TO judge on these important subjects, we must consider the peculiar situation of the United States, as connected with the European powers.

AS a commercial country, it is our interest to form a friendly intercourse with such nations as are disposed to promote the great objects of trade on the principles of reciprocity. To effect this purpose, we should examine the conduct and disposition of the several powers; and when con­vinced of their friendship, we ought to grant fa­vors, and confer privileges, with the same degree of liberality, as they appear inclined to act to­wards us. It is a good maxim in politics, to do to others, as they do towards us; and in order to prevent a continuance of injuries, it is incum­bent on us to check them by a vigorous and timely retaliation. By pursuing a constant course of defensive operations against such nations as wantonly endeavor to distress our trade, we shall speedily convince them of our increasing strength, and teach them the folly of commencing a com­mercial war with us.

THESE observations being premised, the ques­tion is, what nation seems most disposed to form connections with the United States, found­ed on the broad basis of mutual advantages? [Page 4] What European power holds out the most favorable terms, to promote and enlarge our commerce? Which among them displays a gen­erous cordiality towards our government and citi­zens; or by legislative acts, shows a disposition to harmonize and equalize the trade and intercourse of both countries? Can Americans be at a loss to announce the nation, thus disposed to overtures of friendship? Among the combined powers at war against France, can one among them, with propriety receive the appellation of friends, as to their proceedings towards us? Which among them has ever come forward with commercial propositions, worthy our acceptance? Notwith­standing we have rushed precipitately into the British trade, and inconsiderately lavished among her merchants and manufacturers, the principle part of every profitable branch of our commerce, yet we find that this nation, far from returning even decent attention to the numerous benefits they derive from the connection, treat us with the most studied insolence, and are ever planning measures to embarrass us in every port we enter. Since their contest with France, have they not presumed to prohibit our carrying the produce of America to that country, even as a neutral na­tion? Our vessels and property are now become the sport of their privateers; and the American flag, can scarcely be unfurled on the ocean with­out being treated by them with indecency, and exposed to insults.

THE coolness and indifference which many seem disposed to show towards France, are difficult to account for, as it respects both our political and [Page 5] commercial interest. As a young nation, is it not of the utmost importance, that we secure the friendship and confidence of France? That we do not create a jealousy, and thereby excite her re­sentment? If she appears disposed to assist us, and wishes to bestow every commercial benefit upon us, ought we to treat her favors with cold­ness, or appear backward in acknowledging her benevolence and partiality?

THERE appears a disposition among some, to prefer a connection with Britain, rather than with France. It is evident that this is the aim and design of certain individuals, however they may wish to conceal it. But no man who is a friend to, or who understands the political and commercial welfare of these states, can seriously desire it. Should Britain succeed against France, can we ever expect to reap any advantage from the acquisition? Should they restore the monar­chy, is there any one benefit to accrue to us in consequence of it? Will the American com­merce thrive by the measure, or will there be less impositions practised on our trade? Will the British ministry be more cordial to our welfare? Will the legislature of the nation become more favorable in their plans; or will their acts be less injurious in their operation? In short, not one advantage can we propose to ourselves from their success; but on the contrary, every misfor­tune would await us. If the British are now so insolent, amid their present complicated distres­ses, what may we not expect, should they effect their nefarious purposes of subjugating France? The idea is too distressing to anticipate.

[Page 6]BUT let us reverse the scene, and inquire, what may we not expect, should France succeed? The friendship of this nation has ever been conspicu­ous. During our war with Britain, we experi­enced the salutary effects of her favorable dispo­sition. Since the peace, her exertions have not ceased to assist our trade, and cement our alliance. There has ever appeared a noble generosity in all their proceedings▪ to encourage the American connection; despising the paltry resentments that appeared to influence the British nation, they have treated the Americans with a liberality worthy the character of a magnanimous people. Since their contest with the European powers, they have come forward with a philanthropy and independence that must astonish their enemies, and rivet the affections of their allies. They seem disposed to give the United States all the advantages of the war; and for that purpose have passed decrees to grant the most ample en­couragement to our commerce in every part of their dominions. They have placed us on the broadest basis of neutrality, by admitting the pro­perty of all nations to be carried in American bot­toms, free from capture.

