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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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Georgia you put under the ban of the empire, and received her upon repentance as a member of the flock.  Canada you are now treating with France and Spain you ought to treat with, and the rest is but a name.  I believe, Sir, the Romans were as much governed, or rather oppressed, by their emperors, as ever any people were by their king.  But emperor was more agreeable to their ears, than king.  Some, nay many persons in America, dislike the word independence.  For my own part, I see no reason why Congress is not full as good a word as States-General, or Parliament, and it is a mighty easy matter to please people, when a single sound will effect it.

‘From these remarks on the nature of Independence, and on the fact that it already exists in everything but in name, the speaker turns to a consideration of the advantages of a separation from England, or of sliding into what he calls the ‘unavoidable situation’ of an independent government.  These advantages he ranks under three heads, peace, liberty, security.

‘Whether a State shall enjoy peace or suffer war, depends upon two great leading circumstances; the probability of attack, and the means of defence.  As to the probability of attack, we must consider by whom it is to be made, in what manner, and for what purpose.  It is quite a hackneyed topic, boldly insisted on, though very lightly assumed, that the instant an American independence is declared, we shall have all the powers of Europe on our backs, as by a general consent, to share out this country amongst them.

‘Experience, Sir, has taught those powers, and will teach them more clearly every day, that an American war is tedious, expensive, uncertain, and ruinous.  Three thousand miles of a boisterous ocean are to be passed over, and the vengeful tempests, which whirl along our coasts, are daily to be encountered in such expeditions.  At least three months' expense must be incurred, before one gun can be fired against an American village; and three months more, before each shattered armament can find an asylum for repose.  A hardy, brave peo-

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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 100. 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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