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Were I to do otherwise, the case would be, that
between the timidity of some, who are so afraid of doing wrong that they
never do right, the puny judgment of others, and the despicable craft of
preferring _expedient to right_, as if the world was a world of babies
in leading strings, I should get forward with nothing. My path is a
right line, as straight and clear to me as a ray of light. The boldness
(if they will have it to be so) with which I speak on any subject, is a
compliment to the judgment of the reader. It is like saying to him,
_I treat you as a man and not as a child_. With respect to any worldly
object, as it is impossible to discover any in me, therefore what I do,
and my manner of doing it, ought to be ascribed to a good motive.

In a great affair, where the happiness of man is at stake, I love
to work for nothing; and so fully am I under the influence of this
principle, that I should lose the spirit, the pleasure, and the pride
of it, were I conscious that I looked for reward; and with this
declaration, I take my leave for the present.(1)

1 The self-assertion of this and other letters about this
time was really self-defence, the invective against him, and
the calumnies, being such as can hardly be credited by those
not familiar with the publications of that time.--_Editor._

Thomas Paine.

Federal City, Lovett's Hotel, Dec. 3, 1802.



LETTER V.(1)

1 The National Intelligencer, Feb., 1803. In the Tarions
collections of these Letters there appears at this point a
correspondence between Paine and Samuel Adams of Boston, but
as it relates to religious matters I reserve it for the
fourth volume.--_Editor._.

It is always the interest of a far greater part of the nation to have
a thing right than to have it wrong; and therefore, in a country whose
government is founded on the system of election and representation, the
fate of every party is decided by its principles.

As this system is the only form and principle of government by which
liberty can be preserved, and the only one that can embrace all the
varieties of a great extent of country, it necessarily follows, that to
have the representation real, the election must be real; and that where
the election is a fiction, the representation is a fiction also. _Like
will always produce like_.

A great deal has been said and written concerning the conduct of Mr.
Burr, during the late contest, in the federal legislature, whether Mr.
Jefferson or Mr. Burr should be declared President of the United States.
Mr. Burr has been accused of intriguing to obtain the Presidency.
Whether this charge be substantiated or not makes little or no part of
the purport of this letter. There is a point of much higher importance
to attend to than any thing that relates to the individual Mr. Burr: for
the great point is not whether Mr. Burr has intrigued, but whether the
legislature has intrigued with _him_.

Mr. Ogden, a relation of one of the senators of New Jersey of the same
name, and of the party assuming the style of Federalists, has written
a letter published in the New York papers, signed with his name, the
purport of which is to exculpate Mr. Burr from the charges brought
against him. In this letter he says:

"When about to return from Washington, two or three _members of
Congress_ of the federal party spoke to me of _their views_, as to the
election of a president, desiring me to converse with Colonel Burr on
the subject, and to ascertain _whether he would enter into terms_. On my
return to New York I called on Colonel Burr, and communicated the above
to him. He explicitly declined the explanation, and _did neither propose
nor agree to any terms_."

How nearly is human cunning allied to folly! The animals to whom nature
has given the faculty we call _cunning_, know always when to use it,
and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning, he blunders and
betrays.

Mr. Ogden's letter is intended to exculpate Mr. Burr from the charge
of intriguing to obtain the presidency; and the letter that he (Ogden)
writes for this purpose is direct evidence against his party in
Congress, that they intrigued with Burr to obtain him for President,
and employed him (Ogden) for the purpose. To save _Aaron_, he betrays
_Moses_, and then turns informer against the _Golden Calf_.

It is but of little importance to the world to know if Mr. Burr
_listened_ to an intriguing proposal, but it is of great importance to
the constituents to know if their representatives in Congress made one.
The ear can commit no crime, but the tongue may; and therefore the right
policy is to drop Mr. Burr, as being only the hearer, and direct the
whole charge against the Federal faction in Congress as the active
original culprit, or, if the priests will have scripture for it, as the
serpent that beguiled Eve.