THE importance of the French nation, in the scale of Europe, is a weighty consideration, why we ought to inculcate an harmony with them. Many persons talk of France, as they would speak of Nootka-Sound, Botany-Bay, or the Miami Villages; as if it was a country just discovered, and of but little note in the political calendar. But it rises in weight and dignity when it is considered, as one of the most power­ful, [Page 7] most numerous, and most opulent nations in Europe. Its power is immense, when we reflect on the magnitude of their present contest. Is there a nation that could contend for so long a period with the combined powers of Europe? That could command such resources; maintain such armies; equip such navies, and defend themselves without the assistance of a single ally, against the combination of such numerous ad­versaries?—When we consider France thus stand­ing alone, in this arduous and obstinate conflict, the magnanimity, resolution and formidableness of the nation, stand unparalleled.

THE strength of the nation is inconceivable, as it respects the number of its citizens.—Is it a small matter for America to conciliate the affec­tions of twenty-six millions of people?—Shall we by our coldness and lukewarmness, hazard the advantages to be obtained from a nation so respectable, as to its population?—Is it policy in us to forfeit every benefit to be acquired from an alliance so reputable? Or shall we overlook eve­ry flattering consideration merely to pay our de­voirs to the tottering, crumbling nation of Bri­tain?—When we reflect on the probable advan­tages that will arise to our commerce, in conse­quence of retaining the friendship of France, it must appear the highest folly not to cement our union. Should we by our pusillanimous con­duct excite their jealousy, or forfeit their confi­dence they might be led to retaliate with some pointed resentment on our conduct; and should they pursue a similar system with Britain, we should be placed in a very distressing situation.

[Page 8]THE resources of the French nation is another matter worthy of observation, and must impress every person with an exalted idea of its power and riches. Though they stand alone against the combined armies of Europe, they are enabled without any foreign loans, to raise funds suffici­ent for all other purposes.—Is it possible to con­ceive of a nation more respectable in this point of view?—Notwithstanding their demands are so immediate and enormous, we find they are all answered with the utmost readiness, and not a murmur is heard, either in the National Con­vention, or among the people, of the burden of their taxes.—While the other powers are con­vulsed for want of resources▪ France abounds with every pecuniary supply, necessary for the most extensive enterprizes. When we consider the wealth of France, in comparison with their enemies, how vastly superior do they rise in our estimation?

IN short, they have already bankrupted Europe; and as for England, they have shaken her to the centre, without even firing a gun within her territory, merely by the echo of their cannon from the shores of Holland.

IT is deragatory to France, to draw any com­parison between them and England: Can the latter display such an army, or equip such a na­vy, upon any emergency; more particularly, had they to contend with one quarter of the force combined against the former? On the contrary, the proposition of a loan, has spread such an universal insolvensy, throughout the British na­tion, as to throw a great part of her merchants [Page 9] and manufacturers within the statute of bank­ruptcy, and reduced her minister to the pitiful state of an insignificant pawn-broker.

THESE are the ideas that ought to operate on the minds of Americans, when reflecting on our connection with France.—The pusillanimity we so often observe held up in our papers, may an­swer the purposes of British sycophants, and others, whose interest wholly depends on the re­venue arising from our destructive importations from England; but the people of America, who act and reason on the grand scale of public happiness, cannot but view the friendship of France, as it concerns both our political and common interest, as an object of the highest magnitude.

FROM the foregoing observations, it is not meant that we should wantonly plunge ourselves into a war with the British, or become a party in the present contest (unless France requests it) but thus much is meant and asserted, that our Nati­onal Honor demands of us to support our National Flag; protect the property of our citizens, and possess the FORTS within our own territory, which, by treaty we are entitled to—more espe­cially, when it is considered, that the "strong arm of the Union," has been exerted to quell a few tribes of Indians, and more money has been ex­pended in these disgraceful expeditions, than would build and equip a NAVY sufficient to pro­tect our commerce, and defend our flag against every indignity.

