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general what an operose business it is to establish a government absolutely new. But having for our purposes in this contention resolved that none but an obedient assembly should sit, the humors of the people there, finding all passage through the legal channel stopped, with great ; violence broke out another way. Some provinces have tried their experiment, as we have tried ours; and theirs has succeeded. They have formed a government sufficient for its purposes, without the bustle of a revolution or the troublesome formality of an election. Evident 10 necessity and tacit consent have done the business in an instant. So well they have done it that Lord Dunmore (the account is among the fragments on your table) tells you that the new institution is infinitely better obeyed than the ancient government ever was in its most fortu- 15 nate periods. . Obedience is what makes government, and not the names by which it is called: not the name of governor, as formerly, or committee, as at present. This new government has originated directly from the people, and was not transmitted through any of the ordinary 20 artificial media of a positive constitution. It was not a manufacture ready formed, and transmitted to them in that condition from England. The evil arising from hence is this : that the colonists having once found the possibility of enjoying the advantages of order in the 25 midst of a struggle for liberty, such struggles will not henceforward seem so terrible to the settled and sober part of mankind as they had appeared before the trial.
Pursuing the same plan of punishing, by the denial of
the exercise of government, to still greater lengths, we wholly abrogated the ancient government of Massachusetts. We were confident that the first feeling, if not the very prospect, of anarchy, would instantly enforce a com5 plete submission. The experiment was tried. strange, unexpected face of things appeared. Anarchy is found tolerable. A vast province has now subsisted, and subsisted in a considerable degree of health and
vigor, for near a twelvemonth, without governor, without 10 public council, without judges, without executive magis
trates. How long it will continue in this state, or what may arise out of this unheard-of situation, how can the wisest of us conjecture ? Our late experience has taught
us that many of those fundamental principles formerly 15 believed infallible are either not of the importance they
were imagined to be, or that we have not at all adverted to some other far more important and far more powerful principles, which entirely overrule those we had con
sidered as omnipotent. I am much against any further 20 experiments which tend to put to the proof any more
of these allowed opinions which contribute so much to the public tranquillity. In effect, we suffer as much at home by this loosening of all ties and this concussion
of all established opinions, as we do abroad. For, in 25 order to prove that the Americans have no right to
their liberties, we are every day endeavoring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that Americans ought not to be free, we are
obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself; and we never seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate, without attacking some of those principles, or deriding some of those feelings, for which our ancestors have shed their blood.
5 But, Sir, in wishing to put an end to pernicious experiments, I do not mean to preclude the fullest inquiry. Far from it. Far from deciding on a sudden or partial view, I would patiently go round and round the subject, and survey it minutely in every possible 10 aspect. Sir, if I were capable of engaging you to an equal attention, I would state that, as far as I am capable of discerning, there are but three ways of proceeding relative to this stubborn spirit which prevails in your colonies and disturbs your government. These are : to 15 change that spirit, as inconvenient, by removing the causes; to prosecute it as criminal; or to comply with it as necessary.
I would not be guilty of an imperfect enumeration ; I can think of but these three. Another has indeed been started, that of giving up the colonies ; 20 but it met so slight a reception that I do not think myself obliged to dwell a great while upon it. It is nothing but a little sally of anger, like the frowardness of peevish children, who, when they cannot get all they would have, are resolved to take nothing.
25 The first of these plans, to change the spirit, as inconvenient, by removing the causes, I think is the most like a systematic proceeding. It is radical in its principle; but it is attended with great difficulties, some of
them little short, as I conceive, of impossibilities. This will appear by examining into the plans which have been proposed.
As the growing population in the colonies is evidently 5 one cause of their resistance, it was last session mentioned in both Houses by men of weight, and received not without applause, that in order to check this evil, it would be proper for the crown to make no further
grants of land. But to this scheme there are two objec10 tions. The first, that there is already so much unsettled
land in private hands as to afford room for an immense future population, although the crown not only withheld its grants, but annihilated its soil. If this be the case,
then the only effect of this avarice of desolation, this 15 hoarding of a royal wilderness, would be to raise the
value of the possessions in the hands of the great private monopolists, without any adequate check to the growing and alarming mischief of population.
But if you stopped your grants, what would be the 20 consequence? The people would occupy without grants.
They have already so occupied in many places. You cannot station garrisons in every part of these deserts. If you drive the people from one place, they will carry
on their annual tillage and remove with their flocks and 25 herds to another. Many of the people in the back
settlements are already little attached to particular situations. Already they have topped the Appalachian Mountains. From thence they behold before them an
1 Even though.
immense plain, one vast, rich, level meadow, a square of five hundred miles. Over this they would wander without a possibility of restraint; they would change their manners with the habits of their life ; would soon forget a government by which they were disowned ; 5 would become hordes of English Tartars, and pouring down upon your unfortified frontiers a fierce and irresistible cavalry, become masters of your governors and your counsellors, your collectors and comptrollers, and of all the slaves that adhered to them. Such would, and 10 in no long time must, be the effect of attempting to forbid as a crime, and to suppress as an evil, the command and blessing of Providence, “ Increase and multiply.” Such would be the happy result of an endeavor to keep as a lair of wild beasts that earth which God, by an 15 express charter, has given to the children of men. Far different and surely much wiser has been our policy hitherto. Hitherto we have invited our people, by every kind of bounty, to fixed establishments. We have invited the husbandman to look to authority for his title. 20 We have taught him piously to believe in the mysterious virtue of wax and parchment. We have thrown each tract of land, as it 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 25 every settlement with government.
Adhering, Sir, as I do, to this policy, as well as for the reasons I have just given, I think this new project of hedging-in population to be neither prudent nor practicable.