes upon you, for want of a philosopher to supply your place.” Brit. Crit. Art. Barruel’s Memoirs of the History of Jacobinism. August 1797.) 5. The fabrication of Books of all kinds against christianity, especially such as excite doubt, and generate contempt and derision. Of these they issued, by themselves and their friends, who early became numerous, an immense number; so printed, as to be purchased for little or nothing, and so written, as to catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every class of men. 6. The formation of a secret Academy, of which Voltaire was the standing president, and in which books were formed, altered, forged, imputed as post-humous to deceased writers of reputation, and sent abroad with the weight of their names. These were printed and circulated, at the lowest price, through all classes of men, in an uninterrupted succession, and through every part of the kingdom.

NOR were the labours of this Academy confined to religion. They attacked also morality and government, unhinged gradually the minds of men, and destroyed their reverence for every thing heretofore esteemed sacred.

IN the mean time, the Masonic Societies, which had been originally instituted for convivial and friendly purposes only, were, especially in France and Germany, made the professed scenes of debate concerning religion, morality, and government, by these philosophists (The words Philosophism and Philosophists may in our opinion, be happily adopted from this work, to designate the doctrines of the Diestical sect; and thus to rescue, the honourable terms of Philosophy and Philosopher from the abuse, into which they have fallen. Philosphism is a love of Sephisms, and thus completely describes the sect of Voltaire: A Philosphists is a lover of Sophists. Brit. Crit. Ibid.) who had in great numbers become Masons. For such debate the legalized existence of Masonry, its profound secresy, its solemn and mystic rites and symbols, its mutual correspondence, and its extension through most civilized countries, furnished the greatest advantages. All here was free, safe, and calculated to encourage the boldest excursions of restless opinion and impatient ardour, and to make and fix the deepest impressions. Here, and in no other place, under such arbitrary governments, could every innovator in these important subjects utter every sentiment, however daring, and attack every doctrine and institution, however guarded by law or sanctity. In the secure and unrestrained debates of the lodge, every novel, licentious, and alarming opinion was resolutely advanced. Minds, already tinged with philosophism, were here speedily blackened with a deep and deadly die; and those, which came fresh and innocent to the scene of contamination, became early and irremediably corrupted. A stubborn incapacity of conviction, and a flinty insensibility to every moral and natural tie, grew of course out of this combination of causes; and men were surely prepared, before themselves were aware, for every plot and perpetration. In these hot beds were sown the seeds of that astonishing Revolution, and all its dreadful appendages, which now spreads dismay and horror throughout half the globe.

WHILE these measures were advancing the great design with a regular and rapid progress, Doctor Adam Weishaupt, professor of the Canon law in the University of Ingolstadt, a city of Bavaria (in Germany) formed, about the year 1777, the order of Illuminati. This order is professedly a higher order of Masons, originated by himself, and grafted on ancient Masonic Institutions. The secresy, solemnity, mysticism, and correspondence of Masonry, were in this new order preserved and enhanced; while the ardour of innovation, the impatience of civil and moral restraints, and the aims against government, morals, and religion, were elevated, expanded, and rendered more systematical, malignant, and daring.

IN the societies of Illuminati doctrines were taught, which strike at the root of all human happiness and virtue; and every such doctrine was either expressly or implicitly involved in their system.

THE being of God was denied and ridiculed.

GOVERNMENT was asserted to be a curse, and authority a mere usurpation.

CIVIL society was declared to be the only apostasy of man.

THE possession of property was pronounced to be robbery.

CHASTITY and natural affection were declared to be nothing more than groundless prejudices.

ADULTERY, assassination, poisoning, and other crimes of the like infernal nature, were taught as lawful, and even as virtuous actions.

TO crown such a system of falshood and horror all means were declared to be lawful, provided the end was good.

IN this last doctrine men are not only loosed from every bond, and from every duty; but from every inducement to perform any thing which is good, and, abstain from any thing which is evil; and are set upon each other, like a company of hellhounds to worry, rend, and destroy. Of the goodness of the end every man is to judge for himself; and most men, and all men who resemble the Illuminati, will pronounce every end to be good, which will gratify their inclinations. The great and good ends proposed by the Illuminati, as the ultimate objects of their union, are the overthrow of religion, government, and human society civil and domestic. These they pronounce to be so good, that murder, butchery, and war, however extended and dreadful, are declared by them to be completely justifiable, if necessary for these great purposes. With such an example in view, it will be in vain to hunt for ends, which can be evil.

CORRESPONDENT with this summary was the whole system. No villainy, no impiety, no cruelty, can be named, which was not vindicated; and no virtue, which was not covered with contempt.

THE means by which this society was enlarged, and its doctrines spread, were of every promising kind. With unremitted ardour and diligence the members insinuated themselves into every place of power and trust, and into every literary, political and friendly society; engrossed as much as possible the education of youth, especially of distinction; became licensers of the press, and directors of every literary journal; waylaid every foolish prince, every unprincipled civil officer, and every abandoned clergyman; entered boldly into the desk, and with unhallowed hands, and satanic lips, polluted the pages of God; inlisted in their service almost all the booksellers, and of course the printers, of Germany; inundated the country with books, replete with infidelity, irreligion, immorality, and obscenity; prohibited the printing, and prevented the sale, of books of the contrary character; decried and ridiculed them when published in spite of their efforts; panegyrized and trumpeted those of themselves and their coadjutors; and in a word made more numerous, more diversified, and more strenuous exertions, than an active imagination would have preconceived.

TO these exertions their success has been proportioned. Multitudes of the Germans, notwithstanding the gravity, steadiness, and sobriety of their national character, have become either partial or entire converts to these wretched doctrines; numerous societies have been established among them; the public faith and morals have been unhinged; and the political and religious affairs of that empire have assumed an aspect, which forebodes its total ruin. In France, also, Illuminatism has been eagerly and extensively adopted; and those men, who have had, successively, the chief direction of the public affairs of that country, have been members of this society. Societies have also been erected in Switzerland and Italy, and have contributed probably to the success of the French, and to the overthrow of religion and government, in those countries. Mentz was delivered up to Custine by the Illuminati; and that General appears to have been guillotined, because he declined to encourage the same treachery with respect to Manheim.

NOR have England and Scotland escaped the contagion. Several societies have been erected in boch of those countries. Nay in the private papers, seized in the custody of the leading members in Germany, several such societies are recorded as having been erected in America, before the year 1786. (See Robinson’s Conspiracy and the Abbe Barruel’s Memoirs of the History of Jacobinism.)

IT is a remarkable fact, that a large proportion of the sentiments, here stated, have been publicly avowed and applauded in the French legislature. The being and providence of God have been repeatedly denied and ridiculed. Christ has been mocked with the grossest insult. Death, by a solemn legislative decree has been declared to be an eternal sleep. Marriage has been degraded to a farce, and the community, by the law of divorce, invited to universal prostitution In the school of public instruction atheism is professedly taught; and at an audience before the legislature, Nov. 30, 1793, the head scholar declared, that he and his schoolfellows detested a God; a declaration received by the members with unbounded applause, and rewarded with the fraternal kiss of the president, and with the honors of the sitting. (See Gifford’s Letter to Erskine.)

I presume I have sufficiently proved the fulfilment of the second part of this remarkable prophesy; and shewn, that doctrines and teachers, answering to the description, have arisen in the very countries specified, and that they are rapidly spreading through the world, to engage mankind in an open and professed war against God. I shall only add, that the titles of these philosophistical books have, in various instances, been too obscene to admit of a translation by a virtuous man, and in a decent state of society. So fully are these teachers entitled to the epithet unclean.

ASSUMING now as just, for the purposes of this discourse, the explanation, which has been given, I shall proceed to consider the import of the Text.

THE Text is an affectionate address of the Redeemer to his children, teaching them that conduct, which he wills them especially to pursue in this alarming season. It is the great practical remark, drawn by infinite Wisdom and Goodness from a most solemn sermon, and cannot fail therefore to merit our highest attention. Had he not, while recounting the extensive and dreadful convulsion, described in the context, made a declaration of this nature, there would have been little room for the exercise of any emotions, beside those of terror and despair. The gloom would have been universal and entire; a blank midnight without a star to cheer the solitary darkness. But here a hope, a promise, is furnished to such as obey the injunction, by which it is followed; a luminary like that, which shone to the wise men of the east, is lighted up to guide our steps to the Author of peace and salvation.

BLESSED, even in this calamitous season, saith the Saviour of men, is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.

SIN is the nakedness and shame of the scriptures, and righteousness the garment which covers it. To watch and keep the garments is, of course, so to observe the heart and the life, so carefully to resist temptation and abstain from sin, and so faithfully to cultivate holiness and perform duty, that the heart and the life shall be adorned with the white robes of evangelical virtue, the unspotted attire of spiritual beauty.

THE cautionary precept given to us by our Lord is, therefore,


TO those, who obey, a certain blessing is secured by the promise of the Redeemer.

THE great and general object, aimed at by this command, and by every other, is private, personal obedience and reformation of life; personal piety, righteousness, and temperance.

TO every man is by his Creator especially committed the care of himself; of his time, his talents, and his soul. He knows, or may know, better than any other man, his wants, his sins, and his dangers, and of course the means of relief, reformation, and escape. No one, so well as he, can watch the approach of temptation, so feelingly pray for divine assistance, or so profitably resolve on future obedience. In truth no resolutions, no prayers, no watchfulness of others, will profit him at all, unless seconded by his own.

No other person can make any useful impressions on our hearts, or our lives, unless by rousing in us the necessary exertions. All extraneous labours terminate in this single point: it is the end of every doctrine, exhortation, and reproof, of every moral and religious institution.

THE manner, in which such obedience is to be performed, and such reformation accomplished, is described to you weekly in the desk, and daily in the scriptures. A detail of it, therefore, will not be necessary, nor expected, on the present occasion. You already know what is to be done, and the manner in which it is to be done. You need not be told, that you are to use all efforts of your own, and to look humbly and continually to God to render those efforts successful; that you are to resist carefully and faithfully every approaching temptation, and every rising sin; that you are to resolve on newness of life, and to seize every occasion, as it presents itself, to honour God, and to bless your fellow men; that you are strenuously to contend against evil habits, and watchfully to cherish good ones; and that you are constantly to aim at uniformity and eminency in a holy life, and to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

BUT it may be necessary to remind you, that personal obedience and reformation is the foundation, and the sum, of all national worth and prosperity. If each man conducts himself aright, the community cannot be conducted wrong. If the private life be unblamable, the public state must be commendable and happy.

INDIVIDUALS are often apt to consider their own private conduct as of small importance to the public welfare. This opinion is wholly erroneous and highly mischievous. No man can adopt it, who believes, and remembers, the declarations of God. If “one sinner destroyeth much good,” if “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” if ten righteous persons, found in the polluted cities of the vale of Siddim, would have saved them from destruction, the personal conduct of no individual can be insignificant to the safety and happiness of a nation. On the contrary, the advantages to the public of private virtue, faithful prayer and edifying example, cannot be calculated. No one can conjecture how many will be made better, safer, and happier, by the virtue of one.

WHEREVER wealth, politeness, talents, and office, lend their aid to the inherent efficacy of virtue, its influence is proportionally greater. In this case the example is seen by greater numbers, is regarded with more respectful attention, and felt with greater force. The piety of Hezekiah reformed and saved a nation. Men far inferior in station to kings, and possessed of far humbler means of doing good, may still easily circulate through multitudes both virtue and happiness. The beggar on the dunghill may become a public blessing. Every parent, if a faithful one, is a public blessing of course. How delightful a path of patriotism is this?

IT is also to be remembered, that this is the way, in which the chief good, ever placed in the power of most persons, is to be done. If this opportunity of serving God, and befriending mankind, be lost, no other will by the great body of men ever be found. Few persons can be concerned in settling systems of faith, moulding forms of government, regulating nations, or establishing empires. But almost all can train up a family for God, instil piety, justice, kindness and truth, distribute peace and comfort around a neighbourhood, receive the poor and the outcast into their houses, tend the bed of sickness, pour balm into the wounds of pain, and awaken a smile in the aspect of sorrow. In the secret and lowly vale of life, virtue in its most lovely attire delights to dwell. There God, with peculiar complacency, most frequently finds the inestimable ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; and there the morning and the evening incense ascends with peculiar fragrance to heaven. When angels became the visitors, and the guests, of Abraham, he was a simple husbandman.

BESIDES, this is the great mean of personal safety and happiness. No good man was ever forgotten, or neglected, of God. To him duty is always safety. Around the tabernacle of every one, that feareth God, the angel of protection will encamp, and save him from the impending evil.

  1. AMONG the particular duties required by this precept, and at the present time, none holds a higher place than the observation of the Sabbath.

THE Sabbath and its ordinances have ever been the great means of all moral good to mankind. The faithful observation of the sabbath is, therefore, one of the chief duties and interests of men; but the present time furnishes reasons, peculiar, at least in degree, for exemplary regard to this divine institution. The enemies of God have by private argument, ridicule, and influence, and by public decrees, pointed their especial malignity against the Sabbath; and have expected, and not without reason, that, if they could annihilate it, they should overthrow christianity. From them we cannot but learn its importance. Enemies usually discern, with more sagacity, the most promising point of attack, than those who are to be attacked. In this point are they to be peculiarly opposed. Here, peculiarly, are their designs to be baffled. If they fail here, they will finally fail. Christianity cannot fall, but by the neglect of the Sabbath.

I HAVE been credibly informed, that, some years before the Revolution, an eminent philosopher of this country, now deceased, declared to David Hume, that Christianity would be exterminated from the American colonies within a century from that time. The opinion has doubtless been often declared and extensively imbibed; and has probably furnished our enemies their chief hopes of success. Where religion prevails, their system cannot succeed. Where religion prevails, Illuminatism cannot make disciples, a French directory cannot govern, a nation cannot be made slaves, nor villains, nor atheists, nor beasts. To destroy us, therefore, in this dreadful sense, our enemies must first destroy our Sabbath, and seduce us from the house of God.

RELIGION and Liberty are the two great objects of defensive war. Conjoined, they unite all the feelings, and call forth all the energies, of man. In defense of them, nations contend with the spirit of the Maccabees; “one will chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.” The Dutch, in defense of them, few and feeble as they were in their infancy, assumed a gigantic courage, and grew like the fabled sons of Alous to an instantaneous and gigantic strength, broke the arms of the Spanish empire, swept its fleets from the ocean, pulled down its pride, plundered its treasures, captivated its dependencies, and forced its haughty monarch to a peace on their own terms. Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic. Withdraw one of them, and it languishes, consumes, and dies. If indifference to either at any time becomes the prevailing character of a people, one half of their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased. Here, eminently, they are inseparable. Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves; but not the freedom of New-England. If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it; and nothing would be left, which would be worth defending. Our children of course, if not ourselves, would be prepared, as the ox for the slaughter, to become the victims of conquest, tyranny, and atheism.

THE Sabbath, with its ordinances, constitutes the bond of union to christians; the badge by which they know each other; their rallying point; the standard of their host. Beside public worship they have no means of effectual descrimination. To preserve this is to us a prime interest and duty. In no way can we so preserve, or so announce to others, our character as christians; or so effectually prevent our nakedness and shame from being seen by our enemies. Now, more than ever, we are “not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Now, more than ever, are we to stand forth to the eye of our enemies, and of the world, as open, determined christians; as the followers of Christ; as the friends of God. Every man, therefore, who loves his country, or his religion, ought to feel, that he serves, or injures, both, as he celebrates, or neglects, the Sabbath. By the devout observation of this holy day he will reform himself, increase his piety, heighten his love to his country, and confirm his determination to defend all that merits his regard. He will become a better man, and a better citizen.

THE house of God is also the house of social prayer. Here nations meet with God to ask, and to receive, national blessings. On the Sabbath, and in the sanctuary, the children of the Redeemer will, to the end of the world, assemble for this glorious end. Here he is ever present to give more than they can ask. If we faithfully unite, here, in seeking his protection, “no weapon formed against us will prosper.”

  1. ANOTHER duty, to which we are also eminently called, is an entire separation from our enemies. Among the moral duties of man none hold a higher rank than political ones, and among our own political duties none is more plain, or more absolute, than that which I have now mentioned.

IN the eighteenth chapter of this prophecy, in which the dreadful effects of the seventh vial are particularly described, this duty is expressly enjoined on christians by a voice from Heaven. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Under the evils and dangers of the sixth vial, the command in the Text was given; under those of the seventh, the command which we are now considering. The world is already far advanced in the period of the sixth. In the Text we are informed, that the Redeemer will hasten the progress of his vengeance on the enemies of his church, during the effusion of the two last vials. If, therefore, the judgments of the seventh are not already begun, a fact of which I am doubtful, they certainly cannot be distant. The present time is, of course, the very period for which this command was given.

THE two great reasons for the command are subjoined to it by the Saviour—”that ye be not partakers of her sins; and that ye receive not of her plagues;” and each is a reason of incomprehensible magnitude.

THE sins of these enemies of Christ, and Christians, are of numbers and degrees, which mock account and description. All that the malice and atheism of the Dragon, the cruelty and rapacity of the Beast, and the fraud and deceit of the false Prophet, can generate, or accomplish, swell the list. No personal, or national interest of man has been uninvaded; no impious sentiment, or action, against God has been spared; no malignant hostility against Christ, and his religion, has been unattempted. Justice, truth, kindness, piety, and moral obligation universally, have been, not merely trodden under foot; this might have resulted from vehemence and passion; but ridiculed, spurned, and insulted, as the childish bugbears of driveling idiocy. Chastity and decency have been alike turned out of doors; and shame and pollution called out of their dens to the hall of distinction, and the chair of state. Nor has any art, violence, or means, been unemployed to accomplish these evils.

FOR what end shall we be connected with men, of whom this is the character and conduct? Is it that we may assume the same character, and pursue the same conduct? Is it, that our churches may become temples of reason, our Sabbath a decade, and our psalms of praise Marseillois hymns? Is it, that we may change our holy worship into a dance of Jacobin phrenzy, and that we may behold a strumpet personating a Goddess on the altars of JEHOVAH? Is it that we may see the Bible cast into a bonfire, the vessels of the sacramental supper borne by an ass in public procession, and our children, either wheedled or terrified, uniting in the mob, chanting mockeries against God, and hailing in the sounds of Caira the ruin of their religion, and the loss of their souls? Is it, that we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution; soberly dishonoured; speciously polluted; the outcasts of delicacy and virtue, and the lothing of God and man? Is it, that we may see, in our public papers, a solemn comparison drawn by an American Mother club between the Lord Jesus Christ and a new Marat; and the fiend of malice and fraud exalted above the glorious Redeemer?

SHALL we, my brethren, become partakers of these sins? Shall we introduce them into our government, our schools, our families? Shall our sons become the disciples of Voltaire, and the dragoons of Marat (See a four years Residence in France, lately published by Mr. Cornelius Davis of New York. This is a most valuable and interesting work, and exhibits the French Revolution in a far more perfect light than any book I have seen. It ought to be read by every American.); or our daughters the concubines of the Illuminati?

SOME of my audience may perhaps say, “We do not believe such crimes to have existed.” The people of Jerusalem did not believe, that they were in danger, until the Chaldeans surrounded their walls. The people of Laish were secure, when the children of Dan lay in ambush around their city. There are in every place, and in every age, persons “who are settled upon their lees,” who take pride in disbelief, and “who say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.” Some persons disbelieve through ignorance; some choose not to be informed; and some determine not to be convinced. The two last classes cannot be persuaded. The first may, perhaps, be at least alarmed, when they are told, that the evidence of all this, and much more, is complete, that it has been produced to the public, and may with a little pains-taking be known by themselves.

THERE are others, who, admitting the fact, deny the danger. “If others,” say they, “are ever so abandoned, we need not adopt either their principles, or their practices.” Common sense has however declared, two thousand years ago, and God has sanctioned the declaration, that “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Of this truth all human experience is one continued and melancholy proof. I need only add, that these persons are prepared to become the first victims of the corruption by this very selfconfidence and security.

SHOULD we, however, in a forbidden connection with these enemies of God, escape, against all hope, from moral ruin, we shall still receive our share of their plagues. This is the certain dictate of the prophetical injunction; and our own experience, and that of nations more intimately connected with them, has already proved its truth.

LOOK for conviction to Belgium; sunk into the dust of insignificance and meanness, plundered, insulted, forgotten, never to rise more. See Batavia wallowing in the same dust; the butt of fraud, rapacity, and derision, struggling in the last stages of life, and searching anxiously to find a quiet grave. See Venice sold in the shambles, and made the small change of a political bargain. Turn your eyes to Switzerland, and behold its happiness, and its hopes, cut off at a single stroke: happiness, erected with the labour and the wisdom of three centuries; hopes, that not long since hailed the blessings of centuries yet to come. What have they spread, but crimes and miseries; Where have they trodden, but to waste, to pollute, and to destroy?

ALL connection with them has been pestilential. Among ourselves it has generated nothing but infidelity, irreligion, faction, rebellion, the ruin of peace, and the loss of property. In Spain, in the Sardinian monarchy, in Genoa, it has sunk the national character, blasted national independence, rooted out confidence, and forerun destruction.

BUT France itself has been the chief seat of the evils, wrought by these men. The unhappy and ever to be pitied inhabitants of that country, a great part of whom are doubtless of a character similar to that of the peaceable citizens of other countries, and have probably no voluntary concern in accomplishing these evils, have themselves suffered far more from the hands of philosophists, and their followers, than the inhabitants of any other country. General Danican, a French officer, asserts in his memoirs, lately published, that three millions of Frenchmen have perished in the Revolution. Of this amazing destruction the causes by which it was produced, the principles on which it was founded, and the modes in which it was conducted, are an aggravation, that admits no bound. The butchery of the stall, and the slaughter of the stye, are scenes of deeper remorse, and softened with more sensibility. The siege of Lyons, and the judicial massacres at Nantes, stand, since the crucifixion, alone in the volume of human crimes. The misery of man never before reached the extreme of agony, nor the infamy of man its consummation. Collot D. Herbois and his satellites, Carrier and his associates, would claim eminence in a world of fiends, and will be marked with distinction in the future hissings of the universe. No guilt so deeply died in blood, since the phrenzied malice of Calvary, will probably so amaze the assembly of the final day; and Nantes and Lyons may, without a hyperbole, obtain a literal immortality in a remembrance revived beyond the grave.

IN which of these plagues, my brethren, are you willing to share? Which of them will you transmit as a legacy to your children?

WOULD you escape, you must separate yourselves. Would you wholly escape, you must be wholly separated. I do not intend, that you must not buy and sell, or exhibit the common offices of justice and good will; but you are bound by the voice of reason, of duty, of safety, and of God, to shun all such connection with them, as will interweave your sentiments or your friendship, your religion or your policy, with theirs. You cannot otherwise fail of partaking in their guilt, and receiving of their plagues.

4thly. ANOTHER duty, to which we are no less forcibly called, is union among ourselves.

THE same divine Person, who spoke in the Text, hath also said, “A house, a kingdom, divided against itself cannot stand.” A divided family will destroy itself. A divided nation will anticipate ruin, prepared by its enemies. Switzerland, Geneva, Genoa, Venice, the Sardinian territories, Belgium, and Batavia, are melancholy examples of the truth of this declaration of our Saviour; beacons, which warn, with a gloomy and dreadful light, the nations who survive their ruin.

THE great bond of union to every people is its government. This destroyed, or distrusted, there is no center left of intelligence, counsel, or action; no system of purposes, or measures; no point of rallying, or confidence. When a nation is ready to say, “What part have we in David, or what inheritance in the son of Jesse?” it will naturally subjoin, “Every man to his tent, O Israel!”

THE candour and uprightness, with which our own government has acted in the progress of the present controversy, have forced encomiums even from its most bitter opposers, and excited the warmest approbation and applause of all its friends. Few objects could be more important, auspicious, or gratifying to christians, than to see the conduct of their rulers such, as they can, with boldness of access, bring before their God, and fearlessly commend to his favour and protection.

IN men, possessed of similar candour, adherence to our government, in the present crisis, may be regarded as a thing of course. They need not be informed, that the existing rulers must be the directors of our public affairs, and the only directors; that their views and measures will not and cannot always accord with the judgment of individuals, as the opinions of individuals accord no better with each other; that the officers of government are possessed of better information than private persons can be; that, if they had the same information, they would probably coincide with the opinions of their rulers; that confidence must be placed in men, imperfect as they are, in all human affairs, or no important business can be done; and that men of known and tried probity are fully deserving of that confidence.

AT the present time this adherence ought to be unequivocally manifested. In a land of universal suffrage, where every individual is possessed of much personal consequence as in ours, the government ought, especially in great measures, to be as secure, as may be, of the harmonious and cheerful co-operation of the citizens. All success, here, depends on the hearty concurrence of the community; and no occasion ever called for it more.

BUT there are, even in this State, persons, who are opposed to the government. To them I observe, That the government of France has destroyed the independence of every nation, which has confided in it.

THAT every such nation has been ruined by its internal divisions, especially by the separation of the people from their government.

THAT they have attempted to accomplish our ruin by the same means, and will certainly accomplish it, if they can;

THAT the miseries suffered by the subjugated nations have been numberless and extreme, involving the loss of national honour, the immense plunder of public and private property, the conflagration of churches and dwellings, the total ruin of families, the butchery of great multitudes of fathers and sons, and the most deplorable dishonour of wives and daughters;

THAT the same miseries will be repeated here, if in their power.

THAT there is, under God, no mean of escaping this ruin, but union among ourselves, and unshaken adherence to the existing government;

THAT themselves have an infinitely higher interest in preserving the independence of their country, than in any thing, which can exist, should it be conquered;

THAT they must stand, or fall, with their country; since the French, like all other conquerors, though they may for a little time regard them, as aids and friends, with a seeming partiality, will soon lose that partiality in a general contempt and hatred for them, as Americans. That should they, contrary to all experience, escape these evils, their children will suffer them as extensively as those of their neighbours; and

THAT to oppose, or neglect, the defence of their country, is to stab the breast, from which they have drawn their life.

I KNOW not that even these considerations will prevail: if they do not, nothing can be suggested by me, which will have efficacy. I must leave them, therefore, to their consciences, and their God.

IN the mean time, since the great facts, of which this controversy has consisted, have not, during the preceding periods, been thoroughly known, or believed, by all; and since all questions of expediency will be viewed differently by different eyes; I cannot but urge a general spirit of conciliation. To men labouring under mere mistakes, and prejudices void of malignity, hard names are in most cases unhappily applied, and unkindness is unwisely exhibited. Multitudes, heretofore attached to France with great ardour, have, from full conviction of the necessity of changing their sentiments and their conduct, come forth in the most decisive language, and determined conduct, of defenders of their country. More are daily exhibiting the same spirit and measures. Almost all native Americans will, I doubt not, speedily appear in the same ranks; and none should, in my opinion, be discouraged by useless obloquy.

  1. ANOTHER duty, injoined in the text, and highly incumbent on us at this time, is unshaken firmness in our opposition.

A STEADY and invincible firmness is the chief instrument of great atchievements. It is the prime mean of great wealth, learning, wisdom, power and virtue; and without it nothing noble or useful is usually accomplished. Without it our separation from our enemies, and our union among ourselves, will avail to no end. The cause is too complex, the object too important, to be determined by a single effort. It is infinitely too important to be given up, let the consequence be what it may. No evils, which can flow from resistance, can be so great as those, which must flow from submission. Great sacrifices of property, of peace, and of life, we may be called to make, but they will fall short of complete ruin. If they should not, it will be more desirable, beyond computation, to fall in the honourable and faithful defence of our families, our country, and our religion, than to survive, the melancholy, debased, and guilty spectators of the ruin of all. We contend for all that is, or ought to be, dear to man. Our cause is eminently that, in which “he who seeketh to save his life shall lose it, and he who loseth it,” in obedience to the command of his Master, “shall find it” beyond the grave. To our enemies we have done no wrong. Unspotted justice looks down on all our public measures with a smile. We fight for that, for which we can pray. We fight for the lives, the honor, the safety, of our wives and children, for the religion of our fathers, and for the liberty, “with which Christ hath made us free.” “We jeopard our lives,” that our children may inherit these glorious blessings, be rescued from the grinding insolence of foreign despotism, and saved from the corruption and perdition of foreign atheism. I am a father. I feel the usual parental tenderness for my children. I have long soothed the approach of declining years with the fond hope of seeing my sons serving God and their generation around me. But from cool conviction I declare in this solemn place, I would far rather follow them one by one to an untimely grave, than to behold them, however prosperous, the victims of philosophism. What could I then believe, but that they were “nigh unto cursing, and that their end was to be burned.”

FROM two sources only are we in danger of irresolution; Avarice, and a reliance on those fair professions, which our enemies have begun to make, and which they will doubtless continue to make, in degrees, and with insidiousness, still greater.

ON the first of these sources I observe, that, if we grudge a part of our property in the defence of our country, we lose the whole; and not only the whole of our property, but all our comforts, and all our hopes. Every enjoyment of life, every solace of sorrow, will be offered up in one vast hecatomb at the shrine of pride, plunder, impurity, and atheism. Those “who fear not God, regard not man.” All interests, beside their own, are in the view of such men the sport of wantonness, of insolence, and of a heart of millstone. They and their engines will soon tell you, if you do not put it out of their power, as one of the same engines told the miserable inhabitants of Neuwied (in Germany) unhappily placing confidence in their professions.

Hear the story, in the words of Professor Robison, “If ever there was a spot upon earth, where men may be happy in a state of cultivated society, it was the little principality of Neuwied. I saw it in 1770. The town was neat, and the palace handsome and in good state. But the country was beyond conception delightful; not a cottage that was out of repair; not a hedge out of order. It had been the hobby of the Prince (pardon me the word) who made it his daily employment to go through his principality, and assist every housholder, of whatever condition, with his advice and with his purse; and when a freeholder could not of himself put things into a thriving condition, the Prince sent his workmen and did it for him. He endowed schools for the common people and two academies for the gentry and the people of business. He gave little portions to the daughters, and prizes to the well-behaving sons of the labouring people. His own houshold was a pattern of elegance and economy; his sons were sent to Paris, to learn elegance, and to England, to learn science and agriculture. In short the whole was like a romance, and was indeed romantic. I heard it spoken of with a smile at the table of the Bishop of Treves, and was induced to see it the next day as a curiosity. Yet even here the fanaticism of Knigge (one of the founders of the Illuminati) would distribute his poison, and tell the blinded people that they were in a state of sin and misery, that their Prince was a despot, and that they would never be happy ’till he was made to fly, and ’till they were made all equal.”

“THEY got their wish. The swarm of French locusts sat down at Neuwied’s beautiful fields, in 1793, and intrenched themselves; and in three months Prince’s and Farmers’ houses, and cottages, and schools, and academies, all vanished. When they complained of their miseries to the French General, René le Grand, he replied, with a contemptuous and cutting laugh, “All is ours. We have left you your eyes to cry.”

WILL you trust such professions? Have not your enemies made them to every country, which they have subjugated? Have they fulfilled them to one? Will they prove more sincere to you? Have they not deceived you in every expectation hitherto? On what grounds can you rely on them hereafter?

WILL you grudge your property for the defence of itself, of your families, of yourselves. Will you preserve it to pay the price of a Dutch loan? to have it put in requisition by the French Directory? to label it on your doors, that they may, without trouble and without a tax bill, send their soldiers and take it for the use of the Republic? Will you keep it to assist them to pay their fleets and armies for subduing you? and to maintain their forts and garrisons for keeping you in subjection? Shall it become the purchase of a French fete, holden to commemorate the massacres of the 10th of August, the butcheries of the 3d of September, or the murder of Louis the 16th, your former benefactor? Shall it furnish the means for Representatives of the people to roll through your streets on the wheels of splendour, to imprison your sons and fathers; to seize on all the comforts, which you have earned with toil, and laid up with care; and to gather your wives, sisters, and daughters, into their brutal seraglios? Shall it become the price of the guillotine, and pay the expense of cleansing your streets from brooks of human blood?

WILL you rely on men whose principles justify falshood, injustice, and cruelty? Will you trust philosophists? men who set truth at nought, who make justice a butt of mockery, who deny the being and providence of God, and laugh at the interests and sufferings of men? Think not that such men can change. They can scarcely be worse. There is not a hope that they will become better.

BUT perhaps you may be alarmed by the power, and the successes, of your enemies. I am warranted to declare, that the ablest judge of this subject in America has said, that, if we are united, firm, and faithful to ourselves, neither France, nor all Europe, can subdue these States. Against other nations they contended with great and decisive advantages. Those nations were near to them, were divided, feeble, corrupted, seduced by philosophists, slaves of despotism, and separated from their government. None of these characters can be applied to us, unless we voluntarily retain those, which depend on ourselves. Three thousand miles of ocean spread between us and our enemies, to enfeeble and disappoint their efforts. They will not here contend with silken Italians, with divided Swissers, nor with self-surrendered Belgians and Batavians. They will find a hardy race of freemen, uncorrupted by luxury, unbroken by despotism; enlightened to understand their privileges, glowing with independence, and determined to be free, or to die: men who love, and who will defend, their familes, their country, and their religion: men fresh from triumph, and strong in a recent and victorious Revolution.

Doubled, since that Revolution began, in their numbers, and quadrupled in their resources and advantages, at home, in a country formed to disappoint invasion, and to prosper defence, under leaders skilled in all the arts and duties of war, and trained in the path of success, they have, if united, firm, and faithful, every thing to hope, and, beside the common evils of war, nothing to fear.

THINK not that I trust in chariots and in horses. My own reliance is, I hope, I ardently hope yours is, also, on the Lord our God. All these are his most merciful blessings, and, as such, most supporting consolations to us. They are the very means, which he has provided for our safety, and our hope. Stupidity, sloth, and ingratitude, can alone be blind to them as tokens for good. We are not, my brethren, to look for miracles, nor to expect God to accomplish them. We are to trust in him for the blessings of a regular and merciful providence. Such a providence is over us for good. I have recited abundant proofs, and could easily recite many more. All these are means, with which we are to plant, and to water, and in answer to our prayers God will certainly give the increase.

BUT I am peculiarly confident in the promised blessing of the Text. Our contention is a plain duty to God. The same glorious Person, who has commanded it, has promised to crown our obedience with his blessing; and has thus illumined this gloomy prediction, and shed the dawn of hope and comfort over this melancholy period.