IT is remarkable, that this ignominious Indi­an war, has ever been vindicated in those papers [Page 10] that are now so zealous to injure the cause of France, and palliate the conduct of Britain.—Mil­lions of dollars can be expended in disgraceful contracts, for the purpose of destroying the villa­ges of our innocent natives; but when the per­fidy and insolence of Britain, is brought into view, then forsooth the poverty of the states is plead, and their strength is reduced to the forlorn condition of 'twelve revenue cutters.'

TO conclude, the predilection for British poli­tics among many leading characters; the influence of these sentiments, which is every day prevailing within particular circles, together with the pros­pects of numerous fictitious actions being soon commenced by refugees against every state in the Union, are circumstances truly alarming, and re­quire a strict watch on the conduct of Britain and her satellites.—Provided they can effect their purposes by personal influence; drain the treasury of every state by constant demands from TORIES,* hold our Frontiers, and disaffect towards us the only friendly power in Europe, these, our enemies, anticipate the period when the United States of America will become SUPPLIANTS to their cle­mency. May Heaven avert the catastrophe!



MAN is born to enjoy happiness and liber­ty, yet every where he is miserable and enslaved. Governments are instituted for the preservation of his rights, and to perfection his faculties, yet every where governmenrs degrade and oppress him. The time is come which is to restore him to the state he was intended for; the progress of information has prepared a great revo­lution, and to you it belongs to accelerate it. To fulfil your duty in this respect, you are to prac­tice exactly the contrary of what has hitherto been done. Hitherto the art of governing has been the art of despoiling and enslaving the ma­jority, to the advantage of a few; and legislation the art of reducing those crimes to a regular sys­tem. Kings, aristocrats have played their parts admirably well: to you it belongs now to do your duty, and to render men happy and free by the means of wholesome laws.

[Page 12]TO give to government energy sufficient, that citizens may ever respect the right of their fel­low-citizens, and to prevent government from encroaching on those rights. This is my opi­nion, the double problem that legislators have to solve.

THE first appears to me easy; the other one might be tempted to consider as insolvable, if a cursory view only is taken of present and past events, without examining their cause. Read history and you will every where see rulers op­pressing citizens; governments swallowing up sovereignty. Tyrents speaking of sedition, the people complain of tyranny, when the people dare to complain, which is when excessive op­pression restores their energy and independence. Would heaven, they could always preserve these; but the reign of the people is of a day; that of tyrants stains the history of ages.

I HAVE heard much said of the anarchy since the revolution of July 14th, 1789, and especially since that of the 10th of August, 1792.—But in my opinion it is not anarchy that is the malady of the political body, but despotism and aristo­cracy. I am of opinion, whatever may be said to the contrary, that it is only from that apocha, which is so much abused, that we have had a beginning of laws and government, notwith­standing some disturbances, which are nothing more than convulsions of expiring royalty, and the last struggle of a faithless government against equality.

POLITICAL evils never are occasioned by the people, but are caused by the government.— [Page 13] How could it be otherwise? The people are in­terested in the public good; the man in office has a private interest.

IF I choose to stoop to answer absurd preju­dices, I would say, that power and opulence are the parents of vice; that poverty, mediocrity and industry, are the supporters of virtue; that the weak only ask for the protection of mild laws; that the passions of the powerful tend to raise them above just laws, or to produce tyran­nical laws.

GOVERNMENT is instituted to cause the gene­ral will to be obeyed; but men who govern, have a will of their own, and every will tends to make itself obeyed. If they employ to this ef­fect the public force, with which they are armed, the government becomes a scourge. Agree then, that the first object of every constitution ought to be to defend public liberty against the en­croachments of the government.

IT is this principal object that legislators have forgotten—they have all studied to give govern­ments energy; none of them thought of bring­ing it back to its original intention. They have taken infinite precautions against insurrections of the people; but have at the same time encou­raged all in their power the revolt of their dele­gates. I have already given the reason of this. Ambition, violence and perfidy, have legislated for the world. They have even enslaved human reason, by first debasing it, and have rendered that reason, thus perverted, the instrument of man's misery.

