AN ORATION, PRONOUNCED AT BRIDGEWATER, October 4, 1798, at the Request of the Columbian Society, BY KILBORN WHITMAN.




Published by the Desire of the Hearers.

No principles, institutions, or systems of education, are more fit to be transmitted to posterity, than those received from our ancestors. PRESIDENT ADAMS's Reply to an Address.





IF it was the arduous task of the first emi­grants to America, to fell the forest, plough the field, and defend it from savage beasts, and more savage men; if it was the labour of their children, to make the wilderness "blos­som like the rose," guard their young set­tlements from invasion, and their chartered rights from aggression; if it was the lot of the elders of our day to resist the oppression of the mother country, separate America from the British empire, give her independence and a constitution of government, CAN IT BE DOUBTED, that it falls to our lot to settle the administration of this government, substan­tiate [Page 6] its powers, and give to our country a national CHARACTER.

THE habits and manners of a young coun­try become assimilated and familiarized by time and intercourse. The necessary connex­ion for defence, commerce, and government, impart to a nation the virtues or vices of em­inent individuals; and time, which ripens all things, disseminates the prevailing "manners as they rise," and forms the appropriate na­tional character. That must be as immature manhood in a nation as in an individual, which on a sudden assumes a national characteristic, unoriginated in experience. No extent of genius, no favourable propensities, or digni­fied sensations, so happily subserve the great purposes of life to the individual or commu­nity, as that knowledge and judgment which age and experience teach and inculcate. The observation is true, if applied to the individ­ual; more important still, if applicable to small communities; of the last consequence, when applied to an extensive empire. A country like the American continent, whose coast is more than sixteen hundred miles, whose inte­rior stretches far to the wilderness, as it pos­sesses variety of clime, soil, and atmosphere, may be supposed to predicate dissimilarity [Page 7] of manners, habits, and even morals; and when we contemplate America, as the reser­voir for emigration from every clime and nation in Europe, the city of refuge for the oppressed of the earth, it is by no means strange that this variety of manners, habits, and morals should be increased. Absurd then, must be the idea, that a NATIONAL CHARACTER should be born in a day; time must assimilate, intercourse and experience must familiarize American manners to produce a uniform national characteristic.

THE time is now come when our attention should be awakened to this important subject. Experience teaches us, there is nothing of such intimate importance to the individual as a purity and consistency of character. Anal­ogy leads us to anticipate all this importance, as equally appropriate to the body politic. If it is advantageous to the individual to have a character that may conciliate the esteem and affection of men, procure him confidence and respect from neighbours and acquaintance, much more beneficial is it to the community to possess the same advantage.

A PERIOD of more than individual man­hood has elapsed since America was declared [Page 8] free and independent. This time has been filled with the most interesting events that history ever recorded. We have seen thirteen colonies like thirteen brethren, united in self-defence against the aggressions of an unfeeling parent. Inspired with liberty they ever en­joyed, disdaining a yoke their fathers would not wear; we have seen them formed in a common band to defend their rights, or die in the attempt. We have been astonished at a series of success, which for the undisciplined state of the country, and the want of proper means of defence, has never been equalled since the age of miracles ceased. An indis­creet parent has been compelled to acknow­ledge her error, to withdraw her commands, armies, and fleets; and America has drawn the boundary line against British rapacity, saying in the language of freedom, "hither­to shalt thou go, but no further."

THE conclusion of the revolutionary war forms a period in American history that can never be forgot. Without an established gov­ernment; without laws that could operate beyond mere recommendations; receiving an army, returning from victory, and unpaid for exalted services; without resources, and with­out arrangement; the sober good sense of A­mericans, [Page 9] joined to the advice of a WASH­INGTON, induced a band of heroes to re­ly on the justice of that country they had de­fended for compensation; and every man re­turned to his own home.