TO you the promise is eminently supporting. He has won your faith by the great things he has already done for your fathers, and for you. The same Almighty Hand, which destroyed the fleet of Chebucto by the storm, and whelmed it in the deep; which conducted into the arms of Manly, and of Mugford, those means of war, which for the time saved your country; which raised up your Washington to guide your armies and your councils; which united you with your brethren against every expectation and hope; which disappointed the devices of enemies without, and traitors within; which bade the winds and the waves fight for you at Yorktown; which has, in later periods, repeatedly disclosed the machinations of your enemies, and which has now roused a noble spirit of resistance to intrigue and to terror; will accomplish for you a final deliverance from the hand of those, “who seek your hurt.” He has been your fathers’ God, and he will be yours.

LOOK through the history of your country. You will find scarcely less glorious and wonderful proofs of divine protection and deliverance, uniformly administered through every period of our existence as a people, than shone to the people of Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan. Can it be believed, can it be, that Christianity has been so planted here, the Church of God so established, so happy a Government constituted, and so desirable a state of Society begun, merely to shew them to the world, and then destroy them? No instance can be found in the providence of God, in which a nation so wonderfully established, and preserved, has been overthrown, until it had progressed farther in corruption. We may be cast down; but experience only will prove to me, that we shall be destroyed.

BUT the consideration, which ought of itself to decide your opinions and your conduct, and which adds immense weight to all the others, is that the alternative, as exhibited in the prediction, and in providence, is beyond measure dreadful, and is at hand. “Behold,” saith the Saviour, “I come as a thief”—suddenly, unexpectedly, alarmingly— as that wasting enemy, the burglar, breaks up the house in the hour of darkness, when all the inhabitants are lost in sleep and security. How strongly do the great events of the present day shew this awful advent of the King of Kings to be at the doors?

TURN your eyes, for a moment, to the face of providence, and mark its new and surprising appearance. The Jews, for the first time since the destruction of Jerusalem by Adrian, have, in these States, been admitted to the rights of citizenship; and have since been admitted to the same rights in Prussia. They have also, as we are informed, appointed a solemn delegation to examine the evidences of Christianity. In the Austrian dominions, it is asserted, they have agreed to observe the Christian Sabbath; and in England, have in considerable numbers embraced the Christian religion. New and unprecedented efforts have been made, and are fast increasing, in England, Scotland, Germany, and the United States, for the conversion of the Heathen. Measures have, in Europe, and in America, been adopted, and are still enlarging, for putting an end to the African slavery, which will within a moderate period bring it to an end. Mohammedism is nearly extinct in Persia, one of the chief supports of that imposture. In Turkey, its other great support, the throne totters to its fall. The great Calamities of the present period have fallen, also, almost exclusively upon the Antichristian empire; and almost every part of that empire has drunk deeply of the cup. France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, the Sardinian monarchy, the Austrian dominions, Venice, Genoa, popish Switzerland, the Ecclesiastical State, popish Germany, Poland, and the French West-Indies, have all been visited with judgments wonderful and terrible; and in exact accordance with prophecy have furthered their own ruin. The Kings, or states, of this empire are now plainly “hating the whore, eating her flesh, and burning her with fire.” Batavia, Protestant Switzerland, some parts of protestant Germany, and Geneva, have most unwisely, not to say wickedly, refused “to come out” and have therefore “partaken of the sins, and received of the plagues,” of their enemies. To the same unhappy cause our own smartings may all be traced; but blessed be God, there is reason to hope, that “we are escaping from the snare of the fowler.”

SO sudden, so unexpected, so alarming a state of things has not existed since the deluge. Every mouth proclaims, every eye looks its astonishment. Wonders daily succeed wonders, and are beginning to be regarded as the standing course of things. As they are of so many kinds, exist in so many places, and respect so many objects; kinds, places and objects, all marked out in prophecy, exhibited as parts of one closely united system, and to be expected at the present time; they shew that this affecting declaration is even now fulfilling in a surprising manner, and that the advent of Christ is at least at our doors. Think how awful this period is. Think what convulsions, what calamities, are portended by that great Voice out of the temple of Heaven from the Throne.—”It is done!” by the voices and thunderings and lightnings, by the unprecedented shaking of the earth, the unexampled plague of hailstones, the fleeing of the islands, the vanishing of the mountains, the rending asunder of the Antichristian empire, the united ascent of all its sins before God, the falling of the cities of the nations, the general embattling of mankind against their Maker, and their final overthrow, in such immense numbers, that “all the fowls shall be filled with their flesh.”

“GOD is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, he reserveth wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind, and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt; and the earth is burnt at his presence, yea the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?”

IN this amazing conflict, amidst this stupendous and immeasurable ruin, how transporting the thought, that safety and peace may be certainly found. O thou God of our fathers! our own God! and the God of our children! enable us so to watch, and keep our garments, in this solemn day, that our shame appear not, and that both we and our posterity may be entitled to the blessing which thou hast promised. AMEN.

Oration – July 5th – 1824, Quincy

George Washington Adams was the oldest son of John Quincy Adams. He graduated from Harvard, studied law, and was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He died in 1829.









The causes of great events, those events themselves, and their extensive consequences, are subjects worthy the attention of enlightened and intelligent minds. We have assembled, fellow citizens, to celebrate the anniversary of a day justly memorable in the records of our country’s history: a day glorious to this nation as the festival of its nativity; glorious to humanity, for the expression of principles, proportionate to its exalted privileges. It is the intention of our celebration to signify our adherence to those sublime principles, “which are not of an age but for all time,” and it is delightful to reflect upon the countless multitude of free Americans who with this purpose have watched this morning’s dawn. While we are endeavouring to pay the meed of gratitude to the memory of the past; while we are here to record our sense of our unexampled blessings, the voice of praise ascends around us in every variation of the passing wind: the time is hallowed: the Spirit of Gladness smiles on the land and her altars are adorned with thousand offerings: Genius is strewing roses over our happy clime, and Poetry is breathing forth her heaven born inspiration; throughout our wide extended territory, the day is welcomed with one burst of pleasure. Whence is this general joy? It arises from our independent freedom, which has made known to us the value of our institutions, planted by the energies, and secured to us by the virtuous efforts of our ancestors. Let their energy be to us an example, and their efforts motives for unfailing gratitude to Him who prospered them.The Declaration of Independence, was an advance in the progress of mind; a point in human history, to which the important occurrences of preceding ages led, and from which consequences of high import have proceeded.

The Christian Revelation, that mild and beautiful religion, which has taught man his duties and his hopes, is the true source of human happiness. With its establishment commenced the course of improvement, which succeeding ages and wonderful events have carried onward to our own age and time. The contemplation of the steps by which it has advanced affords much matter of instructive thought, and many reasons for just admiration. America has done and is doing her share in the great work and from the hour of the discovery up to the present moment has shown a proud example to the world.

Past history justifies the reflection that undertakings of magnitude are accomplished only through toil, and suffering, and perilous endurance. This vast continent, unknown for centuries, was discovered, from the fortunate conjecture of an enlightened mind; yet the history of its discoverer is a history of injuries; injuries during his life and neglect after his death. Born in a republic, Christopher Columbus was brought up upon the bosom of the wave and fitted for the mighty object of his life. Having conceived that object he imparted it first to the people of his native land. Censured by his own countrymen as a visionary projector; rejected by nation after nation to whom he had applied; Columbus persevered in his design, with assiduity and firmness truly admirable. At length the Spanish sovereigns risked the experiment: furnished the daring navigator with a miserable squadron, and assisted him with slight encouragement: ill appointed and badly manned, he sailed to find a world! Tried by the dangers of the ocean; distrusted by his men; conflicting twice with mutiny and rage, the promise was wrung from him that in three days if land were not discovered he would return to Spain. His life; his all was on the cast, but his own fortitude supported him. On the evening after he gave the promise, a distant light pierced the dark waste of waters; Columbus saw and marked the glimmering signal: it was a moment of intense interest: to his aspiring mind, another world was found! His triumph was complete; that little beam revived the fainting spirits of his crew, and relumed [illuminate again] the rays of Hope,

“That star on life’s tremulous ocean.”

But this is not the time, my fellow citizens, nor this the place to detail the romantic incidents in the fortunes of Columbus, however rich the theme. His discovery has been mentioned only to notice its effects. It occasioned a rapid improvement in the condition of civilized man, and we may trust that the bright beam Columbus saw, betokened to the untutored Indian, the rising of the star of Bethlehem.

The Discovery of America by Columbus in 1492, succeeded by that of a shorter passage to the East Indies in 1497 by Vasco de Gama, exposed to European avarice the sources of unlooked for wealth. From their full fountains, the Indies poured the precious metals into Europe like a flood. With them went luxury and its concomitant vices, but with them went also the means of knowledge and they aroused an ardent desire for its acquisition. Europe was astonished at these immense discoveries: Venice, the Ocean Power, saw with alarm and terror her sister nations winning all her wealth: Spain measured with enthusiasm, the vast possessions she had acquired: the avarice of England’s seventh Henry stimulated him to obtain for her some portion of this valuable territory: a succession of skilful navigators pursued the track of the great Genoese, and all conspired to increase the thirst for knowledge; mankind began to think: the Reformation followed, and this third astonishing event, rousing men’s passions as its march went on, caused a continued emigration from the old world to the new, for other purposes than those of wealth and plunder, till the poor pilgrim, crossed the deep waters to find a home where he might worship God as his own conscience taught, and where he might be free from persecuting power.

The Reformation emanating from Germany passed into England, and owing to the fortunate conjuncture of the times was there established; but it was not in the intention of her “hard ruled king” to part with his supremacy, and hence arose wide differences of opinion. Tyrant power wielded the sword and used it bloodily designing, not to silence but to extirpate religious opposition, and the sanguinary measures thence adopted, hardened the non-conformists in their faith. Persecution was opposed by bigotry; suffering was paralleled by obstinacy; till the temper of the age grew cruel, unrelenting, merciless: men’s minds were soured and all parties assuming the rigorous rule of uniformity, while they believed their own opinions right, held every departure from them, heresy and sin. In this state of things, our forefathers, tired of a fruitless struggle with the dominant power, and harassed by domestic sorrows, sought an asylum here. Heaven seems to strengthen the human faculties proportionally to the obstacles to be encountered: obstacles multiplied before our fathers, and were surmounted; Plymouth was settled and in the rock the tree of Liberty was rooted. Bound by their religious covenant, the Pilgrims bound themselves by a political constitution. By a charter to the Plymouth Council, under a royal grant, based on discovery and implied conquest, they came hither, but their best title was afterwards acquired by purchase from the natives of the soil, and subsequent efficient labour on the land. Hardly had they completed the outline of their town, before the indiscretion of their countrymen surrounded them with dangers. The Puritans in England held a reformation of the manners of the age, essential to the reformation of religion, and the sharp cruelty exercised upon them, induced them to assert this point with more than stoic rigour: this drove their opponents to the opposite extreme; they increased their luxury because it was attacked, deriding Puritan severity to cut off the growth of Puritan belief. With these opinions, some of the established church came over to New England in the first year after the Plymouth settlement commenced, and fixed themselves at Weymouth: others followed them, and chose Mount Wollaston for their plantation: their leading officers soon left them, and they, unlike their Plymouth neighbours, and unrestrained by conscientious virtue, gave themselves up to wild licentiousness. The natives, wronged by them, concerted deep laid plans for their destruction, but they, urged onward by an evil schemer, plunged deeper into reckless dissipation: gathered the flowers of spring to wreath their garlands, and like the victims of the Roman altars, knew not the fate that was impending over them: strange! That a few adventurers; on an unsettled coast; surrounded by tribes whom they had irritated; straitened for bare subsistence; and while a fearful storm was gathering, could listen to the siren voice of pleasure and drain the cup of idle wantonness: yes; on yon merry mountain the shout of revelry was heard, until the Plymouth Government, alarmed at its pernicious influence, suppressed the settlement.

History, my fellow citizens, must be impartial: if the fate of this unthinking crew awakens painful feeling, there is an honest pride in the remembrance that you are not their sons. Very different was the character of the successful founders of New England. Their energy soon settled Plymouth, and their example founded other colonies, which, under favourable charters, nourished a free and hardy population, growing and gradually spreading through this Western world. The Pilgrims of Plymouth and the primitive settlers of New England came over to enjoy unmolested, the exercise of a simple and unadulterated form of worship. To obtain this religious freedom, they left a land over which Nature has profusely scattered her most attractive graces: a land which has been beautifully called

“A precious stone set in the silver sea,”

Where were the tombs of their fathers and the homes of their kindred; where their earliest affections had grown, and their dearest recollections lingered: but it was no longer the home of Liberty; Astraea had deserted it, and left green Albion a barren waste girt with a ripple wall of regal tyranny. What was the beauty of the earth to them, deprived of liberty of conscience? For this they could forego this “Pleasant land of their nativity;” for this they could restrain those feelings which might not be entirely destroyed; estrange themselves from home, and friends and kindred to become acquainted with the rude savage of the wilderness. They brought with them the rigid principles for which they had contended, and the stern spirit which they had imbibed. Religion was the platform of their political state, and they respected its ordinances, and its ministers. These exerted a favourable influence upon the public morals, watching them with scrutinizing jealousy: the people possessed an operative suffrage in their church government, and were familiar with polemic controversy: they sifted doctrines and decided for themselves contested points: but in the innumerable differences of human opinion, it was not probable that uniformity could long exist among them. Uniformity was the rule which the opposing sects required in England before they emigrated, and their uncompromising disposition made it essential here. They had moreover, assumed mistaken definitions of religious liberty: zeal was the leading feature of the character: zeal which had induced such honourable sacrifices, impelled them to become intolerant and too uncharitable to those from whom they differed in speculative belief. This intolerance was owing to their early habits, to the partial knowledge which that age possessed, and to their danger as a community if different systems should gain ground. If there are dark shades in the portrait, they serve but to contrast its glowing colours and to enhance its general expression. It is man’s nature to mingle imperfection with his best efforts, and his past errors present an awful warning for the future.Accustomed to judge for themselves in matters of theology, they began to feel it as their right to judge in those of government. Acknowledging themselves to be English subjects, they drew nice distinctions in defining that subjection in order that it might not prejudice their privileges. With no nobility to check the growth of equal systems; no hierarchy to hold out a lure to clerical ambition, or to sustain royal pretensions to supremacy in religion; no courts supported by the forfeitures decreed by their own judges; they grew up in the enjoyment of republican rights. They constituted a republic under the jurisdiction of a magistrate, too distant to govern them effectively, and too profoundly ignorant of their importance, to straiten round them the cords of sovereignty. Their governor chosen by themselves was annually removable under the earlier plan of administration, and though afterwards lost, this right of choosing their own rulers had been exercised and was remembered. Their immediate executive was elective and thus responsible to them: indeed, the wise and virtuous men who took the lead in their affairs, encouraged the republican immunities of the people and supported the established charter rule of annual elections from their own conviction of its value; sensible

“That nobler is a limited command
“Given by the love of all your native land,
“Than a successive title, long and dark,
“Drawn from the mouldy rolls of Noah’s ark.”

To annual elections they soon added representation, and improved on the practice of the Mother Country, by equalizing the rule. This right of being represented was not granted by the first charters, but it was adopted shortly after their arrival, and in various periods of our history its value has been ascertained. Actual experience proved the necessity of distinguishing property and they fortunately held it unburthened with the incidents of feudal extortion and by admitted titles.

These rights were the elements of their high character; but there was another cause which added to their firmness and increased their privileges. From the earliest settlement, they cultivated good learning and useful science. The controversies of theology could not be maintained without sufficient learning to oppose the arguments of learned orders of the church, laboring for its preservation. Controversy had been for years familiar as the daily food of life. The reformation had in the different sides which States and Monarchs were compelled to take, opened the wide gates of speculative doubt, and proved to mankind that they could think for themselves. This point once gained, there was no limit to the interest which attended the investigation of religious questions; hence this interest extended throughout Europe, and spread itself over the whole surface of society. The study of theology became the surest path to influence and hour, and learning was sought for as a weapon of controversy. Inexpressibly anxious about their eternal welfare, our fathers taught their children to “search the scriptures,” and thus laid the corner stone of learning’s proudest temple, a reading and reflecting community. They established schools and colleges for public education. While New England was a sterile wilderness, the halls of Harvard rose to educate a line of excellent men, qualified to instruct their countrymen in wisdom: to seek her in her dearest treasuries: to dispense to mankind the inestimable benefits of knowledge and virtue.

“These are brighter, richer gems
“Than the stars of diadems.”

The collective character of a people is composed of the same mixture of differing qualities, which are discernible in individuals: it comprises the same liberality, generosity, honesty of intention, and the same stormy passions which when roused, shake the whole happiness of private life. Our forefathers were a patient and persevering people: their devotion was simple but earnest; their theories were circumscribed but conscientious; their morality was rigorous but practical. They were from necessity frugal; from their position circumspect; from their situation vigorous and hardy. Obliged alike to brave the savage and the European foe; acquainted equally with the implements of husbandry and with the weapons of war, they guarded the State till she had cleared the dangers of her infancy. Such was the early character of the people of New England. It shows a race of men fit to be free. History presents no parallel to such a people: mid all her records of blood stained laurels and successful wrong; mid all her tales of daring enterprise and reckless valour; of learned lawgivers and grasping conquerors, she shows no other state, originating in devotion and in liberty of thought; no other nation whose foundation was the pure worship of the living God.

In this character we may trace the progress of mind. Freedom opened the blossom of republican polity which was in aftertimes to ripen into admirable fruit. The early systems of elections, of representation and of property were improvements on the old modes; the former by limiting official power, increasing responsibility and equalizing popular participation in government; the latter by securing to industry, the profits it affords.

This character, which intercourse and habit, in the next generation had extended and confirmed, was not in good accordance with regal prerogative or Parliamentary supremacy. It became necessary, therefore, that the Mother Country should counteract and check it, by a plan of colonial policy.

The affairs of England claimed the whole attention of her cabinet, and these plantations were permitted to grow unmolested, until the overturn of ancient prejudices had changed the form of English government, and placed Cromwell at the helm. He first perceived the true importance of the colonies, and bent his mind upon them. The leader of the Puritans; he looked with favour on New England while ruling other colonies with rigour; but to sustain the war with Holland, he procured from Parliament the passage of the act of navigation, which formed the ground work of their future policy. After the restoration, the people lost many of their most peculiar privileges. The gloomy machinations of the last Stuarts, extended to America, and were mainly directed against the bold and independent spirit of New England. No longer empowered to elect their own executive, the colonists were holden at the mercy of the throne; a mercy, burthened with such hard conditions as completely changed its office. Violent and arbitrary maxims of government, carried into execution by rulers, strangers to the soil and its inhabitants, affecting the right of property, destroying the right of suffrage, subverting customs which had grown up with the people, were the “tender mercies,” which the “nursing mother” administered to her distressed offspring. The same eclipse which had overshadowed the Sun of British Liberty, portended total darkness to the world, but under the merciful decree of Providence it passed away, and left the orb more radiant than before. The British revolution saved mankind from projects deeply designed for their entire subjection, and forms another step in the advance of mind. During the reigns of the last Charles and James, the value of the American plantations began to be appreciated. The Mother Country framed a system of colonial policy, which depressed their energies and fettered their power. The Parliament during the Commonwealth had passed the act of navigation, and subsequently added to it acts of trade, by which the profits of the colonial commerce were made returnable through the British market. This commercial monopoly was vigorously enforced by one party and artfully evaded by the other, till at length the power of the crown extorted a partial obedience. The secret springs of the machine were avarice and fear. Profound and learned writers directed the attention of the British rulers, to the colonies. The propositions fundamental to their policy were, that plantations possessing unrestricted trade are prejudicial to the commerce of the Mother Country; and that on this principle, New England most of all obstructed English trade. It was therefore determined to check the growth and stop the progress of these provinces by means of the act of navigation, strengthened and supported by a succession of laws for regulating, or more properly, crippling the trade of the plantations by a continued chain of restrictions laid on their commerce. These restrictions were made to act equally upon the importation and the exportation of the Colonists, compelling them to purchase at a dearer rate than was primarily requisite, and to sell at a higher rate than was otherwise necessary, to prevent their underselling the English trader. The people of New England were experienced navigators, and the fisheries an unfailing school for seamen. The coast afforded large facilities for ship building, and the Colonies would assuredly improve them, whence would arise in case of insubordination, an American navy. The commercial monopoly was the instrument made use of to prevent all this danger to the “fast anchored isle.” Was it to be imagined that a people such as we have shown, habitually jealous of their liberties, would tamely and quietly submit to such restrictions? Was it to be supposed that a hardy and enterprising race of men, skilful in calculation and shrewdly sensitive to honest profit, would willingly consent to let the price of their labour, the gains of their industry slip from their hands? It would have been wholly foreign to the character of this people to have submitted without murmuring to this unfavourable scheme. They did not willingly submit: they lost the first charter for their opposition; they lost that right of choosing their own executive, which had so long protected them in freedom: they were subjected to a tyrannical governor, brought up and nourished in the Stuart projects: all this they bore, before they would submit to this restrictive plan, and when at last, they were compelled to avow obedience, it was conveyed to an act of their own legislature, which imposed the burthen. From the Restoration in 1660, this plan of curbing the Colonies was enforced by England and evaded in America, till in the course of time it became the fountain of our revolution. When the provinces had consented to it, their obedience was as literal as might have been expected, and notwithstanding its rigorous operation, they prospered, for their commodities and produce were immensely profitable to the monopolist, and thence in great demand; and this may prove the interested wisdom of the framers of this scheme; for if the sun “shorn of his beams” yet shone so brightly, his concentrated power might be dangerous. The Colonies increased and prospered, their regulation notwithstanding, but their prosperity ran counter to the fundamental proposition of English doctrines, and in consequence it became necessary to weave a net about America, which should completely foil her struggles and be sufficiently elastic to increase with her increasing strength. To effect this scheme, some genius, invented the plan for raising a revenue from America by Parliamentary taxation without representation: a revenue superadded to the restrictive, exclusive, oppressive system of commercial monopoly: an union of which the offspring was “uncompensated slavery.” My fellow citizens it was this scheme of “exquisite policy” originating either in ministerial embarrassments abroad or in high reaching ambition at home, which brought about our glorious revolution. The people saw that the point most settled in the British constitution, that taxation must not exist without representation, was annihilated by the British policy. It was this violation on the British part which caused the revolution, and was followed by the revolutionary war.

The revolution commenced with the resistance made to an order from the superior court of this province for writs of assistance to carry into execution the acts of trade. These writs of assistance indicated the first speck in the horizon, round which the clouds collected, to burst in thunder over Britain and to purify the political atmosphere of the world. The revolution, that total change in the feelings of the Colonies towards the Mother Country, was completed by the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by a successful conflict. The Colonies together with the parent kingdom were coming out victoriously from the war with France, which had greatly added to their military glory and to the national burthens. The provinces in America had borne an active and an honourable share in the labours and successes of the war; thereby becoming more closely bound to the parent state than ever; but their success alarmed the British ministry by awakening their fears, that the checks on the free spirit of the Americans had been diminished by the destruction of the French power. They resumed their monopoly and added to it the scheme for revenue at the very moment they lessened the means of meeting their demands. Bill after bill was fulminated by Parliament with the double motive of extorting revenue to meet the pecuniary difficulties of the kingdom, and of breaking the spirit of the Americans. It is a tale of wrongs too melancholy for this hour. After long suffering, patient forbearance, and glorious resistance, America determined to be free. Passions were roused to their extremes, and British pride pledged to the contest: the ministry alarmed and angered, drew the sword upon their countrymen, resolved to strain every nerve for ultimate success.

In this situation, when the British government had decided to exert the power of the empire, and war hung lowering darkly over America; the Declaration of Independence was issued and received with acclamation throughout the Colonies.—The arm of Tyranny was palsied by the blow, it cleft his Lion helm in twain, and struck the feeble faulchion [one-handed, single-edged sword] from his hand. The Colonies had shaken off the chains by which they had been manacled, and owned no longer an imperious master; they told the world that they were free; and in the reasons they assigned for this assertion of their freedom are to be found the soundest principles of public justice, the boldest theories of human rights. These are the reasons why this sublime instrument marks an advancement of the human mind; these are the claims, which have won for this day the annual tribute of a nation’s joy; these are the sacred ties, which hold together these increasing states in the strict bonds of union and of harmony.

The effects of this Declaration were at the time when it was issued, most favourable. Other powers lent their assistance to an independent nation, contending for its existence, which they could not have done to subject colonies, conflicting with a master whom they acknowledged: at home the public resources were concentrated: an object to be gained and defined. Through fields of hard fought battle, through patient toil and painful suffering, the object has been gained: America is free: the valour of her sons, the wisdom of her statesmen, nerved by the glorious cause for which they fought, have made and kept her free.

The effects of this Declaration are now everywhere visible. Look through the country and behold our accumulated blessings: see Nature robed in beauty; fertile in rich luxuriance: see health and plenty everywhere around you: see a dense and settled population stretching from the cold regions of the North to the exuberant valleys of the South; from the prolific intervals of the East to the flourishing prairies of the West: see your shores washed by two oceans and the soil your own: Are not these motives for rejoicing? The welcome of this day throughout the land gives our reply.

But beside the general national reasons for rejoicing in the benefits resulting from this proud day, there are others, fellow citizens, which affect us peculiarly. We cannot forget that the great name, which leads the illustrious catalogue upon that venerated instrument, went forth from here. I would speak with diffidence of Mr. Hancock. Common praise would not express his virtues. His character was compounded of mingled gravity and splendor. Accustomed to the luxuries of life, Fortune clothed him with her mantle of elegant refinement and poured her gifts upon him in a golden shower. With every prospect of pre-eminence under the ancient aristocratic system, commanding influence and sure of honours, it was no common strain of patriotism that could put by the glittering bait which courted him. Dignified, graceful, affable, and eloquent, he seemed to win involuntary favour, while to these outward excellences, he added the sterner virtues which the time required. Liberal, charitable, generous, his fortune was his country’s and his wealth made for the poor. Generosity was the flower of his life, and whether actively exercised in freely bestowing or negatively in giving up emoluments it bloomed in equal brilliancy. His splendid qualities were perhaps displayed too publicly ; there might be something too shining in his mode of life; but this splendor was the growth of early habit and the overflowing of a liberal nature. It is difficult to lay aside the customs which have grown with us from childhood; self denial is a hard and trying thing; but Mr. Hancock was willing to put everything at stake: fortune, honours, safety, life itself were to him worthless in comparison with Republican Liberty. His soul was comprehensive and his spirit bold as the character which records his signature: and if persevering aid to the right cause in sickness, sorrow, sacrifice are honourable; then is Mr. Hancock’s life entitled to our highest panegyric.

While he was thus conspicuous in the front rank of the advocates of liberty and law, beside him stood a Roman patriot. Samuel Adams was certainly an extraordinary character: a man whom few resemble. We should be inclined to think him rather of the school of the younger Brutus, or bred in the faith of Cato, than an inhabitant of a modern colony; rather taught by the Scottish Covenanters than by the courtly statesmen in the reign of the third George; cotemporary rather with Standish and Carver than with Bernard and Hutchinson. There was “a daily beauty I in his life” which calls for our warmest approbation. His public course exhibited a firmness and decision which were indeed remarkable: he was no half way man; reform with him required total, final, essential, alteration. Poor as he was, it was idle to attempt to bribe such a man: to the allurements of Fortune he was blind as her own fabled divinity; but to the real charms of Liberty he paid his homage with clear unclouded vision. In private he was conciliating and benevolent; in public strenuous and severe. He could contemplate the gathering clouds with satisfaction; could see a glory in the fearful struggle; could moralize upon the day of battle: there was, it may be, something too rugged in his policy, but it was the obstinacy of masculine virtue. He was one of those men who effect great ends, and that he did contribute much to the event, which distinguishes this day, is clearly unquestionable. Differing widely in character from Mr. Hancock he was equally useful to the cause of American freedom: their names were inscribed together on the same record of proscription and glow with equal grandeur on the same scroll of fame.

There was a third citizen of this soil: alas! too quickly taken. Educated to benefit his species; gifted with the fascinating, the appalling powers of oratory; compared by those who heard his magic speech to the splendid orator of Rome:–God in his own wise designs did not permit him to see the light of that bright hour, which gave our Declaration of Independence, but “his mind’s eye” beheld it as Moses from the top of Pisgah saw the land which he might not inhabit. His life was spent in arduous professional labour, and he bore an honourable share in that decree which proved the triumph of eternal justice even in the very midst of massacre. This severe labour, added to the toils he bore to aid his country, cost Mr. Quincy life: let his memory live ever here; bloom ever in the spot which bears his name: it is not too much to say of him in the language of the poet,

“O’er him whose doom your virtues grieve,
“Aerial forms shall sit at eve
“And bend the pensive head:
“And fallen to save his injur’d land
“Immortal Honour’s awful hand
“Shall point his lonely bed.”

In attempting to award a feeble measure of justice to the memory of these eminent men, it is not designed to assign to them exclusive praise. The results of our Revolution produced a company of patriots unsurpassed in earthly annals; men wise and bold in counsel and the field. The majority of that vigorous race have gone to brighter climes; a few, alas, how few! Remain to greet this morning; blessed by the wishes of their country: blessed by the sight of national prosperity beyond their fondest hopes:–the rest we trust are joined again with Washington, above the reach of time.

The last, the best effect of this immortal instrument, has been upon the nations of the earth. The lessons which it diffuses have not been lost, have not died away unheard. Crushed, trampled on, oppressed, Liberty rises by her own resistless energy, to renew the struggle for the dearest rights of man. The herald of those rights has spoken to the world. France has heard the sound, but Despotism has benumbed her faculties and Cruelty has stained her proud escutcheon. Spain has heard the sound and tried to loose the chains of ancient days, but Superstition holds her down as with a spell of sorcery. Greece has heard the sound and sprung in armour from her slothful couch, to ring the loud larum [alarm] peal of war, and blood, and battle: yes, my fellow citizens, the subtle fluid is at work; the waters are rising, and they will pour the great tide of liberty throughout the globe: it already rolls in the Archipelago, it mingles in the billows of the mighty Amazon.

Oration – July 4th – 1810, Massachusetts







“Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non ivium ardor prava jubentium
Non vultus instantis tyranny
Mente quatit solida.”


THE Selectmen of Newburyport, in behalf of their fellow-citizens, present their thanks to SAMUEL L. KNAPP, Esq. for the excellent Oration delivered by him this day, in commemoration of American Independence, and request a Copy for the press.
Newburyport, July 4, 1810.

FROM a respectful regard to your request; and in compliance to custom, I submit the copy to your disposal.
Of the Selectmen of Newburyport.


ON this day we should come forward with open hearts and independent minds to discuss principles of government; to expatiate with sincerity and justice upon national affairs; scrupulously to examine the conduct of Rulers and to see that no strange fire is offered by unhallowed hands on the altar of our liberties; to animate and enlighten each other in republican feelings and duties, to cherish in our breasts the love of distinction and to awaken our minds to a virtuous desire of national greatness.
While on this day we indulge a noble pride in contemplating our exertions for Independence, and feed our imaginations with rapturous views of future years, let us moderate our joy by calling to mind the fate of all republican institutions. Where once the super-human Spartan, the courtly Athenian, and the lordly Roman were found, is now seen the idle Turk and the effeminate Italian. The laws of Lycurgus and Solon, the Senatus-Consultum are changed for the imperial mandates of a tyrant to his slaves. We delight to dwell on the youth and manhood of republican States, as we do on the youth and beauty of Alcibiades, or the iron muscle and godlike mein of Hercules; but pass in silence the loathsomeness and decrepitude of their old age, when they exhibited all that is mean in suffering and base in action. History faithfully records their steps to wretchedness and extinction; but we turn from the melancholy downfall of Republics unwilling too closely to inspect their sullied brightness and diminished glory.

Switzerland is the only exception among the republics of all ages to national suicide. She alone is worthy the tears of time and the lamentations of the world. The echo of her hills repeated the dying accents of liberty on the eastern continent.

Knowledge and virtue are the soul of a Republic. Without them no free government can exist. If men are intelligent, moral and religious he laws are permanent and the people happy; but unenlightened man has no stability of character. In possession of power he is a merciless despot, in the power of others he is a tame and pliant slave. In a free government and under mild laws he is a violent opposer of just restraint and wholesome obedience. With obscure views, strong passions and vicious propensities he is the enemy of his own happiness and author of his own misery. From a deep knowledge of human nature the wise men of ancient Republics seized the moments of peace and reason to fix some mound against popular frenzy; to save the people from their own infatuation and folly. The appealed to the understandings of the people in their calmest moments, and to the best feelings of their hearts, and made them seal the checks to themselves by all the influences of superstition and religion. But in vain did the wise and virtuous attempt to save them; for in the first paroxysm the labors of wisdom were torn away and became as bands of straw on the hands of a maniac. The infuriated multitude drove their sages into banishment, or compelled them to drink the poisonous cup. Honorable services were no safeguard from their fury; and an illustrious name only excited envy and hatred.

Other things were expected of our Republic; for we did not, like them, begin in a state of barbarian ignorance and wait the lapse of ages for knowledge and experience; but in the moments succeeding the struggle for our Independence, when we were quiet from weakness, and peaceful because exhausted by contending, the talent of our country was collected to deliberate upon a constitution of government. Every fountain of knowledge was open; all the maxims of philosophy at hand; and “all the spoils of time” were before them to be examined, selected, modified and combined.

The constitution from their hands was theoretically beautiful and grand. The principles were simple; built on the everlasting foundations of justice. Barriers were raised against the encroachments of wealth and power, and the weak and defenseless were protected in their rights. The widest field for political distinction was open to all. We received this Constitution. Would to Heaven we had been wise enough for its full and continual operation. We were not sufficiently virtuous for this system of government; for while we were feeling its most beneficial effects, disappointed demagogues were scattering ambiguous voices, which were caught by the insolent and vicious. The serpent was seen lurking in this paradise the morning after its creation. This party at first, were hardly noticed. They shrunk from the splendid blaze of talents in our national Councils, from the immaculate purity and renowned virtue of our first magistrate; but in secret they were gaining strength and rancor. The disaffected part of the community joined them to vent their malice, and the weak man, who was ambitious; they ensnared the dreams of honor. From the confines of darkness these opposers of the Administration of Washington, came forth to censure every action and attack every measure, regardless of decency or justice. Every act of the Administration, however mild and salutary, was by this faction called oppressive and tyrannical. The cry of danger was so loud and so frequently reiterated that the timid were alarmed, and the weak became suspicious. At length, after twelve years uniform and vindictive opposition from this party, to the genuine principles of republicanism, Mr. Jefferson its head came into office. Washington for eight years, had led us by a direct road and rapid marches to a high eminence among nations; but at this period he was no longer numbered with the living. His immediate successor, Mr. Adams, during his term of office, with few deviations, wisely followed his steps. At the name of this man my bosom labors with mingled emotions of reverence, pity, and contempt. He had never apostatized from the principles of his great prototype, we should on his anniversary have been wreathing garlands of flowers for this venerable head; for he was an early and able advocate for the Independence of his country. If he had died before his vanity and wounded pride had overcome his reason, we should on this day have been strewing his grave with cassia and defending the laurels of his tomb from the pestilential breath of his present friends.

