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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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Having thus closed the first part of his discourse, he proceeded to the subject of independence, showing first what it is, and next, that in all its essential characteristics it then existed in reality, though not in name, even in the colony of New York.

‘These, and ten thousand other reasons, Sir, all serve to convince me, that, to make a solid and lasting peace, with liberty and security, is utterly impracticable.  My argument, therefore, stands thus.  As a connexion with Great Britain cannot again exist, without enslaving America, an independence is absolutely necessary.  I cannot balance between the two.  We run a hazard in one path, I confess, but then we are infallibly ruined if we pursue the other.

‘Let us, however, act fairly.  Let us candidly examine this Independence.  Let us look back, for much of the journey is past : and forward, for much is yet to come.  Many objects are hideous, only from the distance at which they are viewed.  Strict scrutiny may sometimes give us the demonstration of sense, that things frightful at the first appearance, are nevertheless of great utility.  It is the perfection of man to be guided by reason.  And above all men, those, who are entrusted with public concerns, should as much as possible divest themselves of every prejudice and passion.  Without passion or prejudice, therefore, let us coolly go round this subject and examine it on every side.

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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 97. 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


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