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Her
setting out in life, like the rising of a fair morning, was unclouded
and promising. Her cause was good. Her principles just and liberal. Her
temper serene and firm. Her conduct regulated by the nicest steps, and
everything about her wore the mark of honor. It is not every country
(perhaps there is not another in the world) that can boast so fair
an origin. Even the first settlement of America corresponds with the
character of the revolution. Rome, once the proud mistress of the
universe, was originally a band of ruffians. Plunder and rapine made her
rich, and her oppression of millions made her great. But America need
never be ashamed to tell her birth, nor relate the stages by which she
rose to empire.

The remembrance, then, of what is past, if it operates rightly, must
inspire her with the most laudable of all ambition, that of adding to
the fair fame she began with. The world has seen her great in adversity;
struggling, without a thought of yielding, beneath accumulated
difficulties, bravely, nay proudly, encountering distress, and rising
in resolution as the storm increased. All this is justly due to her, for
her fortitude has merited the character. Let, then, the world see that
she can bear prosperity: and that her honest virtue in time of peace, is
equal to the bravest virtue in time of war.

She is now descending to the scenes of quiet and domestic life. Not
beneath the cypress shade of disappointment, but to enjoy in her own
land, and under her own vine, the sweet of her labors, and the reward of
her toil.--In this situation, may she never forget that a fair national
reputation is of as much importance as independence. That it possesses
a charm that wins upon the world, and makes even enemies civil. That it
gives a dignity which is often superior to power, and commands reverence
where pomp and splendor fail.

It would be a circumstance ever to be lamented and never to be
forgotten, were a single blot, from any cause whatever, suffered to fall
on a revolution, which to the end of time must be an honor to the age
that accomplished it: and which has contributed more to enlighten the
world, and diffuse a spirit of freedom and liberality among mankind,
than any human event (if this may be called one) that ever preceded it.

It is not among the least of the calamities of a long continued war,
that it unhinges the mind from those nice sensations which at other
times appear so amiable. The continual spectacle of woe blunts the
finer feelings, and the necessity of bearing with the sight, renders it
familiar. In like manner, are many of the moral obligations of society
weakened, till the custom of acting by necessity becomes an apology,
where it is truly a crime. Yet let but a nation conceive rightly of
its character, and it will be chastely just in protecting it. None
ever began with a fairer than America and none can be under a greater
obligation to preserve it.

The debt which America has contracted, compared with the cause she
has gained, and the advantages to flow from it, ought scarcely to be
mentioned. She has it in her choice to do, and to live as happily as
she pleases. The world is in her hands. She has no foreign power
to monopolize her commerce, perplex her legislation, or control her
prosperity. The struggle is over, which must one day have happened, and,
perhaps, never could have happened at a better time.* And instead of a
domineering master, she has gained an ally whose exemplary greatness,
and universal liberality, have extorted a confession even from her
enemies.


* That the revolution began at the exact period of time best fitted
to the purpose, is sufficiently proved by the event.--But the great
hinge on which the whole machine turned, is the Union of the States: and
this union was naturally produced by the inability of any one state to
support itself against any foreign enemy without the assistance of the
rest. Had the states severally been less able than they were when
the war began, their united strength would not have been equal to the
undertaking, and they must in all human probability have failed.--And,
on the other hand, had they severally been more able, they might not
have seen, or, what is more, might not have felt, the necessity
of uniting: and, either by attempting to stand alone or in small
confederacies, would have been separately conquered. Now, as we cannot
see a time (and many years must pass away before it can arrive) when the
strength of any one state, or several united, can be equal to the whole
of the present United States, and as we have seen the extreme difficulty
of collectively prosecuting the war to a successful issue, and
preserving our national importance in the world, therefore, from the
experience we have had, and the knowledge we have gained, we must,
unless we make a waste of wisdom, be strongly impressed with the
advantage, as well as the necessity of strengthening that happy union
which had been our salvation, and without which we should have been
a ruined people. While I was writing this note, I cast my eye on the
pamphlet, Common Sense, from which I shall make an extract, as it
exactly applies to the case. It is as follows: "I have never met with
a man, either in England or America, who has not confessed it as his
opinion that a separation between the countries would take place one
time or other; and there is no instance in which we have shown less
judgment, than in endeavoring to describe what we call the ripeness
or fitness of the continent for independence. As all men allow the
measure, and differ only in their opinion of the time, let us, in order
to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavor, if
possible, to find out the very time. But we need not to go far,
the inquiry ceases at once, for, the time has found us. The general
concurrence, the glorious union of all things prove the fact. It is not
in numbers, but in a union, that our great strength lies. The continent
is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which no single colony is
able to support itself, and the whole, when united, can accomplish
the matter; and either more or less than this, might be fatal in its
effects."