Mr. Jefferson’s Administration deserves from every one the strictest scrutiny and freest remark; for in his Administration the world witnessed the most novel spectacle it had ever seen; a people by the bare suggestion of a chief magistrate cut off from a pursuit in which they were ardently and successfully engaged, and on which their dearest interests depended. Themistocles is immortal on the page of history for prevailing on the Athenians in a time of difficulty to quit their city and trust themselves to the sea. Mr. Jefferson by a simple dictum has done more to an immense country, than this great man did to single city, by incessant labor, matchless eloquence and profound art. But here all resemblance vanishes. The act of one saved and established the liberties of Greece, the act of the other impoverished and degraded his country. Mr. Jefferson, fed by the philosophers of France, with visionary plans for the improvement of human nature, unfortunately for us was clothed with power to put some of these schemes in experiment. He continued the same speculative zealot, although the school in which he was taught, with all their fanciful theories and wild calculations to give unalloyed happiness to the world, perpetuity to life, and to elevate men to gods, lad long since been swept from the earth and the remembrance of their existence almost forgotten. The seed sown in this country by France, during her revolution, has produced a plentiful and poisonous harvest. At the thoughts of France our old wounds bleed afresh, and no hand is able to staunch those recently made. From France for many years we have suffered violence, outrage and robbery with a cringing spirit and dastardly dread. When she has treated us with the most contempt; we have courted her with the most servility; and have kissed the foot of Bonaparte, when it has been lifted to crush our heads in the dust. Our citizens have expired in the dungeons of France, and our property has gone to replenish her exhausted treasury. It is true our government have remonstrated; but so feebly, that the mighty master of our destinies has told us he had not leisure to listen to our complaints.

The historian of a future age will be unable to account for this moral and political phenomenon that a nation, which had so nobly contended for Independence, so lately evinced such fortitude and patriotism, should in so few years become totally insensible to the prostration of her honor, and regardless of the lives and liberties of her citizens. Instead of asserting our rights and defending our property, we have been gazing in stupid wonder at the gigantic strides of the destroyer, and at times have so far forgotten our fate, that we have found pleasure in describing his power, ambition and success. We have seen the dews of death fall on the nations around him with scarcely an emotion to pity. Great God! How long shall this desolater of nations wear his crown stained with tears the dripping with gore? How long shall he bid fierce defiance to eternal justice, and yet prosper, as never man prospered? If Americans possessed the proud spirit, for which they were once distinguished, the storms which have shaken Europe, would have rolled at a harmless distance. Had our government risen in the majesty of her strength, the star which has shed its baleful influence on Europe, would not have darted a malignant ray on us. What are the armies of France to America! An immense ocean rolls between us, “and the thousand ships of England” ride on its waves. Had we preserved our little navy, and made proper additions to it yearly, we should have been able at this period to protect our commerce from French depredations; nor should we now be burning with shame and indignation, that our property and rights have been adjudged by a paltry Danish Court. Is it not enough to fire freemen with madness that such a petty power should treat us so villainously? And what is worst of all, that we should so tamely submit to it! Our rulers have seen this insult and degradation with perfect indifference. They will not enter into our feelings or alleviate our distress. But their office is not perpetual. Other times are coming, and the government will pass to other men. Already some of these political “glow worms ‘gin to pale their ineffectual fires.” Though the darkness is still great, the morning may be near; and when the day again shines upon us, the people will be convinced of what has often been told them; that by commerce only this country can grow populous, opulent and distinguished. Deprive us of our commerce and we shall be stationary or retrograde. Commerce is the sacred Palladium of our rights; and as long as it is extensive and prosperous, this country will increase in numbers and power.

Some politicians have exclaimed against a nation of merchants, as they are pleased to stile commercial countries, and asserted that no true patriotism could exist among men, who were in pursuit of riches. But we know these opinions to be incorrect. To prove that true national dignity and glory have been attained by commerce, we have only to glance at the history of commercial nations. The people of Tyre, while their trade flourished, were the most enlightened and invincible of any nation on earth. The arts and sciences were found among them in greater perfection, than among other nations. In accumulating property, they did not forget the necessity of defense. Though not very numerous they presented a warlike and formidable front, to the great nations around them. Carthage whose character we have through the suspected medium of Roman historians, their constant enemies, was a small country, wealthy by commerce and consequently powerful. At the mention of Carthage the Roman warrior’s cheek was blanched with fear, and the name of Hannibal carried terror within the walls of Rome. In the days of the Medici, who were princes and merchants, learning revived, and liberty took deep root and flourished. Commerce showered her Gold on literature and the arts and learning in return consecrated the genius of Commerce by binding his brow with the richest offerings of the Florentine muse. Holland has ever found her weight in the scale of nations exactly in proportion to the prosperity of her trade. Look back to the days of the DeWitts, and compare them with the reign of Louis.

If anyone doubts the beneficial effects of commerce on the civil and political liberties of a people, point him to Great-Britain, and he will find that her strength and influence has increased with her revenue. Examine her history for a century past and you will find she has increased in spirit and knowledge, as she has grown in wealth. The independence and wisdom of her House of Commons have risen in the same ratio of her exports. Is there any man among us, my fellow-citizens, who thinks it inexpedient for us to continue a commercial people? If there lives such a man, ask him to view our navigable rivers, our mountain-oaks and all our resources for building and equipping ships. Bid him think of the enkindled spirit of enterprise in our countrymen, who meet danger with delight, and smile at fear. Shall this vigor waste? Shall the manly sinew relax? Shall this restless and adventurous spirit, which pants for something to contend with and conquer, turn into indolence and vice for wan of action?

Shall these men who would gladly “brave the battle and the breeze,” be condemned to cultivate the bleak mountains or barren heaths of our country? Forbid it genius of New-England; and never let it be said that our nerve and fortitude are changed to feebleness and timidity. New-England must find her safety, her happiness and her fame in commerce, and must at all events have it. The convulsions of the world have stopped some of the usual channels of trade, but the same convulsions will open other channels and give room for industry and enterprise. We must not expect an interrupted course of prosperity in trade, and that the world will see us defenseless without taking advantage of such a state. Everything intimately connected with commerce deserves our highest attention. This impression will lead me to venture a few remarks on the maxim in the mouths of our political opponents,–“that great cities are a great evil.” Perhaps this may be said of cities in countries altogether agricultural, where the hard earnings of the peasant are dissipated by his master in luxurious idleness in the city. Commercial cities are mostly filled with industrious inhabitants, who instead of preying on the vitals of the country; lavish their wealth on it, which, like the overflowing of Helicon, produces all around perennial flowers and eternal verdure. In cities the asperities of character are smoothed and softened, and the manners receive a polish from the business and intercourse of life. In cities the reputation of men for virtues or talents is weighed in the balance and marked with proper notice and regard. Associations are formed for alleviating the miseries of humanity; for collecting stores of information from all parts of the world, and for extending the empire of the human mind.

As patriots we cannot but feel an interest in all the changes of the world. So intimately are nations connected at the present day that circumstances effecting one nation are almost always felt by others. But as lovers of freedom, we must rejoice at the recent events in Spanish America. A country formed by the God of nature on the most extensive scale, with mountains whose lofty summits seem to prop the starry Heavens; with rivers in magnitude like seas, enjoying the most salubrious air and the richest soil; with a population as large as the United States. This people have declared themselves independent. They have long been oppressed by the miserable policy of the mother country. Without commerce, without civil liberty, confined and restrained in their own domestic affairs, they have never reached any dignity of character; avaricious viceroys have plundered them with impunity, and kept them ignorant and dependent. The power of Bonaparte, which has made Spain “the skin of an immolated victim,” has un-riveted their chains. They seized a fortunate moment, and declared themselves independent. We hail them as a new born nation; and offer our prayers for their success. From justice and policy our government ought to be the first to acknowledge their independence. We hope they may experience the mild reign of national liberty, without passing through confusion and anarchy, and learn from the fate of other nations not to indulge in eccentric experiments in forming a government. This revolution will open an extensive trade; and if rightly improved, repay us in some measure what we have lost in Europe. Whatever path our government may pursue in this affair, or in any other; in whatever hands our destinies may be placed, may we honestly avow our sentiments, and fearlessly execute our just determinations, keep close to those politics which have been adopted by the wise and good, and consecrated by the immortal Washington. Politics, which are a combination of intelligence, social affection and religious belief; a love of government founded on efficient principles and administered with firmness and impartiality; a sacred regard to equal rights, and a just hatred of oppression from the many or the few; a union of ability and virtue, against loose principles and violent passions. This is federalism and its professors have magnanimously strove against the torrent, and maintained dignity and influence when the power had passed from their hands. The federal Legislature of our Commonwealth, last year, risked their political existence in the cause of their country. They saw the gulf was open and the plague was raging; and like Curtius, they boldly leaped in as a sacrifice for the general good. The federalists are now a minority, but a powerful minority, which are yet to save us. The party is now winnowed of its wretched chaff. The little souls, who longed for the rattles of office, have deserted our standard. Some of them are flattered and promoted; but we do not envy them the fruits of their apostacy. It was a pitiful ambition, and most pitifully are they rewarded. What honor is there in office, when honorable men are proscribed? Who is desirous of a seat in that Council, where witlings lead in the deliberations.

The hour is mournful and the prospect gloomy; but do not grow impatient. We have much to thank Heaven for, and much to rejoice in. Most of our civil rights yet remain. The Temple of Justice has been shaken by the warring winds of faction; but it stands as yet unprofaned and its sacred fires are burning. The spirit, which gained our Independence, rightly directed, will preserve it. The generation to come will grow wise by our misfortunes, and shun the evils we have borne. This strong delusion is but for a season; the return of reason is certain. To the rising race will soon be committed the guidance of the Country. Life is but a short and feverish dream; and those who are now “clothed in a little brief authority,” will soon be gone.

Much we owe you, venerable fathers, who fought our battles and secured our independence, when the veins of hope were chilled and dismay and despair hovered around you. Much we owe you honored Matrons, mothers of the fair and the brave, you partook of their dangers, cherished the flame of liberty, and shall share in their renown.

Every day is thinning the ranks of the heroes and statesmen, who have been conspicuous in our infant republic. The illustrious Green just tasted of liberty and died. Washington lived to raise us to the zenith of prosperity; but was opportunely called to Heaven. Death alone could shield his cheek from blushing at his country’s disgrace. Hamilton the pride of eloquence, and boast of genius, molders in an untimely grave. He was mild as the spirit of love, and immoveable as the rock of adamant. Had he lived in America would have had a Palinurus for every storm, who could have safely led the way in a starless night and through tempestuous seas. Within a few months Lincoln full of honors and years has descended to the tomb. Such was his purity in private life and his fame in war that his friends loved him with ardor, and his political enemies revered him for his virtues. My fathers, co-adjutors of these great men, in the cause of American freedom, “may your last days be your best days, or ever the silver cord of life is loosed;” see your children’s children rise up to call you blessed, and your country flourishing in republican virtues and increasing in wealth, fame and power.


Oration – July 4th- 1837





Before the Inhabitants


the Town of Newburyport,

at their request,

on the Sixty-First Anniversary


theDeclaration of Independence,

July 4th, 1837.

By John Quincy Adams.

“Say ye not, A Confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” Isaiah 8:12.

ORATION.Why is it, Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it, that, entering upon the sixty-second year of our national existence, you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place, a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory, the warm and vivid affections which attached him, at the distance of a full half century, to your town, and to your forefathers, then the cherished associates of his youthful days? Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? – And why is it that, among the swarming myriads of our population, thousands and tens of thousands among us, abstaining, under the dictate of religious principle, from the commemoration of that birth-day of Him, who brought life and immortality to light, yet unite with all their brethren of this community, year after year, in celebrating this, the birth-day of the nation? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation?

Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before? Cast your eyes backwards upon the progress of time, sixty-one years from this day; and in the midst of the horrors and desolations of civil war, you behold an assembly of Planters, Shopkeepers and Lawyers, the Representatives of the People of thirteen English Colonies in North America, sitting in the City of Philadelphia. These fifty-five men, on that day, unanimously adopt and publish to the world, a state paper under the simple title of ‘A DECLARATION.’

The object of this Declaration was two-fold. First, to proclaim the People of the thirteen United Colonies, one People, and in their name, and by their authority, to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with another People, that is, the People of Great Britain. Secondly, to assume, in the name of this one People, of the thirteen United Colonies, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God, entitled them. With regard to the first of these purposes, the Declaration alleges a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, as requiring that the one people, separating themselves from another, should declare the causes, which impel them to the separation. – The specification of these causes, and the conclusion resulting from them, constitute the whole paper. The Declaration was a manifesto, issued from a decent respect of the opinions of mankind, to justify the People of the North American Union, for their voluntary separation from the People of Great Britain, by alleging the causes which rendered this separation necessary. The Declaration was, thus far, merely an occasional state paper, issued for a temporary purpose, to justify, in the eyes of the world, a People, in revolt against their acknowledged Sovereign, for renouncing their allegiance to him, and dissolving their political relations with the nation over which he presided. For the second object of the Declaration, the assumption among the powers of the earth of the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them, no reason was assigned, – no justification was deemed necessary.

The first and chief purpose of the Declaration of Independence was interesting to those by whom it was issued, to the people, their constituents in whose name it was promulgated, and to the world of mankind to whom it was addressed, only during that period of time, in which the independence of the newly constituted people was contested, by the wager of battle. Six years of War, cruel, unrelenting, merciless War, – War, at once civil and foreign, were waged, testing the firmness and fortitude of the one People, in the inflexible adherence to that separation from the other, which their Representatives in Congress had proclaimed. By the signature of the Preliminary Articles of Peace, on the 30th of November 1782, their warfare was accomplished, and the Spirit of the Lord, with a voice reaching to the latest of future ages, might have exclaimed, like the sublime prophet of Israel, – Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God [Isaiah 40:1]. But, from that day forth, the separation of the one People from the other was a solitary fact in their common history; a mere incident in the progress of human events, not more deserving of special and annual commemoration by one of the separated parts, than by the other. Still less were the causes of the separation subjects for joyous retrospection by either of the parties. – The causes were acts of misgovernment committed by the King and Parliament of Great Britain. In the exasperation of the moment they were alleged to be acts of personal tyranny and oppression by the King.

George the third was held individually responsible for them all. The real and most culpable oppressor, the British Parliament, was not even named in the bill of pains and penalties brought against the monarch. – They were described only as “others” combined with him; and, after a recapitulation of all the grievances with which the Colonies had been afflicted by usurped British Legislation, the dreary catalogue was closed by the sentence of unqualified condemnation, that a prince, whose character was thus marked by every act which might define a tyrant, was unworthy to be the ruler of a free people. The King, thus denounced by a portion of his subjects, casting off their allegiance to his crown, has long since gone to his reward. His reign was long, and disastrous to his people, and his life presents a melancholy picture of the wretchedness of all human grandeur; but we may now, with the candor of impartial history, acknowledge that he was not a tyrant. His personal character was endowed with many estimable qualities. His intentions were good; his disposition benevolent; his integrity unsullied; his domestic virtues exemplary; his religious impressions strong and conscientious; his private morals pure; his spirit munificent, in the promotion of the arts, literature and sciences; and his most fervent wishes devoted to the welfare of his people. But he was born to be a hereditary king, and to exemplify in his life and history the irremediable vices of that political institution, which substitutes birth for merit, as the only qualification for attaining the supremacy of power. George the third believed that the Parliament of Great Britain had the right to enact laws for the government of the people of the British Colonies in all cases. An immense majority of the people of the British Islands believed the same. That people were exclusively the constituents of the British House of Commons, where the project of taxing the people of the Colonies for a revenue originated; and where the People of the Colonies were not represented. The purpose of the project was to alleviate the burden of taxation bearing upon the people of Britain, by levying a portion of it upon the people of the Colonies. – At the root of all this there was a plausible theory of sovereignty, and unlimited power in Parliament, conflicting with the vital principle of English Freedom, that taxation and representation are inseparable, and that taxation without representation is a violation of the right of property. Here was a conflict between two first principles of government, resulting from a defect in the British Constitution: the principle that sovereign power in human Government is in its nature unlimited: and the principle that property can lawfully be taxed only with the consent of its owner.

Now these two principles, carried out into practice, are utterly irreconcilable with each other. The lawyers of Great Britain held them both to be essential principles of the British Constitution. – In their practical application, the King and Parliament and people of Great Britain, appealed for the right to tax the Colonies to the unlimited and illimitable sovereignty of the Parliament. – The Colonists appealed to the natural right of property, and the articles of the Great Charter. The collision in the application of these two principles was the primitive cause of the severance of the North American Colonies, from the British Empire. The grievances alleged in the Declaration of Independence were all secondary causes, amply sufficient to justify before God and man the separation itself; and that resolution, to the support of which the fifty-five Representatives of the One People of the United Colonies pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, after passing through the fiery ordeal of a six years war, was sanctioned by the God of Battles, and by the unqualified acknowledgment of the defeated adversary.

This, my countrymen, was the first and immediate purpose of the Declaration of Independence. It was to justify before the tribunal of public opinion, throughout the world, the solemn act of separation of the one people from the other. But this is not the reason for which you are here assembled. The question of right and wrong involved in the resolution of North American Independence was of transcendent importance to those who were actors in the scene. A question of life, of fortune, of fame, of eternal welfare. To you, it is a question of nothing more than historical interest. The separation itself was a painful and distressing event; a measure resorted to by your forefathers with extreme reluctance, and justified by them, in their own eyes, only as a dictate of necessity. – They had gloried in the name of Britons: It was a passport of honor throughout the civilized world. They were now to discard it forever, with all its tender and all its generous sympathies, for a name obscure and unknown, the honest fame of which was to be achieved by the gallantry of their own exploits and the wisdom of their own counsels. But, with the separation of the one people from the other, was indissolubly connected another event. They had been British Colonies, – distinct and separate subordinate portions of one great community. In the struggle of resistance against one common oppressor, by a moral centripetal impulse they had spontaneously coalesced into One People. They declare themselves such in express terms by this paper. – The members of the Congress, who signed their names to the Declaration, style themselves the Representatives, not of the separate Colonies, but of the United States of America in Congress assembled. No one Colony is named in the Declaration, nor is there any thing on its face, indicating from which of the Colonies, any one of the signers was delegated. They proclaim the separation of one people from another. – They affirm the right of the People, to institute, alter, and abolish their Government: – and their final language is, “we do, in the name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies, are and of right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.”

The Declaration was not, that each of the States was separately Free and Independent, but that such was their united condition. And so essential was their union, both in principle and in fact, to their freedom and independence, that, had one of the Colonies seceded from the rest, and undertaken to declare herself free and independent, she could have maintained neither her independence nor her freedom. And, by this paper, this One People did notify the world of mankind that they thereby did assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them. This was indeed a great and solemn event. The sublimest of the prophets of antiquity with the voice of inspiration had exclaimed, “Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once?” [Isaiah 66:8]. In the two thousand five hundred years, that had elapsed since the days of that prophecy, no such event had occurred. It had never been seen before. In the annals of the human race, then, for the first time, did one People announce themselves as a member of that great community of the powers of the earth, acknowledging the obligations and claiming the rights of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. The earth was made to bring forth in one day! A nation was born at once! Well, indeed, may such a day be commemorated by such a Nation, from year to year!

But whether as a day of festivity and joy, or of humiliation and mourning, – that, fellow-citizens, – that in the various turns of chance below, depends not upon the event itself, but upon its consequences; and after threescore years of existence, not so much upon the responsibilities of those who brought the Nation forth, as upon the moral, political and intellectual character of the present generation, – of yourselves. In the common intercourse of social life, the birth-day of individuals is often held as a yearly festive day by themselves, and their immediate relatives; yet, as early as the age of Solomon, that wisest of men told the people of Jerusalem, that, as a good name was better than precious ointment, so the day of death was better than the day of one’s birth [Ecclesiastes 7:1]. Are you then assembled here, my brethren, children of those who declared your National Independence, in sorrow or in joy? In gratitude for blessings enjoyed, or in affliction for blessings lost? In exultation at the energies of your fathers, or in shame and confusion of face at your own degeneracy from their virtues? Forgive the apparent rudeness of these enquiries: – they are not addressed to you under the influence of a doubt what your answer to them will be. You are not here to unite in echoes of mutual gratulation for the separation of your forefathers from their kindred freemen of the British Islands. You are not here even to commemorate the mere accidental incident, that, in the annual revolution of the earth in her orbit round the sun, this was the birthday of the Nation.

You are here, to pause a moment and take breath, in the ceaseless and rapid race of time; – to look back and forward; – to take your point of departure from the ever memorable transactions of the day of which this is the anniversary, and while offering your tribute of thanksgiving to the Creator of all worlds, for the bounties of his Providence lavished upon your fathers and upon you, by the dispensations of that day, and while recording with filial piety upon your memories, the grateful affections of your hearts to the good name, the sufferings, and the services of that age, to turn your final reflections inward upon yourselves, and to say: – These are the glories of a generation past away, – what are the duties which they devolve upon us? The Declaration if Independence, in announcing to the world of mankind, that the People comprising the thirteen British Colonies on the continent of North America assumed, from that day, as One People, their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth, explicitly unfolded the principles upon which their national association had, by their unanimous consent, and by the mutual pledges of their faith, been formed.

It was an association of mutual covenants. Every intelligent individual member of that self-constituted People did, by his representative in Congress, the majority speaking for the whole, and the husband and parent for the wife and child, bind his and their souls to a promise, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of his intentions, covenanting with all the rest that they would for life and death be faithful members of that community, and bear true allegiance to that Sovereign, upon the principles set forth in that paper. The lives, the fortunes, and the honour, of every free human being forming a part of those Colonies, were pledged, in the face of God and man, to the principles therein promulgated. My countrymen! – the exposition of these principles will furnish the solution to the question of the purpose for which you are here assembled. In recurring to those principles, let us remark, First, that the People of the thirteen Colonies announced themselves to the world, and solemnly bound themselves, with an appeal to God, to be One People. And this One People, by their Representatives, declared the United Colonies free and independent States. Secondly, they declared the People, and not the States, to be the only legitimate source of power; and that to the People alone belonged the right to institute, to alter, to abolish, and to re-institute government. And hence it follows, that as the People of the separate Colonies or States formed only parts of the One People assuming their station among the powers of the earth, so the People of no one State could separate from the rest, but by a revolution, similar to that by which the whole People had separated themselves from the People of the British Islands, nor without the violation of that solemn covenant, by which they bound themselves to support and maintain the United Colonies, as free and independent States.

An error of the most dangerous character, more than once threatening the dissolution by violence of the Union itself, has occasionally found countenance and encouragement in several of the States, by an inference not only unwarranted by the language and import of the Declaration, but subversive of its fundamental principles. This inference is that because by this paper the United Colonies were declared free and independent States, therefore each of the States, separately, was free, independent and sovereign. The pernicious and fatal malignity of this doctrine consists, not in the mere attribution of sovereignty to the separate States; for within their appropriate functions and boundaries they are sovereign; – but in adopting that very definition of sovereignty, which had bewildered the senses of the British Parliament, and which rent in twain the Empire; – that principle, the resistance to which was the vital spark of the American revolutionary cause, namely, that sovereignty is identical with unlimited and illimitable power. The origin of this error was of a very early date after the Declaration of Independence, and the infusion of its spirit into the Articles of Confederation, first formed for the government of the Union, was the seed of dissolution sown in the soil of that compact, which palsied all its energies from the day of its birth, and exhibited it to the world only as a monument of impotence and imbecility. The Declaration did not proclaim the separate States free and independent; much less did it announce them as sovereign States, or affirm that they separately possessed the war-making or the peace-making power. The fact was directly the reverse.

The Declaration was, that the United Colonies, forming one People, were free and independent States; that they were absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; that all political connection, between them and the State of Great Britain, was and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States, they had full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things, which independent States may of right do. But all this was affirmed and declared not of the separate, but of the United, States. And so far was it from the intention of that Congress, or of the One People whom- they represented, to declare that all the powers of sovereignty were possessed by the separate States, that the specification of the several powers of levying war, concluding peace, contracting alliances, and establishing commerce, was obviously introduced as the indication of powers exclusively possessed by the one People of the United States, and not appertaining to the People of each of the separate States. This distinction was indeed indispensable to the necessities of their condition. The Declaration was issued in the midst of a war, commenced by insurrection against their common sovereign, and until then raging as a civil war. Not the insurrection of one of the Colonies; not the insurrection of the organized government of any one of the Colonies; but the insurrection of the People of the whole thirteen. The insurrection was one. The civil war was one. In constituting themselves one People, it could not possibly be their intention to leave the power of concluding peace to each of the States of which the Union was composed. The war was waged against all.

The war itself had united the inhabitants of the thirteen Colonies into one People. The lyre of Orpheus [Orpheus was, in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Oiagros and the Muse Calliope (the muse of epic poetry) and was called “the father of songs.” He was also considered to be the perfector of the lyre.] was the standard of the Union. By the representatives of that one People and by them alone, could the peace be concluded. Had the people of any one of the States pretended to the right of concluding a separate peace, the very fact would have operated as a dismemberment of the Union, and could have been carried into effect only by the return of that portion of the People to the condition of British subjects. Thirdly, the Declaration of Independence announced the One People, assuming their station among the powers of the earth, as a civilized, religious, and Christian People, – acknowledging themselves bound by the obligations, and claiming the rights, to which they were entitled by the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. They had formed a subordinate portion of an European Christian nation, in the condition of Colonies. The laws of social intercourse between sovereign communities constitute the laws of nations, all derived from three sources: – the laws of nature, or in other words the dictates of justice; usages, sanctioned by custom; and treaties, or national covenants. Superadded to these, the Christian nations, between themselves, admit, with various latitudes of interpretation, and little consistency of practice, the laws of humanity and mutual benevolence taught in the gospel of Christ.

The European Colonies in America had all been settled by Christian nations; and the first of them, settled before the reformation of Luther, had sought their justification for taking possession of lands inhabited by men of another race, in a grant of authority from the successor of Saint Peter at Rome, for converting the natives of the country to the Christian code of religion and morals. After the reformation, the kings of England, substituting themselves in the place of the Roman Pontiff, as heads of the Church, granted charters for the same benevolent purposes; and as these colonial establishments successively arose, worldly purposes, the spirit of adventure, and religious persecution took their place, together with the conversion of the heathen, among the motives for the European establishments in this Western Hemisphere. Hence had arisen among the colonizing nations, a customary law, under which the commerce of all colonial settlements was confined exclusively to the metropolis or mother country. The Declaration of Independence cast off all the shackles of this dependency. The United States of America were no longer Colonies. They were an independent Nation of Christians, recognizing the general principles of the European law of nations. But to justify their separation from the Parent State, it became necessary for them to set forth the wrongs which they had endured. Their colonial condition had been instituted by charters from British kings. These they considered as compacts between the king as their sovereign and them as his subjects. In all these charters, there were stipulations for securing to the colonists the enjoyment of the rights of natural born Englishmen. The attempt to tax them by Act of Parliament, to sustain their right of taxing the Colonies had appealed to the prerogative of sovereign power, the colonists, to refute that claim, after appealing in vain to their charters, and to the Great Charter of England, were obliged to resort to the natural rights of mankind; – to the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

And now, my friends and fellow citizens, have we not reached the cause of your assemblage here? Have we not ascended to the source of that deep, intense, and never-fading interest, which, to your fathers, from the day of the issuing of this Declaration, – to you, on this sixty-first anniversary after that event, – and to your children and theirs of the fiftieth generation, – has made and will continue to make it the first and happiest of festive days? In setting forth the justifying causes of their separation from Great Britain, your fathers opened the fountains of the great deep. For the first time since the creation of the world, the act, which constituted a great people, laid the foundation of their government upon the unalterable and eternal principles of human rights.

They were comprised in a few short sentences, and were delivered with the unqualified confidence of self-evident truths. “We hold,” says the Declaration, “these truths to be self-evident: – that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” It is afterwards stated to be the duty of the People, when their governments become incorrigibly oppressive, to throw them off, and to provide new guards for their future security; and it is alleged that such was the condition of the British Colonies at that time, and that they were constrained by necessity to alter their systems of government.

The origin of lawful government among men had formed a subject of profound investigation and of ardent discussion among the philosophers of ancient Greece. The theocratic government of the Hebrews had been founded upon a covenant between God and man; a law, given by the Creator of the world, and solemnly accepted by the people of Israel. It derived all its powers, therefore, from the consent of the governed, and gave the sanction of Heaven itself to the principle, that the consent of the governed is the only legitimate source of authority to man over man. But the history of mankind had never before furnished an example of a government directly and expressly instituted upon this principle. The associations of men, bearing the denomination of the People, had been variously formed, and the term itself was of very indefinite signification. In the most ordinary acceptation of the word, a people, was understood to mean a multitude of human beings united under one supreme government, and one and the same civil polity. But the same term was equally applied to subordinate divisions of the same nation; and the inhabitants of every province, county, city, town, or village, bore the name, as habitually as the whole population of a kingdom or an empire. In the theories of government, it was never imagined that the people of every hamlet or subordinate district of territory should possess the power of constituting themselves and independent State; yet are they justly entitled to the appellation of people, and to exemption from all authority derived from any other source than their own consent, express or implied.

The Declaration of Independence constituted all the inhabitants of European descent in the thirteen English Colonies of North America, one People, with all the attributes of rightful sovereign power. They had, until then, been ruled by thirteen different systems of government; none of them sovereign; but all subordinate to one sovereign, separated from them by the Atlantic Ocean. The Declaration of Independence altered these systems of government, and transformed these dependant Colonies into united, free, and independent States. The distribution of the sovereign powers of government, between the body representing the whole People, and the municipal authorities substituted for the colonial governments, was left for after consideration. The People of each Colony, absolved by the People of the whole Union from their allegiance to the British crown, became themselves, upon the principles of the Declaration, the sovereigns to institute and organize new systems of government, to take the place of those which had been abolished by the will of the whole People, as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. It will be remembered, that, until that time, the whole movement of resistance against the usurpations of the British government had been revolutionary, and therefore irregular. The colonial governments were still under the organization of their charters, except that of Massachusetts-Bay, which had been formally vacated, and the royal government was administered by a military commander and regiments of soldiers. The country was in a state of civil war. The people were in revolt, claiming only the restoration of their violated rights as subjects of the British king. The members of the Congress had been elected by the Legislative assemblies of the Colonies, or by self-constituted popular conventions or assemblies, in opposition to the Governors. Their original mission had been to petition, to remonstrate; to disclaim all intention or purpose of independence; to seek, with earnest entreaty, the redress of grievances, and reconciliation with the parent State. They had received no authority, at their first appointment, to declare independence, or to dissolve the political connection between the Colonies and Great Britain. But they had petitioned once and again, and their petitions had been slighted. They had remonstrated, and their remonstrances had been contemned. They had disclaimed all intention of independence, and their disclaimer had been despised. They had finally recommended to the People to look for their redemption to themselves, and they had been answered by voluntary and spontaneous calls for independence. They declared it, therefore, in the name and by the authority of the People, and their declaration was confirmed from New Hampshire to Georgia with one universal shout of approbation. And never, from that to the present day, has there been one moment of regret, on the part of the People, whom they thus declared independent, at this mighty change of their condition, nor one moment of distrust, of the justice of that declaration.

In the mysterious ways of Providence, manifested by the course of human events, the feeble light of reason is often at a loss to discover the coincidence between the laws of eternal justice, and the decrees of fortune or of fate in the affairs of men. In the corrupted currents of this world, not only is the race not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong [Ecclesiastes 9:11], but the heart is often wrung with anguish at the sight of the just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and of the wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness [Ecclesiastes 7:15]. Far different and happier is the retrospect upon that great and memorable transaction. Every individual, whose name was affixed to that paper, has finished his career upon earth; and who, at this day would not deem it a blessing to have had his name recorded on that list? The act of abolishing the government under which they had lived, – of renouncing and abjuring the allegiance by which they had been bound, – of dethroning their sovereign, and of discarding their country herself, – purified and elevated by the principles which they proclaimed, and by the motives which they promulgated as their stimulants to action, – stands recorded in the annals of the human race, as one among the brightest achievements of human virtue: – applauded on earth, ratified and confirmed by the fiat of Heaven. The principles, thus triumphantly proclaimed and established, were the natural and unalienable rights of man, and the supreme authority of the People, as the only legitimate source of power in the institution of civil government. But let us not mistake the extent, nor turn our eyes from the limitation necessary for the application, of the principles themselves.

Who were the People, thus invested by the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, with sovereign powers? And what were the sovereign powers thus vested in the People? First, the whole free People of the thirteen United British Colonies in North America. The Declaration was their act; prepared by their Representatives; in their name, and by their authority. An act of the most transcendent sovereignty; abolishing the governments of thirteen Colonies; absolving their inhabitants from the bands of their allegiance, and declaring the whole People of the British Islands, theretofore their fellow subjects and countrymen, aliens and foreigners. Secondly, the free People of each of the thirteen Colonies, thus transformed into united, free, and independent States. Each of these formed a constituent portion of the whole People; and it is obvious that the power acknowledged to be in them could neither be co-extensive, nor inconsistent with, that rightfully exercised by the whole People. In absolving the People of the thirteen United Colonies from the bands of their allegiance to the British crown, the Congress, representing the whole People, neither did nor could absolve them, or any on individual among them, from the obligation of any other contract by which he had been previously bound. They neither did nor could, for example, release any portion of the People from the duties of private and domestic life. They could not dissolve the relations of husband and wife; of parent and child; of guardian and ward; of master and servant; of partners in trade; of debtor and creditor; – nor by the investment of each of the Colonies with sovereign power could they bestow upon them the power of dissolving any of those relations, or of absolving any one of the individual citizens of the Colony from the fulfillment of all the obligations resulting from them. The sovereign authority, conferred upon the People of the Colonies by the Declaration of Independence, could not dispense them, nor any individual citizen of them, from the fulfillment of all their moral obligations; for to these they were bound by the laws of Nature’s God; nor is there any power upon earth capable of granting absolution from them.

