« AnteriorContinuar »
fruits of the revolution, and enjoy the essential benefits of civil society, under a form of government so free and uncorrupted, so happily guarded against the danger of oppression, as has been devised and adopted by the articles of confederation, it will be a subject of regret, that so much blood and treasure have been lavished for no purpose; that so many sufferings have been encountered without a compensation, and that so many sacri. fices have been made in vain. Many other considerations might here be adduced to prove, that without an entire conformity to the spirit of the union, we cannot exist as an independent power. It will be sufficient for my purpose to mention but one or two, which seem to me of the greatest importance. It is only in our united character, as an empire, that our independence is acknowledged, that our power can be regarded, or our cre. dit supported among foreign nations. The treaties of the European powers with the United States of America, will have no validity on the dissolution of the union. We shall be left nearly in a state of nature ; or we may find, by our own unhappy experi. ence, that there is a natural and necessary progression from the extreme of anarchy to
the extreme of tyranny; and that arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness."
As to the second article, which respects the performance of public justice, Congress have, in their late Address to the United States, almost exhausted the subject ; they have explained their ideas so fully, and have enforced the obligations the states are under to render complete justice to all the public creditors, with so much dignity and energy, that in my opinion, no real friend to the honour and independency of America can hesitate a single moment respecting the propriety of complying with the just and honourable measures proposed. If their arguments do not produce conviction, I know of nothing that will have greater influence, especially when we reflect that the system referred to, being the result of the collected wisdom of the continent, must be esteemed, if not perfect, certainly the least objecticna. ble of any that could be devised; and that, if it should not be carried into immediate execution, a national bankruptcy, with all its deplorable consequences, will take place, before any different plan can possibly be pro
posed or adopted ; so pressing are the present circumstances, and such is the alternative now offered to the states.
· The ability of the country to discharge the debts which have been incurred in its defence, is not to be doubted. An inclination, I flatter myself, will not be wanting ; the path of our duty is plain before us ; honesty will be found, on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy. Let us then, as a nation, be just ; let us fulfil the public contracts which Congress had undoubtedly a right to make for the purpose of carrying on the war, with the same good faith we suppose ourselves bound to perform our private engagements. In the mean time let an attention to the cheerful performance of their proper business, as individuals, and as members of society, be earnestly inculcated on the citizens of America ; then will they strengthen the bands of government, and be happy under its protection. Every one will reap the fruit of his labours ; every one will enjoy his own acquisitions, without molestation and without danger.
In this state of absolute freedom and perfect security, who will grudge to yield a very little of his property to support the common interests of society, and ensure the protection of government ? who does not remember the frequent declarations at the commencement of the war, that we should be completely satisfied, if at the expense of one half, we could defend the remainder of our possessions? where is the man to be found, who wishes to remain indebted for the defence of his own person aud property to the exertions, the bravery, and the blood of others, without making one generous effort to pay the debt of honour and of gratitude ? in what part of the continent shall we find any man, or body of men, who would not blush to stand up, and propose measures purposely calculated to rob the soldier of his stipend, and the public creditor of his due ? And were it possible that such a flagrant instance of injustice could ever happen, would it not excite the general indignation, and tend to bring down upon the authors of such measures, the aggravated vengeance of heaven ? If, after all, a spirit of disunion, or a temper of obstinacy and perverseness should manifest itself in any of the states ; if such
an ungracious disposition should attempt to frustrate all the happy effects that might be expected to flow from the union ; if there should be a refusal to comply with the requisitions for funds to discharge the annual interest of the public debts, and if that refusal should revive all those jealousies, and produce all those evils which are now happily removed Congress, who have in all their transactions shewn a great degree of magnanimity and justice, will stand justified
in the sight of God and man! And that State ( alone, which puts itself in opposition to the
aggregate wisdom of the continent, and fol. lows such mistaken and pernicious councils, will be responsible for all the consequences.
For my own part, conscious of having acted, while a servant of the public, in the manner I conceived best suited to promote the real interests of my country; having, in consequence of my fixed belief, in some measure, pledged myself to the army, that their country would finally do them complete and ample justice, and not willing to conceal any instance of my official conduct from the eyes of the world, I have thought proper to transmit to your excellency the in