HERE we see what has only been prophesi­ed in history: a nation peaceably returning to a state of nature, and calmly deliberating how they would chuse to be governed in future. The fathers of the country, the wise of the age the patriotic of the day, are soon selected by the free suffrage of the people, to meet, and deliberate on a form of government. The patience of investigation appeared to be pro­portionate to the magnitude of the subject. The result of their deliberations are submitted to the people, who, in an assembly of their delegates, ratified and confirmed it, as the con­stitution of government for America. When this work was completed, the choice of the people selected men eminent for talents and abilities to compose their first Congress, and clothed them with authority, to originate laws and execute them according to the constitu­tion.

FROM the adoption of the constitution to the present time, we have been making the [Page 10] experiment, which no other nation has made before us, the efficacy of a REPRESENTA­TIVE DEMOCRACY unoriginated in con­quest, and free from all feudal tenures and embarrassments, where liberty in its most rational latitude is enjoyed. The novelty of this scene, and its operation on the minds of more than three millions of people, scattered over such an extent of territory, has been happy beyond a parallel. The constitution was predicated on the supposition of dissimil­arity in manners, interests, and feelings of those, for whose benefit it was made; and may therefore be considered as the "result of a spirit of amity, mutual concession, and defer­ence, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable. Individuals, entering into society, and agreeing on a form of government as the criterion of public con­duct, necessarily give up a certain portion of their liberty to secure the rest; but to draw the dividing line, between the power granted and the liberty retained, has ever been consid­ered by all legislators as a most difficult task: and the difficulty is increased, when the va­riety of manners and habits of thirteen states are taken into view.

THAT the federal constitution would meet the entire approbation of every state in the [Page 11] union, much less of every individual of each state, was never to be expected. Particular interests could never be considered without injury to the whole. A consolidation of the union, in which the existence, safety, and prosperity of the nation was involved, appears the leading sentiment, the governing motives, in forming and ratifying the constitution of the federal government. A period mentioned for its revision or amendment, if it shall then be thought necessary, shews, that the experi­ment was to be made, whether it was adapted to the views, sentiments, and interests of the American continent.

THE experiment of a new government has ever formed an epoch in the character of na­tions; and perhaps the most sudden altera­tions in their character have originated prin­cipally from this source. The form of gov­ernment is to the community, what education is to the individual. The emperor Julian, once said of the French, "I like them, be­cause like me, they are grave and serious:" little of this is now to be seen. The most sudden alteration of character that can take place in a nation, is produced by a revolution; when the people pass at once from liberty to slavery, or from slavery to liberty. What [Page 12] nation ever exhibited more patriotism or love of liberty than the Romans, before the eleva­tion of the Caesars, and what people could discover more weakness or depravity, when they became subject to masters? What na­tion in Europe was more attached to monar­chy, and the person of their sovereign, than the French, prior to their revolution, and what nation have ever defiled the annals of history like them, for cruelty to their king, and hatred of monarchy? If there is no such striking contrast of character in Americans, it is because Americans never were slaves. Ex­perience then proves that the character and spirit of a people change with their external circumstances; and that "different govern­ments give alternately to the same nation, a character noble or base, firm or fickle, cour­ageous or cowardly." Monarchy may form one character; aristocracy a second; democ­racy a third. Commerce has characterized Holland; agriculture the states of Germany and Spain.

THE best writers on the characters of na­tions, generally have considered physical causes as much less operative in the production of characteristics than moral; the latter imply­ing such things as operate on the public mind, [Page 13] in the way of motives or reasons, to induce a certain set of opinions, habits, and modes of conduct; and among the moral causes that have this influence, may be reckoned the re­ligion, government, revolutions, resources, and local connexions of a country.

IT is true indeed, that air, food, and cli­mate have their influence on animals; the brutal species of one clime may differ from the same species in another: yet on man, this uniformity of effect is interrupted by his reflective powers. China is remarkable for uniformity of character, yet the air and cli­mate of that vast extended empire, is surpris­ingly various. Thebes and Athens were but a short days journey from each other, and yet the Athenians were as remarkable for in­genuity, politeness, and gaiety, as the The­bans were for dulness and rusticity. Rivers and mountains separate nations, whose char­acters form a perfect contrast. Europe, Asia, and America have not, by their various climes, changed the national character of the Jew, Turk, or Greek.

