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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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it was delivered.  Its precise date I am unable to determine.  The first half is missing, but a few extracts from the remainder will give some idea of his opinions, on the subjects discussed, as well as of his manner of writing at that time.  He was now twenty-four years old.

In the exordium, and first half of his speech, the orator seems to have delineated to his audience the origin of the political difficulties, which the nation then labored under, and to have come to the conclusion, that old forms and old connexions were inevitably dissolved, and could no longer subsist; that the years of childhood and vassalage were passed; and that the time had come, when America was imperiously called on to assume the claims, and maintain the dignity, of manhood and self confidence.  In despatching these preliminaries, he touches on the hackneyed theme of reconciliation, the phantom, which had so long played its illusions in the fancy of his associates in the New York Congress.

‘Undoubtedly, Sir,’ said he, ‘you will find some state carpenter, ready to frame this disjointed government, and warrant his work.  And if there should be some flaws, considering the protection you receive from Britain, you ought to put up with them.  I know he will tell you so.  Protection, Sir, is a very good thing, yet a man may pay too much for diamonds.  There is a common story of a certain juggler, who would undertake to cut off a man’s head, and clap it on again so neatly, as to cure him without a scar.  Much such a sort of juggling business is this protection we are to receive.  Great Britain will not fail to bring us into a war with some of her neighbors; and then protect us as a lawyer defends a suit; the client paying for it.  This is quite in form, but a wise man would rather, I think, get rid of the suit and the lawyer together.  Again, how are we to be protected?  If a descent is made upon our coasts, and the British navy and army are three thousand miles off, we cannot receive very great benefit from them on that occasion.  If, to obviate this inconvenience, we have an army and navy constantly among us, who can say


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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 95. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to jvinci@colonialhall.com.

 
 


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Last modified August 20, 2006