Page images

Diente as much vigor as i

insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself, through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

habit are at least as necessary to fix the kindles the animosity of one part against true character of governments as of other another; foments, occasionally, riot and human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion expose to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient There is an opinion that parties in free nagement of your cuntmen interests in countries, are useful checks upon the ada country so extensive «s ours, a govern- Iministration of the government, and serve nsistent with keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, the merit scurity of liber indispen-within certain limits, is probably true; sable. Li Liber Self will find in such a and in governments of a monarchical cast, government with powers perly distri patriotism may look with indulgence, if bured, and adhed, its shrest guardian. it with favor, upon the spirit of party. It is indeed. Orle el than a name, where But in those of the popular character, in ment is too feeble to withsand governments purely elective, it is a spirit the e of faction. t. confine each not to be encouraged. From their natural member of the ciety within the linuts de- tendency, it is certain there will always be sorbed by the and to maintain all enough of that spirit for every salutary in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of purpose And there being constant danthe rights of person and property. rer of eress, the effort ought to be, by intimated to you the form of public opinion, to mitigate and asunce it. A fire not to be quenched, it lar reference to the i tiny of them on demands & uniform vigilance to prevent getraphical inations. LA me its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of now take a more comprehensive view, and warming, it should consume. you, in the most solema i azain the baner! effects of the


I have alrea danzer o parties

[ocr errors]

the stat

This spirit, unfortunately, from our nature having its strane passionpassions

under diferent

ment more c

foral it

with particu


i: ba: in th
- seen in it

Is it the worst

The alternate dening over another, sharpened

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country, should inspire caution in those intrusted with its nable administration, tee themselves withto in the in their respective constitutional spheres, It avoiding, in the exercise of the powers of partment, to encroach upon another. The spint of tends to considate the powers of all the department-in one, and thus to create, whatever the form

A ar

rs in all meru-
of the popular
rankness and

of the faction the spint of dissensions, d'countries, has horrid enormities, is


government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power. and prone ness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient t satisfy us of the truth of this position.

Frpetrated the The necessity of reciprocal checks in the itself a friheral despotism. But this exer se of political power, by dividing leads, at length. to to a more formal and and distributing it into different depositeanent despotism. The disorders and ries, and constituting each the guardian miseries which result, gradually incline of the public weal, against invasions by the minds of men tek security and re- the others, has been evinced by experipose in the abs te power of an in- ments, ancient and modern; some of them Sidual: and sooner or later, the chief of in our own country, and under our own some prevailing tution. more able or more, eyes. n more able or more eyes. To preserve them must be as necesfortunate than his competitors, turns this sary 25 to institute them. If in the disposition to the purposes of his own ele- opinion of the people, the distribution or vation on the rains of public liberty. modification of the constitutional powers be, in any particular, wrong, let it be cor rected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this. in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always grently overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

[ocr errors]

Without looking forward to tremity of this kind (which, nevertheless, ought not to be entirely out of sight, the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public adminis tration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms;

[ocr errors]

government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measure for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.


Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert Observe good faith and justice towards these great pillars of human happiness, all nations; cultivate peace and harmony these firmest props of the duties of men with all; religion and morality enjoin this and citizens. The mere politician, equally conduct; and can it be that good policy with the pious man, ought to respect and does not equally enjoin it? It will be cherish them. A volume could not trace worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no all their connexions with private and pub- distant period a great nation, to give to lic felicity. Let it simply be asked, where mankind the magnanimous and too novel is the security for property, for reputation, example of a people always guided by an for life, if the sense of religious obligation exalted justice and benevolence. desert the oaths which are the instruments can doubt that, in the course of time and of investigation in courts of justice? And things, the fruits of such a plan would let us with caution indulge the supposition, richly repay any temporary advantages that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachment for others, should be excluded: and that in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection; either of which

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that pub-is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty lic opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding, likewise, the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned; not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that toward the payments of debts there must be revenues; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive moment for a candid construction of the conduct of the

and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and untractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.

So likewise a passionate attachment of one nation to another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite

Our detached and distant situation in

nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making vites and enables us to pursue a different the concessions; by unnecessarily parting course. If we remain one people under with what ought to have been retained, an efficient government, the period is not and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a far off when we may defy material injury disposition to retaliate, in the parties from from external annoyance; when we inay whom equal privileges are withheld; and take such an attitude as will cause the it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or de- neutrality we may at any time resolve luded citizens (who devote themselves upon, to be scrupulously respected; when to the favorite nation) facility to betray, or belligerent nations, under the impossibility sacrifice the interest of their own country, of making acquisitions upon us, will not without odium; sometimes even with popu-lightly hazard the giving us provocation; larity; gilding with the appearance of a when we may choose peace or war, as our virtuous sense of obligation, a commend-interests, guided by justice, shall counsel. able deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corrup

tion, or infatuation.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many It is our true policy to steer clear of opportunities do they afford to tamper permanent alliances with any portion of with domestic factions, to practice the art the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to are now at liberty to do it; for let me not influence or awe the public councils? be understood as capable of patronizing Such an attachment of a small or weak, infidelity to existing engagements. I hold towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the maxim no less applicable to public the former to be the satellite of the latter. | than to private affairs, that honesty is alAgainst the insidious wiles of foreign ways the best policy. I repeat it, thereinfluence (I conjure you to believe me, fore, let those engagements be observed in fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free peo- their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, ple ought to be constantly awake; since it is unnecessary, and would be unwise to history and experience prove that foreign extend them. influence is one of the most baneful foes

of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike for another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil, and even second, the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who mav resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