NATIONAL characters, not originating in fixed moral causes, are sometimes produced from causes accidental. If a Brutus is raised to au­thority, [Page 14] and will sacrifice his son if he violates the laws; or if a WASHINGTON will sacri­fice private interest to public good; such in­stances will do much to form a national char­acteristic; and, "whatever that is, which forms the national features, the succeeding generation will imbibe a deeper tincture of the same dye."

IF we attempt to mention the most usual sources from which a national character orig­inates, we must begin with religion, as laying the foundation.

THE greatest legislators of antiquity have judged it impossible to raise such mutual con­fidence among men, as to form a government or support it, without the aid of religion. Cicero exerts all his eloquence to prove, "that a proper reverence for the gods is the only proper basis of civil government, order, and happiness in a commonwealth." If common want, or common danger, have united men for a time, while fear, novelty, or enthusiasm have been predominant, yet, when ease and tranquillity are restored, and time given for the operation of the private passions; instan­ces of the continuance of a regular government are said not to be found, independent of relig­ious [Page 15] principles. "It is religious principle, by the sanction of an oath, which binds a peo­ple to their rulers, and rulers to the people;" and the universal custom of demanding it from all in authority; the important light in which it has been viewed, as the strongest security, both of veracity in asserting, and fidelity in promising, which one man can give another, is proof of the position; which cus­tom could never have obtained, without an an­tecedent opinion, deeply rooted in the minds of men, that a belief of a Deity, and a sense of his being the witness and judge of our con­duct, was one of the strongest engagements to act justly and honestly with one another.

INFORM individuals ever so frequently, that their private interest is connected with the public good, and that hence is derived their obligation to support government, law, and subordination, and you will find, "that the empire of social laws cannot be separated from the supports of religion." Place the origin of your property as far back as you please; let the rich tell the poor their estates are de­scended through many generations; and their reply may be this: "Your distinctions of property are all wrong; all men are equal; your notions of justice were established for [Page 16] the few, at the expense of the many: we see no equality in the world, we declare war with your palaces, but peace with cottages:" come to a division, for we will not be "hew­ers of wood, or drawers of water," unless you are strongest. Will you oppose this reason­ing, by pleading the injustice of a new divis­ion? What care they for justice, since you have told them, "there is no God but reason, and that death is an everlasting sleep." They will say your laws of justice were framed by the rich to oppress the poor; that the wants of the former bear no proportion to the ne­cessities of the latter; and that the fate of the most numerous part of every community is fixed in wretchedness, so long as the present system of law and subordination continues. Far be it then from philosophy to produce conviction against personal interest by preach­ing justice: a more commanding influence is wanted, and religion alone possesses it. The basis of government and law, is laid in the priority of religious opinions, to which all laws are allied, and by the influence of which, they alone can be maintained.

UNDER the influence of religious opinions, the face of the moral world changes, and so­ciety becomes a blessing. Rulers preside [Page 17] with security to themselves; and are not ne­cessarily surrounded with the military power of the nation, to save their heads from the guillotine, or compelled to crush, by the most arbitrary measures, all competitors for power. The peaceable, inoffensive subject has all the security, with regard to life, liberty, and pro­perty, that the "sense of an Almighty pro­tection in his own breast, or the supposed awe of Almighty power, in the heart of others, can possibly give him;" while all who are dis­posed to be unjust, contentious, and hostile, must first break loose from all the ties of in­terest and conscience, and to come at the life, liberty, and property of others; expose them­selves to the penalty of human laws, and the displeasure of Heaven, and be literally fools, before they can be knaves.

