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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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assistance from Britain?  Vain thought!  Britain, already sinking under a vast load of debt, and hastening to ruin by the loss of freedom, without which even the interest of that debt, cannot be paid, Britain will have enemies enough of her own.  If we seize the present opportunity, we shall have no such causes of apprehension.  Those settlements, sensible of their present weakness and our power, will all be made under the authority of that body, which is the legislature of the continent.  They will constantly look tip to it for laws and protection.’

He hints at several other advantages of independence, besides the three broad and extensive ones already enumeraed, particularly a flourishing commerce, augmentation of wealth, increase of population, and diffusion of knowledge, which would ‘cause all nations to resort hither as an asylum from oppression;’ and adds,

‘Nothing more remains but to say a word on the inconveniences, to which an independent form of government would subject us.  And what are they ? A war with Great Britain.  And in that very war are we already engaged.  Perhaps some gentlemen may be apprehensive of losing a little consequence, and importance, by living in a country where all are on an equal footing.  Virtue in such a country will always be esteemed; and that alone should be respected in any country.  If these gentlemen would reflect, that free republican states are always most thickly inhabited, perhaps they may be of opinion with me, that the indulgence of a few in luxurious ease, to the prejudice of their fellow creatures, is at best not laudable; but when it tends to thin the ranks of mankind, and to encourage a general profligacy of manners, it is then criminal in the highest degree.

‘I do not scruple to affirm, that all dangers to be apprehended from an independency, may well be obviated by this Assembly.  If we so regulate our own power, as to give perfect freedom in our Constitution, there is but little danger of intestine broils.  For mankind, however chargeable with levi-


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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 105. 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