The People, who assumed their equal and separate station among the powers of the earth by the laws of Nature’s God, by that very act acknowledged themselves bound to the observance of those laws, and could neither exercise nor confer any power inconsistent with them. The sovereign authority, conferred by the Declaration of Independence upon the people of each of the Colonies, could not extend to the exercise of any power inconsistent with that Declaration itself. It could not, for example, authorize any one of the United States to conclude a separate peace with Great Britain; to connect itself as a Colony with France, or any other European power; to contract a separate alliance with any other State of the Union; or separately to establish commerce. These are all acts of sovereignty, which the Declaration of Independence affirmed the United States were competent to perform, but which for that very reason were necessarily excluded from the powers of sovereignty conferred upon each of the separate States. The Declaration itself was at once a social compact of the whole People of the Union, embracing thirteen distinct communities united in one, and a manifesto proclaiming themselves to the world of mankind, as one Nation, possessed of all attributes of sovereign power. But this united sovereignty could not possibly consist with the absolute sovereignty of each of the separate States.

“That were to make Strange contradiction, which to God himself Impossible is held, as argument of weakness, not of power.” [Quoted from Milton’s Paradise Lots (London: S. Simmons, 1674), Book 10.]

The position, thus assumed by this one People consisting of thirteen free and independent States, was new in the history of the world. It was complicated and compounded of elements never before believed susceptible of being blended together. The error of the British Parliament, the proximate cause of the Revolution, that sovereignty was in its nature unlimited and illimitable, taught as a fundamental doctrine by all the English lawyers, was too deeply imprinted upon the minds of the lawyers of our own country to be eradicated, even by the civil war, which it had produced. The most celebrated British moralist of the age, Dr. Samuel Johnson, in a controversial tract on the dispute between Britain and her Colonies, had expressly laid down as the basis of his argument, that:

“All government is essentially absolute. That in sovereignty there are no gradations. That there may be limited royalty; there may be limited consulship; but there can be no limited government. There must in every society be some power or other from which there is no appeal; which admits no restrictions; which pervades the whole mass of the community; regulates and adjusts all subordination; enacts laws or repeals them; erects or annuls judicatures; extends or contracts privileges; exempts itself from question or control; and bounded only by physical necessity.” [Johnson’s Taxation no Tyranny (1775).]

The Declaration of Independence was founded upon the direct reverse of all these propositions. It did not recognize, but implicitly denied, the unlimited nature of sovereignty. By the affirmation that the principal natural rights of mankind are unalienable, it placed them beyond the reach of organized human power; and by affirming that governments are instituted to secure them, and may and ought to be abolished if they become destructive of those ends, they made all government subordinate to the moral supremacy of the People. The Declaration itself did not even announce the States as sovereign, but as united, free and independent, and having power to do all acts and things which independent States may of right do. It acknowledged, therefore, a rule of right, paramount to the power of independent States itself, and virtually disclaimed all power to do wrong. This was a novelty in the moral philosophy of nations, and it is the essential point of difference between the system of government announced in the Declaration of Independence, and those systems which had until then prevailed among men.

A moral Ruler of the universe, the Governor and Controller of all human power, is the only unlimited sovereign acknowledged by the Declaration of Independence; and it claims for the United States of America, when assuming their equal station among the nations of the earth, only the power to do all that may be done of right. Threescore and one years have passed away, since this Declaration was issued, and we may now judge of the tree by its fruit. It was a bold and hazardous step, when considered merely as the act of separation of the Colonies from Great Britain. Had the cause in which it was issued failed, it would have subjected every individual who signed it to the pains and penalties of treason, to a cruel and ignominious death. But, inflexible as were the spirits, and intrepid as were the hearts of the patriots, who by this act set at defiance the colossal power of the British Empire, bolder and more intrepid still were the souls, which, at that crisis in human affairs, dared to proclaim the new and fundamental principles upon which their incipient Republic was to be founded. It was an experiment upon the heart of man. All the legislators of the human race, until that day, had laid the foundations of all government among men in power; and hence it was, that, in the maxims of theory, as well as in the practice of nations, sovereignty was held to be unlimited and illimitable. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed another law. A law of resistance against sovereign power, when wielded for oppression. A law ascending the tribunal of the universal lawgiver and judge. A law of right, binding upon nations as well as individuals, upon sovereigns as well as upon subjects. By that law the colonists had resisted their sovereign. By that law, when that resistance had failed to reclaim him to the rule of right, they renounced him, abjured his allegiance, and assumed the exercise of rightful sovereignty themselves. But, in assuming the attributes of sovereign power, they appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, and neither claimed nor conferred authority to do any thing but of right. Of the war with Great Britain, by which the independence thus declared was maintained, and of the peace by which it was acknowledged, it is unnecessary to say more.

The war was deeply distressing and calamitous, and its most instructive lesson was to teach the new confederate Republic the inestimable value of the blessings of peace. When the peace came, all controversy with Great Britain, with regard to the principles upon which the Declaration of Independence had been issued, was terminated, and ceased forever. The main purpose for which it had been issued was accomplished. No idle exultation of victory was worthy of the holy cause in which it had been achieved. No ungenerous triumph over the defeat of a generous adversary was consistent with the purity of the principles upon which the strife had been maintained. Had that contest furnished the only motives for the celebration of the day, its anniversary should have ceased to be commemorated, and the Fourth of July would thenceforward have passed unnoticed from year to year, scarcely numbered among the dies fasti [Latin for the days on which law business was allowed to be transacted, these days are part of the Fasti Diumi (the official year book of Rome included directions and dates for religious ceremonies, court days, and more).]of the Nation. But the Declaration of Independence had abolished the government of the thirteen British Colonies in North America. A new government was to be instituted in its stead.

A task more trying had devolved upon the People of the Union than the defense of their country against foreign armies; a duty more arduous than that of fighting the battles of the Revolution. The elements and the principles for the formation of the new government were all contained in the Declaration of Independence; but the adjustment of them to the condition of the parties to the compact was a work of time, of reflection, of experience, of calm deliberation, of moral and intellectual exertion; for those elements were far from being homogeneous, and there were circumstances in the condition of the parties, far from conformable to the principles proclaimed. The Declaration had laid the foundation of all civil government, in the unalienable natural rights of individual man, of which it had specifically named three: – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, – declaring them to be among others not enumerated. The revolution had been exclusively popular and democratic, and the Declaration had announced that the only object of the institution of governments among men was to secure their unalienable rights, and that they derived their just powers from the consent of the governed. The Declaration proclaimed the parties to the compact as one People, composed of united Colonies, thenceforward free and independent States, constrained by necessity to alter their former systems of government. It would seem necessarily to follow from these elements and these principles, that the government for the whole People should have been instituted by the whole People, and the government of each of the independent States by the People of that State.

But obvious as that conclusion is, it is nevertheless equally true, that it has not been wholly accomplished even to this day. On the tenth of May preceding the day of the Declaration, the Congress had adopted a resolution, which may be considered as the herald to that Independence. After its adoption it was considered of such transcendent importance, that a special committee of three members was appointed to prepare a preamble to it. On the fifteenth of May this preamble was reported, adopted, and ordered to be published, with the resolution, which had been adopted on the tenth. The preamble and resolution are in the following words:

“Whereas his Britannic Majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and Commons of Great Britain, has, by a late Act of Parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of his crown; and whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the Colonies, for redress of grievances and reconciliation with Great Britain, has been or is likely to be given, but the whole course of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these Colonies; and whereas it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good conscience for the people of these Colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the people of the Colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defense of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies: – Therefore, Resolved,

“That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the Representatives of the People, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general.”

The People of some of the Colonies had not waited for this recommendation, to assume all the powers of their internal government into their own hands. In some of them, the governments constituted by the royal charters were continued without alteration; or with the mere divestment of the portion of the public authority, exercised by the crown. In others, constitutions had been adopted, or were in preparation by representative popular conventions. Massachusetts was represented by a Provincial Congress, elected by the people as the General Court had been under the royal charter, and from that assembly the general Congress had been urgently invoked, for their advice in the formation of a government adapted to the emergency, and unshackled by transatlantic dependence. The institution of civil government by the authority of ‘the People, in each of the separate Colonies, was thus universally recognized as resulting from the dissolution of their allegiance to the British crown. But, that the union could be cemented and the national powers of government exercised of right, only by a constitution of government emanating from the whole People, was not yet discovered.

The powers of the Congress then existing, were revolutionary and undefined; limited by no constitution; responsible to no common superior; dictated by the necessities of a death-struggle for freedom; and embracing all discretionary means to organize and maintain the resistance of the people of all the Colonies against the oppression of the British Parliament. In devising measures for giving permanence, and, as far as human wisdom could provide, perpetuity, to the Union which had been formed by the common sufferings and dangers of the whole People, they universally concluded that a confederation would suffice; and that a confederation could be instituted by the authority of the States, without the intervention of the People. On the twenty-first of July, 1775, nearly a year before the Declaration of Independence, a sketch of articles of confederation, and contingently perpetual union, had been presented to Congress by Doctor Franklin, for a confederacy, to be styled the United Colonies of North America. It was proposed that this confederacy should continue until a reconciliation with Great Britain should be effected, and only on failure of such reconciliation, to be perpetual.

This project, contemplated only a partnership of Colonies to accomplish their common re-subjugation to the British crown. It made no provision for a community of independent States, and was encumbered with no burden of sovereignty. No further action upon the subject was had by Congress, till the eleventh of June, 1776. Four days before this, that is, on the seventh of June, certain resolutions respecting independency had been moved and seconded. They were on the next day referred to a committee of the whole, and on Monday, the tenth of June, they were agreed to in the committee of the whole and reported to the Congress. The first of these resolutions was that of independence. The second was, that a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation, to be entered into between these Colonies. The third, that a committee be appointed to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers. The consideration of the first resolution, that of independence, was postponed to Monday the first day of July; and, in the meanwhile, that no time should be lost, in case the Congress should agree thereto, it was resolved, that a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration, to the effect of the resolution. On the next day, the eleventh of June, the committee to prepare the Declaration of Independence was appointed; and immediately afterwards, the appointment of two other committees was resolved; one to prepare and digest the plan of a confederation, and the other to prepare the plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers. These committees were appointed on the twelfth of June.

The one, to prepare and digest the plan for a confederation, consisted of one member from each Colony. They reported on the twelfth of July, eight days after the Declaration of Independence, a draught of articles of confederation and perpetual union between the Colonies, naming them all from New Hampshire to Georgia. The most remarkable characteristic of this paper is the indiscriminate use of the terms Colonies and States, pervading the whole document, both the words denoting the parties to the confederacy. The title declared a confederacy between Colonies, but the first article of the draught was – “The name of this confederacy shall be the United States of America.” In a passage of the 18th article, it was said, – “The United States assembled, shall never engage the United Colonies in a war, unless the delegates of nine Colonies freely assent to the same.” The solution to this singularity was that the draught was in preparation before, and reported after, the Declaration of Independence. The principle upon which it was drawn up was, that the separate members of the confederacy should still continue Colonies, and only in their united capacity constitute States. The idea of separate State sovereignty had evidently no part in the composition of this paper. It was not countenanced in the Declaration of Independence; but appears to have been generated in the debates upon this draught of the articles of confederation, between the twelfth of July, and the ensuing twentieth of August, when it was reported by the committee of the whole in a new draught, from which the term Colony, as applied to the contracting parties, was carefully and universally excluded. The revised draught, as reported by the committee of the whole, exhibits, in the general tenor of its articles, less of the spirit of union, and more of the separate and sectional feeling, than the draught prepared by the first committee; and far more than the Declaration of Independence.

This was, indeed, what must naturally have been expected, in the progress of a debate, involving all the jarring interests and all the latent prejudices of the several contracting parties; each member now considering himself as the representative of a separate and corporate interest, and no longer acting and speaking, as in the Declaration of Independence, in the name and by the authority of the whole People of the Union. Yet in the revised draught itself, reported by the committee of the whole, and therefore exhibiting the deliberate mind of the majority of Congress at that time, there was no assertion of sovereign power as of right intended to be reserved to the separate States. But, in the original draught, reported by the select committee on the twelfth of July, the first words of the second article were, – “The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever.” Precious words! – words, pronounced by the infant Nation, at the instant of her rising from the baptismal font! – words bursting from their hearts and uttered by lips yet glowing with the touch from the coal of the Declaration! – why were ye stricken out at the revisal of the draught, as reported by the committee of the whole? – There was in the closing article, both of the original and of the revised draught, a provision in these words, following a stipulation that the articles of confederation, when ratified, should be observed by the parties – “And the union is to be perpetual.” – Words, which, considered as a mere repetition of the pledge, the sacred pledge given in those first words of the contracting parties in the original draught, – “The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever,” – discover only the intenseness of the spirit of union, with which the draught had been prepared; but which, taken by themselves, and stripped of that precious pledge, given by the personification of the parties announcing their perpetual union to the world, – how cold and lifeless do they sound! – “And the union is to be perpetual!” – as if it was an after-thought, to guard against the conclusion that an union so loosely compacted, was not even intended to be permanent.

The original draught, prepared by the committee contemporaneously with the preparation, by the other committee, of the Declaration of Independence, was in twenty articles. In the revised draught reported by the committee of the whole on the twentieth of August, the articles were reduced to sixteen. The four articles omitted, were the very grappling hooks of the Union. They secured to the citizens of each State, the right of native citizens in all the rest; and they conferred upon Congress the power of ascertaining the boundaries of the several States, and of disposing of the public lands which should prove to be beyond them. All these were stricken out of the revised draught. You have seen the mutilation of the second article, which constituted the Union. The third article contained the reserved rights of the several parties to the compact, expressed in the original draught thus:

“Each Colony shall retain and enjoy as much of its present laws, rights, and customs, as it may think fit; and reserves to itself the sole and exclusive regulation and government of its internal police, in all matters that shall not interfere with the articles of this confederation.”

In the revised draught, the first clause was omitted, and the article read thus:

“Each State reserves to itself the sole and exclusive regulation and government of its internal police, in all matters that shall not interfere with the articles of this confederation.”

From the twentieth of August, 1776, to the eighth of April, 1777, although the Congress were in permanent session, without recess but from day to day, no further action upon the revised draught reported by the committee of the whole was had. The interval was the most gloomy and disastrous period of the war. The debates, on the draught of articles reported by the first committee, had evolved and disclosed all the sources of disunion existing between the several sections of the country, aggravated by the personal rivalries, which, between the leading members of a deliberative assembly, animated by the enthusiastic spirit of liberty, could not fail to arise. When, instead of a constitution of government for a whole People, a confederation of independent States was assumed, as the fundamental principle of the permanent union to be organized for the American nation, the centripetal and centrifugal political powers were at once brought into violent conflict with each other.

The corporation and the popular spirits assumed opposite and adversary aspects. The federal and anti-federal parties originated. State pride, State prejudice, State jealousy, were soon embodied under the banners of State sovereignty, and while the cause of freedom and independence itself was drooping under the calamities of war and pestilence, with a penniless treasury, and an all but disbanded army, the Congress of the people had no heart to proceed in the discussion of a confederacy, overrun by a victorious enemy, and on the point, to all external appearance, of being crushed by the wheels of a conqueror’s triumphal car. On the eighth of April, 1777, the draught reported by the committee of the whole, on the preceding twentieth of August, was nevertheless taken up; and it was resolved that two days in each week should be employed on that subject, until it should be wholly discussed in Congress. The exigencies of the war, however, did not admit the regular execution of this order. The articles were debated only upon six days in the months of April, May, and June, on the twenty-sixth of which month the farther consideration of them was indefinitely postponed. On the eighteenth of September of that year, the Congress were obliged to withdraw from the city of Philadelphia, possession of which was immediately afterwards taken by the British army under the command of Sir William Howe. Congress met again on the thirtieth of September, at Yorktown, in the state of Pennsylvania, and there, on the second of October, resumed the consideration of the articles of confederation. From that time to the fifteenth of November, the debates were unremitting.

The yeas and nays, of which there had until then been no example, were now taken upon every prominent question submitted for consideration, and the struggle between the party of the States and the party of the People became, from day to day, more vehement and pertinacious. The first question upon which the yeas and nays were called was, that the representation in the Congress of the confederation should be proportional to a ratio of population, which was presented in two several modifications, and rejected in both. The next proposal was, that it should be proportional to the tax or contribution paid by the several States to the public treasury. This was also rejected; and it was finally settled as had been reported by the committee, that each State should have one vote. Then came the question of the proportional contributions of the several States. This involved the primary principle of the Revolution itself, which had been the indissoluble connection between taxation and representation. It follows as a necessary consequence from this, that all just taxation must be proportioned to representations; and here was the first stumbling block of the confederation. State sovereignty, which in the collision of debates had become stiff and intractable, insisted that, in the Congress of the Union, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Virginia and Delaware, should each have one vote and no more. But when the burdens of the confederacy came to be apportioned, this equality could no longer be preserved; a different proportion became indispensable, and a territorial basis was assumed, apportioned to the value of improved land in each State. From the moment that these two questions were thus settled, it might have been foreseen that the confederacy must prove an abortion. Inequality and injustice were at its root. It was inconsistent with itself, and the seeds of its speedy dissolution were sown at its birth. But the question of the respective contributions of the several States, brought up another and still more formidable cause of discord and collision. What were the several States themselves? What was their extent, and where were their respective boundaries?

They claimed their territory by virtue of charters from the British kings, and by cessions from sundry tribes of Indians. But the charters of the kings were grossly inconsistent with one another. The charters had granted lands to several of the States, by lines of latitude from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Yet by the treaty of peace of February, 1763, between Great Britain and France, the King of Great Britain had agreed that the boundary of the British territories in North America should be the middle of the river Mississippi, from its source to the river Iberville, and thence to the ocean. The British colonial settlements had never been extended westward of the Ohio, and when the peace should come to be concluded, it was exceedingly doubtful what western boundary could be obtained from the assent of Great Britain. Besides which, there were claims of Spain, and a system of policy in France, in no wise encouraging to the expectation of an extended western frontier to the United States. Here then were collisions of interest between the States narrowly and definitely bounded westward, and the States claiming to the South Sea or to the Mississippi, which it was in vain attempted to adjust.

In the original draught of the articles of confederation, reported on the twelfth of July, among the powers proposed to be within the exclusive right of the United States assembled, were those of “limiting the bounds of those Colonies, which, by charter, or proclamation, or under any pretence, are said to extend to the South sea; and ascertaining those bounds of any other Colony that appear to be indeterminate: assigning territories for new Colonies, either in lands to be thus separated from Colonies, and heretofore purchased or obtained by the crown of Great Britain of the Indians, or hereafter to be purchased or obtained from them: disposing of all such lands for the general benefit of all the United Colonies: ascertaining boundaries to such new Colonies, within which forms of government are to be established on the principles of liberty.” This had been struck out of the revised articles reported by the committee of the whole.

A proposition was now made to require of the legislators of the several states, a description of their territorial lands, and documentary evidence of their claims, to ascertain their boundaries by the articles of confederation. This was rejected. Another proposition was, to bestow upon Congress the power to ascertain and fix the western boundary of the States claiming to the South Sea, and to dispose of the lands beyond this boundary for the benefit of the Union. This also was rejected, as was a similar proposal with regard to the States claiming to the Mississippi, or to the South Sea. These were all unavailing efforts to restore to the definitive articles of confederation, the provisions concerning the boundaries of the several States which had been reported in the original draught, and struck out of the draught reported by the committee of the whole, on the twentieth of August, 1776. An interval of fourteen months had since elapsed, which seemed rather to have weakened the spirit of union, and to have strengthened the anti-social prejudices, and the lofty pretensions of State sovereignty.

The articles containing the grant of powers to Congress, and prescribing restrictions upon those of the States, were fruitful of controversial questions and of litigious passions, which consumed much of the time of Congress till the fifteenth of November, 1777, when the articles of confederation, as finally matured and elaborated, were concluded and sent forth to the State Legislatures for their adoption. They were to take effect only when approved by them all, and ratified with their authority by their Delegates in Congress. It was provided, by one of the articles, that no alteration of them should ever be admitted, unless sanctioned with the same unanimity. There was a solemn promise, inserted in the concluding article, that the articles of confederation should be inviolably observed by every State, and that the Union should be perpetual. The consummation of the triumph of unlimited State sovereignty over the spirit of union, was seen in the transposition of the second and third of the articles reported by the committees, and the inverted order of their insertion in the articles finally adopted.

The first article in them all gave the name, or as it was at last called, the style, of the confederacy, “The United States of America.” The name, by which the nation has ever since been known, and now illustrious among the nations of the earth. The second article, of the plans reported to the Congress by the original committee and by the committee of the whole, constituted and declared the Union, in the first project commencing with those most affecting and ever-memorable words, – “The said Colonies united themselves so as never to be divided by any act whatever:” In the project reported by the committee of the whole, these words were struck out, but the article still constituted and declared the Union. The third article contained, in both projects, the rights reserved by the respective States; rights of internal legislation and police, in all matters not interfering with the articles of the confederation.

But on the fifteenth of November, 1777, when the partial, exclusive, selfish and jealous spirit of State sovereignty had been fermenting and fretting over the articles, stirring up all the oppositions of the corporate interests and humors of the parties, when the articles came to be concluded, the order of the second and third articles was inverted. The reservation of the rights of the separate States was made to precede the institution of the Union itself. Instead of limiting the reservation to its municipal laws and the regulation and government of their internal police, in all matters not interfering with the articles of the confederation, they ascend the throne of State sovereignty, and make the articles of confederation themselves mere specific exceptions to the general reservation of all the powers of government to themselves. The article was in these words: “Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.” How different from the spirit of the article, which began, – “The said Colonies unite themselves so as never to be divided by any act what ever!” The institution of the Union was now postponed to follow and not to precede the reservations; and cooled into a mere league of friendship and of mutual defense between the States.

More then sixteen months of the time of Congress had been absorbed in the preparation of this document. More than three years and four months passed away before its confirmation by the Legislatures of all the States, and no sooner was it ratified, than its utter inefficiency to perform the functions of a government, or even to fulfil the purposes of a confederacy, became apparent to all! In the Declaration of Independence, the members of Congress who signed it had spoken in the name and by the authority of the People of the Colonies. In the articles of confederation they had sunk into Representatives of the separate States. The genius of unlimited State sovereignty had usurped the powers which belonged only to the People, and the State Legislatures and their Representatives had arrogated to themselves the whole constituent power, while they themselves were Representatives only of fragments of the nation.

The articles of confederation were satisfactory to no one of the States: they were adopted by many of them, after much procrastination, and with great reluctance. The State of Maryland persisted in withholding her ratification, until the question relating to the unsettled lands had been adjusted by cessions of them to the United States, for the benefit of them all, from the States separately claiming them to the South sea, or the Mississippi. The ratification of the articles was completed on the first of March, 1781, and the experiment of a merely confederated Union of the thirteen States commenced. It was the statue of Pygmalion before its animation, – beautiful and lifeless. And where was the vital spark which was to quicken this marble into life? It was in the Declaration of Independence. Analyze, at this distance of time, the two documents, with cool and philosophical impartiality, and you will exclaim, – Never, never since the creation of the world, did two state papers, emanating from the same body of men, exhibit more dissimilarity of character, or more conflict of Principle! The Declaration, glowing with the spirit of union, speaking with one voice the vindication of one People for the act of separating themselves from another, and ascending to the First Cause, the dispenser of eternal justice, for the foundation of its reasoning: – The articles of confederation, stamped with the features of contention; beginning with niggardly reservations of corporate rights, and in the grant of powers, seeming to have fallen into the frame of mind described by the sentimental traveler, bargaining for a post chaise, and viewing his conventionist with an eye as if he was going with him to fight a duel! Yet, let us not hastily charge our fathers with inconsistency for these repugnances between their different works. Let us never forget that the jealousy of power is the watchful handmaid to the spirit of freedom.

Let the contemplation of these rugged and narrow passes of the mountains first with so much toil and exertion traversed by them, teach us that the smooth surfaces and rapid railways, which have since been opened to us, are but the means furnished to us of arriving by swifter conveyance to a more advanced stage of improvement in our condition. Let the obstacles, which they encountered and surmounted, teach us how much easier it is in morals and politics, as well as in natural philosophy and physics, to pull down than to build up, to demolish than to construct; then, how much more arduous and difficult was their task to form a system of polity for the people whom they ushered into the family of nations, than to separate them from the parent State; and lastly, the gratitude due from us to that Being whose providence watched over, protected, and guided our political infancy, and led our ancestors finally to retrace their steps, to correct their errors, and resort to the whole People of the union for a constitution of government, emanating from themselves, which might realize that union so feelingly expressed by the first draught of their confederation, so as never to be divided by any act whatever. The origin and history of this Constitution is doubtless familiar to most of my hearers, and should be held in perpetual remembrance by us all.

It was the consummation of the Declaration of Independence. It has given the sanction of half a century’s experience to the principles of that Declaration. The attempt to sanction them by a confederation of sovereign States was made and signally failed. It was five years in coming to an immature birth, and expired after five years of languishing and impotent existence. On the seventeenth of next September, fifty years will have passed away since the Constitution of the United States was presented to the People for their acceptance. On that day the twenty-fifth biennial Congress, organized by this Constitution, will be in session. And what a happy, what a glorious career have the people passed through in the half century of their and your existence associated under it! When that Constitution was adopted, the States of which it was composed were thirteen in number, – their whole population not exceeding three millions and a half of souls; the extent of territory within their boundary so large that it was believed too unwieldy to be manageable, even under one federative government, but less than one million of square miles; without revenue; encumbered with a burdensome revolutionary debt, without means of discharging even the annual interest accruing upon it; with no manufactures; with a commerce scarcely less restricted than before the revolutionary war; denied by Spain the privilege of descending the Mississippi; denied by Great Britain the stipulated possession of a line of forts on the Canadian frontier; with a disastrous Indian war at the west; with a deep-laid Spanish intrigue with many of our own citizens, to dismember the Union, and subject to the dominion of Spain the whole valley of the Mississippi; with a Congress, imploring a grant of new powers to enable them to redeem the public faith, answered by a flat refusal, evasive conditions, or silent contempt; with popular insurrection scarcely extinguished in this our own native Commonwealth, and smoking into flame in several others of the States; with an impotent and despised government; a distressed, discontented, discordant people, and the fathers of the revolution burning with shame, and almost sinking into despair of its issue.

Fellow citizens of a later generation! You, whose lot it has been to be born in happier times; you, who even now are smarting under a transient cloud intercepting the dazzling sun-shine of your prosperity; – think you that the pencil of fancy has been borrowed to deepen the shades of this dark and desolate picture? Ask of your surviving fathers, cotemporaries of him who now addresses you, – ask of them, whose hospitable mansions often welcomed him to their firesides, when he came in early youth to receive instruction from the gigantic intellect and profound learning of a Parsons, – ask of them, if there be any among you that survive, and they will tell you, that, far from being overcharged, the portraiture of that dismal day is only deficient in the faintness of its coloring and the lack of energy in the painter’s hand. Such was the condition of this your beloved country after the close of the revolutionary war, under the blast of the desert, in the form of a confederacy; when, wafted, as on the spicy gales of Araby [Arabia] the blest, your Constitution, with Washington at its head,

“Came o’er our ears like the sweet sound That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing and giving odor.” [Quoted from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Act. 1, Scene 1 (c. 1601).]

And what, under that Constitution, still the supreme law of the land, is the condition of your country at this hour? Spare me the unwelcome and painful task of adverting to that momentary affliction, visiting you through the errors of your own servants, and the overflowing springtides of your fortunes. These afflictions, though not joyous but grievous, are but for a moment, and the remedy for them is in your own hands. But what is the condition of your country, – resting upon foundations, if you retain and transmit to your posterity the spirit of your fathers, firm as the everlasting hills? What, looking beyond the mist of a thickened atmosphere, fleeting as the wind, and which the first breath of a zephyr will dispel, – what is the condition of your country? Is a rapid and steady increase of population, an index to the welfare of a nation? Your numbers are more than twice doubled in the half century since the Constitution was adopted as your fundamental law. Would those of you whose theories cling more closely to the federative element of your government, prefer the multiplication of States, to that of the People, as the standard test of prosperous fortunes? The number of your free and independent States has doubled in the same space of half a century, and your own soil is yet teeming with more. Is extent of territory, and the enlargement of borders, a blessing to a nation? And are you not surfeited with the aggrandizement of your territory? Instead of one million of square miles, have you not more than two? Are not Louisiana and both the Florida’s yours? Instead of sharing with Spain and Britain the contested waters of the Mississippi, have you not stretched beyond them westward, bestrided the summits of the Rocky Mountains, and planted your stripes and your stars on the shores of the Pacific Ocean? And, as if this were not enough to fill the measure of your greatness, is not half Mexico panting for admission to your Union? Are not the islands of the Western Hemisphere looking with wistful eyes to a participation of your happiness, and a promise of your protection? Have not the holders of the Isthmus of Panama sent messengers of friendly greeting and solicitation to be received as members of your confederation? Is not the most imminent of your dangers that of expanding beyond the possibility of cohesion, even under one federative government – and of tainting your atmosphere with the pestilence of exotic slavery? Are the blessings of good government manifested by the enjoyment of liberty, by the security of property, by the freedom of thought, of speech, of action, pervading ever portion of the community? Appeal to your own experience, my fellow citizens; and, after answering without hesitation or doubt, affirmatively, all these enquiries, save the last, – if, when you come to them, you pause before you answer, – if, within the last five or seven years of your history, ungracious recollections of untoward events crowd upon your memory, and grate upon the feelings appropriate to this consecrated day, – let them not disturb the serenity of your enjoyments, or interrupt the harmony of that mutual gratulation, in which you may yet all cordially join. But fix well in your minds, what were the principles first proclaimed by your forefathers, as the only foundations of lawful government upon earth. – Postpone the conclusion, of their application to the requirements of your own duties, till to-morrow; – but then fail not to remember the warnings, while reaping in peace and pleasantness the rewards, of this happy day.

And this, my fellow citizens, or I have mistaken the motives by which you have been actuated, is the purpose for which you are here assembled. It is to enjoy the bounties of heaven for the past, and to prepare for the duties of the future. It is to review the principles proclaimed by the founders of your empire; to examine what has been their operation upon your own destinies, and upon the history of mankind; to scrutinize with an observing eye, and a cool, deliberate judgment, your condition at this day; to compare it with that of your fathers on the day which you propose to commemorate; and to discern what portion of their principles has been retained inviolate, – what portion of them has been weakened, impaired, or abandoned; and what portion of them it is your first of duties to retain, to preserve, to redeem, to transmit to your offspring, to be cherished, maintained, and transmitted to their posterity of unnumbered ages to come. We have consulted the records of the past, and I have appealed to your consciousness of the present; and what is the sound, which they send forth to all the echoes of futurity, but Union; – Union as one People, – Union so as to be divided by no act whatever. We have a sound of modern days, – could it have come from an American voice? – that the value of the Union is to be calculated! – Calculated? By what system of Arithmetic? By what rule of proportion? Calculate the value of maternal tenderness and of filial affection; calculate the value of nuptial vows, of compassion to human suffering, of sympathy with affliction, of piety to God, and of charity to man; calculate the value of all that is precious to the heart, and all that is binding upon the soul; and then you will have the elements with which to calculate the value of the Union. But if cotton or tobacco, rocks or ice, metallic money or mimic paper, are to furnish the measure, the stamp act was the invention of a calculating statesman. “Great financier! Stupendous calculato!” And what the result of his system of computation was to the treasury of Great Britain that will be the final settlement of every member of this community, who calculates, with the primary numbers of State sovereignty and nullification, the value of the Union. Our government is a complicated machine.

We hold for an inviolable first principle, that the People are the source of all lawful authority upon earth. But we have one People to be governed by a legislative representation of fifteen millions of souls, and twenty-six Peoples, of numbers varying from less than one hundred thousand to more than two millions, governed for their internal police by legislative and executive magistrates of their own choice, and by laws of their own enacting; and all forming in the aggregate the one People, as which they are known to the other nations of the civilized world. We have twenty-six States, with governments administered by these separate Legislatures and Executive Chiefs, and represented by equal numbers in the general Senate of the nation. This organization is an anomaly in the history of the world. It is that, which distinguishes us from all other nations ancient and modern; from the simple monarchies and republics of Europe; and from all the confederacies, which have figured in any age upon the face of the globe. The seeds of this complicated machine, were all sown in the Declaration of Independence; and their fruits can never be eradicated but by the dissolution of the Union. The calculators of the value of the Union, who would palm upon you, in the place of this sublime invention, a mere cluster of sovereign confederated States, do but sow the wind to reap the whirlwind.

One lamentable evidence of deep degeneracy from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, is the countenance, which has been occasionally given, in various parts of the Union, to this doctrine; but it is consolatory to know that, whenever it has been distinctly disclosed to the people, it has been rejected by them with pointed reprobation. It has, indeed, presented itself in its most malignant form in that portion of the Union, the civil institutions of which are most infected with the gangrene of slavery. The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction, than by the author of the Declaration himself. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural stepmother country, and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day.

In the Memoir of his Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning, that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. [From Jefferson’s Memoir, Correspondence and Miscellanies (Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1830), Vol. 1. p. 40.] “Nothing is more certainly written,” said he, “in the book of fate, then that these people are to be free.”

My countrymen! It is written in a better volume than the book of fate; it is written in the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. We are now told, indeed, by the learned doctors of the nullification school, that color operates as a forfeiture of the rights of human nature; that a dark skin turns a man into a chattel; that crispy hair transforms a human being into a four-footed beast. The master-priest informs you, that slavery is consecrated and sanctified by the Holy Scriptures of the old and new Testament; that Ham was the father of Canaan, and that all his posterity were doomed by his own father to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the descendants of Shem and Japheth; that the native Americans of African descent are the children of Ham, with the curse of Noah still fastened upon them; and the native Americans of European descent are children of Japheth, pure Anglo-Saxon blood, born to command, and to live by the sweat of another’s brow. The master-philosopher teaches you that slavery is no curse, but a blessing! – that Providence – Providence! has so ordered it that this country should be inhabited by two races of men, one born to wield the scourge, and the other to bear the record of its stripes upon his back, one to earn through a toilsome life the other’s bread, and to feed him on a bed of roses; that slavery is the guardian and promoter of wisdom and virtue; that the slave, by laboring for another’s enjoyment, learns disinterestedness, and humility, and to melt with tenderness and affection for his master; that the master, nurtured, clothed, and sheltered by another’s toils, learns to be generous and grateful to the slave, and sometimes to feel for him as a father for his child; that, released from the necessity of supplying his own wants, he acquires opportunity of leisure to improve his mind, to purify his heart, to cultivate his taste; that he has time on his hands to plunge into the depths of philosophy, and to soar to the clear empyrean of seraphic morality. The master-statesman, – ay, the statesman in the land of the Declaration of Independence, – in the halls of national legislation, with the muse of history recording his words as they drop from his lips, – with the colossal figure of American liberty, leaning on a column entwined with the emblem of eternity, over his head, – with the forms of Washington and La Fayette, speaking to him from the canvass, – turns to the image of the father of his country, and forgetting that the last act of his life was to emancipate his slaves, to bolster the cause of slavery says, – That man was a slaveholder.