IF we suppose religion necessary to support civil government, and lay the foundation of a national character; yet it must be granted, much of the utility of religion will depend on the nature of it. All kinds of religion that have been professed in the world, have not had the same happy tendency on society, gov­ernment, and laws. A religion, which repre­sents the Deity, as cruel and arbitrary, armed with power, only to inflict misery; easily pro­voked, [Page 18] and implacable when angry; must excite disgust, and spread gloom and horror over the mind; sour the human disposition, and beget a dark, unsocial, suspicious temper, that will pervade the whole conduct. The sensations man must feel to a being of this character, are the sensations of a slave towards his master. The government formed, the laws instituted, the habits and manners gen­erated, will partake of all that inhumanity and cruelty, the natural result of such impressions.

BUT, if the religion of a country represents the Deity possessed of all possible perfection, combined in one undivided essence, wherein infinite wisdom, power, and goodness are unit­ed; tenderly concerned for the welfare of his offspring; making provision for their temporal enjoyment and eternal felicity; the present witness and future judge of all their con­duct, and who will finally reward every one according to his works: If this religion rep­resents all virtue as a transcript of his moral perfections; and what he must ever be inclin­ed to inculcate on all his offspring; as being in itself, what he loves and approves, and in the increase and display of which, his glory, and his creatures' happiness must forever con­sist; the most natural consequence of such [Page 19] conceptions, will be correspondent sensations towards this Being, a love and veneration for him, as the source of excellence; a humble im­itation of his perfections; a love and good will towards all the creatures he has made. The right or wrong conceptions man has formed of his Maker, have given a cast to all his rea­sonings, principles, and conduct. The transi­tion from the reverence, to the imitation, of the Being worshipped; whether he be con­ceived good or bad, is both easy and natural. Mount Gerizim had anciently, visitants of one description; the valley of Hinnom, another.

WHILE superstition mistakes the God of justice for the God of vengeance; and can view him in no other attitude, but with the uplifted thunderbolt, well may this account for the long catalogue of heathen deities, in ancient mythology; the absurd rites, cruel laws, and oppressive customs of Pagan an­tiquity: and this may be the reason of that unfeeling barbarity, which, prior to christiani­ty, characterized every country of the Pagan world. A belief of lords many, and gods many; an imitation of their characters; an obedience to their commands; are, of all er­rors, the most ancient, and of all superstitions, the most mischievous to society.

[Page 20]BUT the religion of our country teaches us to harmonize all perfection in one Being; and explains each attribute of his nature in perfect consistency with the rest. The system of faith produced, as the natural consequence, is ra­tional; and the basis of political and moral virtue, well explained, permanent and lasting. We have the proper motives in our religion, that produce constancy in duty; "a divine legislator, speaking from heaven; an omnis­cient witness, beholding our conduct; an omnipotent judge, declaring he will reward or punish us, according to justice." These mo­tives only can awe man, "support integrity, check guilt; they add to morality, the solem­nity that should ever attend it, and to the ad­monitions of conscience, they give the autho­rity of law:" Their co-operation with the virtuous dispositions of good men, ensure an influence, to make them constant and perse­vering, in all the duties of men and citizens. If it should be said, that great irregularities are often found in countries that profess this religion, it may be replied, the irregularity proceeds not from the religion, but from the abuse of it; and what gift of heaven has not been abused? If we are told how much war and bloodshed has been occasioned by chris­tianity, since it has been published; we will [Page 21] thank the deist to tell us, how much better the world would have been if christianity had never been known: until which information, we beg leave to rejoice in the profession of a religion, operative and commanding in its in­fluence; a religion, that addresses all our pow­ers, ennobles all our faculties, and restrains all our unhappy propensities; a religion, pro­posing institutions, which form the pillars of government, and without which, it must soon totter in ruin. By institutions, I mean the public worship of God, on the weekly sab­bath; the institution of marriage for life; and the solemn promise of parents, in the baptism of their children, that they will bring them up, in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord."

SUCH being the excellency of our religion, need it be said, that Americans should be characterized as a people, who "fear God, and regard man?" just, humane, generous in their dealings; sober, reflective, determined, resolute; patient, persevering in all the duties of men and citizens! This character is but the natural consequence of a firm belief in, and practice of, the duties of our religion.

