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holds out to us—the happiness, the dignity of uncontrolled freedom and independence.
Let not your generous indignation be directed against any among us who may advise so absurd and madd'ning a measure. Their number is but few and daily decreased; and the spirit which can render them patient of slavery, will render them contemptible enemies.
Our Union is now complete ; our Constitution' composed, established, and approved. You are now the guardians of your own liberties. We may justly address you, as the Decemviri did the Romans, and say: "Nothing that we propose, can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, O Americans, the authors of those laws on which your happiness depends."
You have now, in the field, armies sufficient to repel the whole force of your enemies, and their base and mercenary auxiliaries. The hearts of your soldiers beat high with the spirit of freedom-they are animated with the justice of their cause, and while they grasp their swords, can look up to Heaven for assistance. Your adversaries are composed of wretches who laugh at the rights of humanity, who turn religion into derision, and would, for higher wages, direct their swords against their leaders or their country. Go on, then, in your generous enterprise, with gratitude to Heaven for past success, and confidence of it in the future. For my own part, I ask no greater blessing than to share with you the common danger and common glory. If I have a wish dearer to my soul, than that my ashes may be mingled with those of a Warren and a Montgomery, it is—that these American States may never cease to be free and independent !
OF NEW YORK'
(BORN 1757, DIED 1804).
ON THE EXPEDIENCY OF ADOPTING THE FEDERAL
CONSTITUTION-CONVENTION OF NEW YORK,
JUNE 24, 1788.?
I AM persuaded, Mr. Chairman, that I in my turn shall be indulged, in addressing the com. mittee. We all, in equal sincerity, profess to be anxious for the establishment of a republican government, on a safe and solid basis.' It is the object of the wishes of every honest man in the United States, and I presume that I shall not be disbelieved, when I declare, that it is an object of all others, the nearest and most dear to my own heart. The means of accomplishing this great purpose become the most important study which can interest mankind. It is our duty to examine all those means with peculiar attention, and to choose the best and most effectual. It is our duty to draw from nature, * For notes on Hamilton see Appendix, p. 346.
from reason, from examples, the best principles of policy, and to pursue and apply them in the formation of our government. We should contemplate and compare the systems, which, in this examination, come under our view ; distinguish, with a careful eye, the defects and excellencies of each, and discarding the former, incorporate the latter, as far as circumstances will admit, into our Constitution. If we pursue a different course and neglect this duty, we shall probably disappoint the expectations of our country and of the world.
In the commencement of a revolution, which received its birth from the usurpations of tyranny, nothing was more natural, than that the public mind should be influenced by an extreme spirit of jealousy. To resist these encroachments, and to nourish this spirit, was the . great object of all our public and private institutions. The zeal for liberty became predominant and excessive. In forming our confederation, this passion alone seemed to actuate us, and we appear to have had no other view than to secure ourselves from despotism. The object certainly was a valuable one, and deserved our utmost attention. But, sir, there is another object equally important, and which our
enthusiasm rendered us little capable of regarding: I mean a principle of strength and stability in the organization of our government, and vigor in its operations. This purpose can never be accomplished but by the establishment of some select body, formed peculiarly upon this principle. There are few positions more demonstrable than that there should be in every republic, some permanent body to correct the prejudices, check the intemperate passions, and regulate the fluctuations of a popular assembly. It is evident, that a body instituted for these purposes, must be so formed as to exclude as much as possible from its own character, those infirmities and that mutability which it is designed to remedy. It is therefore necessary that it should be small, that it should hold its authority during a considerable period, and that it should have such an independence in the exercise of its powers, as will divest it as much as possible of local prejudices. It should be so formed as to be the centre of political knowledge, to pursue always a steady line of conduct, and to reduce every irregular propensity to system. Without this establishment, we may make experiments without end, but shall never have an efficient government.