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though the contest has been hurtful to both our countries, yet the event, a separation, is better even for yours than success. The reducing and keeping us in subjection by au armed force would have cost you more than the dominion could be worth, and our slavery would have brought on yours. The ancient system of the British empire was a happy one, by which the colonies were allowed to govern and tax themselves. Had it been wisely continued, it is hard to imagine the degree of power and importance in the world. that empire might have arrived at. All the means of grow ing greatness, extent of territory, agriculture, commerce, arts, population, were within its own limits, and therefore at its command. I used to consider that system as a large and beautiful porcelain vase. I lamented the measures that I saw likely to break it, and strove to prevent them ; because once broken, I saw no probability of its being ever repaired. My endeavors did not succeed: we are broken, and the parts must now do as well as they can for themselves. We may still do well though separated. I have great hopes of our side, and good wishes for yours. The anarchy and confusion you- mention as supposed to prevail among us, exist only in your newspapers. I have authentic accounts which assure me that no people were ever better governed, or more content with their respective constitutions and governments than the present thirteen states of America. A little reflection may convince any reasonable man, that a government wherein the administrators are chosen annually by the free voice of the governed, and may also be recalled at any time if their conduct displeascs their constituents, cannot be a tyrannical one, as your loyalists represent it ; who at the same time ina consistently desire to return and live under it. And, among an intelligent enlightened people as ours is, there must always be too numerous and too strong a party for supporting good
government and the laws, to suffer what-is called anarchy. This better account of our situation must be pleasing to your humanity, and therefore I give it you. 24
But we differ a little in our sentiments respecting the logo alists (as they call themselves) and the conduct of America towards them, which you think “seems actuated by a spirit of revenge ; and that it would have been more agreeable to policy, as well as justice, to have restored their estates upon their taking the oaths of allegiance to the new governments.". That there should still be soine resentment against them in the breasts of those who have had their houses, farms, and towns so lately destroyed, and relations scalped under the conduct of these royalists, is not wonderful; though I believe the opposition given by many to their re-establishing among us is owing to a firm persuasion, that there could he no reliance on their oaths; and that the effect of receiving those people again would be an introduction of that very anarchy and confusion they falsely reproach us with. Even the ex ample you propose of the English commonwealth's restoring the estates of the royalists after their being subdued, seems rather to countenance and encourage our acting differently, as probably if the power, which always accompanies prue perty, had not been restored to the royalists; if their estates had remained confiscated, and their persons had been banished, they could not have so much contributed to the restoration of kingly power, and the new government of the republic might have been more durable. The majority of examples in your history are on the other side of the question, All the estates in England and south of Scotland, and most of those possessed by the descendants of the English in Ireland, are held from ancient confiscations made of the estates of Caledonians and Britons, the original possessors in
your island, or the native Irish, in the last century only. It is but a few months since that your parliament has, in a few instances, given up confiscations incurred by a rebellion soppressed forty years ago. The war against us was begun by a general act of parliament declaring all our" estates confiscated, and probably one great motive to the loyalty of the royalists was the hope of sharing in these confiscations. They have played a deep game, staking their estates against ours, and they have been unsuccessful. But it is a surer game, since they had promises to rely on from your government of indemnification in case of loss; and I see your parliament is about to fulfil those promises. To this I have no objection, because though still our enemies, they are men; they are in necessity; and I think even an hired assassin has a right to his pay from his employer : it seems too more reasonable that the expense of paying these should fall upon the government who encouraged the mischief done, rather than upon us who suffered it; the confiscâted estates making amends but for a very small part of that mischief: it is not therefore clear that our retaining them is chargeable with injustice.
I have hinted above, that the name loyalists, was improperly assumed by these people. Royalists they may perhaps be called: but the true loyalists were the people of America against whom they acted. No people were ever known more truly loyal, and universally so, to their sovereigos : the protestant succession in the house of Hanover was their idol. Not a jacobite was to be found from one end of the colonies to the other. They were affectionate to the people of England, zealous and forward to assist in her Wars, by voluntary contributions of men and money, even beyond their proportion. The king and parliainent had fre
quently acknowledged this by public messages, resolutions, and reimbursements. But they were equally fond of what they esteemed their rights, and if they resisted when those were attacked, it was a resistance in favor of a British constitution, which every Englishman might share in enjoying who should come to live among them : it was resisting arbi-. trary impositions that were contrary to common right and to their fundamental constitutions, and to constant ancient usage. It was indeed a resistance in favor of the liberties of England, which might have been endangered by success in the attempt against ours; and therefore a great man in your parliament' did not scruple to declare, he rejoiced that America had resisted! I, for the same reason, may add this very, resistance to the other instances of their loyalty. I have already said, that I think it just you should reward those Americans who joined your troops in the war against their own country: but if ever honesty could be inconsistent with policy, it is so in this instance. B. FRANKLIN.
To M. DUPONT DE NEMOURS, AT PARIS. New constitution of the United States—Principles of
trade, &c. SIR,
Philadelphia, June 9, 1788. I have received your favor of December 31, with the extract of a letter which you wish to have translated and published here. But seven states having, before it arrived, ratified the new constitution, and others being daily expected to do the same, after the fullest discussion in convention, and in all the public papers, till every body was tired of the argument, it seemed too late to propose delay, and especially the delay that must be occasioned by a revision and correc
tion of all the separate constitutions. For it would take at least a year to convince thirteen states that the constitutions they have practised ever since the revolution, without observing any imperfections in them so great as to be worth the trouble of amendment, are nevertheless so ill formed as to be unfit for continuation, or to be parts of a federal government. And when they should be so convinced, it would probably take some years more to make the connections. An eighth state has since acceded, and when á ninth is added, which is now daily expected, the constitution will be carried into execution. It is probable however that at the first meeting of the new congress, various amendments will be proposed and discussed, when I hope your Ouvrage sur les principes et le bien des républiques en général, &c. &c. may be ready to put into their hands ; and such a work from your hand I am confident, though it may not be entirely fol. lowed, will afford useful hints, and produce advantages of importance. But we must not expect that'a new government may be formed, as a game of chess may be played, by a skilful hand, without a fault. The players of our game are so many, their ideas so different, their prejudices so strong and so various, and their particular interests, independent of the general seeming, so opposite, that not a move can be made that is not contested; the numerous objections confound the understanding; the wisest must agree to some unreasonable things, that reasonable ones of more consequence may be obtained, and thus chance has its share in many of the determinations, so that the play is more like tric-trac with a box of dice.
We are much pleased with the disposition of your government to favor our commerce, manifested in the late réglement. You appear to be possessed of a truth which few governments are possessed of, that A must take some of B's pro