IF we take off our attention from the reli­gion, [Page 22] and fix it on the government of our country, another source will be added, from which the American character ought to be formed.

NEXT in importance, to our connexion with him who made us, must be our inter­course with one another. Necessity compels us to unite in society; and when united, we seek protection from the institution of govern­ment. We give up a part of our natural lib­erty to secure the rest; and if we find no pro­tection from the government, we seek it from individuals; and by submission to some dem­agogue, court that favour, which from the government was hoped for in vain. Thus anarchy is the immediate cause of tyranny. Barbarians, on this account, never enjoy lib­erty, which requires refinement in laws and institutions, and obedience to them; and such a sacrifice of private interest to public good, as can only result from reflection and experience; and grow to perfection, under a regular gov­ernment. Every government should further be adapted to the local situation and character of those, for whom it is made. It was thus in ancient times among the Jews, and in mod­ern times among the Arabs; religion was made the principal object of government, be­cause [Page 23] religion was the most singular and pre­vailing feature of their character. For the same reason, no doubt, literature characterized the government of Athens; commerce, Tyre and Carthage; navigation, Rhodes; and war, Sparta. A free government ought al­ways to be distinguished, by affording the sub­ject liberty and security. By liberty is meant, "a right to do what the laws of society have neither positively, nor impliedly forbidden;" and by security is meant, such a limitation of the supreme power, and such a distribution of the several parts of it, as best ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Perfect political security would be obtained, if the interest of rulers, and the ruled, could be rendered perfectly indistinguishable; and the nearest approach to this perfection of security, that the people can have in a free government, is, when the several portions of power, which, when united, forms the supreme power, are so distributed and arranged, as that interference and usurpation may be prevented. This happy distribution of the several portions of power, and harmonious arrangement, to pre­vent interference, are most pleasingly illus­trated in the form of government, contained in our federal constitution.

[Page 24]THE government of the United States, dis­tributes the supreme power into three branch­es: viz. the legislative, judicial, and execu­tive: the relative importance of each branch, with limitations of their powers, is delineated, and specially described in the constitution; by which limitations and restrictions, checks and balances, are formed for the mutual pre­servation of the whole. Our government then, is a government of checks and balances, mix­ed in its nature, and like the solar system, can only be preserved, when every part retains its just and harmonious proportion of power. This mixed form of government, has been clearly demonstrated, by several writers, of high eminence in the literary world; and by none more forcibly, than by our beloved Chief Magistrate, as containing the most complex provision of liberty and safety for the people; and uniting the two essential requisites for gov­ernment, wisdom and strength, in the highest, and yet safest degree.

OUR national liberty, undoubtedly consists in governing ourselves, according to our nat­ural rights: and, as we were never slaves to foreigners abroad, or any class of men at home; so neither the many of any other country, nor the few of our own, have any right to dictate [Page 25] to us, what government to adopt, as to form, nor how it shall be administered.

THE constitution of the federal government guarantees to the individual states in the union, a republican form of government, with lib­erty to make such laws, as do not interfere or oppose, the general administration. It grants each state protection from foreign ene­mies, and internal commotion and sedition. It grants each individual American, the enjoy­ment of all personal advantages he may acquire, without injury to others; with the rights of personal security, property, liberty of ac­tion, reputation, opinion, speech, and religion. But even these are not granted, without this necessary limitation; that they should be so exercised and enjoyed, as may be consistent with the like privileges in others. This seems the constitutional idea of equality. It does not mean that the same degrees of wealth, or power, should be enjoyed by every individ­ual of the community; but that property merely should be no title to power; and that power should never be exercised, contrary to law, and the constitution. In short, equality, under the form of government we have adopt­ed, consists summarily in this, that like priv­ileges, should be extended to like persons, in like circumstances.

