893. William Hull: Oration Delivered to the Society of the Cincinnati
Boston, 4 July 1788 (excerpt)1

… Five years have now elapsed, my friends and fellow citizens, since the blessings of peace were announced to our country, and in the language of confidence, I ask, have your reasonable expectations been gratified? Where is that glowing animation which brightened every countenance, when the precarious fortunes of war were exchanged for the peaceful scenes of domestick tranquility? Have you realized those blessings for the attainment of which your treasure has been exhausted, the eloquence of your patriots has been exerted, and the blood of your heroes been sacrificed? Have the sacred rights of property been uninvaded? Have publick faith and publick justice, those great political virtues, remained inviolate? Has the national honour and character been preserved pure and unspotted? Have we adhered to that union under whose banners our freedom was obtained, and we rose to independence, as the rock of our salvation? Are not the cries of the widow and orphan already proclaiming our injustice to the world? Has not the feeling and the grateful heart been chilled with horrour, to see the war-worn soldier

“Broken under arms,

In battle lopp’d away, with half his limbs,

Beg bitter bread thro’ realms his valour sav’d.”(a)

And when in some future day our posterity are exulting in triumph, at the magnanimity of their predecessors, will they not be checked with a blush for the ingratitude of their country?

Have not other nations taken advantage of the nerveless system of our government, and loaded our commerce with restrictions equally derogatory to our honour and interest? Are there not at this moment, foreign garrisons stationed within our territories? And finally, has not the federal head been languishing under an awful inability to fulfil the most solemn engagements, and to complete those great national purposes for which it was instituted?

Thus encompassed with difficulties, what is the example which America has exhibited? Has she followed the mad career of the ancients? Have jealousy and faction arisen to those astonishing, those fatal heights, by which the most celebrated republicks have been overwhelmed? Has the remedy been left to the sport of chance or accident? Has the vital spark of freedom been extinguished, or the strong arm of a tryant invited? Have you not, my fellow-citizens, traced these various streams of evils, which running in different directions, have overspread your country, and carried desolation in their courses, to the great source from which they have flowed? And has not sober reason nearly completed a revolution, which in other countries, if we may judge of future events by past, could only have been produced by the horrours of war, and written in blood?

Yes, my fellow-citizens, you may now be congratulated on the happy prospect of bidding a final farewel to a feeble system, which could neither shield you from external invasion, or protect you from internal commotions, which could neither guard the welfare, secure the honour, or advance the prosperity of your country; and of embracing a Constitution, founded in republicanism, as it flows from the people, calculated on the one hand to give stability and dignity to your national character, and on the other, provided with those great checks which will ever afford a paladium to your liberties. To the glory of Massachusetts, and the honour of her first Magistrate, has one of its most substantial and ornamental Pillars been erected—That each may rise in due order and proportion, and that an Edifice so nobly designed may soon be completed, ought peculiarly, on this auspicious day, to be the ardent prayer of every true American. Let us adopt the strong expressions of a great philospher and statesman(b). “May this Temple sacred to liberty, sacred to justice, the first and greatest political virtue, and built upon the broad and solid foundation of perfect union, be dissoluble only by the dissolution of nature”—under its pervading influence, may the drooping credit of our country be revived, the sails of our commerce unfurled, our agriculture and manufactures encouraged, our useful mechanicks patronized, and the interests and views of this extensive Continent indissolubly united. …

1. Printed: William Hull, An Oration Delivered to the Society of the Cincinnati in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, July 4, 1788 (Boston, 1788) (Evans 21155), 12–15.

(a) Vide YOUNG’s Night Thoughts.

(b) Vide Governour BOWDOIN’s speech in Convention.