My countrymen! These are the tenets of the modern nullification school. Can you wonder that they shrink from the light of free discussion? That they skulk from the grasp of freedom and truth? Is there among you one who hears me, solicitous above all things for the preservation of the Union so truly dear to us, – of that Union, proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, – of that Union, never to be divided by any act whatever, – and who dreads that the discussion of the merits of slavery will endanger the continuance of the Union? Let him discard his terrors, and be assured that they are no other than the phantom fears of nullification; that while doctrines like these are taught in her schools of philosophy, preached in her pulpits, and avowed in her legislative councils, the free and unrestrained discussion of the rights and wrongs of slavery, far from endangering the union of these States, is the only condition upon which that union can be preserved and perpetuated.

What! Are you to be told with one breath, that the transcendent glory of this day consists in the proclamation that all lawful government is founded on the unalienable rights of man, and with the next breath that you must not whisper this truth to the winds, lest they should taint the atmosphere with freedom, and kindle the flame of insurrection? Are you to bless the earth beneath your feet, because she spurns the footstep of a slave, and then to choke the utterance of your voice, lest the sound of liberty should be re-echoed from the palmetto groves, mingled with the discordant notes of disunion? No! No! Freedom of speech is the only safety valve, which, under the high pressure of slavery, can preserve your political boiler from a fearful and fatal explosion. Let it be admitted that slavery is an institution of internal police, exclusively subject to the separate jurisdiction of the States where it is cherished as a blessing, or tolerated as an evil as yet irremediable. But let that slavery, which entrenches herself within the walls of her own impregnable fortress, not sally forth to conquest over the domain of freedom. Intrude not beyond the hallowed bounds of oppression; but if you have by solemn compact doomed your ears to hear the distant clanking of the chain, let not the fetters of the slave be forged afresh upon your own soil; far less permit them to be riveted upon your own feet. Quench not the spirit of freedom. Let it go forth, – not in the panoply of fleshly wisdom, but with the promise of peace, and the voice of persuasion, clad in the whole armor of truth, – conquering and to conquer.

Friends and fellow citizens! I speak to you with the voice as of one risen from the dead. Were I now, as I shortly must be, cold in my grave, and could the sepulchre unbar its gates, and open to me a passage to this desk, devoted to the worship of almighty God, I would repeat the question with which this discourse was introduced: – “Why are you assembled in this place”? – And one of you would answer me for all, – Because the Declaration of Independence, with the voice of an angle from heaven, “put to his mouth the sounding alchemy,” and proclaimed universal emancipation upon earth!

It is not the separation of your forefathers from their kindred race beyond the Atlantic tide. It is not the union of thirteen British Colonies into one People and the entrance of that People upon the theatre, where kingdoms, and empires, and nations are the persons of the drama. It is not that this is the birthday of the North American Union, the last and noblest offspring of time. It is that the first words uttered by the Genius of our country, in announcing his existence to the world of mankind, was, – Freedom to the slave! Liberty to the captives! Redemption! Redemption forever to the race of man, from the yoke of oppression! It is not the work of a day; it is not the labor of an age; it is not the consummation of a century, that we are assembled to commemorate. It is the emancipation of our race. It is the emancipation of man from the thralldom of man!

And is this the language of enthusiasm? The dream of a distempered fancy? Is it not rather the voice of inspiration? The language of holy writ? Why is it that the Scriptures, both of the old and new Covenants, teach you upon every page to look forward to the time, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid? Why is it that six hundred years before the birth of the Redeemer, the sublimest of prophets, with lips touched by the hallowed fire from the hand of God, spake and said, – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound?” [Isaiah 61:1] And why is it, that, at the first dawn of the fulfillment of this prophecy, – at the birth-day of the Savior in the lowest condition of human existence, – the angel of the Lord came in a flood of supernatural light upon the shepherds, witnesses of the scene and said, – Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people? Why is it, that there was suddenly with that angle, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, – good will toward men? [Luke 2:9, 10, 13, 14] What are the good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people? The prophet had told you six hundred years before, – liberty to the captives, – the opening of the prison to them that are bound. – The multitude of the heavenly host pronounced the conclusion, to be shouted hereafter by the universal choir of all intelligent created beings, – Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, – good will toward men.

Fellow citizens! Fellow Christians! Fellow men! Am I speaking to believers in the gospel of peace? To others, I am aware that the capacities of man for self or social improvement are subjects of distrust, or of derision. The sincere believer receives the rapturous promises of the future improvement of his kind, with humble hope and cheering confidence of their final fulfillment. He receives them too, with the admonition of God to his conscience, to contribute himself, by all the aspirations of his heart, and all the faculties of his soul, to their accomplishment. Tell not him of impossibilities, when human improvement is the theme. Nothing can be impossible, which may be effected by human will. See what has been effected!

An attentive reader of the history of mankind, whether in the words of inspiration, or in the records of antiquity, or in the memory of his own experience, must perceive that the gradual improvement of his own condition upon earth is the inextinguishable mark of distinction between the animal man, and every other animated being, with the innumerable multitudes of which every element of this sublunary globe is peopled. And yet, from the earliest records of time, this animal the only one in the visible creation, who preys upon his kind. The savage man destroys and devours his captive foe. The partially civilized man spares his life, but makes him his slave. In the progress of civilization, both the life and liberty of the enemy vanquished or disarmed are spared; ransoms for prisoners are given and received. Progressing still in the paths to perpetual peace, exchanges are established, and restore the prisoner of war to his country and to the enjoyment of all his rights of property and of person. A custom, first introduced by mutual special convention, grows into a settled rule of the laws of nations, that persons occupied exclusively upon the arts of peace, shall with their property remain wholly unmolested in the conflicts of nations by arms.

We ourselves have been bound by solemn engagements with one of the most warlike nations of Europe, to observe this rule, even in the utmost extremes of war; and in one of the most merciless periods of modern times, I have seen, towards the close of the last century, three members of the Society of Friends, with Barclay’s Apology and Penn’s Maxims in their hands, pass, peaceful travelers through the embattled hosts of France and Britain, unharmed, and unmolested, as the three children of Israel in the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. War, then, by the common consent and mere will of civilized man, has not only been divested of its most atrocious cruelties, but for multitudes, growing multitudes of individuals, has already been and is abolished. Why should it not be abolished for all? Let it be impressed upon the heart of every one of you, – impress it upon the minds of your children, that this, total abolition of war upon earth, is an improvement in the condition of man, entirely dependant on his own will. He cannot repeal or change the laws of physical nature. He cannot redeem himself from the ills that flesh is heir to; but the ills of war and slavery are all of his own creation. He has but to will, and he effects the cessation of them altogether. The improvements in the condition of mankind upon earth have been achieved from time to time by slow progression, sometimes retarded, by long stationary periods, and even by retrograde movements towards primitive barbarism. The invention of the alphabet and of printing are separated from each other by an interval of more than three thousand years. The art of navigation loses its origin in the darkness of antiquity; but the polarity of the magnet was yet undiscovered in the twelfth century of the Christian era; nor, when discovered, was it till three centuries later, that it disclosed to the European man, the continents of North and South America. The discovery of the laws of gravitation, and the still more recent application of the power of steam, have made large additions to the physical powers of man; and the inventions of machinery, within our own memory, have multiplied a thousand fold the capacities of improvement practicable by the agency of a single hand.

It is surely in the order of nature, as well as in the promises of inspiration that the moral improvement in the condition of man should keep pace with the multiplication of his physical capacities, comforts, and enjoyments. The mind, while exerting its energies in the pursuit of happiness upon matter, cannot remain inactive or powerless to operate upon itself. The mind of the mariner, floating upon the ocean, dives to the bottom of the deep, and ascends to the luminaries of the skies. The useful manufactures exercise and sharpen the ingenuity of the workman; the liberal sciences absorb the silent meditations of the student; the elegant arts soften the temper and refine the taste of the artist; and all in concert contribute to the expansion of the intellect and the purification of the moral sense of our species. But man is a gregarious animal. Association is the second law of his nature, as self-preservation is the first. The most pressing want of association is government, and the government of nature is the patriarchal law, the authority of the parent over his children. With the division of families commences the conflict of interests. Avarice and ambition, jealousy and envy, take possession of the human heart and kindle the flames of war. Then it is that the laws of Nature become perverted, and the ruling passion of man is the destruction of his fellow-creature, man. This is the origin and the character of war, in the first stages of human societies.

But war, waged by communities, requires a leader with absolute and uncontrolled command; and hence it is that monarchy and war have one and the same origin, and Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord, was the first king and the first conqueror upon the record of time. “A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.” In process of time, when the passions of hatred, and fear, and revenge, have been glutted with the destruction of vanquished enemies, – when mercy claims her tribute from the satiated yet unsatisfied heart, and cupidity whispers that the life of the captive may be turned to useful account to the victor, -the practice of sparing his life on condition of his submission to perpetual slavery was introduced, and that was the condition of the Asiatic nations, and among them of the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah, when the prophesies of Isaiah were delivered. Then it was that this further great improvement in the condition of mankind was announced by the burning lips of the prophet. Then it was that the voice commissioned from Heaven proclaimed good tidings to the meek, mercy to the afflicted, liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

It is generally admitted by Christians of all denominations, that the fulfillment of this prophecy commenced at the birth of the Redeemer, six hundred years after it was promulgated. That it did so commence was expressly affirmed by Jesus himself, who, on his appearance in his missionary character at Nazareth, we are told by the gospel of Luke, went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found this very passage which I have cited. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound! And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down” [Luke 4:17, 18, 20, 21]. This was the deliberate declaration of the earthly object of his mission. He merely read the passage from the book of Isaiah. He returned the book to the minister, and, without application of what he had read, sat down. But that passage had been written six hundred years before. It was universally understood to refer to the expected Messiah. With what astonishment then must the worshippers in the synagogue of Nazareth have seen him, an unknown stranger, in the prime of manhood, stand up to read; on receiving the book, deliberately select and read that particular passage of the prophet; and without another word, close the volume, return it to the minister, and sit down! The historian adds, “and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue, were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” The advent of the Messiah, so long expected, was then self-declared. That day was that scripture fulfilled in their ears. They had heard him, at once reading from the book of the prophet, and speaking in the first person, declaring that the Spirit of the Lord God was upon himself. They heard him give a reason for this effluence of the Spirit of God upon him because the Lord had anointed him to preach good tidings to the meek. They had heard him expressly affirm that the Lord had sent him to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. The prophecy will therefore be fulfilled, not only in the ears, but in the will and in the practice, of mankind. But how many generations of men, how many ages of time, will pass away before its entire and final fulfillment?

Alas! More than eighteen hundred years have passed away since the fulfillment of that scripture, which announced the advent of the Savior, and the blessed object of his mission. How long – Oh! how long will it be before that object itself shall be accomplished? Not yet are we permitted to go out with joy, and to be led forth with peace. Not yet shall the mountains and the hills break forth before us into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands. Not yet shall the fir tree come up instead of the thorn, nor the myrtle-tree instead of the brier. But let no one despair of the final accomplishment of the whole prophecy. Still shall it be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off [Isaiah 55:12-13]. The prediction of the prophet, the self-declaration of the Messiah, and his annunciation of the objects of his mission, have been and are fulfilled, so far as depended upon his own agency. He declared himself anointed to preach good tidings to the meek; and faithfully was that mission performed. He declared himself sent to bind up the broken hearted; and this, too, how faithfully has it been performed! Yes, through all ages since his appearance upon earth, he has preached, and yet preaches, good tidings to the meek. He has bound up; he yet binds up the broken hearted. He said he was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are bound. But the execution of that promise was entrusted to the will of man. Twenty centuries have nearly passed away, and it is yet to be performed. But let no one surrender his Christian faith, that the Lord of creation will, in his own good time, realize a declaration made in his name, – made in words such as were never uttered by the uninspired lips of man, – in words worthy of omnipotence.

The progress of the accomplishment of the prophecy is slow. It has baffled the hopes, and disappointed the wishes, of generation after generation of men. Yet, observe well the history of the human family since the birth of the Savior, and you will see great, remarkable, and progressive approximations towards it. Such is the prevalence, over so large a portion of the race of man, of the doctrines promulgated by Jesus and his apostles, – lessons of peace, of benevolence, of meekness, of brotherly love, of charity, – all utterly incompatible with the ferocious spirit of slavery. Such is the total extirpation of the licentious and romantic religion of the heathen world. Such is the incontrovertible decline and approaching dissolution of the sensual and sanguinary religion of Mahomet. Such is the general substitution of the Christian faith for the Jewish dispensation of the Levitical law. Such is the modern system of the European law of nations, founded upon the laws of Nature, which is gradually reducing the intercourse between sovereign states to an authoritative code of international law. Such is the wider and wider expansion of public opinion, already commensurate with the faith of Christendom; holding emperors, and kings, and pontiffs, and republics, responsible before its tribunals, and recalling them from all injustice and all oppression to the standard maxims of Christian benevolence and mercy, always animated with the community of principles promulgated by the Gospel, and armed with a two edged sword, more rapid and consuming than the thunder bolt, by the invention of printing.

But of all the events tending to the blessed accomplishment of the prophesy so often repeated in the book of Isaiah, and re-proclaimed by the multitude of the heavenly host at the birth of the Savior, there is not one that can claim, since the propagation of the Christian faith, a tenth, nay a hundredth part of the influence of the resolution, adopted on the second day of July, 1776, and promulgated to the world, in the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth of that month, of which this is the sixty-first anniversary. And to prove this has been the theme of my discourse.

And now, friends and fellow citizens, what are the duties thence resulting to yourselves? Need I remind you of them? You feel that they are not to waste in idle festivity the hours of this day, – to your fathers, when they issued their decree, the most solemn hours of their lives. It is because this day is consecrated to the cause of human liberty, that you are here assembled; and if the connection of that cause, with the fulfillment of those clear, specific predictions of the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, re-announced and repeated by the unnumbered voices of the heavenly host, at the birth of the Savior, has not heretofore been traced and exhibited in the celebrations of this day, may I not hope for your indulgence in presenting to you a new ray of glory in the halo that surrounds the memory of the day of your national independence?

Yes, from that day forth shall the nations of the earth hereafter say, with the prophet, – “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!” [Isaiah 52:7] “From that day forth shall they exclaim, Sing, O heavens, and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains! for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” [Isaiah 49:13, 24-25]. From that day forth, to the question, – “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive be delivered?” – shall be returned the answer of the prophet, – “But thus saith the Lord, – Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contends with thee, and I will save thy children.” – “From that day forth, shall they say, commenced the opening of the last seal of prophetic felicity to the race of man upon earth, when the Lord God shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” [Isaiah 2: 4].

My countrymen! I would anxiously desire, and with a deep sense of responsibility, bearing upon myself and upon you, to speak to the hearts of you all. Are there among you those, doubtful of the hopes or distrustful of the promises of the Gospel? Are there among you those, who disbelieve them altogether? Bear with me one moment longer. Let us admit, for a moment, that the prophesies of Isaiah have no reference to the advent of the Savior; – let us admit that the passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which he so directly makes the application of this particular prophesy to himself, is an interpolation; – go further, and if, without losing your reverence for the God to whom your fathers, in their Declaration of Independence, made their appeal, you can shake off all belief, both of the prophesies and revelations of the Scriptures; – suppose them all to be fables of human invention; yet say with me, that thousands of years have passed away since these volumes were composed, and have been believed by the most enlightened of mankind as the oracles of truth; – say, that they contain the high and cheering promise, as from the voice of God himself, of that specific future improvement in the condition of man, which consists in the extirpation of slavery and war from the face of the earth. Sweep from the pages of history all the testimonies of the Scriptures, and believe no more in the prophesies of Isaiah, than in those of the Cumaean sybil [a priestess of Roman mythology who presided over the Cumae (a Greek colony in Naples) Apollonian oracle]; but acknowledge that in both there is shadowed forth a future improvement in the condition of our race, – an improvement of good tidings to the meek; of comfort to the broken hearted; of deliverance to the captives; of the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Turn then your faces and raise your hands to God, and pray that, in the merciful dispensations of his providence, he would hasten that happy time.

Turn to yourselves, and, in the Declaration of Independence of your fathers, read the command to you, by the unremitting exercise of your highest energies, to hasten, yourselves, its consummation!


* Originally Posted: Jan. 31, 2017.

Sermon – Fasting – 1812

The following two discourses were given by Rev. John Giles on the occasion of a national day of fasting. This fast day had been proclaimed by President James Madison. Following these two discourses are “reviews” of them.













Newburyport, Aug. 24, 1812.

Rev. and Dear Sir,

WE the subscribers have been requested, by your parishioners and others, who attended on the delivering of your very patriotic and interesting discourses on the late Fast, to solicit a copy of them for the press.

We are, dear sir, with sentiments of very great respect,

Your obedient servants,


To Capt. John O’Brien, Capt. William Davis, and Mr. Stephen Frothingham.


IN compliance with your request, I furnish you with copies of the discourses which were delivered, with the design of attaching my parishioners, still more, if possible, to our invaluable rights and privileges, and to incite in them increasing gratitude to that God who has so eminently distinguished us above every other nation.

I am your servant in the gospel of Christ,
Newburyport, Aug. 26, 1812.



PSALM evi. 24.


THIS Psalm is a short and concise history of the multiplied and unprovoked rebellions of the ungrateful Israelites; and the writer of it enumerates their sins and provocations against the goodness and blessings of God unto them. Jehovah had conducted them safely through scenes the most trying, and through dangers the most formidable and imminent, and brought them to the confines of the promised land; but the spies brought an ill report of it, though they owned it was a land which overflowed with milk and honey; but that there were such difficulties to possess it, which they thought insuperable; and hence the people despised it—in as much as when they were bid to go and possess it, they refused; and did not chuse to be at any difficulty in subduing the inhabitants of it, or run any risk or hazard of their lives in taking it, though the Lord had promised to give it them and settle them in it. But they seemed rather inclined to make themselves a captain, and return to Egypt, which was interpreted a despising the pleasant land.—See Numb. Xiv. 1.

This history conveys much instruction to us, and is well adapted to the designs of the day. And, before we proceed in illustrating and improving it; the speaker must premise, that it is not his intention to irritate and inflame the feelings of any, in what he may deliver upon the present occasion. His motives are, the discharge of duty, and publicly to avow his warm, firm, and decided attachment, to the country which has adopted him as its citizen, and to the illustrious character who at present presides over it; and to this duty he is urged by lively gratitude, and the solemn oath which he has taken, of undeviating allegiance to it.

First…Enquire what are those things which are absolutely necessary to constitute a land pleasant. And we observe,

1. That a climate the most salubrious, and a soil the most fertile and luxuriant, which may spontaneously produce, not only all the necessaries, but even the luxuries of life, may be rendered unhappy, and all these sweets blighted, and marred, through the intruding hand of some assuming and unfeeling tyrant. Such has been the state with the fertile lands of Portugal, Spain and Italy; and such is the still existing state of more prolific Turkey. The God of nature has, in those countries, scattered his gifts most profusely; but they are placed beyond the reach of the great mass of the people; a favoured few, engross the sweets to themselves, and like the forbidden fruit of Paradise, no hand dare pluck them without incurring the displeasure of their lords and masters. Thus, the kind bounties of an indulgent providence, are prostituted, and his creatures, who have a natural right to enjoy them, are tantalized with having them in continual view, but never are filled with the sweetness of them. This must turn the most pleasant and fruitful land into a sterile and painful wilderness; a land, which none of us, my hearers, would chuse as his home to dwell in, or as his place of sojourneying.

2. To render a land pleasant, its inhabitants must enjoy equal rights and privileges, otherwise it can be only to a favoured few, while the great majority are rendered objects of misery, through penury and distress; and thus, the comforts and blessings of civilized society, be abused and subverted, and even prostituted to the most ignoble and basest of purposes. We will demonstrate and illustrate this, not only from ancient, but modern governments. And here we observe, that society in every state is a blessing; but government in its best state is but a necessary evil,—in its worst state, an intolerable one. For when we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened, by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.—Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence. The palaces of kings, are built on the ruins of the bowers of Paradise. In ancient Greece, monarchy was the government which they first formed; but this they soon found degenerate into tyranny. Hence the term tyrant, was justly applied to them. And, indeed, the word originally signified no more than king, and was anciently the title of lawful princes. But monarchy gave way to a republican government, which, however, was diversified into almost as many various forms as there were different cities, according to the different genius and peculiar character of each people. But still there was a tincture, or leaven, of the ancient monarchical government, which frequently inflamed the ambition of private citizens, and made them desire to become masters of the country. In almost every state of Greece, some private persons advanced themselves, by cabal, treachery and violence, and exercised a sovereign authority, with a despotic empire; and in order to support their unjust usurpations, in the midst of distrusts and alarms, they thought themselves obliged to prevent imaginary or suppress real conspirators, by the most cruel proscriptions, and to sacrifice to their own security, all those whom rank, merit, wealth, zeal for liberty, or love of their country, rendered obnoxious to a suspicious and unsettled government, and which found itself hated by all, and was sensible it deserved to be so. What we have remarked of Greece, will, with a few shades of difference, apply to ancient Rome.

Let us now take a view of the modern governments of Europe, and examine how far they are calculated to add to the peace, comfort and happiness of mankind; and in the attempt our souls must overflow with gratitude to God, if sensible of the superior blessings and privileges we enjoy in this our favoured land. For,

3. A land to be pleasant, must have governors and magistrates, qualified and suited to the dignity and high stations they fill; nor can they command the respect and affection of those they rule over, unless they are the men of their choice. For the truth of this, I appeal to your judgment. Should we feel happy, were a man to be forced upon us, as governor of this state, or as president of the United States? And, granting the man, even qualified, in every point of view, would not our feelings revolt? But should such an one act the part of a tyrant, by oppressing your persons, taking from you your property, and reducing you and your posterity, from affluence to extreme want and beggary, the case would be still more afflicting. This representation is not ideal; it exists in all the aggravating circumstances here stated, and that in the fast-anchored isle of Great-Britain. The chief magistrate, or what they call king, is hereditary. How degrading this to an enlightened people! It is a system of mental leveling. It indiscriminately admits every species of character to the same authority. Vice and virtue, ignorance and wisdom, in short, every quality, good or bad, is put on the same level. Kings succeed each other, not as rationals; it signifies not what their mental or moral characters are. Such a government appears under all the various characters of childhood, decrepitude, and dotage; a thing at nurse, in leading-strings, or in crutches. It reverses the wholesome order of nature; it occasionally puts children over men, and maniacs to rule the wise. It requires some talents to be a common mechanic; but to be a king requires only the animal figure of a man, a sort of breathing automation. But I must observe, that I am not the personal enemy of kings. No man more heartily wishes, than myself, to see them all in the happy and honorable state of private individuals. But I am the avowed and open enemy of what is called monarchy; and I am such, by principles which nothing can either alter or corrupt—that is, by my attachment to humanity—by the anxiety, which I feel within myself, for the ease and honor of the human race—by the disgust which I experienced, when I observed men, directed by children, and governed by brutes—by the horrors, which all the evils that monarchy has spread over the earth, excite within my breast—and by those sentiments, which make me shudder at the calamities, the exactions, the wars, and the massacres with which monarchy has crushed mankind. Would not you, my hearers, consider such a land, however salubrious the clime, however fertile the soil, however embellished with the progress of the arts and sciences, deprived of its birth-right and groaning under special marks of divine displeasure? Let us rejoice, that we are in the full possession and free exercise of the privilege of selecting from ourselves men to be our rulers; and while we give them a compensation for the services which they render the public, in their several stations, which is but just and reasonable; for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Yet government in America is what it ought to be, a matter of honour and trust, and not made a trade of, as in England, for the purpose of lucre.

4. That which constitutes a land pleasant, is the state of society. To see every member of it in the enjoyment of all the essential necessaries of life; we do not mean, that one and all should possess equal property, for this never was designed by the God of nature; for there will be some who are comparatively poor, for the exercise of the benevolence of the rich. But that none should suffer through want or hunger, all who are in the enjoyment of health, and are industrious, should be able by moderate labour, to procure the comforts of life. We bless God that such a pleasant land is our inheritance. Here is a sufficiency of bread for all. Let the people here be but diligent, and a few years will place them in a state of independence. O how different is this, from what we see on the other side of the Atlantic! Should the enquiry be, what makes the difference, has not providence favored them with a fruitful land? We reply, providence has not been to them sparing in its gifts: but through the cunning craft of men, these gifts are engrossed by a few choice spirits, who riot in luxury, at the expense of the labourer, the mechanic and the husbandman. We will explain our meaning—The chief magistrate of England receives a million sterling every year; the other branches of his family, nearly the same sum, and a long list of placemen and pensioners, swell the burden to an enormous size. And all this is wrung from the hard earnings of the laboring poor. It is this wretched system which causes the land to mourn, which crowds the streets with beggars, and which drives men to the desperate act of invading the property of others; for what will not hunger impel men to! This picture is not overcharged; some present have seen with their eyes, these things, and can bear witness to the facts. But let us turn our view from these sickening scenes, and contemplate our own condition on these happy shores, and we see an extent of territory, twelve times larger than England, and the expense of the several departments of the general representative government not amounting to what is allowed even to the king alone.

5. To render a land pleasant, it is essential that the means of grace should be enjoyed. It is these which add to the glory of any land, and render a people truly great. This it was, which made the Israelites so much greater than other nations. Thus Moses describes them: “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous, as all this Law which I set before you this day?” Without the Gospel, the most enlightened people, are no better than refined savages. The Gospel is a pearl of great price; it is the glory and honour of a church, a people, or a person. This only instructs us in the way of salvation. Trade and commerce, may gain and preserve an estate, bread may support the body, but this only can nourish and prop up the soul. When the Gospel is removed, the light is removed which is able to direct us, the pearl is removed which can only enrich us. In the want of this, is introduced a spiritual darkness, which terminates in an eternal darkness. As the Gospel is compared to Heaven, and so called the kingdom of heaven; and a people in the enjoyment of it are said to be lifted up to heaven; so in the want of it, they are said to be cast down to hell. See Matt. 10, 23. So that what resemblance there is between heaven and the means of grace; that there is between the want of them and hell. Both are a separation from God; so that when the Gospel departs, all other blessings depart with it, and judgments succeed. When the glory of God was gone up from the first cherub to the threshold of the house, see Ezek. 9, 3. The angels are commanded to execute the destructive sentence against the city. Ver. 4, 5. When the word of God is removed, the strength of a nation departs. The ordinances of God are the towers of Sion. The temple was not only a place of worship, but a bulwark too. The ark was often carried by the Israelites into the camp, because there their strength lay. And when David was chased away by his son Absalom, he takes the ark of the tabernacle, as his greatest strength against the defection of his son and subjects. This blessing, my hearers, we enjoy in a peculiar manner. The heavenly manna profusely descends around our tents, and every one may worship God in that form and manner which he thinks accords best with the volume of inspiration.

6. That which renders our land the glory of all lands, is to be free from all religious establishments, the bane of society, and curse of human nature. Let us enlarge a little on this sentiment. All religions are in their nature mild and benign, and united with principles of morality. They could not have made proselites at first, by professing anything which was vicious and persecuting or immoral. How is it then, that they lose their native mildness, and become morose and intolerant? It proceeds from an alliance between church and state. The inquisition in Spain and Portugal, does not proceed from the religion originally professed, but from this mule animal, as one calls it, engendered between church and state. The burnings in Smithfield, proceeded from the same heterogeneous production; and it was the regeneration of this strange animal, afterwards, in the nation now called the bulwark of our religion, which revived rancor and irreligion among the inhabitants there, and which drove the people called dissenters and Quakers to this country. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion reassumes its original benignity. Here in America, a catholic priest is a good citizen, a good character, and a good neighbor; the same may be said of ministers of other denominations, and this proceeds, independent of men, from their being no law-establishment in America.

The constitution of the United States hath abolished or renounced toleration, and intoleration also; and hath established universal right of conscience. Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration, but is the counterfeit of it; both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding the liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the pope selling or granting indulgences. The former is church and state; the latter is church and traffic. This is the perverted state of things in that kingdom, called the world’s last hope. And though the gospel is there preached, yet it is the misfortune of many who love it, to have a minister imposed upon them, who is an enemy to it; and which minister they must support, with the tenth of their tithes; even though dissenters from the established church; and what adds to the turpitude of all this, no man can hold any place of trust or employ under the government, who is not an Episcopalian, without first receiving the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, on his bended knees, to qualify him for office. Must it not be duplicity, nay, the very essence of hypocrisy, in any man, to call such a kingdom, “the bulwark of our religion.”

Use I. Let us to-day, deplore, and lament over our manifold sins which have tempted God to let loose upon us one of his sore judgments. The sword is drawn, and more than probable, while I am addressing you, it is bathed in the blood of some of our fellow-citizens. It is true that at present, through mercy, it is placed at the distance from us; but some on our frontiers, and on the sea, have already fallen sacrifices, and we know not how soon it may be permitted to approximate our habitations. The fate of war is always precarious and uncertain. Let not him who putteth on his armour, boast like him who putteth it off. Remember it is God alone who giveth us the victory. Let our eyes then be directed to him, and all our expectations from him. This by no means supersedes the necessity of our warmest exertions. No, it is the sword of the Lord and Gideon. Let us then assist the brave, generous defenders of our country, who are vindicating our rights, and redressing our wrongs. Let us, I say, assist them by prayer and fervent cries, for prayer has ever proved a powerful weapon. If it overcomes God, it certainly will overcome men. Thus, while the hand of Moses was upheld by the prayer of Aaron and Hurr, he prevailed in the battle against Amalek. And it is promised, that one such, shall chance a thousand, and two, put ten thousand to flight. Thus Jehoshaphat, after he had proclaimed a fast, when a great multitude came against him, addresses God in prayer: O, our God, wilt thou not judge them, for we neither know we what to do , but our eyes are upon thee. And when they began to sing, and to praise, the Lord routed their enemies, with a great slaughter.

2. Let us encourage ourselves in the Lord, from the nature of the enemy we are now engaged with. In our infancy, we humbled their most celebrated generals; one of which boasted on the floor of Parliament, that with 3000 men, he would march in triumph, from one end of our continent to the other. Part of his assertion seemed to be prophetic, for he passed through a section of our continent, not as a conqueror, but a crest-fallen prisoner. If we achieved such exploits in our infant state, what shall we net, through provident, be able to do now in our manhood? Add to this the multiplied crimes of the government we are opposed to; a government founded and cemented in blood, and its tottering state, still upheld by blood; a government with which, it is evident, the Lord has a controversy. How different the state of this, our happy land. Never had a country so many openings to happiness as this; her setting out into life, like the rising of a fair morning, was unclouded and promising; her cause was good; her principles just and liberal; her conduct regulated by the nicest steps, and every thing about her wore the mark of honour. Here I will give you the language of Mr. Rush, the orator of the day, at the seat of our government, the 4th of July last. When, let us ask with exultation, when have ambassadors from other countries been sent to our shores, to complain of injuries done by the American States? What nation have the American States plundered? What nation have the American States plundered? What nation have the American States outraged? Upon what rights have the American States trampled? In the pride of justice and true honour, we say, none. But we have sent forth from ourselves the messengers of peace and conciliation, again and again, across seas, and to distant countries—To ask, earnestly justice to sue, for a cessation of the injuries done to us. They have gone to protest, under the sensibility of real suffering, against that course which made the persons and the property of our countrymen, the subjects of indiscriminate and rapacious spoliations. These have been the ends they were sent to obtain. Ends too fair for protracted refusal, too intelligible to have been entangled in evasive subtitles, too legitimate to have been neglected hostile silence. When their ministers have been sent to us, what has been the aim of their missions? To urge redress for wrongs done to them, shall we ask again? No, the melancholy reverse. For in too many instances, they have come to excuse, to palliate, or even to endeavour, in some shape, to rivet, those inflicted by their sovereigns upon us.

We, my hearers, have nothing to fear eventually, in our contest with a government so depraved and corrupt, as that of the British. Her fictitious wealth is depreciating; her most wise and virtuous statesmen cannot be prevailed upon to join, and unite in her councils; her prince regent has, by his intemperance and debaucheries, reduced himself to the state of an idiot; and the multitudes of her poor, rendered desperate by hunger, are already threatening to overwhelm it with their vengeance. In short, every sign of the times, indicates her speedy dissolution. Certainly the righteous God will not suffer her wicked and horrid ravages to go unavenged, even here upon earth. Let us wait awhile, and we may live to see the time, wherein it shall not be said by the voice of faith, but by the voice of sense itself, Babylon, the great, is fallen, is fallen!


PSALM 106. 24.
The speaker, in the forenoon, called your attention, to the distinguishing goodness of God, which has exempted us as a people, from the burdens, oppressions, and calamities, under which the nations of Europe groan, and which wring from the inhabitants, the most piercing cries. Our lines are fallen in pleasant places: yea, we have a goodly heritage: but some among us, like Jeshurun of old, have waxed fat and are kicking against the rock of salvation. This leads us,

Second…To exhibit the characters who despise the pleasant land.

We charge no party, solely, as implicated in this crime; but shall attempt to demonstrate that there are such men among us. And we will, as we proceed in our description, adhere to the criterion laid down by our Saviour—you shall know them by their fruit.

1. Men may be said to despise it, when they make light of their privileges, either in a natural, moral, or political view.

