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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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tains are pure, the streams of justice will flow clear and wholesome.  But shall we pretend to say, that we have political liberty, while subject to the legislative control of Great Britain ? Even freed from that, will not the silent efforts of influence undermine any constitution we can possibly devise?  And of what importance is it to the subject, whether a love of power or a love of money, whether avarice or ambition, are the causes of his unhappiness?  If I were to choose a master, it should be a single tyrant, because I had infinitely rather be torn by a lion, than eaten by vermin.

The last consideration, Sir, is security, and so long as the system of laws by which we are now governed shall prevail, it is amply provided for in every separate colony.  There may indeed arise an objection, because some gentlemen suppose, that the different colonies will carry on a sort of hand piracy against each other.  But how this can possibly happen, when the idea of separate colonies no longer exists, I cannot for my soul comprehend.  That something very like this has already been done, I shall not deny, but the reason is as evident as the fact.  We never yet had a government in this country, of sufficient energy to restrain the lawless and indigent.  Whenever a form of government is established, which deserves the name, these insurrections must cease.  But who is the man so hardy as to affirm, that they will not grow with our growth, while on every occasion we must resort to an English judicature to terminate differences, which the maxims of policy will teach them to leave undetermined?  By degrees we are getting beyond the utmost pale of English government.  Settlements are forming to the westward of us, whose inhabitants acknowledge no authority but their own, and of consequence no umpire but the sword.  The King of England will make no new grants, the settlers will ask none.  We occupy but a small strip of land along the sea coasts, and in less than fifty years those western settlements will endeavor to carve out for themselves a passage to the ocean.  Are we then to build a huge wall against them?  Are we to solicit


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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 104. 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