1 In the presidential canvas of 1800, the votes in the
electoral college being equally divided between Burr and
Jefferson, the election was thrown into the House of
Representatives. Jefferson was elected on the 36th ballot,
but he never forgave Burr, and between these two old friends
Paine had to write this letter under some embarrassment. The
last paragraph of this Letter shows Paine's desire for a
reconciliation between Burr and Jefferson. Aaron Burr is one
of the traditionally slandered figures of American history.
--_Editor._

The plot of the intrigue was to make Mr. Burr President, on the private
condition of his agreeing to, and entering into, terms with them, that
is, with the proposers. Had then the election been made, the country,
knowing nothing of this private and illegal transaction, would have
supposed, for who could have supposed otherwise, that it had a President
according to the forms, principles, and intention of the constitution.
No such thing. Every form, principle, and intention of the constitution
would have been violated; and instead of a President, it would have had
a mute, a sort of image, hand-bound and tongue-tied, the dupe and slave
of a party, placed on the theatre of the United States, and acting the
farce of President.

It is of little importance, in a constitutional sense, to know what the
terms to be proposed might be, because any terms other than those which
the constitution prescribes to a President are criminal. Neither do I
see how Mr. Burr, or any other person put in the same condition, could
have taken the oath prescribed by the constitution to a President, which
is, "_I do solemnly swear (or affirm,) that I will faithfully execute
the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of
my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United
States_."

How, I ask, could such a person have taken such an oath, knowing at the
same time that he had entered into the Presidency on terms unknown
in the Constitution, and private, and which would deprive him of the
freedom and power of acting as President of the United States, agreeably
to his constitutional oath?

Mr. Burr, by not agreeing to terms, has escaped the danger to which
they exposed him, and the perjury that would have followed, and also
the punishment annexed thereto. Had he accepted the Presidency on
terms unknown in the constitution, and private, and had the transaction
afterwards transpired, (which it most probably would, for roguery is a
thing difficult to conceal,) it would have produced a sensation in the
country too violent to be quieted, and too just to be resisted; and in
any case the election must have been void.

But what are we to think of those members of Congress, who having taken
an oath of the same constitutional import as the oath of the President,
violate that oath by tampering to obtain a President on private
conditions. If this is not sedition against the constitution and the
country, it is difficult to define what sedition in a representative can
be.

Say not that this statement of the case is the effect of personal or
party resentment. No. It is the effect of _sincere concern_ that such
corruption, of which this is but a sample, should, in the space of a few
years, have crept into a country that had the fairest opportunity that
Providence ever gave, within the knowledge of history, of making itself
an illustrious example to the world.

What the terms were, or were to be, it is probable we never shall know;
or what is more probable, that feigned ones, if any, will be given. But
from the conduct of the party since that time we may conclude, that no
taxes would have been taken off, that the clamour for war would have
been kept up, new expences incurred, and taxes and offices increased
in consequence; and, among the articles of a private nature, that
the leaders in this seditious traffic were to stipulate with the mock
President for lucrative appointments for themselves.

But if these plotters against the Constitution understood their
business, and they had been plotting long enough to be masters of it, a
single article would have comprehended every thing, which is, _That the
President (thus made) should be governed in all cases whatsoever by a
private junto appointed by themselves_. They could then, through the
medium of a mock President, have negatived all bills which their
party in Congress could not have opposed with success, and reduced
representation to a nullity.

The country has been imposed upon, and the real culprits are but few;
and as it is necessary for the peace, harmony, and honour of the Union,
to separate the deceiver from the deceived, the betrayer from the
betrayed, that men who once were friends, and that in the worst of
times, should be friends again, it is necessary, as a beginning, that
this dark business be brought to full investigation. Ogden's letter
is direct evidence of the fact of tampering to obtain a conditional
President. He knows the two or three members of Congress that
commissioned him, and they know who commissioned them.

Thomas Paine.

Federal City, Lovett's Hotel, Jan. 29th, 1803.



LETTER VI.(1)

1 The Aurora (Philadelphia).--_Editor._.

Religion and War is the cry of the Federalists; Morality and Peace the
voice of Republicans.



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