902. A Republican
Independent Chronicle, 17 July 1788

To the Independent ELECTORS of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

If ever the attention of a people was required to consider of those things which concern their political welfare, the present situation of these States loudly demand it. Within the short period of twelve months, a Constitution of government has been framed, and offered to the consideration of every freeman, for his assent or dissent: The voice of ten States, by their representatives in Convention, has decided in its favour, and a majority of the most important States in the American Union, are ready to risque their political happiness on the operation of this new system.

The debilitated state of our government, occasioned by the want of some efficient head, has deprived us of every advantage which we expected to reap from our Independence. The ill policy of our commercial arrangments, has served to impoverish us in our finances, by the enormous remittances of our currency; occasioned an almost general bankruptcy, and has had the pernicious tendency, to discourage our enterprize in manufactures, and ruined many of those branches, which, during the war, had arisen to a flourishing state.

In this humiliating situation, have we been toiling for many years. The British nation, in particular, has been industriously pursuing every measure, to injure us in our mercantile concerns; but notwithstanding their innumerable indignities, we have fondly courted their connection. Our stores and shops have been for many years filled with the taudy badges of our infamous servility; and with grief do I make the remark, that the paltry fashions of that country, so eagerly followed by all ranks, are disgraceful specimens of our pusillanimity; and will, unless speedily checked, forever sully our honor and dignity, as a free people. Slaves may decorate themselves in the fantastic gewgaws of their masters,—but how unworthy the character of a nation, who pretend to stile themselves “Sovereign and Independent,” to be servilely copying the fopperies of those, who are insulting them with every national indignity. The conduct of the British, even since the peace, has been equally as derogatory to us as an independent nation, as their declaratory act, wherein they arrogated to themselves, “the right of binding the Americans in all cases whatever.” This stretch of arbitrary power, we resented as became freemen; but what mighty boon have we acquired, if in our connection with them, we still submit to the commercial bonds and shackles which they are pleased, (in all cases which suits their interest) to lay upon us? Our trade with this nation, has been the principal source of all our misfortunes: It has thrown a number of our best estates into the hands of British merchants; has occasioned a most rapid decrease of our medium; has ruined our manufactures, and will, if pursued, sap the foundation of the best government that ever can be established in America.

The first object therefore, of the Federal Government, must be to restrain our connection with Great-Britain, unless on terms of reciprocity. While they continue their duties and prohibitions, we must lay similar restrictions, and embarrassments on their trade, and prevent, by excessive duties, the redundance of their manufactures. Unless this great business is effected, we may please ourselves, with the prospects of a flourishing commerce; we may indulge a thousand agreeable ideas on the growing importance of our country; our husbandmen tradesmen and merchants may anticipate the halcyon days of peace and plenty; but depend on it, these things will be but imaginary, unless we shake off our destructive connection with a nation, whose manufactures are many of them, similar to those of our own country, and of consequence ought not to be imported; whose fashions are leading us to extravagance and dissipation; and above all, whose acts of legislation, are tending to the destruction of our fishery, and every other beneficial branch of commerce.

It is our duty therefore, in our choice of men for our new government, to elect such as are known friends to the commercial interest of this country. Such as are avowed advocates for the interest of the tradesmen and husbandmen; men whose connections are seperate from Britain; those who, during our contest with Britain, stood forth the inflexible friends of their country; & particularly such patriots, as have ever supported the genuine spirit of REPUBLICANISM. If we fail in placing such men at helm, at the first stage of our new Constitution, so far from remedying our situation, or establishing a beneficial commerce, we shall get more and more involved in difficulties, and our trade more fettered by British impositions. We may expect the British nation will view us with jealously, and will be using every means to influence our Councils: Bribery, and every species of iniquity will not be wanting; these instruments of state policy, will undoubtedly have their fatal effect, unless we have those men in our government, who are the tried friends of America, and the inflexible enemies to British measures.

Without doubt we shall have those presented us as Candidates for the several departments of our government, who put on very specious appearances, and who now seem warmly attached to our interest; it is the duty of the people therefore, early to make a distinction between such persons, as are eagerly becoming our friends, from the fond expectation of living on the loaves and fishes of the Constitution, and those who are studying the happiness and prosperity of the people, independent of sinister purposes. The former we have reason to fear, will not regard the public voice, after they are intrusted with that authority by which they may promote their own private interest.

I would beg leave to recommend to this and our sister States, the following extract from a speech made by Mr. Fox, to the Electors of Westminster in 1782,—with a little variation as it suits the present times.

“We are too apt to imagine, that if we adopt the (Federal Constitution) we have got all we have to wish for; but, my countrymen, this is not true; you are deceived when you are told so: It is a most undoubted fact, that when you adopt this Constitution, you have got a good mean, and an excellent instrument.—but it is still necessary, you should attend to the use of that instrument, and watch vigilantly, that it be placed in proper hands. For it is certain, no equality of representation; no Constitution upon paper, or practice of any kind whatever, can preserve the honor and respectability of this country, if the management of our government, is not intrusted with able and honest men. It is our most earnest wish, to have a permanent and beneficial Constitution; the great means therefore, to secure this, must arise from the WATCHFULLNESS and ATTENTION of the people; that when we have got the just and powerful instrument, in our hands of an excellent Constitution, we may make use of it for the noblest ends; for watching over the executive, as well as the legislative government of our country, so as that our interest abroad, and safety at home, be secured upon the surest of all foundations, THE VIGILANCE OF THE PEOPLE, DISPLAYED THROUGH A CONSTITUTIONAL MEDIUM.” Such sentiments from so great a politician and friend to America, ought to have the greatest weight on the minds of every friend to his country.