Mercy Otis Warren

Topics: Government, Form of government Pages: 20 (7809 words) Published: October 28, 2014
Mankind may amuse themselves with theoretick systems of liberty, and trace its social and moral effects on sciences, virtue, industry and every improvement of which the human mind is capable; but we can only discern its true value by the practical and wretched effects of slavery; and thus dreadfully will they be realized, when the inhabitants of the Eastern States are dragging out a miserable existence, only on the gleanings of their fields; and the Southern, blessed with a softer and more fertile climate, are languishing in hopeless poverty; and when asked, what is become of the flower of their crop, and the rich produce of their farms—they may answer in the hapless stile of the Man of La Mancha,—” The steward of my Lord has seized and sent it to Madrid.” Or, in the more literal language of truth, The exigencies of government require that the collectors of the revenue should transmit it to the Federal City. Animated with the firmest zeal for the interest of this country, the peace and union of the American States, and the freedom and happiness of a people who have made the most costly sacrifices in the cause of liberty,—who have braved the power of Britain, weathered the convulsions of war, and waded thro’ the blood of friends and foes to establish their independence and to support the freedom of the human mind; I cannot silently witness this degradation without calling on them, before they are compelled to blush at their own servitude, and to turn back their languid eyes on their lost liberties -- to consider, that the character of nations generally changes at the moment of revolution.— And when patriotism is discountenanced and publick virtue becomes the ridicule of the sycophant—when every man of liberality, firmness and penetration who cannot lick the hand stretched out to oppress, is deemed an enemy to the State—then is the gulph of despotism set open, and the grades to slavery, though rapid, are scarce perceptible—then genius drags heavily its iron chain — science is neglected, and real merit flies to the shades for security from reproach — the mind becomes enervated, and the national character sinks to a kind of apathy with only energy sufficient to curse the breast that gave it milk, and as an elegant writer observes, “To bewail every new birth as an increase of misery, under a government where the mind is necessarily debased, and talents are seduced to become the panegyrists of usurpation and tyranny.” He adds, “that even sedition is not the most indubitable enemy to the publick welfare; but that its most dreadful foe is despotism which always changes the character of nations for the worse, and is productive of nothing but vice, that the tyrant no longer excites to the pursuits of glory or virtue; it is not talents, it is baseness and servility that he cherishes, and the weight of arbitrary power destroys the spring of emulation.” [Helvitius] If such is the influence of government on the character and manners, and undoubtedly the observation is just, must we not subscribe to the opinion of the celebrated Abbé Mablé? “That there are disagreeable seasons in the unhappy situation of human affairs, when policy requires both the intention and the power of doing mischief to be punished; and when the senate proscribed the memory of Caesar they ought to have put Anthony to death, and extinguished the hopes of “Octavius.” Self defence is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish; this primaeval principle, the immediate gift of the Creator, obliges every one to remonstrate against the strides of ambition, and a wanton lust of domination, and to resist the first appraches of tyranny, which at this day threaten to sweep away the rights for which the brave Sons of America have fought with an heroism scarcely paralleled even in ancient republicks. It may be repeated, they have purchased it with their blood, and have gloried in their independence with a dignity of spirit, which has made them the...
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