Imágenes de página

An ORATION, delivered at the North Church in Hartford, ric the meeting of the Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati, July 4, 3787, in commemoration of the Independence of the United Statesa

By JOEL BARLOW, Esq. Published by desire of faid Society, Mr. President, Gentlemen of the Society, and Fellow.Citizens,

V the anniversary of so great an event as the birth of

the empire in which we live, none will quellion the propriety of palling a few moments in contemplating the van rious objects suggeited to the mind by the important occasion.

2. But at the present period, while the blessings claimed by the sword of victory, and promised in the voice of peace, re. main to be comfirmed by our future exertions; while the noura ihment, the growth, and even the existence of our empire, depend upon the united efforis of an extensive and divided people ; the duties of this day afcend from amusement and congratulation, to a ferious patriotic employment,

3. We are assembled my friends, not to boast, but to realize ; not to inflate our national vanity by a pornpous relation of pait achievements in the council or in the field ; but from a mode est retrospect of the truly dignified part already acted by our countrymen, from an accurate view of our present fituation, and from an anticipation of the scenes that remain to be una folded ; to discern and familiarize the duties that ftill await us as citizens, as soldiers, and as men.

4. Revolutions in other countries have been effected by aca cident. The faculties of human reason, and the rights of hus man nature, have been the sport of chance and the prey of ama bition, And when indignation has burst the bands of Navery, to the deftru&tion of one tyrani, it was only to impose the manacles of another.

5. This arose from the imperfection of that carly stage of society, which necessarily occafioned the foundation of em pires, on the eastern contineni, to be laid in ignorance, and which induced a total inability of foreseeing the improvements of civilization, or of adapting the government to a state of soa cial refinement,

6. I shall but repeat a common observation, when I remarka that on the western continent the scene was entirely different, and a view task, totally unknown to the legislators of other nations, was imposed upon the fathers of the American empire.

7. Here was a people, thinly scattered over an extensive territory, lords of the soil on which they trod, commanding a prodigious length of coast, and an equal breadth of frontier;

. ,

a people habituated to liberty, profefling a mild and benetou lent religion, and highly advanced in fcience and civilization, To couduct such a people in a revolution, the address must be made to rcason as well as to the passions. And to reason, to the clear understanding of these variously affc&ed colonies, the solemn address was made.

8. A people thus enlightened ard capable of discerning the connection of causes with their remotelt effects, waited 11ot the experience of oppression in their own perfons ; which they well knew would render them les able to conduét a rego ular opposition.

.. But in the moment of their greatest prosperity, when every heart expanded with the iocreasing opulence of the British American dominions, and every tongue united in the praises of the parent state and her patriotic king, when many circumstances concurred which would have rendered an igno. tant people fecure and inattentive to their future interests, at this moment the eyes of the American Argus were opened to the first and most plausible invasion of the colonial rights,

10. In vain were we told, and perhaps with the greatest truth and sincerity, that the monies levied in America were all to be expended within the country, and for our benefit Equally idle was the policy of Great Britain in commencing her pew fyftem by a Imall and almolt imperceptible duty, and that upon a very few articles.

II, It was not the quantity of the tax, it was not the mode of appropriation, but it was the right of the demand, which was called in question. Upon this the people deliberated; this they discussed in a cool and dispassionate manner and this they opposed in every shape that an artful and fyfte. matic ministry could devise, for more than ten years, before they assumed the sword.

12. This fingle circumftance, afide from the magnitude of the object, or the event of the conteft, will ftamp a peculiar glory on the American revolution, and mark it as a distin. guished era in the history of mankind : that fober reason and reflection have done the work of enthufia[m, and performed the miracles of gods.

13. In what other age or nation, has a laborious and agris cultural people, at ease upon their own farms, secure and distant from the approach of fleets and armies, tide waiters and tamp masters, reasoned before they had felt, and from the dictates of duty and conscience, encountered dangers, difreie and poverty, for the fake of securing to posterity, a govern. ment of independence and peace ?

14. The toils of eyes, and the fate of millions, were to be suttained by a few laads. The voice of unbörn nations called upon them for safety ; be it was a ftill, fmall voice, the voice of rational reflection. Here was no Cronwell to enflame the people with bigotry and zeal, no Cælar to reward his followers with the spoils of vargaihed foes, and no territory to be ac. quired by conqueft.

15. Anbition, fuperftition and avarice, these universal torch. es of war, never illumined an American field of battle. But the permanent principles of fober policy spread through the colonies, roused the people to assert their rights, and conducted the revolution.

16. Whatever praise is due for the task already performed, it is certain that much remains to be done. The revolution is but half completed. Independence and government were the two objects contended for : and but one is yet obtainedo To the glory of the present age, and the admiration of the fux ture, our feverence from the British empire was conducted upon principles as noble as they were new and unprecedented in the history of human actions.