[Page 26]THESE seem the rights secured to individ­uals, and to the several states in the union, by the constitution of our general government; the branches of which are equally supreme, coequal, and coeval; deriving their power and energy from the same source—the will of the people. And such is the nice adjustment and distribution of power, that each must, and ought fairly to exercise its own functions, and neither check or usurp the powers of each other. When this is the case, the government is harmonious, and all that liberty is enjoyed under it, which government can give, or the most complex provision, for the liberty of the people can ensure. This sacred palladium of American liberty, the constitution, like the law of testimonies of the Hebrew polity, is the great standard of political rectitude to Americans; the polar star, by which they are to be guided, in all their political disquisitions, and legislative conduct.

NEED it be added, that a second feature in the American character, ought to be an un­conquerable love of liberty; a decided pref­erence of a government of laws, to a govern­ment of men; that they ought to guard their independence from all foreign intrigue and dictation; and their constitution and laws, from violation and interruption?

[Page 27]THE revolution we have experienced, can­not but have an influence in forming our char­acter. This revolution, for the honour of America, did not originate in a mad ambition for independence; nor in a desire to live with­out government, subordination, and religion; but in a desire to enjoy unimpaired, the rights of British subjects. When Britain assumed a right to tax us, without our consent, and bind us by laws, when we were not represented; after petitioning in vain, we drew the sword for preservation, not for conquest; to preserve the rights we had, rather than to acquire more. When our struggle was crowned with success, we manifested the principle, for which we fought, by an immediate attention to the institution of a form of government, founded on the principles of liberty and equity.

IT has ever been the object then, of Ameri­cans, to support government, order, and the reign of equal laws: that anarchy should be prevented; that a free, generous subordina­tion and obedience to the constituted authori­ties should prevail; that jealousy should at­tend all attempts of foreign influence; and while we are careful not to interfere in the government of other nations, no nation shall [Page 28] take greater liberties with us, than we do with them.

IF from the revolution, we turn our atten­tion to the resources of our country, some cor­respondent impressions will be made on the public mind.

THE situation of the American continent; its soil and climate; its extent of coast; its fisheries, and other local advantages, evident­ly designate us, as an agricultural and com­mercial nation. The earth produces the necessaries of life in abundance, with some of its luxuries; and internal commerce may ren­der us almost, if not quite, independent, on any foreign clime. The raw materials, which are more than the inhabitants can manufac­ture, or consume; the fisheries on our shores; the seamen on our capes and bays, designate us, as our own carriers to other nations, if re­ciprocity and fair dealing can be obtained: and if not, our forests supply the materials, and our mechanics can fashion them into wooden walls of defence; or we may with­hold supplies from those who want our prod­uce, until terms of accommodation can take place.

[Page 29]NEED we then be told, that possessing such a country, and such resources; the inheritance of our fathers; that we need not hastily stoop to foreign imposition? While young we stood unmoved, against one power in Europe; shall we basely submit to the dictation of another? Let us rather appreciate our own country, while we are thus favoured of Heaven; and guard against selling it, "for less than a mess of pottage."

AND when we consider the position of our country, as it respects Europe; that an ocean of three thousand miles, separates this happy land, from older governments; what ought we to expect less than this; that as little con­nexion as possible with other nations, will al­ways be our policy? That while they quar­rel and make peace, as interest dictates, we will guard against partiality, and attend to our own concerns. That as accession of territory is not needed, so the desire of domination and conquest, shall be put far from us.

FROM these materials, a character ought to be formed; from these sources it ought to originate. Americans ought to be character­ized, as firmly attached to the religion of their fathers; partial to the government of [Page 30] their choice; dignified in their submission to the constituted authorities; delighted with their own country, and ambitious to be com­pletely independent of any other.

BUT is this thy character, my country? "If weighed in the balance, it is feared thou wilt be found wanting." Attempts are made to corrupt the fountain, from whence the pu­rity of thy character should flow.