[ocr errors]

Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural cause of things; diffusing and diversifying, by gentle means, the streams of commerce, by forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to deThe great rule of conduct for us, in re-fine the rights of our merchants, and to gard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. There let us stop.

surrender their interests.

enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinions will permit, but temporary, and liable to be, from time to time, abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay, with a portion of its independ

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.ence, for whatever it may accept under Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

that character; that by such acceptance it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be

no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon, real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations; but if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigues, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated. How far, in the discharge of my official Relying on its kindness in this, as in duties, I have been guided by the princi- other things, and actuated by that fervent ples which have been delineated, the pub- love towards it which is so natural to a lic records, and other evidences of my con- man who views in it the native soil of duct, must witness to you and the world. himself and his progenitors for several To myself, the assurance of my own con- generations, I anticipate, with pleasing exscience is, that I have at least believed my-pectation, that retreat in which I promise self to be guided by them.

and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error; I am, nevertheless, too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my country will never come to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the 23d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understand ing of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all. The duty of holding neutral conduct. may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and unity towards other nations.

The inducements of interests, for observing that conduct, will best be referred to your Own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions,

myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government-the ever favorite object of my heart-and happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

GEORGE WASHINGTON. United States, 17th of Sept., 1796.

1800.-No Federal Platform.

Republican Platform, Philadelphia.

Adopted in Congressional Caucus.

1. An inviolable preservation of the Federal constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the states, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended, who, therefore, became its enemies.

2. Opposition to monarchizing its features by the forms of its administration, with a view to conciliate a transition, first, to a president and senate for life; and, secondly, to an hereditary tenure of those offices, and thus to worm out the elective principle.

3. Preservation to the states of the pow ers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in division of powers; and resistance, therefore, to existing movements for transferring all the powers of the states

to the general government, and all of those of that government to the executive branch.

4. A rigorously frugal administration of the government, and the application of all the possible savings of the public revenue to the liquidation of the public debt; and resistance, therefore, to all measures looking to a multiplication of officers and salaries, merely to create partisans and to augment the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.

5. Reliance for internal defense solely upon the militia, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may be sufficient to protect our coasts and harbors from depredations; and opposition, therefore, to the policy of a standing army in time of peace which may overawe the publie sentiment, and to a navy, which, by its own expenses, and the wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with publie burdens and sink us under them.

6. Free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment.

Clintonian Platform.

New York, August 17.

1. Opposition to nominations of chief magistrates by congressional caucuses, as well because such practices are the exercise of undelegated authority, as of their repugnance to the freedom of elections.

2. Opposition to all customs and usages in both the executive and legislative departments which have for their object the maintenance of an official regency to prescribe tenets of political faith, the line of conduct to be deemed fidelity or recreancy to republican principles, and to perpetuate in themselves or families the offices of the Federal government.

3. Opposition to all efforts on the part of particular states to monopolize the princi.. pal offices of the government, as well because of their certainty to destroy the harmony which ought to prevail amongst all the constituent parts of the Union, as of their leanings toward a form of oligarchy entirely at variance with the theory of republican government; and, consequently, particular opposition to continuing a citizen of Virginia in the executive office another term, unless she can show that she enjoys a corresponding monopoly of talents and patriotism, after she has been honored with the presidency for twenty out of twenty-four years of our constitutional exas-istence, and when it is obvious that the practice has arrayed the agricultural against the commercial interests of the country.

7. Opposition to linking ourselves, by new treaties, with the quarrels of Europe, entering their fields of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty.

S. Freedom of religion, and opposition to all maneuvers to bring about a legal cendency of one sect over another.

9. Freedom of speech and of the press; and opposition, therefore, to all violations of the constitution, to silence, by force, and not by reason, the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their public agents.

10. Liberal naturalization laws, under which the well disposed of all nations who may desire to embark their fortunes with us and share with us the public burdens, may have that oppportunity, under moderate restrictions, for the development of honest intention, and severe ones to guard against the usurpation of our flag.

11 Encouragement of science and the arts in all their branches, to the end that the American people may perfect their independence of all foreign monopolies, in

stitutions and influences.

1801-1811.-No Platforms.
(No Convention or Caucus held.)

1812.-No Republican Platform.

No Federal Platform.

4. Opposition to continuing public men for long periods in offices of delicate trust and weighty responsibility as the reward of public services, to the detriment of all or any particular interest in, or section of, the country; and, consequently, to the continuance of Mr. Madison in an office which, in view of our pending difficulties with Great Britain, requires an incumbent of greater decision, energy and efficiency.

5. Opposition to the lingering inadequacy of preparation for the war with Great Britain, now about to ensue, and to the measure which allows uninterrupted trade with Spain and Portugal, which, as it can not be carried on under our flag, gives to Great Britain the means of supplying her armies with provisions, of which they would otherwise be destitute, and thus affording aid and comfort to our enemy.

6. Averment of the existing necessity for placing the country in a condition for aggressive action for the conquest of the British American Provinces and for the defence of our coasts and exposed frontiers: and of the propriety of such a levy of taxes as will raise the necessary funds for the emergency.

7. Advocacy of the election of De Witt Clinton as the surest method of relieving the country from all the evils existing and

« PreviousContinue »