[Page 14]DESPOTISM produced the corruption of man­ners; and the corruption of manners supported despotism. In this state of things, the contest is, who shall sell his soul to the strongest, to lega­lize injustice and deify tyranny.

OBSERVE even those among legislators, whom the progress of political information appears to have impressed with some principles—observe whether they have not perverted their talents to elude them, when they clashed with their per­sonal interest. Observe whether they have done any thing more than vary the forms of despotism, and determine the nice shades of aristocracy. They have pompously proclaimed the sovereign­ty of the people, and have enslaved them; at the time they acknowledged magistrates as the ser­vants of the people, they have treated them as their masters and idols. All have agreed in supposing the people mad and factious, and public functi­onaries absolutely wise and virtuous. Without seeking for examples of this among foreign na­tions, we can find some very striking in the bo­som of our own revolution, and even in the con­duct of the legislators, our predecessors.

SEE with what baseness they burnt the incense of adulation, at the altar of royalty; with what impudence they preached up confidence in the public functionaries, whom they knew to be perfidious; with what violence they defamed the people; with what barbarity they abused them. And yet see on which side the civic vir­tues weighed; the generous sacrifices of indi­gence; the shameful averice of wealth; recol­lect the heroic conduct of the private soldiers— [Page 15] the base treasons of their officers; the invincible courage; the magnanimous patience of the people —the vile egotism; the odious perfidy, of so many of the public functionaries.

BUT do not let us be surprised at the sight of so much injustice, when we consider the nation has just emerged from a state of the deepest cor­ruption; how could a great portion of our re­presentatives be expected to shew respect for hu­manity; to love equality, and believe in virtue.

UNFORTUNATE that we were! We were at­tempting to erect a temple to liberty, with hands yet galled with the chains of despotism. What was our former education, but a continual lesson of self-love and vanity? What were our customs, and what we called our laws, but a code of non-sense and baseness, in which men were classed in a whimsical gradation, and more or less despised, according to a multiplicity of fantastical dis­tinctions?

TO despise and be despised; to creep to the seat of power; slaves and tyrants by turns—one moment kneeling before a master, the next tramp­ling under feet the people: such was our fate; such was our ambition, of almost all of us; whether well born, lawyers or financiers; whe­ther councellors, or belonging to the army. Is it to be wondered at, that so many conceited merchants; so many vain cits held in sovereign contempt the class of artisans, when they in their turn were treated in the same manner by the no­bility? Oh what a noble pride! Oh! the won­derful education! And yet it is for this that the happiness of the world is checked! For this [Page 16] the bosom of our country is torn by traitors! For this the savage satellites of the despots of Europe have destroyed our crops; burnt our cities; massacreed our women and children. The blood of 300 thousand Frenchmen has been shed, and perhaps an equal number are yet to perish; that the plain farmer should not hold a seat in the senate with the rich dealer in grain; that the artisan should not have a vote in the as­semblies of the people, as well as the illustrious merchant or the presuming lawyer; and that the poor, but intelligent and virtuous citizen be not allowed to appear as becomes a man in the presence of the wealthy and profligate fool.

INFATUATED men, you who cry out for mas­ters, that you may have no equals; do you be­lieve then that the tyrants will agree to realize the dreams of your presumptuous vanity and base cupidity? Do you believe that the people, after having conquered for liberty, and shed their blood in the defence of their country, when you reposed in the arms of indulgence and luxury, or conspired against them, will suffer you to en­slave them? No—if you respect neither huma­nity, justice nor honor, at least study your inter­est as far as it respects your treasures, which have no other enemy than the excess of human mise­ry, which you so imprudently aggravate.—But what reasoning can weigh with proud slaves? The voice of truth thundering in a depraved heart, resembles those sounds which are heard in funeral vaults without awakening the dead.