17. Could the same generous principles, the same wisdom and unanimity be exerted in effecting the establishment of a permanent federal system, what an additional luftre would it pour upon the present age ! a luftre hitherto unequalled ; a display of magnanimity for which mankind may never behold another opo portunity.

18. l'he present is jutly considered an alarming crisis ; pera haps the molt alarming that America ever saw. We have contended with the most powerful nation, and subdued the bravelt and best appointed armies : but now we have to contend with ourselves and encounter passions and prejudices more powerful than armnies, and more dangerous to our peace.

It is not for glory, it is for exiltence, that we contend.

19. The first great object is to convince the people of the importance of their present tituation ; for the majority of a great people, on a subject which they understand, will never at wrong, If ever there was a tine in any age or nation, when the fate of miilions depended on the voice of one, it is the present period in these fates. Every free citizen of the American empire oughs 20w to consider himself as the legillator of half mankind.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

žo. When he views the amazing extent of territory, fettled and io be feitled under the operation of his laws ; when, like a wise politician, he contemplates the population of future ages; the changes to be wronght by the puflible progress of arts, in agriculture, commerce and manufactures ; the increasing connes: ion and intercourse of nations, and the effect of one rational political system upon the general happiness of mankind, his mind, dilated with the great idea, will realize a liberality of feel ing which leads to a rectitude of conduct.

21. He will see that the fyftem to be established by his fufu frage is calculated for the great tenevolent purposes of exten. ding peace, happiness, and progresive improvement to a large proportion of his fellow creatures. As there is a probability That the system to be proposed by the convention may answer this defcription, there is every reason to hope it will be viewed by the people with that candour and dispaflionate respect which is due to the importance of the subject.

22. While the anxiety of the feeling heart is breathing the perpetual figh for the attainment of so great an object, it becomes the itrongest duty of the social connexion, to enlighten and harmonize the minds of our fellow citizens, and point them to a knowledge of their interests, and an extensive federal peo. ple, and fathers of increasing nations.

23. The price put into their hands is great beyond all coma parison ; and as they improve it, they will entail happinefs or misery upon a larger proportion of human beings, than could be effected by the conduit of all the nations of Europe united.

24. Those who are poffeffed of abilities or information in any degree above the common rank of their fellow citizens, are called upon by every principle of humanity, lo diffuse a spirit of candor, and rational inquiry, upon these important subjects.

25. The present is an age of philosophy and America the empire of reason. Here, neither the pageantry, of courts, nor the glooms of fuperftition, have dazzled or beclouded the mind. Our duty calls us to act worthy of the age and the country that gave us birth. Though inexperience may have betrayed us into errors ; yet there have not been fatal; and our own dif. cernment will point is to their proper remedy,

26. However defective the present contederated system may appear, yet a due confideration of the circumstances under which it was framed, will teach us rather to andmire its wisdom,


than to murmur at its faults. The same political abilities which were displayed in that institution, united with the ex. perience we have had of its operation, will doubtless produce a system, which will ftand the test of ages in forming a powere ful and happy people.

27. Elevated with this extensive prospect, we may consider present inconveniencies as unworthy of regret, Arthe close of ihe war, an uncommon plenty of circulating fpecie, and an universal passion for trade, tempted many individuals to involve themselves in ruin, and injure the credit of their country, But these are evils which work their own remedy.

28. The paroxism is already over. Induftry' is increasing faster than ever it declined ; and (with some exceptions, where legislative authority has fanctioned fraud) the people are ho. nestly discharging their private debts, and increasing the re. sources of their wealth,

29. Every poffible encouragement for great and generous exertions, is now presented before us. Under the idea of a permanent and happy government, every point of view in which the future situation of America can be placed, fills the mind with a peculiar dignity, and opens an unbounded field of thought,

30. The natural resources of the country are inconceivably various and great. The enterprising genius of the people promises a mott rapid improvement in all the arts that embel. life buman nature.

The blessings of a rational government will invite emigrations from the rest of the world, and fill the empire with the worthiest and happiest of mankind ; while the example of political wisdom and felicity here to be dif. played, will excite emulation through the kingdoms of the sarth, and meliorate the condition of the human race.

A DECLARATION by the REPRESENTATIVES of the Uni. ted Colonies of Norib. America, setting forth the causes and nes

cefsity of their taking up arms, July 6, 1975: I. I

believe, that the divine author of our existence intend. ed a part of the human race to hold an absolute property, and an unbounded power over others, marked ou: by his infinite goodoefs and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination, never rightly refiftable, however severe and oppressive, the inha. bitants of those colonies might at least require from the parlia.

« AnteriorContinuar »