« EelmineJätka »
a natural philosopher, legislator, and statesman. A senator of America, who sat for two years in that famous Congress which brought about the revolution: and which is never mentioned without respect, though unhappily not without regret : a governor of Virginia, who filled this difficult station during the invasions of Arnold, of Philips, and of Cornwallis; a philosopher, in voluntary retirement, from the world, and public business, because he loves the world, inasmuch only as he can flatter himself with being useful to mankind; and the minds of his countrymen are not yet in a condition either to bear the light, or to suffer contradiction. A mild and amiable wife, charming children, of whose education he himself takes charge, a house to embellish, great provisions to improve, and the arts and sciences to cultivate; these are what remain to Mr. Jefferson, after having played a principal character on the theatre of the new world, and which he preferred to the honourable comunission of Minister Plenipotentiary in Europe. The visit which I made him was not ứnexpected, for he had long since invited me to come and pass a few days with him, in the center of the mountains ; notwithstanding which I found his first appearance serious, nay even cold; but before I had been two hours with him we were as intimate as if we had pasied our whole lives together ; walking, books, but above all, a conversation always varied and interesting, always supported by that satisfaction experienced by two persons, who in communicating their sentiments and opinions, are invariably in unison, and who understand each other at the first hint, made four days pass away like so many minutes.
This conformity of sentiments and opinions on which I insist, because it constitutes my own eulogium, (and self-love must somewhere shew itself) see the honour, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country, committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly, indeed, should I despair, did not the presence of many, whom I here see, remind me, that in the other high authorities, provided by our constitution," I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, and of zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support, which may enable us to steer, with safety, the vess sel in which we are all embarked, amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.
During the contest of opinion, through which we have past, the animation of discussion and of exertions, has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers, unused to think freely, and to speak and to write what they think : but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts, for the common good. All; too, will bear in mind this sacred principle--that though the will of the majority is, in all cases, to prevail, that will, to be right. ful, must be reasonable that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart, and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse, that harmony and affection, without which, liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things. And let us reflect, that, having banished from our land, that religious ntolerance, under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance a political intolerance, as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.
“ During the throes and convulsions of the an. cient world during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking, through blood and slaughter, his long-lost liberty-it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore-that this should be more felt and feared by some, and less by others—and should divide opinions, as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names, brethren of the same principle. WE ARE ALL REPUBLICANS; WE ARE ALL FEDERA. LISTS. If there be any among us, who would wish to dissolve this union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monu. ments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong-that this government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of the successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear, that this government the world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself?-I trust not, I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth-I believe it the only one, where every man at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said, that man can. not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others ?
Or have we found angels, in the form of kings, to govern him ? Let history answer this question.
Let us, then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own federal and republican principles-our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated, by nature and a wide ocean, from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe -too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others-possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation-entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties to the acquisitions of our own industry-to honour and confidence from our fellow-citizens ; resulting not from birth, but from our actions, and their sense of them-enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practised in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperancé, gratitude, and the love of man-acknowledging and adoring an over-ruling Providence, which, by all its dispensations, proves that it delights in the happiness of man here, and his greater happiness hereafter-with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people ?--Still one thing more, fellow-citizens, a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another; shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement; and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government; and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties, which comprehend every thing dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our governo
ment, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political-peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nationsentangling alliances with none-the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concern, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies the preservation of the general government iv its whole conftitutional vigour, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home, and safety abroad--a jealous care of the right of election by the people-a mild and safe corrective of abuses, which are lopped by the sword of revolution, where peaceable remedies are unprovided-absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of repub. lics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism-a well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them the supremacy of the civil over the military authority economy in the public expence, that labour may be lightly burdened-the honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation of public faith-encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce, as its hand-maid--the diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason-freedom of religionfreedom of the press—and freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation, which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and teforination, The wisdom of our sages, and blood