YOU then, to whom liberty and your country is dear, undertake alone the task of saving the [Page 17] public weal, and since the moment when its darkest dangers appear to call for your whole at­tention, is when an attempt is made to raise the edifice of the constitution with improper haste, found it at least upon the eternal basis of truth. Establish as a first principle, that the people are good; their delegates corruptible; that it is in the virtue and the sovereignty of the people that a pre­servative against the vices and despotism of govern­ment is to be found.

FROM the principle I have endeavored to esta­blish, let us now draw some consequences useful in practice, which may form a solid basis for a free constitution.

THE corruption of governments flows from excess of powers, and their independence of the sovereign: Find a remedy for this two-fold abuse.

FIRST lessen the influence of magistrates.— Hitherto politicians, who have appeared to make some efforts, less to defend liberty, than modify tyranny, have only been able ro suggest two modes of effecting this—the balance of powers, and tribunes for the people.

AS to the balance of powers, we may have been the dupes of that illusion, at a time when fashion appeared to require of us to give a mark of applause grateful to our neighbours, at a time when our own degradation left us to admire all foreign institutions with any thing like a sha­dow of liberty to recommend them. But with little reflection, it is easy to perceive, that that balance must be either a chimera or a scourge; that it supposes the government a total nullity, did it not necessarily occasion a league between [Page 18] the rival powers against the people; for it must easily be perceived, that they will rather agree among themselves, than call in the sovereign to judge in his own cause. Witness England, where the gold and power of the monarch al­ways inclines the scale on one side, where the op­position party appears to solicit a reform in the national representation only to retard it, in con­cert with the majority, which they seem combat­ing; a species of government monstrous, where the social virtues are only to be found in appear­ance; where the phantom of liberty excludes the reality; where law sanctifies despotism, and the rights of the people are the objects of open traffic; where corruption is even disengaged from the shackles of modesty. And what are to us the contrivances that balance a tyrannic au­thority! It is tyranny itself that must be extir­pated. It is not during the differences of their masters only, that the people wish to breath a few moments; it is in their own strength they should repose for the security of their rights; for the same reason I am not in favor of tribunes; history has not taught me to respect them.

I WILL trust so great an interest (that of the people) with no one man—they are all weak and corruptible. Protection from tribunes, presup­poses the people slaves. I do not like to see the Romen people retiring to the holy mount, and thence asking for protectors from a despotic se­nate or insolent patricians; I wish them to re­main in Rome, and thence to drive all tyrants. I hate as much as I hate those patricians them­selves, and I despise much more, the ambitious [Page 19] tribunes, those vile proxies for the people, who sell to the wealthy of Rome, their speeches and their silence, and who only defended their rights now and then, better to bargain when they come to barter them for gold. There is but one tri­bune of the people that I can acknowledge—the people themselves; it is to each section of the French Republic, that I wish to confide the power of tribune; and it will be easy to orga­nize them in such a manner as to free them from the storms of absolute democracy, and the perfi­dious calm of representative despotism. But before we think of placing barriers to protect ci­vil liberty against the overflowings of the power of magistrates, let us first define the just limits of that power.

A FIRST rule to attain this end is, to fix short periods from one election to another, applying this principle in an inverse ratio to the quantum of power entrusted.

2d. ESTABLISH, that no one shall hold more offices than one at the same time.

3d. THAT the powers be divided. It is bet­ter to multiply public officers, than trust to a few, a formidable power; let legislation and execu­tion be totally separated.

LET the various departments in the execution be entrusted to different hands, and to as many hands as the nature of the business will allow.

ONE of the great faults of the present organi­zation is, the too great extent of each of the mi­nisterial departments, in which are collected va­rious branches of administration very distinct in their nature.

[Page 20]PUBLIC opinion ought to be the guide of men in public life, and public men should not attempt to guide or form public opinion.

I SHALL be asked, perhaps, how, with such severe restraints upon public functionaries, I can secure obedience to the laws and government? I answer, that thereby I strengthen that security; by those very precautions I give to the laws and government the influence I take from the vices of men who govern and make laws.

THE respect which a public functionary inspires, depends much more upon the respect he shews for the laws, than on the power he usurps—and the power of the laws lies much less in the mili­tary force ready to enfore them, than on their agreeing with the principles of justice and the general will. When the law has for basis the in­terest of the people, it will have the people for support, and its energy will rest upon the energy of the whole community, of which it is the work.

THE general will and public force have the same origin; the public force is to the political body, what the arm is to the human body, exe­cuting what the will commands, and repelling every thing that menaces the head and heart.

WHEN the public force seconds the general will, the country is free and quiet; when they differ, the country is either enslaved or its tran­quillity disturbed.

THE public force contradicts the general will in two instances; either when the law is not an expression of the general will, or when the ma­gistrate employs it to violate the law. Such was the horrid anarchy that tyrants have ever esta­blished, [Page 21] under the name of tranquillity, good or­der, legislation and government. All their arts consists in insulating and oppressing each citizen with the public force; to render them all slaves to their caprice, which they dignify by the name of law. Legislators enact just laws—magis­trates cause them to be punctually executed, and you will give to the world a new spectacle, that of a great people, free and virtuous.


EXTRACT FROM AN ORATION, Delivered at Federal Point, near Philadelphia, on the FOURTH of JULY, 1793, by ELIHU PAL­MER, citizen of Pennsylvania; and published by request of those who heard it.

Friends and Fellow Citizens!

THE age of reason and philosophy has at length arrived, and begins to illuminate the world! While that veil of darkness, which spread itself over all nations, was faithfully preserved by the pious alliance of CHURCH and state, the earth wore a wretched aspect, and humanity wept for the miseries of man. But when en­lightened men began to examine the cause of hu­man wretchedness, and by their efforts had pe­netrated the secret corruption of royal courts, the pillars of despotism were shaken to the founda­tion. King-craft and priest-craft, those mighty enemies to reason and liberty, were struck with death by the genius of 1776. For seventween years they have been decaying under the influ­ence of a mortal wound, and now in the last stage of their existence, like a drowning man catching at a straw, one more desperate effort is making to preserve them from inevitable destruction. But they are summoned with a mighty voice to the dark abodes of oblivion, "to which I wish them a speedy and unobstructed passage," never more to raise again to scatter mischief among de­luded nations.

[Page 23]IN this view of the subject, and considering the consequences, it is impossible not to admire the manly firmness which dictated the declara­tion of American Independence. Those bold patriots deserve, and will undoubtedly obtain the thanks and applause of all posterity. How much is it to be lamented, that any whose names we see affixed to that great instrument, should at this day afford good ground of suspicion, that their politi­cal principles are directed to the total destruction of LIBERTY and EQUALITY. But the ge­nious of liberty is rousing from slumber, and will eventually emancipate the world. Beware, ye American aristocrats! your principles and ef­forts are leading you to a precipice, from which the just resentment and indignation of an injured people will hurl you into eternal infamy. Civil and religious oppression will not gain much ground in the American world, though attempts are making to effectuate both. If the cause of France, which is the great cause of human na­ture, should succeed, then farewell kings, aristo­crats, and the long catalogue of clerical imposi­tions—impositions which have robbed man of his greatest dignity, and closed every avenue of independent reflection. Indeed, had it not been that the clergy gained a complete ascendency over the minds of men, the civil oppressions of the world would long since have tumbled into ruin. But living on the spoils of the people, it was easy for these impostors to preach up the beauty and excellency of humiliating poverty, that they themselves might riot upon the luxu­ries of the earth. And thus while they degraded [Page 24] the human character and feasted on the iniqui­tous profits, they aided the already too potent arm of the civil tyrant, and prepared every living creature for the completest slavery.