With the blessings of peace, independence, and an universal commerce,
the states, individually and collectively, will have leisure and
opportunity to regulate and establish their domestic concerns, and to
put it beyond the power of calumny to throw the least reflection on
their honor. Character is much easier kept than recovered, and that man,
if any such there be, who, from sinister views, or littleness of soul,
lends unseen his hand to injure it, contrives a wound it will never be
in his power to heal.

As we have established an inheritance for posterity, let that
inheritance descend, with every mark of an honorable conveyance.
The little it will cost, compared with the worth of the states, the
greatness of the object, and the value of the national character, will
be a profitable exchange.

But that which must more forcibly strike a thoughtful, penetrating mind,
and which includes and renders easy all inferior concerns, is the UNION
OF THE STATES. On this our great national character depends. It is this
which must give us importance abroad and security at home. It is through
this only that we are, or can be, nationally known in the world; it is
the flag of the United States which renders our ships and commerce safe
on the seas, or in a foreign port. Our Mediterranean passes must be
obtained under the same style. All our treaties, whether of alliance,
peace, or commerce, are formed under the sovereignty of the United
States, and Europe knows us by no other name or title.

The division of the empire into states is for our own convenience, but
abroad this distinction ceases. The affairs of each state are local.
They can go no further than to itself. And were the whole worth of even
the richest of them expended in revenue, it would not be sufficient to
support sovereignty against a foreign attack. In short, we have no other
national sovereignty than as United States. It would even be fatal
for us if we had--too expensive to be maintained, and impossible to be
supported. Individuals, or individual states, may call themselves what
they please; but the world, and especially the world of enemies, is
not to be held in awe by the whistling of a name. Sovereignty must have
power to protect all the parts that compose and constitute it: and as
UNITED STATES we are equal to the importance of the title, but otherwise
we are not. Our union, well and wisely regulated and cemented, is the
cheapest way of being great--the easiest way of being powerful, and the
happiest invention in government which the circumstances of America can
admit of.--Because it collects from each state, that which, by being
inadequate, can be of no use to it, and forms an aggregate that serves
for all.

The states of Holland are an unfortunate instance of the effects of
individual sovereignty. Their disjointed condition exposes them to
numerous intrigues, losses, calamities, and enemies; and the almost
impossibility of bringing their measures to a decision, and that
decision into execution, is to them, and would be to us, a source of
endless misfortune.

It is with confederated states as with individuals in society; something
must be yielded up to make the whole secure. In this view of things
we gain by what we give, and draw an annual interest greater than the
capital.--I ever feel myself hurt when I hear the union, that great
palladium of our liberty and safety, the least irreverently spoken of.
It is the most sacred thing in the constitution of America, and that
which every man should be most proud and tender of. Our citizenship
in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any
particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we
are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is
AMERICANS--our inferior one varies with the place.

So far as my endeavors could go, they have all been directed to
conciliate the affections, unite the interests, and draw and keep
the mind of the country together; and the better to assist in this
foundation work of the revolution, I have avoided all places of profit
or office, either in the state I live in, or in the United States; kept
myself at a distance from all parties and party connections, and even
disregarded all private and inferior concerns: and when we take into
view the great work which we have gone through, and feel, as we ought
to feel, the just importance of it, we shall then see, that the
little wranglings and indecent contentions of personal parley, are as
dishonorable to our characters, as they are injurious to our repose.

It was the cause of America that made me an author.



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