"We have heard with our ears, and our fathers have told us," that "righteousness, exalts a nation; while sin is a reproach to any people." This venerable maxim of ethics, has been taught us by that religion, for the enjoyment and unmolested profes­sion of which, our fathers left the endear­ments of connexions and friends, crossed the Atlantic, and began a settlement in the Amer­ican wilderness. It was this religion that formed the basis of their laws. They de­clared it the foundation of their hopes, the source of their consolation in every distressing period. To transmit this religion, with the pure worship of God, and the rights of con­science, to their children, animated them in their labours, and consoled them in their dis­tresses. Little did they think their children [Page 31] would so soon be told, their religion wanted evidence to support it. That the scriptures were contradictory; a composition of false­hood; contrived by politicians, and the in­strument of tyranny, for priests and impostors. Little did those venerable men, who first in­culcated the precepts of the gospel, in the in­fant settlements of this country think, that not two centuries would elapse, before their ashes would be insulted, with publications, that "defame God, and dishonour man." Little did they think, any of their true descendants would believe, "man was separated from God and time from eternity," that blindness needs no guide, and perverseness no restraint. Could they have conceived, that society would be declared, happy without principle, and gov­ernment without religion? That the sabbath was a nuisance; public worship priestcraft; prayer a dictation to the Almighty, and praise superstition. That marriage was tyranny, property a prejudice, and the reign of law, the enforcement of arbitrary power? It was not probable believers would be multiplied, in these doctrines; or that a quixotic love for the universe, was to be expressed, by a hatred of that part of it we inhabit: or that to aid foreigners in their views of universal [Page 32] empire, any one American could be found willing to demoralize the world, to make way for illumination. Venality like this, is not the growth of a day: corruption, though hasty in its approach, walks not with such unusual strides. "An enemy has done this," the tares appear among the wheat, may the harvest of them be hastened.

LET us return to the simplicity of our fathers; to the virtuous manners of our an­cestors; and take warning from that nation, "whose foul abominations," are breaking loose like a torrent, and threaten Europe with another age of Gothic barbarity. Let us cul­tivate a veneration for religion, and early ed­ucation. Let not the wit of some, the sarcasm of others, or the unfounded assertions and ridicule of the many, lessen your belief in, and practice of, that religion, which pro­claims, "peace on earth, and good will to­wards men." "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy:" This is the natural barrier of vice, the great means under God, of in­struction and comfort: and let us remember, that when society can be persuaded to mis­pend the sabbath, forsake the altar of worship, magnify morality to the disparagement of re­ligious faith, silent meditation, to the public [Page 33] reverence of Deity; the world is robbed of the very means which has preserved religion on earth, that has kept mankind in some de­gree sensible of the God that made them, the rock of their salvation. Conduct this, which opens the door of licentiousness, which no penal statutes of the magistrate, or closet meditation of the recluse, can ever shut.

NEXT to an attempt to corrupt our reli­gion, may be ranked the endeavours to sub­vert our government.

COULD it once be imagined, that Ameri­cans who deliberately formed and established their own government; who freely chuse and invest their own rulers; who see them pos­sessed of the same interests and feelings with themselves, should ever encourage insidious attempts to divide the people from their gov­ernment? Considering the form of govern­ment we have adopted, is there one honest man on the continent who does not see, that to magnify one branch of it to the disparage­ment of the other, is to destroy it? Who ever loved or supported his friend by halves? and who does not know, that every construction [Page 34] of the constitution, which tends to magnify one branch at the expense of the other, tends to interrupt its harmony, and destroy its use­fulness? If for instance the executive power usurps the legislative; or the legislative the executive; or the judicial either; such inter­ference destroys the unity and energy of the whole.

THAT in a mixed government, the popu­lar branch should be jealous of the judicial and executive, is by no means new or unexpect­ed: "Vigilance is laudable, undue jealousy is destructive." It may arise to such height as to bring on interference and contest for power, and finally, end in the monopoly of all power in one branch: and when ever this is the case, the constitution is violated; the gov­ernment is changed; the balance of power is destroyed; and from being a government of laws, it becomes at once a government of men.