HOW lamentable is it, that religion, which ought to unite all hearts, should so often be made use of as a cloak for the commission of the greatest crimes, and by those very men too, who have so often imposed themselves upon the world as persons of superior sanctity and virtue. I do not mean to insinuate in this place that there are not virtuous and upright individuals among this body of men; but, take them as a body, they have done infinite mischief, and many of them merit the curses of the present and all fu­ture ages. In justice, however, to the American clergy, it ought to be observed, that in effecting our revolution, many of them by their precepts and example afforded great service, and were truly valuable members of the community. I wish it could be said at this day, that none of them assumed the mysterious carriage and ima­ginary dignity of an European bishop.*

BUT the enlightened friends of humanity, may congratulate each other upon a glorious [Page 25] prospect. The empire of reason will soon sweep from off the earth this bundle of nonsense and oppression, and permanently fix the attention of the human mind upon a point essential to its dig­nity and happiness. Already have the two re­volutions of America and France awakened in the intellectual world a new energy of thought, and turned the pursuit of man upon scientific principle into the path of liberal discussion. Previous to these great events—events unparel­leled in the history of ages, every pursuit of man was tinctured with the despotism of church and state. Scarcely a single art or science could be independently investigated without fear and trembling; at least it was first to be enquired how the proof of any proposition would affect the power and influence of those two holy sisters, who subjugated the earth in perpetual bondage. The rights, dignities, and essential privileges of the human race, were buried in the gulph of roy­al and clerical avarice and deception. But these days of fanaticism and oppression are vanishing away, and the philosophy of the human mind is making deep researches, to develope the nature of those principles, which will afford a perma­nent hope to the wretched in every part of the world.

THE cries of millions of innocent sufferers are calling aloud upon reason and philosophy to come forth to their aid, and lead them with a powerful hand to the land of light and joy. And it is a matter of unusual consolation, that the two great events, previously mentioned, have [Page 26] so far contributed to stimulate reflecting men to investigate the principles of nature, as leads to a hope, that a lasting source of felicity may be established for the great family of mankind. Not much longer shall superstitious impostors decimate the fruits of man's industry: but the principles of government, religion, literature, and morals, shall receive that candid and impar­tial discussion, which the nature and importance of the several subjects require. Already great improvements have been made, and though ma­ny are in dread of innovations, yet I conceive no good ground of apprehension has been shewn on these subjects.

THE philosophy of this age, teaches the most pure and unadulterated morality; and stripping religion of its mysteries and external trappings, will present it to the view of the human mind in more beautiful and attractive charms: so that in every point of view, these great political events will serve to ameliorate the condition of the human race.


ORATION, BY CITIZEN BRACKENRIDGE, On the Celebration of the Anniversary of Indepen­dence. [Pittsburgh, July 4, 1793.]

THE celebration of the day, introduces the idea of the principle that gave it birth: Was it the wisdom of the king of Great-Britain, who saw the growing greatness of the province, that they were now of age to act for themselves, and bade them be independent? No—The wis­dom of the parliament of Great-Britain, that seeing the inconvenience or impossibility of our being represented in the legislature, and sensible of the unreasonableness of being bound by laws without being represented, saw the expediency of a separation from them, and said to us, Be independent and become an allied power? No— Nothing of all this. The king and parliament of Great-Britain, were of opinion, that without representation, we were bound by their laws, and though descendants of their isle, had no right to freedom in a great forest.

WHENCE then our independence? It was the offspring of the understanding and the virtue of the people of America themselves. The elo­quent advised; the brave fought, and we suc­ceeded. The day on which we assumed our rights, became a festival; and every future year shall remember it with ardent exertion.

[Page 28]THE celebration of the day, introduces the idea of the effect of it beyond the sphere of these states. The light kindled here has been reflect­ed to France, and a new order of things has ari­sen. Shall we blame the intemperance of the exertions? Was there ever enthusiasm without intemperance? and was there ever a great effect without enthusiasm? Thy principles, O! Li­berty, are not violent or cruel: but in the despe­ration of thy efforts against tyranny, is it not al­ways possible to keep within the limit of the vengeance, necessary to defence? Do we accuse the air, or the bastile of the mountain, when the rock is burst, and the town engulphed? The air of itself is mild, and scarcely wafts a feather from its place: But restrained and imprisoned, the yielding and placid element becomes indignant, and tears the globe before it. Do we accuse the hurricane, when the mariner is tossed with the tempest, and is an incidental sufferer in the storm? The naturalist does not. He tells you that the equilibrium of the atmosphere has been disturb­ed, and if man has suffered more than the de­merit of his transgressions it is in a struggle of nature to restore herself.

