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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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ple, or else a destructive climate, must be subdued, while the troops, exhausted by fatigue, find at every step that desertion and happiness are synonymous terms.  Grant, that with a wasteful dissipation of blood and treasure, some little portion of this vast country may be conquered.  Fortresses remain to be built, magazines provided, and garrisons established, for the defence of a broad desolation, not worth one shilling to the possessors.  Or should it better please a maritime power, (and we have none but these to fear) should it please them to carry on a naval war, pray where is the American property, which will pay the expenses of a European armament?

‘Nations do not make war without some view.  Should they be able to conquer America, it would cost them more to maintain such conquest, than the fee simple of the country is worth.  They could gain nothing but our commerce, and that they may have without striking a blow.  Thus, Sir, it appears to my poor discernment an incontrovertible truth, that no nation whatever would incline to attack us.  For after all, this consideration must arise amongst them, that the surest consequence of the most splendid votaries would be a bloody war with each other about sharing the spoils.

‘But I cannot think it will ever come to this.  For when I turn my eyes to the means of defence, I find them amply sufficient.  We have all heard, that in the last war America was conquered in Germany.  I hold the converse of this proposition to be true, namely, that in, and by America, his Majesty’s German dominions were secured.  The last, and every other war for more than a century, have been determined more by the wealth, than the arms of contending nations and the great source of that wealth is in the western world.  It rises here, flourishes in Europe, and is buried in India.  The situation of this continent formerly did, and still does enable us in a very great degree to check that flood of property, which thus glides along to the eastward.  The rapacity of adventurers will greedily seize the opportunity of becoming rich, by pressing upon the merchandize of other people.  And large

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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 101. 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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