THAT attempts have been made by foreign intrigue and intestine ambition, to excite this unreasonable jealousy; that the people have been flattered at the expense of their govern­ment, no candid American can doubt. The [Page 35] powers vested by the constitution in the exec­utive, have been examined and re-examined; and the exercise of this power carefully com­pared with the limits prescribed in the consti­tution; and when it was found that in no in­stance has this power been exceeded, the next step was, "so to construe the constitution, as impliedly to charge the executive with a con­duct exceeding its bounds. This was the spirit of the attack respecting the treaty; and the same spirit shewed itself in the amendment to the bill on foreign intercourse. The treaty was a proper subject to excite jea­lousy, as it was in many parts of the conti­nent very unpopular; the people not pos­sessing the means of judging were against it then; though now they seem generally convinced of the wisdom and policy of the measure.

THE views of those who directed these at­tacks on the executive, become apparent from this circumstance; that if the constitution was violated, he ought to have been impeach­ed: this was not done, and we have a right to conclude, that the executive acted within the pale of the constitution. If the executive [Page 36] acted within the pale of the constitution, an attempt to restrain him in the exercise of constitutional power is interference; unless the constitution gives him too much power; and if this be the case, the error is in the con­stitution, and not in him who administers it.

BUT will Americans suffer these attempts to go unpunished? They will not; they know that a "house divided against itself cannot stand;" they will punish attempts to divide the government. They will rally round the standard of union, and will remember, that if a republican government cannot exist and be maintained in America, it can exist no where but on paper, or in the visions of philoso­phers. They will appreciate the blessings they enjoy, and feel the duty of transmitting them to posterity. They will remember their maxim, "UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL;" and while they see the constitu­tion respected, the laws executed, and their rulers attached to their own country and its freedom, will yield them at all times respect and support.

NEXT to the government, we have experi­enced [Page 37] an attempt to pervert the principles of our revolution.

OUR character has been represented abroad as hating the country from which we origin­ated; and that this hatred gave rise to the revolution, and would now lead us to comply with any measures our pretended friends in France please to dictate. But where is the man who can be guilty of such sacrilege to the memory of those heroes who fell in the cause of freedom as to say, that hatred to the mother country was the cause of their resistance? and not rather that her unjust aggressions of power created the separation? We understand this better in America. We fought for the rights of men and citizens; for that justice which was denied us in jealousy; and when it was gained by our arms, we retired to "our vines and fig trees," determined to live "peaceably with all men." We were just to all who assisted us, though the servants of none. As the issue of the revolutionary war gave us a rank among the nations of the earth; it has been our object to keep our faith with all na­tions; support our own government and laws; deal with the contending powers in Europe [Page 38] on principles of honour, according to the laws of nations, and with integrity.

WITH such resources in our power, and at such a happy distance from Europe, can it be believed, that we shall willingly interfere in their quarrels, or by any connexion, not orig­inating in the most imperious necessity, have any intercourse but what is founded in reci­procity and mutual good faith? IT CAN­NOT.

AMERICANS are awakened; their eyes are opened to their interests and dangers; and if for a time we were insensible to aggressions and not hasty in resentment, indignation is deferred but to collect its force; and if ne­cessity, imperious necessity, compels us to the field in self defence; Americans know a WASHINGTON yet lives, and is appointed to lead his former brethren in arms; while an ADAMS in the cabinet, holds with steady firmness the helm of state. In this critical period, may the features of our national char­acter appear; may the voice of every Amer­ican join in the declaration, that the LIBERTY, [Page 39] INDEPENDENCE, and RELIGION of our COUNTRY are INSEPARABLE.

"By honour rul'd, with honesty your guide,
"Be this your bulwark, and be that your pride;
"Increase the federal ties, support the laws,
"Guard public faith, revere religion's cause.
"Thus rise to greatness; by experience find,
"Who live the best, are greatest of MANKIND."

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