IS it the duty of these states to assist France? That we are bound by treaty, and how far, I will not say; because it is not necessary. We are bound by a higher principle, if our assistance could avail; the great law of humanity.

WE might, it is true, alledge the stipulations of a treaty, and the guarantee of her possessions to France. But all the world would know, and we ought to avow it, that it is the cause of republi­canism [Page 29] which would induce our efforts. The tyrant of Great-Britain alledged the stipulations of a treaty relative to the opening of the Schaldt and waiting for no requisition on the part of Holland to observe the guarentee. But all the world knew, and he might have avowed it, that it was not the opening of the Scheldt, but the attack upon monarchy, that prompted his inter­position. Shall kings combine, and shall repub­lics not unite? We have united. The heart of America feels the cause of France; she takes a part in all her councils; approves her wisdom; blames her excesses; she is moved, impelled, elevated and depressed; with all the changes of her good and bad fortune; she feels the same fu­ry in her veins; she is tossed and shaken with all the variety of hopes and fears, attending her situation: Why not? Can we be indifferent? Is not our fate interlaced with hers? For, O France! if thy republic perish, where is the ho­nor due to ours? From whom respect to our flag upon the seas? Not from France restored to a monarch, and indignant at these very feel­ings which are now our glory: Not from the despots that are against her: These will easily re­collect that the cause of their evils took their rise here.

CAN we assist France by arming in her favor? I will not say that we can. But could we, and should France say, United States, your neutra­lity is not sufficient; we expect the junction of your arms with mine; your heroes on the soil, and your privateers on the ocean, to distress the foes; who is there would not say, It shall be so; [Page 30] you shall have them; our citizens shall arm; they shall attack; our oaks shall descend from the mountains; our vessels be launched upon the stream, and the voice of our war, however weak, shall be heard with yours!

IF we our ourselves should judge that our arms could assist France, even though the gener­rous republic required it not, yet who would he­sitate to interfere, not only at the risk of proper­ty, but life itself? Is it illusion; or do I hear France say? My daughter America! I know the dutifulness of thy heart towards me; and that thou art disposed to shew it, by taking part in this war. But I wish thee not to provoke hostilities for my sake. If I perish, I perish; but let not a mother draw in a hapless child, to suffer with herself: Is it illusion; or do I hear America reply? I do, and it is in the language of the Moabitess Ruth, to her mother-in-law, the Jewish Naomi, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or return from following thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried. God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death shall part thee and me."

BUT whether we assist or not, thy cause, O! France, will be triumphant. Did the enthusiasm of a small Roman people, repel their invaders, until Rome became the protectress of nations? Did the enthusiasm of a few Greeks, repel the millions of Asia, and afterwards overrun her kingdoms? Did the enthusiasm of the Saracens, [Page 31] in a few years spread to Spain on the one hand, and the Indus on the other? Did the enthusiasm of a few mad Crusaders, burst upon the Saracen, and establish the kingdom of Jerusalem in the centre of his empire? And shall the enthusiasm of a brave people, more numerous than the early Ro­man republic, the Greeks under Alexander; the Saracens of Arabia, or the Crusaders of Europe, be subdued by all that are against them? The weight will but condense resistance, and as the materials of explosion in the ordonance acquire a spring by confinement, so in proportion to the attack of this people, will their voice be terrible, their blow ir­resistable.

FRANCE will be independent also, and cele­brate her anniversaries; and in doing so will re­collect that our independence had preceded hers and made the example.—The anniversary of the independence of Amarica will be a great epocha of Liberty throughout the world. Proceed we then to celebrate the day; advance to the festive board; pour out liberations to sentiments of li­berty, and let the loud mouthed artillery be heard on the hill!


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