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providence, Increase and multiply. Such would be the happy result of the endeavor to keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, by an express charter, has given to the children of men. Far different, and surely much wiser, has been our policy hitherto. Hitherto we 5 have invited our people, by every kind of bounty, to fixed establishments. We have invited the husbandman to look to authority for his title. We have taught him piously to believe in the mysterious virtue of wax and parchment. We have thrown each tract of land, as it 10 was peopled, into districts, that the ruling power should never be wholly out of sight We have settled all we could; and we have carefully attended every settlement with government.
Adhering, Sir, as I do, to this policy, as well as for 15 the reasons I have just given, I think this new project of hedging-in population to be neither prudent nor practicable.
To impoverish the Colonies in general, and in particular to arrest the noble course of their marine enterprises, 20 would be a more easy task. I freely confess it. We have shown a disposition to a system of this kind, a disposition even to continue the restraint after the offence, looking on ourselves as rivals to our Colonies, and persuaded that of course we must gain all that they shall 26 lose. Much mischief we may certainly do. The power inadequate to all other things is often more than sufficient for this. I do not look on the direct and immediate power of the Colonies to resist our violence as very formidable. In this, however, I may be mistaken. But 30 when I consider that we have Colonies for no purpose but to be serviceable to us, it seems to my poor understanding a little preposterous to make them unserviceable in order to keep them obedient. It is, in truth, nothing more than the old and, as I thought, exploded problem 35 of tyranny, which proposes to beggar its subjects into submission. But remember, when you have completed your system of impoverishment, that nature still pro
ceeds in her ordinary course; that discontent will in5 crease with misery; and that there are critical moments
in the fortune of all states when they who are too weak to contribute to your prosperity may be strong enough to complete your ruin. Spoliatis arma supersunt.
The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies 10 are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We
cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates.
The language in which they would hear you tell them 15 this tale would detect the imposition; your speech would
betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.
I think it is nearly as little in our power to change their republican religion as their free descent; or to sub20 stitute the Roman Catholic as a penalty, or the Church
of England as an improvement. The mode of inquisi tion and dragooning is going out of fashion in the Old World, and I should not confide much to their efficacy in
the New The education of the Americans is also on 25 the same unalterable bottom with their religion. You
cannot persuade them to burn their books of curious science; to banish their lawyers from their courts of laws; or to quench the lights of their assemblies by re
fusing to choose those persons who are best read in their 30 privileges. It would be no less impracticable to think
of wholly annihilating the popular assemblies in which these lawyers sit. The army, by which we must govern in their place, would be far more chargeable to us, not
quite so effectual, and perhaps in the end full as difficult -35 to be kept in obedience.
With regard to the high aristocratic spirit of Virginia and the Southern Colonies, it has been proposed, I know, to reduce it by declaring a general enfranchisement of their slaves. This object has had its advocates and panegyrists; yet I never could argue myself into any 5 opinion of it. Slaves are often much attached to their masters. A general wild offer of liberty would not always be accepted. History furnishes few instances of it. It is sometimes as hard to persuade slaves to be free, as it is to compel freemen to be slaves; and in this 10 auspicious scheme we should have both these pleasing tasks on our hands at once. But when we talk of enfranchisement, do we not perceive that the American master may enfranchise too, and arm servile hands in defence of freedom ? - a measure to which other people 15 have had recourse more than once, and not without success, in a desperate situation of their affairs.
Slaves as these unfortunate black people are, and dull as all men are from slavery, must they not a little suspect the offer of freedom from that very nation which 20 has sold them to their present masters ? — from that nation, one of whose causes of quarrel with those mas. ters is their refusal to deal any more in that inhuman traffic ? An offer of freedom from England would come rather oddly, shipped to them in an African vessel which 26 is refused an entry into the ports of Virginia or Carolina with a cargo of three hundred Angola negroes. It would be curious to see the Guinea captain attempting at the same instant to publish his proclamation of liberty, and to advertise his sale of slaves.
But let us suppose all these moral difficulties got over. The ocean remains. You cannot pump this dry; and as long as it continues in its present bed, so long all the causes which weaken authority by distance will continue. “ Ye gods, annihilate but space and time,
35 And make two lovers happy!”
was a pious and passionate prayer; but just as reasonable as many of the serious wishes of
grave and solemn politicians.
If then, Sir, it seems almost desperate to think of any 5 alterative course for changing the moral causes, and not quite easy to remove the natural, which produce prejudices irreconcilable to the late exercise of our authority but that the spirit infallibly will continue, and, continu
ing, will produce such effects as now embarrass us — - the 10 second mode under consideration is to prosecute that spirit in its overt acts as criminal.
At this proposition I must pause a moment. The thing seems a great deal too big for my ideas of juris
prudence. It should seem to my way of conceiving such 15 matters that there is a very wide difference, in reason
and policy, between the mode of proceeding on the irregular conduct of scattered individuals, or even of bands of men who disturb order within the state, and
the civil dissensions which may, from time to time, on 20 great questions, agitate the several communities which
compose a great empire. It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic to apply the ordinary ideas of criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not know the
method of drawing up an indictment against a whole 25 people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feelings of
millions of my fellow-creatures as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual (Sir Walter Raleigh) at the bar. I hope I am not ripe to pass sentence on the
gravest public bodies, intrusted with magistracies of 30 great authority and dignity, and charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon the very same title that I
I really think that, for wise men, this is not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured
with humanity, not mild and merciful. -35 Perhaps, Sir, I am mistaken in my idea of an empire,
as distinguished from a single state or kingdom. But my idea of it is this, that an empire is the aggregate of many states under one common head, whether this head be a monarch or a presiding republic. It does, in such constitutions, frequently happen — and nothing but the 5 dismal, cold, dead uniformity of servitude can prevent its happening – that the subordinate parts have many local privileges and immunities. Between these privileges and the supreme common authority the line may be extremely nice. Of course disputes, often, too, very 10 bitter disputes, and much ill blood, will arise. But though every privilege is an exemption, in the case, from the ordinary exercise of the supreme authority, it is no denial of it. The claim of a privilege seems rather, ex vi termini, to imply a superior power; for to talk of the 15 privileges of a state or of a person who has no superior is hardly any better than speaking nonsense. Now, in such unfortunate quarrels among the component parts of a great political union of communities, I can scarcely conceive anything more completely imprudent than for 20 the head of the empire to insist that, if any privilege is pleaded against his will or his acts, his whole authority is denied ; instantly to proclaim rebellion, to beat to arms, and to put the offending provinces under the ban. Will not this, Sir, very soon teach the provinces to make 25 no distinctions on their part ? Will it not teach them that the government, against which a claim of liberty is tantamount to high treason, is a government to which submission is equivalent to slavery? It may not always be quite convenient to impress dependent communities with 3C such an idea.
We are, indeed, in all disputes with the Colonies, by the necessity of things, the judge. It is true, Sir. But I confess that the character of judge in my own cause is a thing that frightens me. Instead of filling me with 35