First, in a natural view. The Mercies, which we call natural, are those which are necessary for our nourishment and support; and that we, as a people, abound in these, is evident to all. We live in a land ever-flowing with a rich variety of God’s providential goodness Here is no leanness of teeth; our streets are not crowded with our fellow-creatures, soliciting the aid of our benevolence—nor our ears assailed with the melancholy tales of indigence and distress. The parent, with pallid cheeks, hollow eyes, and trembling limbs, arrest not our steps with importunate cries for relief to their helpless infants, pining in want, and the lamp of life ready to expire, because destitute of means to nourish it. We are placed far from these sickening scenes. But, alas! Do we not make light of these mercies? We enjoy the mercies, and forget the donor. We take what he gives; but pay not the tribute he deserves. The Israelites forgot God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt. We send God’s mercies, where we would have him send our sins, into a land of forgetfulness; and write his benefits, where he himself will write the names of the wicked; in the dust, which every wind effaces. We forget his goodness in the sun, while it warms us—in the showers, while they enrich us—and in the corn, while it nourishes us. It is an injustice to forget the benefits we receive from man, but a crime, of a higher nature, to forget those dispensed to us by the hand of God, who gives us those things which all the world cannot furnish us without him. It is, in God’s judgment, a brutishness beyond that of a stupid ox, or a duller ass. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider. How horrible, that God should lose more by his bounty, than he would by his parsimony. If we had blessings more sparingly, we should remember him more gratefully. If he had sent us a bit of bread in distress, by a miracle, as he did to Elijah, by the ravens, we should retain it in our memories. But the sense of daily favours, soonest wear out of our minds, which are as great miracles, as any in their own nature, and the products of the same power.

Secondly. We despise our moral and spiritual privileges, when we reject the truths of revealed religion. This is one of the crying sins of our land. Errors which were almost obsolete, are reviving, and the professors of those pernicious doctrines, are daily multiplying and increasing, by which the glories of Christ are laid prostrate in the dust; and the object of the Christian’s dearest hope is degraded, and brought down to a level with a creature, so that we had need to tremble at the prospects before us; for these sentiments, like the explosion of a subterraneous fire, may ere long burst forth and spread fain, slaughter, and death, all around, should they become the creed of an established religion. Let no one say, we live in an age too enlightened, for religious persecution to gain head. But stop; let us for a moment examine the force of this reasoning; and one remark shall suffice. Could any of you, venerable patriots, who joyfully took the spoiling of your goods, and waded your way through blood to gain the pinnacle of liberty, could you suppose, at the close of our national struggle, that in the year 1812, your fellow-citizens should become objects of persecution, for an attachment to those very sentiments, for which so many of our fathers bled and died? And who are the characters who foment and the very ringleaders of this intolerant spirit? Are they not those who profess the aforesaid sentiments?

Men despise the pleasant land, who make light of the gospel, and will not attend to the preaching of it; or if they give it a hearing, refuse to comply with its just nd reasonable requisitions. It is not enough, to be within the visible ark; so was a cursed Ham. Let us not receive the grace of God in vain; but adorn the gospel, by a gospel spirit, and a gospel practice, and walk as children of light. Let us not trample it under our feet, but put our souls under the efficacy of it, and get from it the foretastes of a heavenly and everlasting light. Let us not loiter while the sun shines, lest we be benighted, and bewildered, and misled, and finally miscarry.

Those may, with the strictest propriety, be ranked among the despisers, who dragoon religion into their service, and make it the trumpet of sedition and rebellion. The gospel, is the gospel of peace. It was introduced by angels with Glory to God in the highest, and on earth good will to man. Christ, the author of it, is called the Prince of peace; and it inculcates peace on all its followers. How malignant, then, must that soul be, which would convert it into an engine to irritate, goad, and inflame the passions of men, to strife, blood, and slaughter? When the sacred desk, is converted into a vehicle of scandal, and calumny, and charges predicated on misrepresentation and the most glaring falsehood; this is a prostitution, not only of place, but office, and sinking the ministerial character into that of a public informer. It is a melancholy consideration, that such occurrences should have taken place, as to force from the speaker such observations; but when the poison is openly and widely diffused, it is the duty of every good man to administer an antidote, to counteract the effects of it. Such conduct strikes at the root, and is subversive of a free government, and has a tendency to introduce anarchy and confusion. It likewise flies in the face of divine authority, and sub serves the cause of infidelity; for no truth is more explicitly revealed, than due subordination to government. We will quote a few to corroborate our assertion. Exod. 22. 28. Thou shalt not revile the Gods, nor curse the rulers of thy people. And Rom. 13. 1, 2. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Jude calls these disorganizers, v. 8. Filthy dreamers, who defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Can there be a greater prop to infidelity? Did Thomas Paine, with all his frantic ravings against the Christian religion, give it so fatal a stab as these pretended advocates of it, who, in direct opposition to its express commands, defame and pour a torrent of abuse upon our worthy President; a man who, when first inducted into the presidency, was represented, by these his now defamers, as a converted man, and an experimental Christian. But all these puny attempts to sink, will but elevate him the higher, in the esteem of every genuine American; and with dignified composure, and silent contempt, he hears all these unfounded accusations, as the ebullitions of ignorance or of a maniac; and he who has so long withstood the roaring of lions, has nothing to fear from the braying of an ass.

3. Men despise our political privileges, when they use every stratagem to render our government contemptible, and to alienate the affections of their fellow citizens from it. This is to imitate Satan, who would rather reign in hell, than be subordinate in heaven. Never did human wisdom devise so fair a fabric as our Federal Government. Each state united to the other, like the several members of the human body, co-operating for the good of the whole; so that one cannot say, I have no need of you. All are bound by solemn compact, to adhere to each other; for the good of the whole, is the good of each. How malicious! How cruel! How savage! To attempt to mutilate so fair a fabric, and to loose the bond of union, and destroy a system, which, with its increasing years, hath produced increasing prosperity. We grant that our apparent prosperity, has partially been interrupted; but this arose not from any defect in our government, nor in those at the head of it; but from the existing state of the European world, which for a few years past, has been in an uncommon fermentation. Nor could Solomon, had he presided over us, have guarded us against the collisions of the belligerent powers. French ambition, and British cupidity have committed spoliations on our commerce to a vast amount. But must not every impartial person admit, that, to promote a spirit of discord and disunion among ourselves, is not the way to redress, but the sure method to incite them to greater aggressions. Let us frown, indignant, at every attempt to dissolve our federal constitution, however sacred may be their functions; let us regard them as missionaries of him who is the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning.

When men counteract the means which the wisdom of our Executive devise to assert our rights, redress our wrongs, and maintain our national dignity and honour—or even when they be cold and lukewarm in promoting them, they come within the charge of our text. Such characters may use plausible pleas, to extenuate their conduct—such as the temper of the public mind, the persecutions they shall be exposed to, and the losses they shall sustain; but if these pleas are valid now, they were valid during our revolutionary war; and had the patriots of that day, displayed the same spirit, we should be groaning now in Egyptian bondage. Let such tremble; let them arise from their torpor, lest they subject themselves to the anathema pronounced against some in days of old. See Judges 5. 23. Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord; curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.

When men turn liberty into licentiousness, and take shelter under the lenity of our law, to degrade and abuse the majesty of the law; this has a tendency to destroy the liberty we enjoy, and lay prostrate in ruin, the fair edifice, which has for thirty years withstood all the rude shocks to which it has been exposed; either by exciting our legislators to lay some restrictions on the press, which at the present teems with so many inflamitory, virulent, and infamous publications, or else reducing us to a state of anarchy. Let me, on this occasion, advise you my hearers, to adhere, inflexibly adhere, to the principles of Republicanism. But at the same time, bear and forbear, with the insults which your principles may expose you to. Remember, our constitution is founded on the right of private judgment, and that principles cannot be destroyed by the force of arms. No; let reason and argument be the only weapons which you will use; and if violence be heard in our land, wasting and destruction within our borders, let them not originate from those who call themselves republicans, and friends of our government; but from those who assume to themselves, the exclusive privilege of being the friends of good order.

Use 1. Let us, to-day, lament over the ruin of lapsed nature, and over the jarring discordant, and destructive effects, which sin has introduced in all our national calamities, under all the pressure of the times, and in the midst of personal sufferings. Let us hear the answer of God to all our murmurings: Thy way, and thy doings, have procured these things unto thee: This is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thy heart. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and by faith in the Redeemer, and genuine repentance, disarm a frowning God of that vengeance which we have demerited at his hands.

2. Let us, like so many Moseses, stand in the gap, and plead with God, that he would spare us, a guilty people, and still indulge us with a continuance of those privileges for which our fathers fought, bled, and died. O, let us not barter them away for present enjoyments, but patiently submit to, and bear a few privations whilst the present contest continues; and though much of our property may be exhausted in the struggle, yet it is better to leave our families the possession of our present privileges, without the possession of a cent, than to leave them millions of dollars, with the entailment of slavery.

3. Let those, who openly express their disaffection to our government, pause, and reflect upon the criminality of their conduct; for God himself bears witness against those sins which disturb society. In these cases, he is pleased to interest himself in a most signal manner, to cool those, who make it their business to overturn the order he hath established for the good of the earth. He doth not so often in this world punish those faults committed immediately against his own honour, as those which put a state into a hurry, and confusion. It is observed, that the most turbulent, seditious persons in a state, come to most violent ends: As Corah, Adonijah, Zimri, Ahitophel draws Absalom’s sword against David and Israel, and the next he twists a halter for himself. Absalom heads a party against his father, and God, by a goodness to Israel, hangs him up, and prevents not its safety, by David’s indulgence, and a future rebellion, had life been spared by the fondness of his father. His providence is more evident in discovering disturbers, and the causes which move them, and in digging the contrivers out of their caverns, and lurking holes. He doth more severely in this world, correct those actions, which unlink the mutual assistance between man and man, and the charitable and kind correspondence he would have kept up.

4. How lost to gratitude, and love of country, must be such of our deluded citizens, who can rejoice in the disasters of those, who are engaged in warfare, against our proud, insulting foe; and are ready to weep at any success which attends our arms. Even the brute beast is attached to the spot which affords it pasture; but they, more brutish, would tear to pieces the foliage of the tree which screens them from the storm, and, unlike the beast, maliciously invite others to join them in blasting our fairest prospects, and laying all in wide ruin and destruction! Is not this too evidently the wish of those among us, who make use of every artifice, and twist and turn all the patriotic measures of our Executive, as being under the control of French influence? Which their own conscience cannot subscribe to, neither do they themselves believe so. But the evil object they have in view, they studiously conceal; and this outcry against French influence, is raised as a mist to blind the eyes of the public, and to sub serve the design of pulling down our present rulers, and to raise themselves on their ruin. Should they succeed in their nefarious plan, what would be the destructive consequence? Why, we soon should see these very same people, who are so clamorous against foreign influence, forming an alliance with Great-Britain, offensive and defensive, which would involve us in the same ruin with herself. Let us, for the truth of this, appeal to stubborn facts. Who is it that justify, and, if they cannot justify, palliate all the insults which we have for ten years past received from that government? If they outrage all laws, moral and divine, by impressing thousands of our gallant seamen; and if, either by bribes, or cruel whippings and floggings, they are forced to enter the service, their advocates extenuate their conduct, by observing, that it is impossible for them to discriminate between our people and their own, as our features and language are so similar. With such reasons and arguments, they justify the cruel wrongs, inflicted on our unhappy countrymen, who are forced to join and assist the common enemy, in their murderous work, and who are perhaps this moment, imbruing their hands in the blood of their nearest friends and dearest relative. These predilections for a government, which is sowing among us the seed of discord, sedition, and treason, and which wishes to tear from us our dearest rights, demonstrates where the bias of their minds tends to. Nor can a word be uttered in their hearing against the British, but what they resent more than they would blasphemy; this speaks volumes, and evidently points to us the object which they have in view. But let them tremble for their conduct. The great mass of our citizens, have too long tasted the sweets of liberty, to exchange it for the gewgaws of monarchy. It is enough for us to will to be free, and maugre all the attempts of anarchists and monarchists, we are free. And let them not suppose, that their misdeeds shall go unpunished. The day of reckoning is fast approaching, when the strong arm of law and justice, will overtake them, and make them sensible that even in a republican government, there is energy enough to crush the guilty.

5. Let not the exertions of the religious inhabitants of England, influence your attachment to the British government, as if the large donations contributed for the support of Missionaries, the distribution of Bibles, and other religious purposes, were the acts of government. These are the generous efforts of its subjects, of individuals, groaning under the pressure of taxes. And how much more would these individuals contribute toward these benevolent purposes, were the demands of government not so numerous! So far is it from true, that the British government is friendly, that it is opposed to the spread of the gospel among the millions in Asia. For, within eight years past, the government of England rejected the application of the Missionary Society to send missionaries to India, to preach the gospel; and which subjected that society to the expense of sending them to New-York, from whence they embarked to the place of their destination. To conclude,

Men brethren, and Fathers,

Let us, today, take a fresh survey of our National, our State, and our personal Blessings, and let us entertain them with a godly jealousy. Let no man under a pretext of liberty, cajole us out of our privileges. With all our calamities, we are comparatively, a happy people. We can boast of what no other people can. The sovereignty is in our own hands. We are not bound, as in France and England, to crouch like beasts of burden to those who goad, and add to the weight of their chains. Our rulers, are our servants, and not our masters. It is by our free suffrages, they have been elevated to their exalted stations; and if they swerve from the principles of liberty, we can destroy their official dignity, and reduce them to the ranks of private citizens, without having recourse to acts of violence. The miseries attending the French revolution, must be yet fresh in your memories; and we hope, and pray, that no aspiring demagogues may be permitted to rise up among us, whereby the proscriptions, assassinations, and murders, of a ferocious Marat, and an ensanguined Robespierre, may pollute and stain our hallowed land of liberty and equality.

And you, my young hearers, read, frequently read, the history of your country. Emulate the deeds of your sires, whose patriotic arms, put to flight the ruffian hordes, which Britain vomited on our shores. O, prove yourselves to be the descendants of those, whose names will shine with luster on the historic page; and should you, like them, be called to avenge your country’s wrongs, prove, that you not only inherit their names, but likewise their courage; that you will not detract from their glory, but maintain with your blood, undiminished, the fair inheritance which they have bequeathed you. And, O, that a double portion of their spirit may rest on you. AMEN, and AMEN.


To the above discourses we subjorn the following reviews, which have been communicated; in the first of which they are considered merely as literary, and in the second, as political productions:– -to which we add a parallel, exhibiting to the reader not only the pure source from which this reverend gentleman draws the instruction with which he feeds his flock; but the honourable manner in which he does it, by refusing to give the tribute of acknowledgment to whom that tribute is due.

THE present is an age of pamphlets. The light which beams from the press, in these days of darkness and blood, seems to overwhelm us with “One tide of glory, one unbounded blaze.” Nor is this light copious only,—it is remarkably intense. The human mind, in the uninterrupted enjoyment of peace, becomes inactive, and fancy ceases to spread her wings, and reposes in torpid slumbers. But, blow the blast of war, and all is life, ardour and strength:—the pen of the erudite is pointed for the combat, and the lips of the eloquent are open to persuade;—genius, by collision with genius, is dazzled with its own scintillations, and reason turns with astonishment from the subject she is pursuing, to admire the profundity of her own researches. The press is the vehicle by which this mental light is communicated from mind to mind; and in the present age, that light appears not only with all the intensity of the solar rays, when condensed by the lens, but with all their variety of colour, when refracted by the prismatic glass, or by the rain drops of the east. Thus we find in the news papers and pamphlets of the present moment, religious light, moral light, political light and various degrees of scientific light.

In a pamphlet now before us, entitled “Two discourses delivered to the Second Presbyterian Society in Newburyport, Aug. 20, 1812, the day recommended by the President of the United States for national humiliation and prayer;—by the Rev. John Giles”—we are pleased to see not only the several kinds of light which we have mentioned, of all which, we presume, there is quantum sufficit, but also a very animating gleam of rhetorical, and a particularly splendid blaze of grammatical light. In the observations we shall make upon these discourses, our object will be principally, to illustrate these unusual traits in productions of this kind, by holding up, to the attention of the reader, passages in which they are more particularly conspicuous,—and that not in the order of their relative merit, but in that of their succession in the book. These beauties meet us on the very threshold:—in the second sentence, the writer, speaking of the Israelites and the Land of promise—says;—“but the spies brought an ill report of it, though they owned it was a land which flowed with milk and honey; but there were such difficulties to possess it which they thought insuperable.”—&c.—

P. 4. “To render a land pleasant its inhabitants must enjoy equal rights and privileges, otherwise it can be pleasant only to a favored few, while the great majority are rendered only objects of misery, through penury and distress; and thus the comforts and blessings of civilized society, he abused, subverted and even prostituted to the most ignoble and basest of purposes.”

Till now we did not know that such and which were correspondent or correlative terms as used in the former of these passages.—And we were at a loss to determine how be abused” was governed either in the infinitive or subjunctive mood, till in the next sentence the clue is given by the luminous proposition that “government in its best state is but a necessary evil.” Here no one can but observe what a flood of light bursts at once upon us.—The reverend republican, since leaving England has contracted such an antipathy to government, of every description, that, not satisfied with emancipating man he generously undertakes to disenthrall even his language from these odious restraints of government.

Again p. 5. “Let us rejoice that we are in the full possession and free exercise of the privilege of selecting from ourselves, men, to be our rulers; and while we give them a compensation for the services which they render the public in their several stations, which is but just and reasonable; for the labourer is worthy of his hire.”

Now some, who do not see things, would suppose there was here a kind of hiatus, as the hearer must be expecting to be told something proper to be done, while, &c. but here the delicate hand of the master is seen, in suffering the imagination of the hearer to have a little play, and fall, by its own efforts, upon the rest of the sentence.

But to proceed: page 10, “The parent, with pallid cheeks, hollow eyes and trembling limbs, arrest not our steps with importunate cries for relief to their helpless infants, &c.—Again “The Israelites forgot God their Saviour, which had done great things in Egypt..”

In old times, when Addison, Johnson and Blair, were at the grammar school, they contracted a habit of making a verb agree with its nominative case, in a number and person, and of making the relative who refer to persons, which to things: and this habit was so fixed upon them that they carried it with them to the last. Even Pope felt himself constrained, by the same illiberal rule, when addressing the same Infinite Being of whom the sacred politician is here speaking, to say

“Thou Great First Cause, least understood,
Who all my sense” &c.

But in these days, of superior light and liberty, all ideas of concord in a sentence appear as useless and absurd as do those of government. We presume that when this learned gentleman was in England, alias “Babylon,” (vide p. 9,) the Babylonians, being tired of these old fashioned rules, were beginning to get things up in a little better style; and being conversant with the heads of department, or perhaps, more properly with the department of heads, he was the first to receive from authors and orators of the first grade, those emanations of light which he here sheds abroad from himself, as from the radiant point. Not being up to these splendid novelties ourselves, we can but admire in him, the ease with which he declares that “the parent arrest not our “steps” respecting “their helpless infants,” and the dignity with which he invests the Divinity when he makes the Israelites forget God their Saviour which had done great things”—

The specimens heretofore exhibited go, principally, to illustrate the beautiful: but our author occasionally soars to the sublime. The very page from which the two last examples were taken furnishes us with an instance. “But the sense of daily favors, soonest wear out of our minds, which are as great miracles, as any in their own nature, and the products of the same power.”—Here, if our author does not shed his usual light, it is, we presume, not without design. Sublimity is so great an excellence in style, that it is cheaply purchased at the expense of every other. We must not expect, particularly, to have a clear and definite view of the object, nor a full conception of the sentiment that fills our minds with sublime emotions. We must not therefore inquire whether “the sense of daily favors”—the “favours” themselves or “our minds” are the “miracles;”—for the moment we determine, that moment the sublimity vanishes. We could not possibly suppose that sense could be the miracles, because “sense” is singular and “miracles” plural,—were it not that by the magic power of “Liberty and equality” introduced on the last page of the book, our writer has made the singular “sense” equal to the plural “wear” by making them agree as nominative and verb,—of course we do not know how far he may think proper to advance it in dignity: nor do we see any objection, upon principle, to its becoming not only a miracle, but many “miracles.” Between “favours” and “minds,” we think the chance is nearly equal; for as much as is gained by “favours” in relation to the antecedent sentences, so much is gained by “minds,” from its proximity to the relative. This we think is a brilliant instance of the “void obscure”—a bright display of “palpable darkness.”

We pass over the eloquent and gentlemanlike compliments which on pages 11 and 12 he lavishes upon his fellow-labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. But while we admire the generous flow of civility and respect which must be so gratifying to his brethren, the clergy, we must not lose sight of that meek and modest spirit of Christian charity which breathes in every sentence and animates the whole current of his remarks upon them. Our attention however is arrested by the closing sentence of this clerical eulogy, which runs thus—“Let us frown indignant at every attempt to dissolve our federal-constitution, however sacred may be their functions; let us regard them as missionaries of him who is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning.”—Let those who can, pass this sentence without admiration,—as well as the one next following. “When men counteract the means which the wisdom of our Executive devise to assert our rights”—&c.—These two sentences, must, we presume, be politically correct, and theologically orthodox,—for he who is able to predicate “their functions” of “every attempt”—and then convert “every attempt” into “missionaries” and to make “wisdom” harmonize with “devise” must surely be able to make the rough things of divinity smooth, and the crooked things of the policy straight.

Again, p. 14. “Ahitophel draws Absalom’s sword against David and Israel, and the next he twists an halter for himself.”—The next what? Here again he compliments the reader by suffering the deficiency to be supplied ad libitum by his own imagination.

If we may be indulged yet a little longer, we will endeavour to confine our specimens within as narrow limits as we can, in justice to the subject upon which we have entered. We cannot but dwell a moment upon a very chaste and nervous sentence (p. 15,) which flows in manner and form following, to wit,” “These predilections for a government, which is sowing among us the seed of discord, sedition and treason, and which wishes to tear from us our dearest rights, demonstrates where the bias of their minds tends to.” Here again is displayed that republican hatred of government, which seduces from its nominative the allegiance of the verb—If however the eye is weary with too long contemplating these polished samples of grammatical elegance, each of which might be considered as unique, the ear will undoubtedly be ravished with the rhetorical harmony, and the force of numbers with which this sentence closes.

There are many minor beauties to which we cannot descend, without occupying more space than can be devoted to lucubration’s [intensive study] of this nature: the reader cannot but observe them, on even a hasty perusal—they all go, like those who have brought into notice, to shew a genius improved by science, a taste formed upon the most approved models, a style chastened and elevated, and a fancy whose vagaries have been restrained by the cool dictates of reason. Both the religious and political sentiments we intended to pass over, they are above our humble reach, and must be left to those who are better capable of judging of such “high matters.” If the matter however be equal to the manner, too much cannot be said of it.

There are yet three things which we cannot in justice to the reverend gentleman, neglect to notice. These are his consistency, his modesty and the love he displays towards his native country.

First, his consistency: Our readers must undoubtedly recollect that His Excellency Caleb Strong, who has been raised to the dignity of ruling the free, sovereign and independent people of Massachusetts, in his late proclamation for a State Fast, speaks of Great-Britain, among other things, as the bulwark of the religion we profess. Our republican divine, (may we not say our divine republican) on page 7, speaking also of England, closes his notice of that nation, with these words—“Must it not be duplicity, nay, the very essence of hypocrisy, in any man, to call such a kingdom the bulwark of our religion”—and then goes on (page 12,) to prove from scripture that they who “speak evil of dignities, and curse the rulers of the people, stand at least a chance of “receiving to themselves damnation.”

Of his modesty we have room to say but little; nothing, indeed compared with the subject. It shall however be illustrated in a degree, and faintly shadowed forth, by first recalling to the minds of our readers the recollection of the fact, that during our revolutionary struggle, he was a native inhabitant of the country that strove to strangle America in her cradle, and a subject of the “government with which it is evident the Lord has a controversy;”—and then, while this recollection is fresh in the mind, presenting them one passage from page 8.—

“In our infancy we humbled their pride, and chained to the chariot wheels of our triumph, two of their most celebrated generals; one of which (generals which again) “boasted on the floor of Parliament that with 3000 men he would march in triumph from one end of our Continent to the other. Part of this assertion seemed to be prophetic, for he passed through a section of our Continent to the other. Part of this assertion seemed to be prophetic, for he passed through a section of our Continent, not as a conqueror, but as a crest-fallen prisoner. If we achieved such exploits in our infant state, what shall we not, through providence, be able to do in our manhood.”

Reader, dost thou recollect the story of “we apples”? If thou dost, the modesty of this passage, which is but a small portion of what is exhibited in the whole, cannot be illustrated by more appropriate types and figures.

But we cannot take leave of this very accomplished author, without adverting to the deep and feeling sense, he seems to entertain, of the obligations he owes to his native country: that holy devotion to the land that gave him birth, and infused into his mind, by the liberal education it afforded him, those exalted sentiments, those generous recollections which are poured forth through his whole book.—That profound veneration for the religious establishments, that ardent enthusiasm towards the laws, and that respectful and affectionate zeal for the chief magistrate of England, which form the Alpha and Omega of his discourses cannot but convince every reader that he who is thus filial in his attachments to his mother country, must be unshaken in the grand purpose of ennobling and exalting the character of that which has adopted him.

We cannot, perhaps, close this article better than with the following lines from Churchill,—a man who once dressed in the gown and surplice; which however he left off, after disgracing them and the holy profession to which they were dedicated, by the most wanton practices of debauchery and intemperance; but who at times felt and expressed in his writings, sentiments worthy at least of a layman, tho’ they may not be fully equal, in point of patriotism and elegance, to what now flow from those among us who minister in holy things.

“—–Be England what she will,
With all her faults, she is my country still.—
The love we bear our Country is a root
Which never fails to bring forth golden fruit
‘Tis in the mind an everlasting spring
Of glorious actions, which become a king,
Nor less become a subject; ‘tis a debt,
Which bad men tho’ they pay not, can’t forget;
A duty which the good delight to pay,
And every man can practice every day—-
That spring of love which, in the human mind,
Founded on self, flows narrow and confin’d,
Enlarges as it rolls, and comprehends
The social charities of blood and friends,
Till, smaller streams included, not o’er past,
It rises to our country’s love at last,
And he, with lib’ral and enlarged mind,
Who loves his country, cannot hate mankind.—-
Howe’er our pride may tempt us to conceal
Those passions which we cannot chuse but feel,
There’s a strange, something, which without a brain
Fools feel, and which e’en wise men can’t explain,
Planted in man, to bind him to that earth,
In dearest ties, from whence he drew his birth.
If Honor calls, where’er she points the way
The sons of Honour follow and obey;
If need compels, wherever we are sent
‘Tis want of courage not to be contnt;
But if we have the liberty of choice,
And all depends on our own single voice,
To deem of ev’ry country as the same
Is rank rebellion gainst the lawful claim
Of Nature; and such dull indifference
May be philosophy, but can’t be sense.


“What manner o’ thing is your Crocodile?”


THE press has lately teemed with a brace of Sermons from the pen of the Rev. John Giles. These performances are somewhat curious, but they might go down to oblivion quietly, did we not think them a fair specimen of democratic reasoning and declamation; which is a tissue of contradictions, absurdities, vituperations and nonsense.—In a short review of these productions, the writer will not stop to notice the bad grammar with which this work abounds, nor point out the false logic conspicuous in every page; for whoever views these twin born graces of democracy, will see that the Rev. John Giles is as much unacquainted with Isis and Cam, as he is with the constitution of his native country, and abuses the King’s English as freely as he does the Court of St. James, or the Prince Regent.

The text for these Sermons is a pointed and biting sarcasm on the stiff-necked and rebellious Israelites—“Yea they despised the pleasant land,” —and this, by a side-way allusion is meant for those who are not idolaters to his Dagon of power.—From a perusal of this scanty, and distorted picture of national happiness, we do not hesitate to say, that the writer is infested with the political poison drawn from the sewers of Godwin and Paine. There is a peculiar driveling in the pupils of this School, by which we always know them; for they struggle to gain attention by bold assertions,—course, and vulgar epithets; and by quaintness and eccentricity strive to make popular flimsy reasoning, and false sentiments, which are subversive of all order the government.—“Government like dress, is the badge of lost innocence,” says Parson Giles, (and I believe Parson Paine 1 said it before him.) This is dazzling and fine, but it is neither witty nor illustrative.

Let us pursue this thought, for a moment, for whether the preacher begot it or purloined it, is all the same. If “Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence”—the savage, who wears but a rag to cover his nakedness, is nearer primitive purity than President Madison dressed for his levee; and the gentleman himself is more a saint in his every day dress, than when adorned with his flowing canonicals.—The nations of Europe pass in review before the preacher, and all are filled with the abominations of government; and even the shades of departed Greece and Rome are called up, that he might “lay them” with a curse.—But England, poor old England, bears the burden of its blows, here he collects his manly wrath and raves most heroically against Kings and courtly trains. Had the good man been made a Bishop in his native land, never, oh! Never, should we have heard this elegant invective; it would have been lost, we fear in the soft accents of his loyalty to his gracious master.—There are sufferings in all countries, and no doubt many in England, but the difference between this country and that is not so great as he represents it, and if this War continues it will be worse here than in G. Britain.—Is the Gentleman ignorant? This I cannot believe—or did he intend to mislead, when he stated without any explanation, that the King of England receives a million a year for his salary from the people?—Why did he not tell them, that from this sum the whole civil list were paid, and that but a small proportion of it is retained for his own private use? This would have been true, but truth seems not to have been his object.

What Parson Giles has suffered in his native country, that should make him curse his mother so bitterly, is not known with us; but surely he must have suffered some terrible oppression, to justify in any measure, this infuriated resentment.—If common report is not a liar he has, in former times, praised his own country, and spoken with contumely and reproach of the common rabble of these United States, and despised the dear people he now so ardently loves.

When a writer animadverts with manliness, if he is severe, no one has a right to complain; but when malignity calls falsehood and ribaldry to her assistance, we have an unquestionable privilege to despise and condemn.—His attack on the Prince Regent, is mean and false. (“The Prince Regent has by his intemperance and debaucheries, reduced himself to the state of an Idiot.”) That the Regent has been a gay man, is not to be disputed—but, for years past, he has attended the affections of his subjects. Such pitiful slander, such absolute falsehood, such miserable abuse, comes most ungraciously from a preacher of the Gospel of Christ.—All this could be forgiven, but his covert and indirect attack on a man—“in whom there is no guile,” a man whose memory will be fresh, among the virtuous, when the parson, and his sermons are forgotten, cannot and will not be forgiven. It is the attempt, not his success, that we mention, for the Egis of Minerva would sooner have been shattered from the puny strength of an infant arm, than the shaft from the parson’s bow,—however deeply dipped in gall,—have reached one “armed so Strong in honesty.”

The second Sermon commences as follows,,—

“The speaker, in the forenoon, called your attention, to the distinguishing goodness of God, which has exempted us as a people, from the burdens, oppressions, and calamities, under which the nations of Europe groan, and which wring from the inhabitants, the most piercing cries. Our lines are fallen in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage: but some among us, like Jeshurun of old, have waxed fat and are kicking against the rock of salvation. This leads us, “Second…To exhibit the characters who despise the pleasant land.

“We charge no party, solely, as implicated in this crime; but shall attempt to demonstrate that there are such men among us. And we will, as we proceed in our description, adhere to the criterion laid down by our Saviour—you shall know them by their fruit.

“1. Men may be said to despise it, when they make light of their privileges, either in a natural, moral, or political view.”

The preacher is here extremely confused, at which we are not a little surprised, for nothing is more simple and easy than the lines between natural, moral, and political privileges.—Under the division of natural, he has given us moral, religious and political advantages, and drawn a picture of national prosperity,—even such an one, as meager as it is, we wish to Heaven were accurate; but a prevalence of the principles he professes, has shorn our country of her beams and robbed her of her luster,—dimed the sun of our prosperity, evaporated “the showers,” and blasted “the corn.”—His moral head is a mere farrago [jumble] upon religion, and, in the beginning, discovers a want of liberality that ought not to be found in so great a stickler for religious freedom, who execrates so vehemently the hierarchy of England. He more than intimates that persecution is to be feared from the opponents to his politics, if they should be in power—rest easy, Rev. Sir, your opponents, possessed of power, would forget “your venom and your froth.”

It is extremely amusing to observe some of the inconsistencies in this work.—In one page the preacher appears the most strenuous advocate for the divine rights of Kings; for the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, and calls in the aid of Omnipotence to prove his belief; not remembering that in a few pages before he breathed blasphemy on the ruler of his native land.—This is republicanism fresh from the Schools of France.

How bitterly the gentleman denounces his brothers of the cloth, who venture to lisp a word against the immaculate rulers of our land. No, the clergy must not talk politics,—it is infamous,—it is seditious—according to his creed, while he, forsooth, is belching slander and calumny.

Amidst the descriptions of those who despise the pleasant land, the preacher has contrived to introduce the “Worthy President” of the United States by way of contrast.—A Jupiter on Olympus, surrounded by clouds, and darkness, and attacked by evil spirits—yet firm, and godlike he stands as unmoved at “the roaring of lions,” as at “the braying of an ass,” consulting the good of mortals, notwithstanding their rebellion. He is equal to the war waged against him,—“and with dignified composure and silent contempt, he hears all these unfounded accusations as the ebullitions of ignorance or of a maniac.” This epic flight may not go unrewarded—the “worthy President” has offices and honours to bestow, and money to distribute, and how sweet must this fine strain of panegyric [praise] sound in the ears of the President, who has been so long accustomed to solemn but unpleasant truths from New-England Divines.

The sentiments in these Sermons are so nicely involved, and so charmingly jumbled, that one might as well follow the flight of the raven in the mist, and note all his croaking’s, as to follow the parson in his democratic ramblings through Time and Eternity, over Matter and Mind, War & Peace, Democracy and Federalism—but it is clearly understood that this Minister of Peace is a Friend to War, and calls loudly on his followers to maintain it stoutly.

Patriots, ye who were born on the Atlantic shores, who have once buffeted the storm, and braved the tempest of war, how must you blush to be taught your duty by a foreigner, whose love for you, and your country, surpasses everything, but his hatred for your enemies? How kind it is in him to te4ach you your duty! That lovely and sincere Frenchman Genet was once as kind and courtly, but this ungrateful nation have forgotten him and his services. Genet, it is true, had more talents and ability, but he was not more earnestly devoted to your welfare than the parson,—who will toil in his little sphere with the same holy zeal for his great master, but probably with less success.

It is time to be serious—our all is in jeopardy.—We could continue, at any other time, to treat with playful severity this performance laugh at the author’s folly, and pity his weakness. Our homes, our comforts, our privileges, our rights are all at stake. A weak, false-hearted and pusillanimous government have led us into a miserable war.—A war which has swept Commerce from the Ocean, changed honesty to corruption, and industry to pilfering enterprise. The great sources of wealth are stopped;—the little currents of competency are dried, and scantiness has become absolute want. The voice of complaint is every where heard. The sufferings of the people, must, and will produce a spasm in the body politic, serious and awful to the authors of these evils.—At such a time as this, “every offence should bear its comment,” and folly, virulence, and falsehood, which in prosperous days, might pass with only a sneer, should now be noted with indignation; and wherever found, be pointed at with scorn and derision. It is, and long has been the curse of this country, that we have been taught our rudiments of government from imported patriots, and taken the dregs of Europe for our Masters and Teachers. This country should be an asylum for all nations; but no foreigner should ever have a voice in our Councils.—There are many good men who have come from foreign countries to this, but these men are still, and quietly enjoy the protection of our laws, while a thousand vipers swarm around us, and the moment they are revived by the generous warmth of our breast, sting us to the very soul.

We cannot leave this Rev. Gentleman, without expressing our abhorrence of the following sentiment from his Sermons:—

“Let us wait awhile, and we may live to see the time, wherein it shall not be said by the voice of faith, but by the voice of sense itself, Babylon, (England,) the great is fallen, is fallen!”

This is the most diabolical wish that ever rankled in the heart, or was ever breathed from the lips of a human being. But coming from a minister of the Gospel, in a civilized country, in these New-England States; preached in a place hallowed for religious purposes,—it wears the marks of the beast about it.—Surely the spirit of Napoleon is here; no fiend less than he could have inspired such a thought.

We will now take leave of the Rev. John Giles, and assure him that we should not have noticed these illiterate labours, if such works had not been rare, among our Clergy. The thistle, in Paradise,—if such noxious plants ever grew there, was more noticed—(for the purpose of being avoided,)—than any flower of the valley, or cedar of the hills.

This pleasure we have felt, constantly, near our hearts, in the darkest hour of our political despondency, that men of intellectual wealth, of probity, and principle, in our country were found mostly in the ranks of Federalism. The pulpits (with a few wretched exceptions) have been kept from the tainted air of democracy. The preachers of the everlasting Gospel have seldom failed to oppose the torrent of corruption.

If Federalism be extinguished, the Priest will perish at the Altar, and the Altar be razed to the ground; and the sad fate which the enemies of England wish for her, will be realized in the history of our downfall.—Suffer it not, O God! Stretch thy protecting arm to save us.

Mr. Editor,

For the general conviction of the public respecting the literary character of the Rev. John Giles, I send you a few extracts from the writings of the notorious Thomas Paine, with correspondent ones from the Reverend Divine above mentioned which, to say nothing more, have the appearance of being copied verbatim from Mr. Paine, and palmed upon the world as original.


GILES—published in 1812.

And here we observe that society in every state is a blessing; but government in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one. For when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence. The palaces of Kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of Paradise.”
Discourse 1st, p. 4.

PAINE—published in 1776.

“Society in every state is a blessing; but Government even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one. For when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government like dress is the badge of lost innocence. The palaces of Kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of Paradise.”

Common Sense, p. 1.


“It is a system of mental leveling; It indiscriminately admits every species of character to the same authority. Vice and virtue, ignorance and wisdom, in short every quality good or bad is put on the same level. Kings succeed each other not as rationals; it signifies not what their mental or moral characters are. Such a government appears under all the various characters of childhood, decrepitude and dotage; a thing at nurse, in leading strings or in crutches. It reverses the wholesome order of nature, it occasionally puts children over men, and maniacs to rule the wise.—It requires some talents to be a common mechanic, but to be a king requires only the animal figure of a man, a sort of breathing automation.”
Discourse 1st, p. 5.

“It is a system of mental leveling; it indiscriminately admits every species of character to the same authority. Vice and virtue, ignorance and wisdom, in short every quality good or bad is put on the same level. Kings succeed each other not as rationals but as animals. It signifies not what their mental or moral characters are.”
Rights of Man, 2d part, p. 14, published 1792.
It appears under all the various characters of childhood, decrepitude, dotage; a thing at nurse, in leading strings or in crutches. It reverses the wholesome order of nature. It occasionally puts children over men and the conceits of nonage over wisdom and experience.”
p. 15
“It requires some talents to be a common mechanic, but to be a king requires only the animal figure of a man, sort of breathing automaton.” p. 16.


But I must observe that I am not the personal enemy of kings. No man more heartily wishes than myself to see them all in the happy and honourable state of private individuals. But I am the avowed and open enemy of what is called monarchy, and I am such by principles, which nothing can either alter or corrupt—that is by my attachment to humanity—by the anxiety which I feel within myself for the ease and honour of the human race, by the disgust which I experienced when I observed men directed by children, and governed by brutes—by the horrours, which all the evils that monarchy has spread over the earth excite within my breast—and by those sentiments, which make me shudder at the calamities, the exactions, the wars, and the massacres with which monarchy has crushed mankind.”
p. 5.

“I must also add that that I am not the personal enemy of Kings. Quite the contrary. No man more heartily wishes than myself to see them all in the happy and honorable state of private individuals. But I am the avowed, open and intrepid enemy of what is called monarchy; and I am such, by principles which nothing can either alter or corrupt—by my attachment to humanity—by the anxiety, which I feel within myself, for the dignity and honor of the human race—by the disgust which I experience, when I observed men, directed by children, and governed by brutes—by the horror, which all the evils that monarchy has spread over the earth, excite within my breast—and by those sentiments, which make me shudder at the calamities, the exactions, the wars, and the massacres with which monarchy has crushed mankind.”
Paine’s Letter to Abbe Seyeys, 1791.


“Let us enlarge a little on this sentiment. All religions are in their nature mild and benign, and united with principles of morality. They could not have proselytes at first, by professing any thing which was vicious and persecuting or immoral. How is it then that they lose their native mildness and become morose and intolerant? It proceeds from an alliance between church and state. The inquisition in Spain and Portugal does not proceed from the religion originally professed, but from this mule animal [as one calls it] engendered between church and state. The burnings in Smithfield proceeded from the same heterogenous production; and it was the regeneration of this strange animal afterwards [in the Nation now called the Bulwark of our Religion] which revived rancor and irreligion among the inhabitants there, and which drove the people called dissenters and quakers to this country. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is the strongly marked picture of all law religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity: Here in America, a catholic priest is a good citizen, a good character, and a good neighbor; the same may be said of ministers of other denominations, and this proceeds, independent of men, from there being no law-establishment in America.”
Discourse 1st, p. 8.

“Let us bestow a few thoughts on this subject. All religions are in their nature mild and benign, and united with principles of morality. They could not have made proselites at first by professing any thing that was vicious and persecuting, or immoral. How then, is it that they lose their native mildness, and become morose and intolerant? It proceeds from the connexion which Mr. Burke recommends. The inquisition in Spain does not proceed from the religion originally professed, but from this mule animal engendered between the church and state. The burnings in Smithfield, proceeded from the same heterogeneous production; and it was the regeneration of this strange animal in England afterwards, that renewed rancor and irreligion among the inhabitants and which drove the people called quakers and dissenters to America. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity. In America, a catholic priest is a good citizen, a good character, and a good neighbor; an Episcopalian is of the same description and this proceeds, independent of men, from there being no law-establishment in America”—Paine’s Rights of Man, 1st part, p. 60.


“Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration but is the counterfeit of it; both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience and the other of granting it. The one is the Pope armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the Pope selling or granting indulgencies. The former is church and state, the latter is church and traffic.” p. 7.
“Never had a country so many openings to happiness as this; her setting out into life, like the rising of a fair morning, was unclouded and promising; her cause was good: her principles just and liberal; her conduct regulated by the nicest steps, and every thing about her wore the mark of honor.” p. 8.

“Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience and the other of granting it. The one is the Pope, armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the Pope, selling or granting indulgencies. The former is church and state, and the latter is church and traffic. 1st part, p. 58.
“Never I say had a country so many openings to happiness as this; her setting out in life, like the rising of a fair morning, was unclouded and promising; her cause was good; her principles just and liberal; her temper serene and firm; her conduct regulated by the nicest steps, and everything about her wore the mark of honor.”
Paine’s Crisis, No. 13, p. 18.


These are some of the sentences, which Mr. Giles has pillaged from the writings of a man, deservedly consigned to infamy, and incorporated with his discourse, without even the form of an acknowledgment. He was probably not insensible to the disgrace of being so richly indebted to a man, whose works, he had termed “frantic ravings against the Christian Religion;” although he atoned for his severity by pronouncing these works innocent, compared with the writings of his Federal brethren in the Gospel.



1 We observed in reading this work that almost every page is disgraced by plagiarisms.—Very copious extracts are made from the books of Tom Paine, without any acknowledgment—probably a slight sense of shame is still left.—The hearers of this minister are highly favored Christians! Who have all the benefit of the Age of Reason, Rights of Man, and other works of this infidel Paine, from the pulpit..

Sermon – Property Tax – 1816

This sermon was preached by George Glover in 1816.












There is no feature of a Free Government more strikingly valuable and important, both to those who govern, and to those who are governed, than that it not only allows, but encourages, in every individual, however humble, the liberty of discussing its measures, and publicly declaring his opinion upon the character and tendency of the laws it promulgates, and the line of policy it pursues, provided he exercise this privilege in a way free from factious and seditious objects. It is under this impression, and with a clear conviction of the purity and innocence of my motives, that I now presume to avail myself of the birth-right of an Englishman, and to state my sentiments upon a measure of domestic policy, in which I conceive both the future liberty and prosperity of my country deeply involved. I allude to the establishment of a Property Tax as a permanent system of taxation.

But before I enter directly into the line or argument I purpose to pursue, let me be distinctly understood as viewing this question perfectly apart from the justice or injustice, the policy or impolicy, of those public measures which have swelled to so enormous an amount the national expenditure, and ended in the accumulation of an unparalleled load of public debt. No opinions on the past need at all influence in this point any man’s opinions of the future, and he who has most zealously supported every part of our persevering contest with its public enemies abroad, may yet join with perfect consistency in an endeavour to save that country which he loves, from measures hostile to its freedom and prosperity at home. Nay, he can have no claims to unsullied loyalty, and genuine patriotism, if he refuse to do so. All men, of every party, equally admit the difficulties in which we are involved to be great and palpable; that the debt which has been contracted must be paid, that the faith, the land, and the industry of the country are all pledged for its redemption; and the only subject of enquiry now is, whether these difficulties may not yet be met without violating the Constitution itself; whether, notwithstanding the dreadful impression made upon its outworks, the citadel itself may not yet be saved from ruin.

Again, if it on one hand be demanded that extraordinary emergencies may arise, which may fully justify a Government in deviating from the ordinary course of legislation; in which speculations in political science must be tried, like speculations in trade and commerce, and in which, as in flights of poetic fancy, “something must be ventured, or nothing can be won,” we may readily concede it. And we may likewise concede further, that on the part of the subject also, it may in every such crisis be perfectly consistent with the greatest love of freedom, and the purest patriotism, willingly to sacrifice a large portion of his rights, his liberties, or his property, as the price of securing the remainder. But then on the other hand, it must equally be conceded, that all such occasions are strictly limited to the duration of the circumstances from which they arise, and that the expediency of all measures emanating from them entirely ceases with the danger they were intended to meet and to repel. If in times of great public calamity and alarm, when the very existence of the state was endangered, Rome wisely had recourse to a dictator, and more than once owed her safety or her victories to a measure which necessity dictated, we never can forget also that not only were all the benefits, which heretofore resulted from such a measure, lost and forfeited, but exchanged for the heaviest calamities and oppressions, from the very moment that the delegation of this high and despotic authority ceased to be carefully measured in continuance by the same necessity that prescribed it. If the temporary power of Cincinnatus ensured the safety and added to the glories of his country, the perpetual exercise of the same authority by Sylla and by Caesar, mark the very period of the commencement of the decline and fall of the greatest empire of the ancient world.

It is unfortunately the natural inclination of all power and authority, however acquired, to endeavour to perpetuate themselves. Their universal maxims are to advance whenever they can, to recede only when the post can no longer be maintained; to consider even a momentary acquiescence as a tacit admission of their claim, and the uninterrupted possession of a somewhat longer period, as directly confirming their title, and sanctioning even the principle itself upon which they are established. To this invariable propensity it is owing that the wisest and purest institutions become gradually corrupted and undermined, and abuses, like evil habits, gathering strength by connivance, or fattened by indulgence, grow till they either entirely destroy the fabric, or render some desperate measures needful to correct and restore them to their original character and use. It is in this sense that states and empires have been justly compared to bodies, as equally distinguished by youth, by manhood, and by old age. It is on this ground that in politics, as well as in morals, the ancient axiom of “Principiis obsta” is for ever applicable and useful; an axiom peculiarly recognized in the British Constitution, and upon the strict observance of which its very existence must depend. To check innovation by a mutual watchfulness over the proceedings of each other, and to sound the alarm on every attempt at encroachment upon each other’s hallowed ground, and thus to preserve unimpaired that nice balance of power which forms the very essence of the Constitution itself, is the express scope and object for which the several estates of the realm are invested with the trusts and privileges they hold.

Whichever therefore, whether it be King, or Lords, or Commons, either remits or relaxes this vigilance, that branch of the Constitution not only forfeits and abandons its own rights and privileges, but betrays the sacred duty it is pledged to perform, and is guilty of a direct injury against the community at large. There is this further reason also for guarding against political innovations, particularly such as I now allude to, that they commonly produce many effects besides those that are directly seen or intended by them. Paley 1 has justly observed, that “the direct consequence is often the least important; that it is from the silent and unobserved operation, from the obscure progress of causes set at work for different purposes, that the greatest revolutions take their rise;” and has illustrated by several striking instances, drawn from our own history, the truth of his remark. De Lolme 2 has also, with no less accuracy, told us, that “governments are often found to have adopted unawares measures entirely calculated to change the very character of their constitution, and to go on without perceiving their error till it be too late to correct it.”

That the measure to which I mean these prefatory observations to apply, is of that insidious tendency above described, is, alas! too obvious, from the present attempt to impose it on us as a permanent burthen, when compared with the arguments and professions held out at its original enactment; and that it partakes also very strongly of the nature of those measures alluded to by Paley and De Lolme will, I fear, be likewise too clearly proved when we come to consider it in that point of view.

But let me previously crave the indulgence of a few words only on its rise and origin. The circumstances attending it are indeed too notorious to need much illustration, but yet it seems necessary just to advert to them in order to clear and make good my way as I go on, and to establish the point of its being not only a novel and extraordinary system of finance, but to have arisen from a very extraordinary crisis of public affairs; to have been originally proposed as a temporary measure of unqualified necessity, and on these grounds alone submitted to by the country. We all remember how the ministry of that day, as well as a great majority of Parliament, impressed with the most violent apprehensions of the spread of that revolutionary frenzy which had deluged France with the blood of her subjects, which had led her monarch to the block, and overturned or profaned her altars, had judged that the only means of safety and honour to this country was to be found in an appeal to arms. Even those who had hailed the first heavings of this great volcano as symptoms of regenerating health, and greeted them as the struggles of an oppressed people in the sacred cause of freedom and of independence, as the auspicious pangs of liberty just dawning upon a land of darkness, spiritual as well as civil, now terrified at the magnitude of the explosion, joined in the general forebodings of an universal wreck and desolation, unless every effort was exerted to ward off the impending storm, and the sword and the purse, and the pulpit and the press, were all summoned to answer what was termed the calls of religious and social order. A small but resolute phalanx did indeed still remain unawed by the fears which staggered others, and widely differing as to the best means of stilling the impetuous impulse; who still clung to pacific measures, still viewed the thunder that rolled and the lightning that flashed around us as the natural attendants of a hurricane which might yet settle into a tranquil calm, and perhaps even purify and improve the atmosphere in which it had spent its rage; who still thought that other nations should be left to their own discretion as to what form of government they might judge it expedient to adopt, and that policy, no less than justice, demanded from us to forbear interfering with the internal affairs of France. But the warnings and admonitions of these men were unheeded in the general panic, or unheard in the general outcry; and the war-whoop of government was re-echoed from an immense majority. An immediate and determined course of hostilities was agreed on; the ocean was soon covered with our fleets and transports, and our blood and our treasures were equally lavished with unsparing energy. The powers of the continent were pressed into the hallowed cause, and entreated to accept the aid and subsidies of Britain in defraying the expenses of the contest. Coalitions were formed and crumbled away, fresh ones again tried and proved faithless to their object, and our bleeding country still persevered undaunted or uninstructed by the lessons she received.

The enemy, instead of being prostrate at our feet, as had been so confidently anticipated, seemed only to gather fresh vigour from every attack, to imbibe fresh means of resistance from every blow, and to acquire union and consistency, and strength and wisdom, from the very means of experience we afforded her. She even threatened in her turn to become the invader. “Delenda est Carthago,” was her motto. The sacking of London was held out as the recompense of their toils and dangers to her exasperated soldiery, and her chieftains threatened that the waters of the Thames should be reddened with British blood. It was at such a crisis, after six years of unparalleled exhaustion of blood and treasure, when voluntary contributions had been dried up; when the old taxes on luxury and consumption had been doubled and trebled in vain; when new ones had been imposed and proved ineffectual; when the monied interest had been drained of its funds, and loans were hardly made, even at the most exorbitant rate of interest; it was at such a crisis, I say, that the measure of the Income Tax was pressed upon the adoption of the British Parliament, and submitted to by the British people.

In the discussions which took place concerning it, it was never attempted to be argued but upon the ground of extreme necessity alone, nor do I believe that either Pitt himself, to the latest moment of his life, or those who acted with him, ever entertained a thought of saddling such a burthen as a permanent load upon the country, nor that even in the zenith of his popularity, he would have ventured to propose it. When the Lord Chancellor supported it in the House of Lords, he was glad, in the scantiness of better matter, to avail himself of this anecdote, as the best illustration of his subject. “A noble person, a friend of mine,” said his lordship, “had a conversation with a tradesman on the subject of this bill, who said his income might amount to about L300 a year, and declared that he thought it hard to pay L30 out of it for this tax. The tradesman, however, was a barber, and on a little reflection said, ‘But perhaps if I did not pay the L30, so many of my customers would not long have their heads upon their shoulders to be dressed and shaved.’ And this,” added his lordship, “is the true and proper defence of a bill like this.” And further also, when Lord Sidmouth, at the head of an administration composed of those very men, who are now endeavouring to perpetuate this despotic and intolerable measure, brought down to Parliament the treaty of the peace of Amiens, he embraced also the same opportunity of instantly moving the repeal of the Income Tax, and emphatically declared that he wished to record his sentiments upon it, “that he had ever viewed it as a measure which extreme necessity alone could justify, and as totally inapplicable to a state of peace.” Surely, then, a measure thus introduced, thus supported by its ablest advocates, and thus described by ministers themselves, bore in its very character, independent of the terms of the act itself, the pledge of its being discontinued the very moment the crisis passed away which had called for its enactment, and surely the people who have so long patiently submitted to its operation under such circumstances, have now an unquestionable right to look for its repeal.

If any man be disposed to think such arguments of but little weight, and the principle for which I am contending of but little value, I would beg him to reflect only upon the paramount consequences they involve, and to examine with me, by a short reference to the history of taxation in this country, how they were estimated by our ancestors, how firmly, how constantly, how successfully, (except in one solitary instance, which I shall shortly notice, viz. land-tax,) they were acted on by those illustrious men to whom we owe every political blessing and pre-eminence we enjoy; to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, which can only be discharged by faithfully transmitting to posterity, unsullied and unimpaired, the legacy they bequeathed to us.

The revenue of the crown is divided into two great branches, namely, the ordinary and extraordinary. By the former is meant the real actual property of which it is possessed, and a few sources of income which do not come under the denomination of contributions levied on the people. These were in the early periods of our history so large as almost, if not entirely, to meet the ordinary expenses of the state, and might, by the laws of forfeiture and escheat, have been augmented to an extent truly formidable. But, fortunately for the liberty of the subject, this hereditary landed revenue has been, by the extravagance or neglect of the crown itself, dilapidated and sunk almost to nothing, and the casual profits, arising from the other branches of the census regalis, have been almost all of them alienated likewise. These deficiencies as they gradually occurred, were necessarily to be supplied by those who had succeeded to these new sources of wealth, or by those who, being protected by the government and constitution, were bound both by duty and interest to contribute to its support and maintenance. The first contributions demanded and paid were those of personal military service at their proper charge, and sometimes small temporary aids of money or merchandize, for the equipment of ships, or defraying the extraordinary expenses attendant on particular expeditious.—Henry the Second availed himself of the fashionable zeal of the times for crusades, to induce the people to submit to a new species of taxation, denominated Tenths and Fifteenths, but these were never levied except for extraordinary emergencies, and though the basis of a regular assessment was afterwards laid in the eighth year of Edward III. yet it still both originated from a war, till that period, unmatched either in exertions or expence, and, what is more to our present purpose, was never acted on but in times of necessary and absolute emergence. In short, in whatever shape, or under whatever denomination, whether of tenths, scutages [Medieval tax paid to avoid military service], talliages [Medieval tax paid by peasants to the manor lord], or subsidies, supplies were levied on the people, this principle was up to the period of the Revolution never violated, that a tax imposed upon an emergency ceased with it; it was never suffered to become a permanent engine of supply, and Blackstone is in this important point inaccurate when he asserts that those ancient levies were in the nature of a modern land-tax. Rude as we are apt to consider the notions of political economy in those times, and limited as were the advances of civil liberty, yet our fathers were not so rude, and, fortunately for us, neither so profligate nor abject as to go the strongest constitutional check a subject can possess against the encroachments of despotic power. And it is obvious to remark, that whilst to their determined courage and perseverance in maintaining it, we owe all the freedom and political advantages we enjoy, to a deviation from it, in later times, we owe the numerous evils and corruptions with which we are now weighed down, the purity of our Constitution sullied, and its beauty tarnished and impaired.

The period of the Revolution is often looked back to as an era glorious to the cause of freedom civil and religious, as an immortal triumph of rational liberty over oppression and arbitrary power. In very many instances it really was so. But human blessings seldom come unalloyed; and if it was distinguished by acts calculated to promote the happiness, and exalt the dignity of our nature, it was instantly followed by acts as unfriendly to them both, and as directly subversive of the character of the Constitution it had contributed to form. Amidst the violent collision of parties alternately in power, and each consenting to purchase that power by a servile compliance with the unconstitutional demands of the crown; amidst the shameless scenes of bribery and corruption, and consequent prostitution of public principle which pervaded the national Councils and polluted the morals of the whole kingdom, aided by the opportunities for giving them full exercise, which arose from the unsettled state of the times, and the obstinate wars which were waged in order to support the change that had been effected, and in which the people were assured, not only that every right and privilege they had just established, but also the very lives and fortunes of all who had shared in contending for them were at stake: in short, in times not very dissimilar in some points to those we have lately witnessed, was laid the ground work of almost all those great political errors which have since been committed and pursued amongst us. It was then that the first sanction was given to a standing army; it was then began the prevalence of those foreign connections which involve us in every quarrel of every Power of Europe; it was then sprung up the pernicious practice of borrowing upon remote funds, and leaving to posterity to pay the amount of our extravagance and folly: it was then was laid the foundation of our national debt, and, to crown all, it was then that first appeared that great prototype of the odious measure we are now discussing, the establishment of an Income Tax a measure from which the struggle of 120 years has not been able to redeem us. For though the tax on personal property, on trade, and on individuals was soon found too oppressive to be borne, yet the Lane Tax, which formed a part of it, was not only most unjustly and inequitably continued, but established as a perpetual charge, its produce mortgaged as a freehold estate vested in the crown for ever, and like a freehold we have seen it held up to sale, and become a fit object of purchase to whoever maybe inclined to buy it.

With such a precedent as this before him, standing like the warning beacon on the hill, and distinctly pointing out the shoals and eddies with which it is surrounded, that man must be infatuated indeed who will not use his utmost effort to avoid them. For such in all human probability is the destined progress of the present Income Tax, if allowed to proceed one step further than the point at which it has now arrived. 3 As a war tax its duration is now expired. As a part of a system for the peace establishment, it assumes a character new and formidable in the extreme, and I trust no man can be so blind as not to be sensible, that, in submitting to it longer, he is not only giving up for ever for himself, his heirs, and successors, under every possible situation of public affairs, 1/10th or 1/5th, or whatever may be the ratio at which it is now proposed to continue it, but that he is giving his sanction to the principle itself upon which this tax is founded; namely, that the Government of this country is entitled to demand a certain part, absolutely unlimited, of the income of every individual, and is also entitled to enforce that compulsive requisition by the strictest and harshest regulations; a principle fitted perhaps for the meridian of Constantinople, but surely unfitted for the tempered atmosphere of Britain.

I have thus far argued the question upon the general abstract principles of legislation, and confined myself to simply illustrating those principles by a few opposite examples, drawn from our own or other countries. Let us now proceed to a more distinct and minute examination of this financial monster, and see whether there be not enough even in its peculiar features and character to induce us to reject it with abhorrence and disdain.

All taxes which can be imposed in a country like this, without tending to destroy the character of the Constitution under which we live, must necessarily have these three essential properties:–

1. They must not infringe that nice balance between the revenue of the state, and the wealth of the individuals who compose it, without which neither national liberty nor prosperity can exist.

2. They must not tend to obstruct that salutary control over the raising or the expenditure of the public money which belongs to the Legislative, over the Executive, Branches of the State.

3. They must, in common justice, bear, as far as possible, with an equal and impartial weight upon the various classes of the community. By these plain rules, of which the most zealous supporters of administration can neither question the propriety nor the truth, let us try the tax in question.

First—As it affects the balance between the revenue of the state, and the individuals who compose it.

Montesquieu lays it down as an established maxim, that “the public revenues are not to be measured by what the people are able, but by what they ought to pay;” 4 and the reason is plain and obvious. Because, unless the demands of the state have some definite limit or control, they may proceed to swallow up the whole wealth and property of the country. The revenue may thus fatten upon the poverty of those who supply it; and the state may outwardly make a brilliant and imposing figure, while it is inwardly groaning under the pressure of the heaviest misery and want: and we accordingly find this to be more or less the case in every despotic state, in which the principle I have mentioned is usually but little regarded.—Whether our own country has not of late years been fast approximating to such a situation, may perhaps be questioned or denied; but it must at all events be admitted, that no measure, which human ingenuity could devise, can be more calculated to produce such an effect, than that which we are now discussing. So long as our taxes were imposed on articles of luxury or consumption, they found their natural limit, and their progressive or diminished amount could always supply to the government that invaluable criterion of the country’s ability or wealth, without which every speculation in finance becomes vain and arbitrary, and even the most able and patriotic minister can no more justly regulate his expenditure by his means, than the mariner can steer his prescribed course through the trackless ocean, without either compass or star to guide him.

Whilst, therefore, on one hand, a timid and cautious administration might be led by an ignorant and groundless apprehension of the magnitude of our resources, to compromise the national interests or honor, a lavish and ambitious government might be led, with equal ignorance of what they were about, to plunge headlong into the wildest and most extravagant schemes, and to persevere till they ended in irremediable ruin. For there is in fact no other safe rule whatsoever, of what a people ought to pay, and consequently of what a free government has a right to expect or to demand, than what it is willing to pay. The general habits of a whole country are never so marked by parsimony and self-denial as not fairly and fully to spend as much as their means and situations of life will justify; the danger is, lest they should run into the contrary extreme. And though, perhaps, a few individuals should be found whose love of accumulating wealth was carried to an improper length, and whose circumscribed way of life led them to avoid many contributions in which they might justly be expected to share; yet these solitary instances can never affect a great general rule, and still less when we observe these niggard propensities hardly ever to extend beyond a single generation, and that accumulation itself always eventually turns out to the direct advantage of the state. The above mentioned great authority has therefore, with his accustomed penetration and truth, observed, that “if some subjects do not pay enough, the mischief is not great, but if any individual whatsoever pay too much, his ruin must redound to the public detriment.” Whenever, then, a country finds the ordinary course of indirect taxation ineffectual, and is driven to the extremity of a tax on Property and Income, it may rest assured it is passing the limit of regular supply; that it is deducting the full amount of whatever is raised in that way, from the actual wealth and capital of its subjects; that it is withdrawing just so much from the useful and profitable employment of agriculture, trade, or commerce; that it is cutting up by the roots the very means and sources of future prosperity, both public and private, and, like the man in the fable, killing the goose to arrive at the golden egg.

Let any man but apply the same process to the management of his affairs in domestic life, and the consequence is too direct and inevitable to require even to be stated. Remember that nations are but private families on an extended scale. If even as a temporary measure then such be its operation and effect, how can it ever be suited to become any part of a permanent system?

And whilst considering it in this point of view, reflect upon the complete extinguisher it applies to every spark of patriotism and of public spirit. Is it possible that the subjects of any government can feel a proper degree of attachment to it, or support with any feelings of national interest the measures of policy it pursues, when they find not only that portion of income exacted from them which they can really and prudently afford to pay or to expend, but their very capital itself systematically encroached upon, without any regard whatever paid either to the exigencies of their situation, their family, or their means? Must they not necessarily have constantly before their eyes both national and individual bankruptcy, and who can then wish to support the national honor, or even to defend a country when it has been bereft of everything in it worth defending? No—the natural progress of human feeling will be this: industry, no more encouraged and rewarded, will sink into apathy and disgust; indolence and indifference will usurp their place, and the only resources left will be despair and exile, or perhaps a burst of manly indignation, or a paroxysm of revolutionary frenzy.

If this picture be suspected of being overcharged, show me but in what point my premises are wrong and I will readily acknowledge the error of my conclusions. Let me not, however, be told, as the country often has been, that the Income Tax has gone on for years gradually increasing wealth and property of the country. Let me not be told that numbers of individuals may be found whose capital has gone on increasing under its operation, and that this also is a proof that it is not incompatible with private prosperity any more than with public welfare. Alas! the former of these effects may unhappily be traced to a very different source and origin; to the augmented energies of tax gatherers and inspectors, excited like officers of police by extravagant premiums allowed them upon the detection of frauds, to a more exact and rigorous assessment, to the exemptions originally conceded being gradually withdrawn, to the deductions at first allowed being narrowed or excluded, and, above all, to the rapid and accelerated depreciation of the circulating medium. Whoever will but minutely examine these several heads, will not only find a direct and easy clue to the solution of such a financial problem, but he will arrive, as I have done, at a directly opposite conclusion: he will find from these operative causes, when combined together, an aggregate infinitely greater than will be met by the increased produce of the tax in question, and instead of being led away by an argument so specious and so plausible, he will find himself irresistibly compelled to admit that the progress of compulsive taxation can never be established as a safe criterion of the progress of public wealth, and that in the point in question it is directly the reverse. He will find a balance which nothing but the diminished wealth and prosperity of the country can be made to account for. Until this position therefore be controverted, it is almost needless to go into any refutal of the other; it is nonsense to talk of public prosperity which is purchased at the price of private misery and oppression. Nor can the instance of a few individuals, who have even grown rich under its operation, be ever correctly pleaded against the sweeping general effect unquestionably produced by it; an effect, the force of which has never until now been left to its natural impulse, but has been fenced off by the increasing and exorbitant price of corn and provisions, which has enabled both the land owner and occupier to struggle with its burthens, and by a thousand other causes connected with a state of war, which will suggest themselves without enumeration. But these stimulants act but for a season, and any permanent system, attempted to be bolstered up by such expedients, carries with it the seeds of speedy dissolution.

But there is another point connected with its influence on capital, which seems entirely to have escaped those who can rest satisfied with arguments such as I have been just now combating. They forget that exactly as an estate loaded with a private mortgage is diminished in value to the proprietor by the full amount of the encumbrance, just so does every shilling added to the public debt lessen the capital pledged for its redemption, and every direct tax levied to defray the interest, or raised to discharge the principal, constitute an outgoing, detracting in its full proportion from the worth of every acre of land in the country; and if any one should require to have this fact still more fully illustrated, let him but ask himself whether a property, producing a clear rental of one thousand pounds a year be not of more actual value than one subject to a deduction of one hundred.

2. We will not proceed to examine it as affecting that control over the levying and expenditure of the public money, which is so wisely entrusted to the legislative, over the executive, branches of the state.

When the historian of the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is enumerating the measures adopted by Augustus, to destroy the liberties of his country, he reckons these as the most prominent and effectual: “The establishment of the customs was followed by the establishment of an excise, and the artful scheme of taxation was completed by an assessment upon the real and personal property of every individual.” Alas! how little did Gibbon think, at the time he penned this sentence, that not thirty years would have revolved before his own native country would furnish an exact parallel, as to its finances, of the melancholy picture which he drew. It is from the warnings of history that the statesman should imbibe instruction; for he is there neither exposed to the bias of prejudice, nor left to the perilous hazard of probabilities and conjecture; he has before him the sure test of experience for his guidance, and as Lucian beautifully observes, is “οντι ώδε η τωδε δοξει λογιζομενος, αλλα τι πεπρακται λεγων.” De Hist. Scribend. To the strength and power of this political engine, in extorting money from the people, which can be extorted in no other way, we are undoubtedly to attribute the fondness with which it is adhered to as a measure of finance; added to the clear prospect it affords to any government, if once firmly established, of setting at defiance all defalcations of revenue which might arise from the extraordinary pressure of other taxes, or from the unpopularity of its own conduct. Nay, give but to an unprincipled and profligate administration, such an instrument as this, and it never can want the means of securing a majority to uphold its measures; and let us but remember the high authority which has told us, “whenever that day shall arrive, that the legislative branches of the state shall be more corrupt than the executive, the death warrant of the British constitution will be signed and sealed for ever.” Again, the facility which it affords, by its unlimited character, of raising the most exorbitant supplies, will for ever operate as a direct incentive to extravagance at home, and a temptation to wars and all their attendant train of evils abroad. The best security of peace has ever been found to consist in the difficulty of supporting war. The friend of humanity and religion surely then will pause before he gives his sanction to such a source of bloodshed and of crimes, to the establishment of a system which no good government should ever wish for, and with which no bad one should ever e entrusted.

Let me but again and again implore the attention of my country to the few topics I have suggested on this head. They are pregnant with matter and reflections, upon which I could write whole volumes.

3. The third criterion by which I proposed to try how far the Income Tax was consistent with the character of our constitution, was its pretensions to equality and justice.

