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This declaration would certainly not prolong the War a
single day more, nor cost the Republic an obole, whilst it would assure
all the merit of success to France, and besides produce all the good
effects mentioned above.

It may perhaps be observed that the Negociation is already finished
with England, and perhaps in a manner which will not be approved of by
France. That may be, (though the terms of this arrangement may not be
known); but as to Spain, the negociation is still pending, and it is
evident that if France makes the above _Declaration_ as to this Power
(which declaration would be a demonstrative proof of what she would
have done in the other case if circumstances had required it), she would
receive the same credit as if the Declaration had been made relatively
to the two Powers. In fact the Decree or resolution (and perhaps this
last would be preferable) can be worded in terms which would declare
that in case the arrangement with England were not satisfactory, France
will nevertheless, maintain the just demands of America against
that Power. A like Declaration, in case Mr. Jay should do anything
reprehensible, and which might even be approved of in America, would
certainly raise the reputation of the French Republic to the most
eminent degree of splendour, and lower in proportion that of her
enemies.

It is very certain that France cannot better favour the views of the
British party in America, and wound in a most sensible manner the
Republican Government of this country, than by adopting a strict and
oppressive policy with regard to us. Every one knows that the injustices
committed by the privateers and other ships belonging to the French
Republic against our navigation, were causes of exultation and joy
to this party, even when their own properties were subjected to these
depredations, whilst the friends of France and the Revolution were vexed
and most confused about it. It follows then, that a generous policy
would produce quite opposite effects--it would acquire for France the
merit that is her due; it would discourage the hopes of her adversaries,
and furnish the friends of humanity and liberty with the means of acting
against the intrigues of England, and cement the Union, and contribute
towards the true interests of the two republics.

So sublime and generous a manner of acting, which would not cost
anything to France, would cement in a stronger way the ties between
the two republics. The effect of such an event, would confound and
annihilate in an irrevocable manner all the partisans for the British
in America. There are nineteen twentieths of our nation attached through
inclination and gratitude to France, and the small number who seek
uselessly all sorts of pretexts to magnify the small occasions of
complaint which might have subsisted previously will find itself reduced
to silence, or have to join their expressions of gratitude to ours.--The
results of this event cannot be doubted, though not reckoned on: all the
American hearts will be French, and England will be afflicted.

An American.




XXIV. DISSERTATION ON FIRST PRINCIPLES OF GOVERNMENT. (1)

1 Printed from the first edition, whose title is as above,
with the addition: "By Thomas Paine, Author of Common Sense;
Rights of Man; Age of Reason. Paris, Printed at the
English Press, me de Vaugerard, No. 970. Third year of the
French Republic." The pamphlet seems to have appeared early
in July (perhaps the Fourth), 1795, and was meant to
influence the decision of the National Convention on the
Constitution then under discussion. This Constitution,
adopted September 23d, presently swept away by Napoleon,
contained some features which appeared to Paine reactionary.
Those to which he most objected are quoted by him in his
speech in the Convention, which is bound up in the same
pamphlet, and follows this "Dissertation" in the present
volume. In the Constitution as adopted Paine's preference
for a plural Executive was established, and though the
bicameral organization (the Council of Five Hundred and the
Council of Ancients) was not such as he desired, his chief
objection was based on his principle of manhood suffrage.
But in regard to this see Paine's "Dissertations on
Government," written nine years before (vol. ii., ch. vi. of
this work), and especially p. 138 seq. of that volume, where
he indicates the method of restraining the despotism of
numbers.--_Editor._,

There is no subject more interesting to every man than the subject of
government. His security, be he rich or poor, and in a great measure
his prosperity, are connected therewith; it is therefore his interest
as well as his duty to make himself acquainted with its principles, and
what the practice ought to be.

Every art and science, however imperfectly known at first, has been
studied, improved, and brought to what we call perfection by the
progressive labours of succeeding generations; but the science of
government has stood still. No improvement has been made in the
principle and scarcely any in the practice till the American revolution
began. In all the countries of Europe (except in France) the same forms
and systems that were erected in the remote ages of ignorance still
continue, and their antiquity is put in the place of principle; it is
forbidden to investigate their origin, or by what right they exist.
If it be asked how has this happened, the answer is easy: they are
established on a principle that is false, and they employ their power to
prevent detection.

Notwithstanding the mystery with which the science of government has
been enveloped, for the purpose of enslaving, plundering, and imposing
upon mankind, it is of all things the least mysterious and the most easy
to be understood. The meanest capacity cannot be at a loss, if it begins
its enquiries at the right point. Every art and science has some point,
or alphabet, at which the study of that art or science begins, and by
the assistance of which the progress is facilitated. The same method
ought to be observed with respect to the science of government.

Instead then of embarrassing the subject in the outset with the numerous
subdivisions under which different forms of government have been
classed, such as aristocracy, democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, &c.
the better method will be to begin with what may be called primary
divisions, or those under which all the several subdivisions will be
comprehended.

The primary divisions are but two:

First, government by election and representation.

Secondly, government by hereditary succession.

All the several forms and systems of government, however numerous
or diversified, class themselves under one or other of those primary
divisions; for either they are on the system of representation, or on
that of hereditary succession. As to that equivocal thing called mixed
government, such as the late government of Holland, and the present
government of England, it does not make an exception to the general
rule, because the parts separately considered are either representative
or hereditary.

Beginning then our enquiries at this point, we have first to examine
into the nature of those two primary divisions.

If they are equally right in principle, it is mere matter of opinion
which we prefer. If the one be demonstratively better than the other,
that difference directs our choice; but if one of them should be so
absolutely false as not to have a right to existence, the matter settles
itself at once; because a negative proved on one thing, where two only
are offered, and one must be accepted, amounts to an affirmative on the
other.

The revolutions that are now spreading themselves in the world have
their origin in this state of the case, and the present war is a
conflict between the representative system founded on the rights of the
people, and the hereditary system founded in usurpation. As to what are
called Monarchy, Royalty, and Aristocracy, they do not, either as things
or as terms, sufficiently describe the hereditary system; they are but
secondary things or signs of the hereditary system, and which fall of
themselves if that system has not a right to exist. Were there no
such terms as Monarchy, Royalty, and Aristocracy, or were other terms
substituted in their place, the hereditary system, if it continued,
would not be altered thereby. It would be the same system under any
other titulary name as it is now.

The character therefore of the revolutions of the present day
distinguishes itself most definitively by grounding itself on the system
of representative government, in opposition to the hereditary. No other
distinction reaches the whole of the principle.

Having thus opened the case generally, I proceed, in the first place, to
examine the hereditary system, because it has the priority in point of
time. The representative system is the invention of the modern world;
and, that no doubt may arise as to my own opinion, I declare it
before hand, which is, _that there is not a problem in Euclid more
mathematically true, than that hereditary government has not a right to
exist. When therefore we take from any man the exercise of hereditary
power, we take away that which he never had the right to possess, and
which no law or custom could, or ever can, give him a title to_.

The arguments that have hitherto been employed against the hereditary
system have been chiefly founded upon the absurdity of it, and its
incompetency to the purpose of good government. Nothing can present to
our judgment, or to our imagination, a figure of greater absurdity, than
that of seeing the government of a nation fall, as it frequently does,
into the hands of a lad necessarily destitute of experience, and often
little better than a fool. It is an insult to every man of years, of
character, and of talents, in a country. The moment we begin to reason
upon the hereditary system, it falls into derision; let but a single
idea begin, and a thousand will soon follow.



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