Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

to a great extent : the treasures of knowledge acquired by the labours of philosophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open

for
us,

and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government : the free cultivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, above all, the pure and benign light of revelation, have had a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At this auspicious period the United States came into existence as a nation, and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.

SUCH is our situation, and such are our prospects; but notwithstanding the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us--notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and make it our own ; yet it appears to me, there is an option still left to the United States of America,whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation. This is the time of their political pro

bation ; this is the moment, when the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them this is the time to establish or ruin their national character forever ; this is the favourable moment to give such a tone to the federal government, as will enable it to answer the ends of its institution; or this may be the ill-fated moment for relaxing the powers of the union, annihilating the cement of the confederation, and exposing us to become the

sport of European politics, which may play one state against another, to prevent their growing importance, and to serve their own interested purposes. For, according to the system of policy the states shall adopt at this moment, they will stand or fall; and, by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be decided, whether the revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse; a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of unborn millions be involved.

WITH this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence in me would be a crime. I will therefore speak to your Excellency the language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. I am aware, how.

ever,

those who differ from me in political sentiments, may perhaps remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and they may possibly ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know is alone the result of the purest intention ; but the rectitude of my own heart, which disdains such unworthy motives--the part I have hitherto acted in life-the determination I have formed of not taking any share in public business hereafter -the ardent desire I feel and shall continue to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of war, the benefits of a wise and liberal government-will, I flatter myself, sooner or later, convince my countrymen, that I could have no sinister views in delivering, with so little reserve, the opinions contained in this Address.

THÊRE are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well-being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States, as an independent power.

ift. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.

2dly. A sacred regard to public justice.

3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,

4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.

THESE are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country.

On the three first articles I will make a few observations, leaving the last to thegood sense and serious consideration of those im, mediately concerned.

Under the first head, although it may not be necessary or proper for me in this place to enter into a particular disquisition of the principles of the union, and to take up the

great question which has been fre

quently agitated, whether it be expedient and requisite for the states to delegate a large proportion of power to Congress, or not; yet it will be a part of my duty, and that of every true patriot, to assert, without reserve, and to insist upon the following positions. That unless the states will suffer Congress to exercise those prerogatives they are undoubtedly invested with by the constitution, every thing must very rapidly tend to anarchy and confusion. That it is indispensable to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged, somewhere, a supreme power, to regulate and govern the general concerns of the confederated republic, without which the union cannot be of long duration.--That there must be a faithful and pointed compliance on the part of every state with the late proposals and demands of Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue. That whatever measures have a tendency to dissolve the union, or contribute to violate or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hostile to the lib. erty and independency of America, and the authors of them treated accordingly.--And lastly, that unless we can be enabled by the concurrence of the states, to participate of the

« ZurückWeiter »