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The bulk of the people are generally but little versed in matters of state. Want of inclination or opportunity to figure in public life, makes them content to rest the affairs of government in the hands where accident or merit has placed them. Their views and employments are confined to the humbler walks of business or retirement. There is a latent spark however in their breasts capable of being kindled into a flame; to do this has always been the employment of the disaffected. They begin by reminding the people of the elevated rank they hold in the universe, as men; that all men by nature are equal; that Kings are but the ministers of the people; that their authority is delegated to them by the people for their good, and they have a right to resume it, and place it in other hands, or keep it themselves, whenever it is made use of to oppress them. Doubtless there have been instances where these principles have been inculcated to obtain a redress of real grievances, but they have been much oftener perverted to the worst of purposes. – No government, however perfect in theory, is administered in perfection; the frailty of man does not admit of it. A small mistake, in point of policy, often furnishes a pretence of libel government, and persuade the people that their rulers are tyrants, and the whole government a system of oppression. Thus the seeds of sedition are usually sown, and the people are led to sacrifice real liberty to licentiousness, which gradually ripens into rebellion and civil war. And what is still more to be lamented, the generality of the people, who are thus made the dupes of artifice, and the mere stilts of ambition, are sure to be thrown, neglected by, when they are no longer wanted; but they are seldom so happy; if they are subdued, confiscation of estate and ignominious death are their portion; if they conquer, their own army is often turned upon them, to subjugate them to a more tyrannical government than that they rebelled against. History is replete with instances of this kind; we can trace them in remote antiquity, we find them in modern times, and have a remarkable on in the very country from which we are derived. It is an universal truth, that he that would excite a rebellion, whatever professions of philanthropy he may make, when he is insinuating and worming himself into the good graces of the people, is at heart as great a tyrant as ever wielded the iron rod of oppression. [...]

[...] Thus, my friends, those very persons that had made you believe that every attempt to strengthen government and save our charter, was an infringement of your privileges, by little and little, destroyed your real liberty, subverted your charter constitution, abridged the board, and rendered the governor a mere doge of Venice They engrossed all the power of the province into their own hands: A democracy or republic it has been called, but it does not deserve the name of either; it was, however, a despotism cruelly carried into execution by mobs and riots, and more incompatible with the rights of mankind, than the enormous monarchies of the East.


Curator Notes

Probable Date: 
December 26, 1774
American Antiquarian Society
Catalog Code: