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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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‘Thus, Sir, by means of that great gulph which rolls its waves between Europe and America, by the situation of these colonies, always adapted to hinder or interrupt all communication between the two, by the productions of our soil, which the Almighty has filled with every necessary to make us a great maritime people, by the extent of our coasts and those immense rivers, which serve at once to open a communication with our interior country, and teach us the arts of navigation, by those vast fisheries, which, affording an inexhaustible mine of wealth and a cradle of industry, breed hardy mariners, inured to danger and fatigue, finally by the unconquerable spirit of freemen, deeply interested in the preservation of a government, which secures to them the blessings of liberty, and exalts the dignity of mankind; by all these, I expect a full and lasting defence against any and every part of the earth; while the great advantages to be derived from a friendly intercourse with this country almost render the means of defence unnecessary, from the great improbability of being attacked.  So far peace seems to smile upon our future independence.  But that this fair goddess will equally crown our union with Great Britain, my fondest hopes cannot lead me even to Suppose.  Every war, in which she is engaged, must necessarily involve us in its detestable consequences; whilst weak and unarmed, we have no shield of defence, unless such as she may please (for her own sake) to afford, or else the pity of her enemies, and the insignificance of slaves, beneath the attention of a generous foe.

‘Let us next turn our attention to a question of infinitely greater importance, namely, the liberty of this country.  I speak here only of political liberty, and this may, I believe, be secured by the simplest contrivance imaginable.  If America is divided into small districts, and the election of members into Congress annual, and every member incapacitated from serving more than one year out of three; I cannot conceive the least temptation to an abuse of power, in the legislative and executive parts of government.  And as long as those foun-

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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 103. 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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