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my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look towards me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, & that I approach it with yo anx' & awf' presenttm', wch ye greatn' of ye charge, & ye weakn' of my pow" so justly inspire.
A rising nation spread over a wide & fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye ; when I contemplate these transcend' objects, & see the honor, the happin', & the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue & the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, & humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking.
Utterly indeed should I despair, did not the presence of many whom I here see, remind me, y' in the oth' high authorties providd by our constñ, I sh" find resource of wsdm, of virt. & of zeal, on wch to rely und' all difficulties.
To you then, gent. who are charge with the sover" functions of legisn. & to those associated with you, I look wh encorgm' for y' guidce & supp" wch m enable us to steer with safety, ye vess' in wch w'r all mbkd am dst ye confl“ elem" of a trouble sea.
During the contest of opinion through which we have passed, the animation of discussions and of exertions, has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely, & to speak & to write what they think.
But this being now decided by the voice of the nation, enounced according to the rules of the constitution, all will of course arrange themselves under the will of the law, & unite in common efforts for the common good. All too w" bear in mind y sacra principle y' yo ye will of y Major is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable : that the Minor' possess y' equal rights, wch equal laws must protect, & to violate would be oppression.
Let us then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart & one mind ; let us restore to social intercourse that harmony & affection, without which Liberty, & even Life itself, are but dreary things.
And let us reflect that havé banished from our land y' religious intolce und wch mankind so long bled & suffered we h" yet gain
little, if we countence a politic' intolre, as despot as wicka & capable of as bitter & bloody persecution.
During the throes and convulsions of the antient world, durs the agonisa spasms of infuriata man, seeking through blood & slaughter his long lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant & peaceful shore : that ys shd be more felt & feard by some, & less by others, & shd divide opinions as to measures of safety.
But every difference of opinion, is not a difference of principle. We have called, by different names, brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans : we are all federalists.
If there be any among us who wish to dissolve this union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with wch error of opin' m b toleratd wh" reas" is left free to combat it.
I know ind y' some honest men h" fear y' a republican govm cann' be strong ; ył this govm' is not strong enough. But wd the honest patriot, in the full tide of successf' experimen' abandon a govm' wch he so far kept us free & firm on ye theoretic & visionary fear y' ys govmt, the world's best hope m, by possibile, want energy to preserve itself?
I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth.
I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law ; would meet invasions of public order, as his own personal concern.
Some times it is said y Man cann' be trust wth y govmt of himself.—Can he y” be trust wth ye govmt of others ? Or have we found angels in ye form of kings to govern him ? — Let History answ' this question.
Let us yo pursue with courge & confidce our own federl & republ princ. our atta"t to Union and Representative govmt.
Kindly separated by nature, & a wide ocean, from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe,
Too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others;
Possessing a chosen country, with room enough for all descend's to the 1,000'h & 1,000'h generation ;
Entertaining a due sense of our equal right, to y use of our own faculties, to y acqusit"s of our own industry, to hon' & confidce fr" our fel. cit. results n' from birth, but fr" our actions & their sense of them, enlightnd by a benign religion, professd indeed & practiced in various forms, yet all of y" inculcat honesty, truth, temperce gratitude, & the love of man, acknolege & adoring an overruling providence, which by all it's dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here, & his greater happiness hereafter :
With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people ? Still one thing more, fel. cit. a wise & frug' govmt, wch shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry & improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
This is the sum of good govmt, & this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter fel. cit. on the exercise of duties, which comprehend everything dear & valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principle of this govmt and consequently those which ought to shape it's administration.
I will compress them in ye narrows compass y w" bear, state the gen' principle, but not all it's limitations.
Equal & exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political :
Peace, commerce, & honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none :
The support of the State govmts in all their rights, as ye most competent admns for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti republican tendencies :
The preservn of the Gen' govmt, in it's whole constnal vigor, as ye sheet anchor of our peace at home, & safety abroad.
A jealous care of the right of election by the people, a mild & safe corrective of abuses, wch r lopp" by y sword of revoln, where peaceable remedies are unprovided.
Absolute acquiescence in ye decis" of ye Major" y vit' princip. of republics, fr" wch is no appeal b' to force, ye vit' princip. & mmedte part of despotism.
A well discipl' militia, our best reliance in peace, & for ye first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them : The Supremacy of the Civil over the Military authority :
Economy in public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened :
The honest paiment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith :
Encouragement of Agriculture, & of Commerce as it's handmaid :
The diffusion of information, & arraignm' of all abuses at the bar of the public reason :
Freedom of Religion, freedom of the press, & freedom of Person under the protection of the Hab. corpus : And trial by juries, impartially selected.
These Principles form yo bright constelln wchgone before us, & guida our steps, thro' an age of Revoln and Reformn : The wisdom of our Sages, & blood of our Heroes, have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the Creed of our political faith, the Text of civic instruction, the Touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust ; and should we wander from them, in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to Peace, Liberty & Safety.
I repair then, fellow citizens to the post which you have assigned me.
With experience enough in subordinate stations to know the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation & the favor which bring him into it.
Without pretensions to that high confidce you reposed in our first & greatest revolution character whose preeminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love, and had destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness & effect to the legal admn of your affairs.
I shall often go wrong thro' defect of judgment : when right, I shall often be thought wrong by yo wh" posit“ w" n' command a view of the whole ground.
I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be
intentional : & your support agnst the errors of others who may condemn w' they won' if seen in all it's parts.
The approbation implied by your suffrage, is a great consolation to me for the past; and my future solicitude will be to retain the good opinion of y's who hre bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others, by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness & freedom of all.
Relying then on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire fr" it whenev' you become sensible how mch better choice it is in your power to make.
And may that infinite power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give y" a favorable issue for your peace & prosperity.
TO CHARLES PINCKNEY.
WASHINGTON, Mar. 6, 1801. Dear Sir,—Your favor of yesterday is just now put into my hands.
hands. It is so far from being improper to receive the communications you had in contemplation as to arrangements in your state, that I have been in the constant expectation you would find time to do me the favor of calling and making them, when we could in conversation explain them better than by writing, and I should with frankness & thankfulness enter into the explanations. The most valuable source of information we have is that of the members of the legislature, and it is one to which I have resorted & shall resort with great freedom. I expect Mr. Madison daily, and shall with pleasure join in conferences with yourself & him. But this ought not to prevent previous conversations between us. If contented with a bad tavern dinner, I should be happy
you can be