That every individual, possessed of an income beyond a very limited amount, should indiscriminately contribute to the state the same percentage upon the income he so enjoys, may appear, at first sight, a fair and equitable allotment of the public burthen. But this illusion soon vanishes, and fresh proofs of inequality and oppression strike us in every possible view in which it can be contemplated. In the first place, the difference between a real and personal estate, between the positive value of one hundred pounds a-year arising from land, and the same sum derived from the interest of a mortgage, or the funds, is too palpable to be disputed. In most instances, the one is nearly double, and in many treble the value of the other. Now as a tax can only be considered as a price paid for the protection and security enjoyed, it is clear that any equitable principle would demand, that the amount of the insurance, if I may so term it, should be proportioned to the amount of the property insured.—The Income Tax, however, not only acknowledges no such distinction, in the instance now before us, but it is perfectly notorious, that whilst the tax upon personal property is rigorously and exactly levied, the assessment on real property is, in nine instances out of ten, very considerably below the actual income derived from it. On the other hand, in cases where no evasion is practiced by the landowner, the pressure falls upon him with an excessive and disproportioned weight. It is true that as landlord, he is demanded to pay but his ten per cent; but it is perfectly clear, that whatever is levied upon his tenant, must be ultimately borne by him; and that in every contract made for his land, the amount of Income tax will, and must, form as necessary and regular an item in calculating the amount of outgoings, as compared with the amount of produce, as either his rent, his poor’s rate, or his tithes; and thus the nominal assessment of ten per cent is in fact seventeen and a half. And to this again may fairly be added also, the amount he pays for land tax, where it has not been redeemed, (and in that case his exemption has been dearly purchased) for the land tax I have already shown to be neither more nor less than the remnant of an old income tax, established soon after the revolution, and which is the only part that most inequitably has not been repealed; thus making aggregate of thirty-seven and a half direct taxation.

Again also, with respect to land, how does this apply to those who occupy their own? They are subjected to its operation in the double capacity of landlord and of tenant; and in any depression of agriculture, are called on to pay a tax upon that occupation, which is not only productive of no profit or income whatsoever, but of direct loss. This melancholy fact needs no illustration from supposed circumstances, nor any ingenuity of argument to support it. A simple appeal to the present situation of things in this country, will speak with more energy than any powers of language—A situation which has driven even ministers themselves, either impressed with the manifest hardships and oppression of such a demand, or with the total impracticability of enforcing it, to burst through one of the strongest barriers of the constitution, and without any sanction of an assembled Parliament, to remit a portion of its claims. Will any man then pretend to imagine, that a system of taxation, liable to such circumstances, and to such fluctuations, can be a fit permanent system of supply, in a free country, and under a government which is intended to afford an equal and effectual protection to all those who live under it?

But if these instances of inequality be sufficient to render it objectionable, what shall we say of its boasted impartiality and equity when applied to the poor annuitant, whose income, already burthened by a variety of other taxes, is again rigorously and sternly decimated by its operation, by an assessment which acknowledges no distinction between a precarious supply, constituting in thousands of cases, all the present means of subsistence for a numerous family, and the savings from which are the only hope to which they cling for a provision in the future? Could those who enacted, and still more those who are yet inclined to support such a measure of taxation, but place themselves in the situation of the humble individual who is now penning these remarks, they could not fail to be actuated by his feelings.—Every notion of party spirit, every distinctive sensation of Whig and Tory, as well as all those false ideas of national splendor by which mankind are so apt to be dazzled and led away, would be at once absorbed in the more tender, and I will add, more amiable sensations of a husband’s or a father’s duty. They would feel that the private scenes of life demand attention as well as the public; and that it is too much to require from human nature, to witness calmly the wide waste of a lavish expenditure, in maintaining standing armies abroad, in providing sinecures or in building palaces at home, and to feel at the same time the total inability of either supporting the charities demanded from one’s situation, or laying up a single sixpence for future exigencies, or even of fighting against the imperious demands of the present moment; and still more to submit with silent resignation to have such a scheme of finance established as a perpetual burthen; and to be told at the same time; that it is pursued because it is fair in principle and equitable in operation and effect.

Again, the varied situations and professions of life render the unavoidable expenses attending them equally varied; and whilst one man may be enabled to fulfill the duties, and support the decencies of his station, upon 500l a year, another is necessarily exposed to the demands of at least 1000l. No direct tax whatsoever can meet these varied exigencies, and much less the tax in question, which passes over the whole, and leaves them unnoticed or unknown; which sweeps, with indiscriminating severity, its equal demands from all, and contemplates a numerous family, or an expensive profession, as not less subject to its claims than the unexpensive bachelor or the retired maiden. I am not begging for charity; I am not urging my own case, as one of peculiar hardship, but I feel it necessary to give it in defence of the argument I maintain. I have a wife and seven children looking up to me for protection and support: my means of affording these are chiefly derived from the tithes of not an extensive parish; the income tax upon those tithes has been exacted and paid, and yet one half of the income at which they are so assessed neither has yet been discharged, nor is likely to be soon, if ever recovered; some of it unquestionably lost. Thus much for its mild and equitable operation, as applied to annuitants and life interests.

When I go on to consider the income tax as applied to trade, I am totally at a loss which I should most wonder at, the boldness of him who proposed it, or the patience of those who have so long submitted to this oppressive burden. Credit and mutual confidence are the great bases of commercial intercourse. Secrecy both as to gains and losses, is always deemed not less essential to its prosperity. But with unceremonious intrusion, the income tax violates and invades every one of these stamina, and while it tempts on one hand the ruined bankrupt to make a show of profits and of income which he does not possess, and affords him a friendly screen for his frauds and his imposture, it pries with inquisitorial eye into the concerns of the honest and substantial trader, and exposes the channels of his trade; and if the commissioners, vested with an authority greater than the dictators of ancient Rome, happen only to suspect him of making too limited a return, an oath is immediately demanded, in direct violation of that sacred maxim of British jurisprudence, which compels no man to criminate himself.

We have hitherto supported the character of a great commercial nation, and, like Tyre and Carthage of old, have made the whole world our tributaries, and induced them to pour, with a lavish hand, their wealth into our lap. Arts and sciences have felt the inestimable value of such an extended intercourse; and even the great truths of divine revelation have been illustrated and confirmed by its means. When that distinguished author, Mr. Roscoe, portrays to us, in the family of the Medici, the characters of a few Florentine merchants, becoming at once the patrons of whatever of science and of literature then existed, and the restorers of whatever could be redeemed from the wrecks of time, the lesson, which such examples hold out to us, rises in value and importance every step we advance in its perusal, and we cannot help feeling a pride and exultation in reflecting that we have ourselves gone far to emulate their virtues; that characters not to be surpassed in any age or any country may be found in the annals of British commerce. But Florence was a free republic, and I remember no traces of an income tax like ours, being there established. We also have a constitution virtually and essentially free: a splendid monument of the accumulated wisdom of past ages. Let us endeavour to keep it, if possible, from being tarnished. Let us not give such a death-blow as this to commercial integrity and independence. It has been thus far borne up against by the fond and constant expectation of soon seeing it at an end; but, if it is now to be continued, farewell hope, and farewell commerce!!!

There is one point more which I feel myself peculiarly bound, as a minister of religion, as well as a subject of my king and country, not to pass by unnoticed, which is the dreadful influence upon public morals which has already been produced by it, and will continue to spread with accelerated progress, so long as this odious tax shall continue to be saddled upon us. The best ground of national prosperity has always been admitted to consist in national virtue. But the income tax, by placing men’s interests in a regular and systematic opposition to their duties, holds out so direct a premium to fraud and perjury, that no man who has attended to the duties of a commissioner, can have failed to remark the bare-faced prostitution of principle, the gradual and increasing disregard of the solemn obligation of an oath, and the various temptations to subterfuge and deceit, which are perpetually held out and yielded to, under its wicked and abominable operation. For instance, the capitals employed in trade and in agriculture have been ascertained to be very nearly equal, and there can need no further illustration of the sum of fraud and evasion which have been practiced under this tax, than the simple fact, that out of the fourteen millions a year to which it has been pushed, two millions and a half is the very greatest sum that could ever be extorted from trade. In fact, even the commissioners themselves have shrunk back from the scenes of iniquity arising out of it, and acquiesced in correcting or softening the hardships of the legislature by admitting a mitigated claim. If, then, no other argument can influence, at least let this have some weight with us. If we are careless and indifferent to encroachments on public freedom, let us at least not add to that havoc the devastation of public morals. We have no superfluity of virtue, whether public or private, to be idly sported with. It is a stake which should never be hazarded, and especially when the odds are so fearfully against us.

I have now done with my reflections on the character and tendency of the income tax, and have, I trust, distinctly shown it to be inconsistent with all our best notions of those principles of legislation which are applicable to a country like this, and deficient in every essential property of a tax suited to a free government; that it is arbitrary and unlimited in principle, partial and unjust in operation, destructive of agriculture, and ruinous to commerce; that it saps the foundation of public virtue, and commits the most horrible havoc upon public morals.

To the principle of this tax, I would finally most earnestly implore the attention of my country; because by keeping our eye steadily fixed upon it, we shall be best put upon our guard against being lulled by pretended modifications and flattering amendments. No, the principle itself is so wrong, so hostile to the character of our constitution, so directly opposed to our future welfare and prosperity, that nothing can make it right. You might as well reconcile truth with falsehood or light with darkness. However sweetened or seasoned to make it palatable, it will still be a sop of deadly poison; however covered and concealed, it will still contain a hook within it, which will not fail to fasten upon the vitals of the constitution of this country, if the people should ever be unfortunately prevailed upon to gorge it.

I am aware that the general and sweeping objection to all I have here urged will be this: “You have admitted the difficulties of the state, and you have admitted that they must be met; but whilst you have confined yourself to exposing the tendency, the character, the errors, and the defects of one system, you have scrupulously abstained from suggesting any other. It is easy to find fault, but he that presumes to do this, should be prepared to show a remedy.”

I must, however, totally disclaim the correctness of such a conclusion, and I must distinctly maintain that the onus of extricating us from our dilemma rests entirely with those who brought us into it. The country has a right to demand from those, in whom it reposes its confidence, that they shall, in the first place, adopt no measures calculated to infringe the liberties, or obstruct the happiness and prosperity of its subjects; and if, unfortunately, any emergency should arise, which may call for extraordinary means to meet it, that they shall take care that the means so adopted shall not be more than commensurate with the exigence; and that they affect as little as possible the public interests; and the very moment the exigence has past away, they are answerable for restoring us to our former state.

Still, I will not avail myself of such an apology, but shall proceed with unfeigned diffidence though without reserve, to state what I conceive to be the best and shortest path out of the miserable labyrinth in which we are involved. 5

There appear to be three ways of effecting this desirable object.

The first is that of continuing the Property Tax as a permanent burthen. This, I think, I have fairly proved ought not, cannot for one single moment be entertained by any one that knows what the constitution of his country is, and would willingly preserve it.

The next is by laying our hands upon the Sinking Fund, and appropriating a considerable part of its produce to the present wants of the country, a scheme but very little less objectionable than the former, because, instead of being calculated to remove, it must directly operate towards rendering the public burthen permanent. You can never get rid of debt by cutting up the means of discharging it. The Sinking Fund has always been looked to as our great palladium and shield by all parties; and when Fox pronounced his funeral oration over his deceased rival, he said, “widely as I have differed from him through life, in public measures in general, I will not withhold my praise from one, viz. the Sinking Fund; a measure which will go down to posterity as a monument of his talents as a financier, and if honestly maintained and adhered to, may one day save the country from ruin.” The too rapid extinction of the National Debt, and the prevailing dread of its influence upon the money market, are bugbears which I should be very glad to see assuming a more distinct and substantial form. At present they are but barely visible, even with a powerful microscope. If, however, we must believe such dangers to exist, they are at least so remote as not to press for any immediate attention, and abundant expedients are always at hand to anticipate or draw off a superfluity of wealth.

The third, and only remaining expedient, then is a plain and manly avowal of our insolvency, and a composition with the public creditor; a measure which appears to me to be infinitely the best, and, in fact, the sole means of future prosperity. I have before observed that nations are but private families on an extended scale, and, after every effort of political casuistry, must at last be contented to be guided by the same rules. You have accumulated an amount of debt more than the sum of what the whole fee simple of the real property of the country would fetch at public auction, if put up to sale to-morrow. You have tried in vain every method of legitimate taxation, every means, vested in your power by the constitution, to discharge its interest. The only alternative then remaining is, either to violate the constitution, in order to keep your faith, or to compromise your faith, and preserve the constitution. There can be no scruple in such a choice, no hesitation in asserting that the latter is infinitely less criminal, and incalculably more politic and wise. And with respect to the question of public faith, it involves not one atom more of violation than has already been committed by the establishment of the tax we are now discussing; and will again be committed by making it a part of your permanent supply. A clear ten per cent has been annually withheld from the payment of the interest originally promised, and though it has been disguised under another name, yet it has been, in effect, a bona fide diminution of interest, and, if now perpetuated, will amount to the very same thing in principle with the measure I propose. Again, also, the public faith has not been less violated by your interference with the Sinking Fund, which stood directly pledged to the public creditor, as security for his debt.

The mode in which I conceive this compromise might be made, is nearly similar to that which was acted on by Mr. Pelham, in the year 1749, with a degree of success which astonished Europe, and the plan of which, when submitted to parliament, appeared so necessary and so eligible at that time, that it was carried through both Houses without a single division; not a shilling was withdrawn from the public debt, and the funds suffered not the slightest depression whatsoever. It will easily be remembered that the measure was simply a reduction of one per cent upon the whole National Debt, with the option of being paid off at par if required; and that it was adopted at a period not unlike the present, except that the exigency that led to it was infinitely less urgent, and that the interest which may now be made by money vested in the funds is almost doubled. 6

The difference in the value of stock is indeed very important, but then the different rate at which that stock must have been originally purchased is sufficient to meet the inequality. Out of the eleven hundred millions, now constituting our public debt, eight hundred millions have been borrowed since 1795, and probably three-fourths of the remainder bought and sold; during which period, I believe, the average price of the three per cents will be found to be considerably below 60, and of course the other kinds of stock in the same proportion. What then I should now propose would be to offer to the fund-holder, either to pay off the principal at the present market price, which is peculiarly favorable to both parties, or that he should submit to a reduction of ½ per cent interest; which I trust would be found a relief fully adequate to the public wants of the state. I am aware that, as the description of funded property is various, the same per centage cannot be equitably applied to the whole eleven hundred millions of which it is composed, but the modification is so obvious and easy, that I feel it unnecessary to go into details.

The reduction above alleged I should suppose would, when modified and equalized, still produce four millions, and the relief from the Income Tax would be naturally succeeded by an increased productiveness in other departments of taxation. Windows would again be opened that are now closed; the tax-cart without a cushion would then aspire to an accommodation so valuable and important; and that which already had one, would probably be still improved by the elastic motion of a spring; and the great aphorism of finance be exemplified, that the Treasury was rich because the taxation was not oppressive.

Nor with respect to the fund-holder, can I see how such a measure need be attended with alarm, nor complained of as one of peculiar hardship. He has chosen to advance his money, with his eyes perfectly open to the kind of security given him in return; he knows and feels that every means has been exhausted of paying the whole of his demand, which is at all compatible with the character of that constitution, under the protection indeed of which his property is vested, but yet amenable to its laws; and that, by insisting further on his claims, he is himself contributing to throw down an edifice, which it is an incalculably greater objet for him to preserve, than any consideration he can lose by the sacrifice required.

I have already shown that the present price at which he might resume his principal, is probably more than it originally cost him, and that his capital is therefore unimpaired. And if, on the other hand, he chose to allow it to remain, his security is improved by the improving solvency of the state, and the value of his principal increased by the certain prospect of increased prosperity to the country. In the reduction of the public burthens he will further find an additional compensation, which he will share in full proportion with the community at large; and if he receive less from government, he will have less to pay to it. He will free himself, his heirs, and successors, I hope, for ever, from a direct outgoing absolutely unlimited, and which, though now assessed at no more than ten or perhaps but five per cent nothing forbids hereafter to be augmented even to fifty. Again also by turning his view only to the depressed state of agriculture, and the depreciated value of land, together with the almost unprecedented stagnation of commerce and of trade, he will feel satisfied that he is, even then, in a much better relative situation than any other class of the community, and that he still hardly bears an equitable portion of the common suffering. All jealousy on that score will soon be dissipated; and in short, if he impartially reflects upon the limited sacrifices required, he will not fail readily to acquiesce in a measure which the public welfare seem so imperiously to call for.

On the part of government, again, I should conceive but little uneasiness need be apprehended. The superior confidence reposed in our stability over that of any other country, and on which the present measure can make but little impression; the situation of public affairs, the prospect of a long peace, and consequently that enormous loans are not to be contemplated, but, on the contrary, that the monied market will be more and more abundantly supplied, together with many other minor circumstances that might be mentioned, all most powerfully contribute to recommend it. But even supposing all these hopes to be salacious, and that some few individuals did conspire to obstruct its peaceful operation, or were really alarmed at such a step, what forbids the government to meet such a difficulty by a corresponding loan? Or, by some other of those financial arrangements which have often been applied to measures much less justifying their adoption? Perhaps even a gradual reduction would be found sufficiently effectual. In fact the variation of its interest, which has already been so repeatedly acted on, of late, in the case of its Exchequer Bills, must have gradually habituated the public mind to see such expedients resorted to; and when we add to this the impossibility of finding a better channel of employment for the capital withdrawn, and the conviction, that by shaking the ability of government they would be endangering whatever stake they themselves have in it, I cannot see any cause whatever for looking on such a scheme with serious alarm. I cannot help viewing it as infinitely preferable to any other, as less detrimental to the public welfare, and ultimately but little, if at all, injurious to the public creditor; as calculated to restore us to something like our former state, to rid us of unconstitutional, as well as oppressive, burthens, and by so doing, to promote commerce, to favor agriculture, to aid the extinction of our debt, and in short, to give us back Old England. With these impressions I cannot help clinging to such a scheme with fondness, until I am convinced of greater difficulties and dangers attending it than any with which I am yet acquainted. Let me now, however, be understood as speaking slightly of its character, or as insensible to the dangers of acting upon such precedents as these. I contemplate it as a measure of most dire but yet salutary necessity. As a choice of evils between the continuance of a tax, of which I have already shown the character and tendency to be destructive of the constitution itself, and the adoption of a scheme which involves, I readily admit, a violation of faith; but such a violation as has already been committed, and must again be committed, by the very adoption of the measure proposed in order to avoid it.

Lastly, let me not be censured, if unskilled in the intricacies of finance, I have rashly presumed to tread so dangerous a ground. Nor let me be thought inclined, by disposition or habit, to dabble in political discussions. This is the first upon which I ever ventured, and will probably be the last. But though merged in the depths of obscurity and retirement, and employed in duties still more solemn and important, yet I could not rest an unconcerned spectator of the passing scene; I could not, in a crisis such as this, forget that wise and salutary law of Athens, which decreed that man infamous and dishonoured, who remained neuter and indifferent when the liberties of his country were endangered.



1 Moral and Political Philosophy.

2 On the British Constitution.

3 This prophecy has already, since the first publication of these remarks, received, as far as relates to the intention of his majesty’s present ministers, its exact fulfillment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has distinctly avowed his purpose of continuing the tax on its present footing at 5 per. Cent, for two or three years, and then to leave it to parliament to decide what part of it shall be made permanent.

4 Esprit des Lois.

5 I beg leave here to obviate an error which might possibly occur, viz. that I admitted a substitute for the Property Tax to be absolutely needful. Nothing is farther from my intention than to encourage such an idea. Supposing the net permanent revenue to be only adequate to discharge the interest of our public debt, yet the war taxes alone amount to 24 millions, and upon no principle of equity or justice, or policy, or prudence, can the peace establishment be admitted to require more than 10 millions. You might then have the whole military and naval establishment which Mr. Pitt thought needful in 1792, a period of infinitely greater external danger than the present; and besides this, you might have also the whole civil establishment as it now stands. The former branches then cost but four millions and a half, including ordnance, and cannot now, with the increase of pay and pensions added to it, demand more than six millions, and the latter, by the last returns, was but four millions more. You have, therefore, a relief of 14 remaining millions, the whole amount of the Property Tax, which the people of this country have an unquestionable right to look for and demand. But when I considered the depressed and suffering state of agriculture, and when I further considered how deeply every part of the laboring classes of the community were interested in the relief it would afford, I ventured to suggest the following scheme of reducing the interest of the debt, in the hope of its enabling us to dispense with the war-duty upon malt, upon horses used in husbandry, and some few other of those taxes which press most heavily upon us.

6 Mr. Malthus, in considering the comparative ratio of wealth, has justly remarked, that the fund-holder who vests his property so as to produce five per cent when corn is 100 shillings a quarter, receives an equivalent to 7, 8, or 9 per cent whenever the price of corn shall fall to 50 shillings. That day has now arrived.

Thomas Paine Criticizes the Current Public School Science Curriculum

Thomas Paine concerned about the content of our current science courses? Definitely!

In a speech he delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, Thomas Paine harshly criticized what the French were then teaching in their science classes-especially the philosophy they were using. Interestingly, that same science philosophy of which Thomas Paine was so critical is identical to that used in our public schools today. Paine’s indictment of that philosophy is particularly significant in light of the fact that all historians today concede that Thomas Paine was one of the very least religious of our Founders. Yet, even Paine could not abide teaching science, which excluded God’s work and hand in the creation of the world and of all scientific phenomena. Below is an excerpt from that speech.

(While Benjamin Franklin was serving in London as diplomat from the Colonies to the King, Franklin met Englishman Thomas Paine (born 1737, died 1809). Franklin arranged for him to move to America in 1774 and helped set him up in the printing business.  In 1776, Paine wrote Common Sense, which helped fuel the separation of America from Great Britain. He then served as a soldier in the American Revolution. He returned to England in 1787, and then went to France in 1792 as a supporter of the French Revolution. In 1794, he published his Age of Reason, the deistic work, which brought him much criticism from his former American friends. Upon his return to America in 1802, he found no welcome and eventually died as an outcast.)

Thomas Paine on “The Study of God”

Delivered in Paris on January 16, 1797, in a

Discourse to the Society of Theophilanthropists

It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them form the Being who is the author of them. . . .

The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of His existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.

“Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death”

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not [Jer. 5:21], the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry  for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss [Matt. 26:48]. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?  Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?  Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us [2 Chron. 32:8]. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone [Eccl. 9:11]; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace [Jer. 6:14].  The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field!  Why stand we here idle [Matt. 20:6]? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Scripture references added. This speech can be found in William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of
Patrick Henry
(James Webster: 1818), 119-123. WallBuilders offers a parchment copy of Patrick Henry’s speech on our online store.

George Washington’s Farewell Address

(There is an outline and a select dictionary at the end of this Address.)

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the Executive Government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you at the same time to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this previous to the last election had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence impelled me to abandon the idea. I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well
as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be
retained for my services, that in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me, and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead; amidst appearances sometimes dubious; vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging; in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave as a
strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution which is the work of your hands may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me on an occasion like the present to offer to your solemn contemplation and to recommend to your frequent review some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget as an encouragement to it your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth, as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual
happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the same agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and while it contributes in different ways to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined in the united mass of means and efforts cannot fail to find greater strength, greater resource, proportionately greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations, and what is of inestimable value, they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rivalries alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is, that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavour to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our union it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head. They have seen in the negotiation by the Executive and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event
throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi. They have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties – that with Great Britain and that with Spain – which secure to them everything they could desire in respect to our foreign relations towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your union a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute. They must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate union and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very
idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common councils and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Toward the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect in the forms of the Constitution alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember especially that for the efficient
management of your common interests in a country so extensive as ours a Government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest Guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name where the Government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, “where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?” And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in times of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives; but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct. And can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period a great nation to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that in the course of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place of them just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation prompted by ill-will and resentment sometimes impels to war the government contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject. At other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility,
instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.

So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak toward a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter. Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are
liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by our justice, shall counsel.

Why forgo the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the Government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish – that they will control the usual current of the passions or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good – that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism – this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe my proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice and by that of your representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined as far as should depend upon me to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my Administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence, and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love toward it which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize without alloy the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow citizens the benign influence of good laws under a free government – the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

George Washington


  1. Retirement from office.
    1. He realizes people must be thinking about his replacement, therefore he declines re-election.
    2. He has thought it through, and feels like it is in everyone’s best interest.
    3. He wanted to retire earlier, but foreign affairs and advice from those he respected caused him to “abandon the idea.”
    4. Now that everything is calm, he is persuaded that the people will not disapprove of this “determination to retire.”
    5. He is convinced his age forces retirement, and he welcomes the opportunity.
    6. He offers gratitude for the people’s support.
    7. He offers a blessing “that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence. . .”
  2. Scope of the Address.
    1. His sentiments are for the people’s “frequent review,” he wanted us to read and re-read the Address.
    2. His only motive was as a friend.
    3. He felt no need to recommend a love of liberty – it was already there.
  3. Unity of Government.
    1. Unity is a “main pillar” of “real independence”:
      1. for the support of “tranquility at home”
      2. for “your peace abroad”
      3. for “your safety”
      4. for “your prosperity”
      5. for “that very liberty which you so highly prize.”
    2. Common attributes of unity:
      1. same religion
      2. manners
      3. habits
      4. political principles.
    3. The most commanding motive is to preserve the “union of the whole.”
    4. The North, South, East, and West all depend on each other.
    5. Unity leads to greater strength, resources, and security.
    6. Unity will help “avoid the necessity of . . . overgrown military establishments” and will be the main “prop of your liberty.”
    7. He questions the patriotism of anyone who tries to “weaken its bands.”
    8. It was unity that brought two valuable treaties:
      1. with Great Britain
      2. with Spain.
    9. Government for the whole – via the Constitution – is indispensable; not just alliances between sections.
      1. the adoption of the Constitution was an improvement on the former “essay.”
      2. respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, and acquiescence in its measures are fundamental maxims of true liberty.
      3. the people’s right to alter constitutions is the basis of our political system.
  4. Spirit of Party.
    1. Parties are “potent engines” that men will use to take over the “reins of government.”
    2. Washington warns against parties’ “baneful effects”:
      1. leads to the absolute power of an individual
      2. “discourage and restrain” the spirit of party
      3. leads to “jealousies and false alarms”
      4. “animosity of one part against another”
      5. can lead to “riot and insurrection”
      6. opens “door to foreign influence and corruption”
      7. “it is a spirit not to be encouraged.”
  5. Spirit of Encroachment.
    1. Leads to “a real despotism.”
    2. There is a necessity of “reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power.”
    3. If a problem arises, correct it by an amendment, not by “usurpation.”
  6. Religion and Morality.
    1. Are “indispensable supports” for “political prosperity.”
    2. Are the “firmest props of the duties of Men and Country.”
    3. The oaths in our courts would be useless without “the sense of religious obligation.”
    4. “And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.”
    5. “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
    6. “Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.”
  7. Debt.
    1. “Avoid occasions of expense by cultivating peace . . . .”
    2. “Timely disbursements to prepare for danger” are better than “greater disbursements to repel it.”
    3. Avoid debt: in time of peace, pay off debts..
    4. Public opinion should “cooperate” with their representatives to pay off debt.
    5. Some taxes are necessary even though “inconvenient and unpleasant.”
  8. Foreign Policy.
    1. We should exercise “good faith and justice towards all nations.”
      1. “religion and morality enjoin this conduct”
      2. we should be guided by “an exalted justice and benevolence.”
    2. Replace “inveterate antipathies” (hatred) and passionate attachments with “just and amicable feelings.”
      1. “passionate attachments” produce a variety of evils
      2. these attachments will lead you into “quarrels and wars”
      3. they will also lead to favoritism, conceding “privileges denied to others.”
    3. Foreign “attachments” are “alarming” because they open the door to foreigners who might:
      1. “tamper with domestic factions”
      2. “practise the arts of seduction”
      3. “mislead public opinion”
      4. influence “Public Councils.”
    4. “Foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.”
    5. “The great rule of conduct for us”: “as little political connection as possible.”
      1. we should fulfill obligations, then stop
      2. we should not get involved in Europe’s affairs.
    6. Our “detached and distant situation . . . enables . . . a different course.”
    7. “Steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
    8. However, we may have “temporary alliances, for extraordinary emergencies.”
    9. Maintain “a liberal intercourse with all nations.”
  9. Conclusion.
    1. Washington hopes his counsel will:
      1. “help moderate the fury of party spirit”
      2. “warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue”
      3. “guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
    2. He believes himself to be guided by the “principles which have been delineated” above.
    3. A “neutral position” is the best course to take regarding the “subsisting war in Europe.”
      1. that neutrality is the right course has been “admitted by all.”
      2. our “motive has been to endeavor to gain time for our country to settle and mature” until America has “command of its own fortunes.”
    4. Washington asks “the Almighty” to correct any unintentional errors or defects from his administration.
    5. He looks forward to retiring and enjoying “good laws under a free government.”
    6. Closing words.

VOCABULARYacquiescence – agreement without protest. Consent.

actuate – put into motion. Motivate.

admonish – to counsel against. Caution.

alienate – to cause to become unfriendly. Exclude.

alliance – a formal pact between nations. Partnership.

animosity – bitter hostility. Hatred.

antipathies – strong feelings of hatred or opposition. Aversions.

apostate – abandoning one’s principles. Defective or Traitorous.

appellation – a name or title.

appertaining – relating to.

apprise – to give notice; to inform. Notify.

arduous – demanding great care, effort, or labor. Difficult.

artifices – subtle but base deceptions. Tricks.

assuage – make less burdensome or painful. Relieve.

auspice – protection or support. Authority.

auxiliary – giving assistance or support. Supplementary.

avert – to turn away. Prevent.

baneful – causing death, destruction, or ruin. Harmful.

belligerent – inclined or eager to fight. Hostile.

beneficence – a charitable act or gift. Kindness.

benevolence – an inclination to do kind or charitable acts. Goodness.

benign – tending to promote well-being. Beneficial.

beseech – to call upon earnestly. Request.

bias – to cause to have a prejudice view. Distort.

conceded – acknowledged as true, just, or proper. Given.

conjure – to call upon or entreat solemnly. Call upon.

consigned – turned over to another’s charge. Delivered.

consolation – the comforting in time of grief, defeat, or trouble. Comfort.

contemplation – thoughtful observation. Meditation.

countenanced – to give or express approval to. Approved.

covertly – concealed, hidden, or secret.

cultivate – promote the growth of. Develop.

deference – yielding to the wishes of another. Consideration.

deliberate – planned in advance. Intentional.

delineated – depicted in words or gestures. Outlined.

despotisms – political system with one man in absolute power. Oppression.

diffidence – the quality of lacking self-confidence. Humility.

diffusing – causing to spread freely. Spreading.

diffusion – the process of diffusing. Spreading.

diminution – reduction. Decrease.

disbursements – money paid out. Expenditures.

discriminations – acts based on prejudice. Prejudices.

dispositions – an habitual tendency or inclination. Tendencies.

diversifying – giving variety to. Varying.

dubious – causing doubt or uncertainty. Uncertain.

edifice – a building of imposing appearance or size. Structure.

efficacy – power to produce a desired effect. Effectiveness.

encroach – to advance beyond proper limits. Intrude.

enmities – deep-seated mutual hatred. Hostilities.

ennobles – raises in rank. Elevates.

envenomed – poisoned or embittered. Poisoned.

evinced – to show clearly or convincingly. Demonstrated.

exemption – a freedom from obligation or duty. Freedom.

exigencies – situations needing immediate attention. Necessities.

expedients – something adopted to meet an urgent need. Schemes.

facilitating – making something easier. Assisting.

fallible – capable of making an error. Imperfect.

felicity – great happiness or bliss. Happiness.

fervently – having great emotion or warmth. Earnestly.

hypothesis – something considered to be true. Assumption.

impostures – deceptions through false identities. Deceptions.

inauspicious – unfavorable.

incongruous – not consistent with what is logical, customary, or correct.

indispensable – not able to be done away with. Essential.

indissoluble – impossible to break or undo. Indestructible.

inducement – something that leads to action. Influence.

indulgent – granted as a favor or privilege. Agreeable.

inferred – figured out from evidence. Understood.

infidelity – lack of loyalty. disloyalty.

insidiously – spreading harm in a subtle way. Dishonestly.

instigated – stirred up or urged on. Aroused.

intercourse – communication between persons or groups. Business.

intimated – to announce or proclaim. Spoken.

intractable – hard to manage or govern. Stubborn.

intrigue – secret schemes or plots. Affairs.

intrinsic – having to do with the very nature of a thing. Natural.

inveterate – firmly established and deeply rooted. Established.

inviolate – not violated or changed. Unchanged.

invigorated – given strength and vitality. Energized.

inviolable – not able to be violated. Unchanging.

laudable – deserving approval. Praiseworthy.

magnanimous – noble of mind and heart. Idealistic.

maxim – fundamental principle or rule of conduct. Principle.

mitigate – to make less severe or intense. Weaken.

monarchy – a state ruled by an absolute ruler, such as a king or emperor.

obligatory – legally or morally binding. Required.

oblivion – the condition of being completely forgotten. Nonexistence.

obstinate – hard to manage, control, or subdue. Uncontrollable.

odium – a strong dislike for something. Disfavor.

pernicious – causing great harm and destruction. Destructive.

perpetrated – to be guilty of bringing something about. Committed.

perpetual – lasting for eternity. Unending.

plausible – appearing to be valid, likely, or acceptable. Believable.

posterity – future generations.

precarious – lacking in security and stability. Uncertain.

precedent – an act used as an example in future situations.

predominant – having great importance, influence, or authority. Important.

procured – obtained or acquired.

progenitors – a direct ancestor. Ancestors.

propensity – a tendency to do something. Tendency.

propagated – cause to multiply. Spread.

provocation – a reason to take action.

prudence – good judgment and common sense. Wisdom.

recompense – payment for something done. Repayment.

requisite – essential or required.

scrupulously – to do something with ethical considerations. Conscientiously.

seduction – the act of leading away from proper conduct. Misleading.

solicitude – the state of being concerned or eager. Concern.

specious – appearing to be true, but being false. Deceptive.

subservient – under the control of something. Subject.

subvert – to undermine the character, morals, or allegiance of. Overthrow.

suffrages – votes.

supposition – the idea that something is true. Idea.

tenure – the terms under which something is held. Terms.

tranquility – the state of being free from disturbance. Peace.

transient – passing away with time. Temporary.

umbrage – offense. Resentment.

usurpation – the seizing of power by force and without legal right. Overthrow.

vicissitudes – changes or variations. Changes.

vigilance – alert watchfulness. Watchfulness.

virtuous – morally excellent and righteous. Pure.

weal – the welfare of the community. Welfare.