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pure Democracy,) where the People in themselves, and by themselves, perform all that belongs to Government, I know of no such thing; and if it be in the world, I have nothing to say for it.
And more explicitly still, he says: Being no way concerned in the defence of Democracy, I may leave our Knight, (Filmer,) like Don Quixotte, fighting against the phantasm of his own brain, and to say what he pleases against such Governments as never were, unless in such a place as San Marino, near Senegaglia, in Italy, where a hundred men govern a barbarous rock, that no man invades. As for Democracy, he may say what he pleases of it; and I believe it can suit only with the convenience of a small town, accompanied with such circumstances as are seldom to be found.
If Sydney understood anything of the matter, we see that every Colony in America is already too unwieldy for such a Government, and therefore it cannot be a model for an immense Continent. In a word, although this great man lived before the Revolution, he laid its foundation, died a martyr to its principles, and, by one of the first acts of Parliament made under it, his attainder was repealed, and a solemn national sanction given to his writings.
The testimony of another professed Whig, nay, an Independent Whig, (the famous Gordon, in his Discourses upon Tacitus,) shall come next: Monarchy, according to Plato, is the best Government, or the worst; to which opinion (says he) I subscribe, as I do to that of Philip de Commines, that England is the place in the world where the publick is most equally administered, and where the people suffer the least violence. We are blessed with a form of Government which Tacitus mentions as the most perfect, and thinks the hardest to be framedthat happy balance and mixture of interests that secures every interest.
Polybius, as he is quoted by Montague, on the Rise and Fall of Republicks, agrees with Plato: The best form of Government (says he) is that which is composed of a due admixture of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy.
Of all legislators, he prefers Lycurgus, whom he looks upon rather as divinely inspired than as a man. To perpetuate the Spartan Government, he united the peculiar excellencies of the best forms into one, that neither of the three parts, by swelling beyond its just bounds, might ever be able to deviate into its original inborn defects.
Montague adds: I cannot help observing, on this occasion, that our own Constitution, as settled at the Revolution, so nearly coincides with Lycurguss general plan, that it seems, at first sight, to be formed by that very model.
And, indeed, in the Constitution of mixed Governments, there is something more substantial than an attachment to the mystical number, three, in this triple union of powers. All power lodged, uncontrolled, in one or many, has been shown to be full of danger. Lodged in two distinct bodies, they may chance to disagree long; but the addition of a third turns the scale; and further additions would only be clogs.
I have not lost sight of Montesquieu, whose sentiments, as applicable to the English Constitution, in practice as well as theory, shall be briefly introduced in my next, to close this part of my work; and then let the author of Common Sense combat the arguments of these great men as well as he can; for he has yet said nothing that is in any way applicable to them, and must look for better arguments than those drawn from the nature of the English Constitution, if he expects to serve his cause. For my part, I still stand upon my first ground, and have no sentiment which I wish to hide on this occasion. When it shall clearly appear that we can be no longer free, nor secure in our rights and property, in connection with Britain, or that we can be more secure in any other connection, (and the time which will enable us to judge of this cannot be very remote,) the author of these letters shall not then lisp a word against whatever measures the sense of the majority of this country, fairly taken, shall adopt for the common good; and will be ready to give his best assistance for carrying them into execution. But he must ever bear his testimony against being surprised into publick decisions by misrepresentations, ungrounded suggestions, and delusive arguments, too evidently proceeding from prejudice or predetermination of a question, in which the happiness of a great Continent is involved.
GENERALWASHINGTON TO THE NEW-JERSEY COMMITTEE OF SAFETY.
New-York, April 24, 1776.
SIR: The readiness shown by the Committee of Safety for the Province of New-Jersey to succour this place with their Militia, on a late occasion, when they were at my request called upon by Brigadier-General the Earl of Stirling, and the alacrity with which I am informed the Militia then stepped forward in defence of their country, are sufficient proofs of the important service the Province of New-Jersey is capable of rendering in support of the great cause of American liberty, especially if the Militia of that Province be put under such regulations as will enable them to give their aid at the very time it may be wanted, and without the least delay possible. What renders such a regulation the more necessary is, that in the present situation of affairs, it is more than probable that the approach of the enemy will be sudden, and without our having long notice of their being on the coast.
Late experience has taught us that, under the present regulation, it will take at least a fortnight (after the necessity of the requisition is seen) to assemble and imbody any considerable detachment of the Militia; wherefore it seems absolutely necessary that there be a resolution of your Congress, or Committee of Safety, for allotting a particular number of your Militia to march on the first notice of the approach of the enemy. The detachment from each regiment should be fixed upon, who should march to certain places of rendezvous on the first alarm, by regulated signals. A regulation of such signals was lately made by Lord Stirling for the Highlands, Neversink, and Staten-Island, a copy of which, with some alteration, I now send you, and which I think are very proper for the purpose; the two last of which should be repeated at a number of eminences in your Province. And if, on the signal of the appearance of a large fleet, the detachments of your Militia were ordered to rendezvous at Brunswick, Amboy, Woodbridge, Rahway, Elizabethtown, Newark, and Bergen, they might be ready in a day or two to march to such place, either in your Province or in this, as would be found to stand most in need of their assistance. And in order to avoid the inconvenience which may arise from the absence of your Provincial Generals from that part of the country where the troops may assemble, it will be necessary that the Colonels and commanding officers of every corps or detachment be directed strictly to obey the orders they may receive from the Continental General to whom that department may be allotted.
With respect, I am, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
To Samuel Tucker, Esq., President of the Congress of New-Jersey, or the Chairman of the Committee of Safety of that Province.
GENERAL WASHINGTON TO THE NEW-YORK COMMITTEE OF SAFETY.
New-York, April 24, 1776.
GENTLEMEN: It being necessary that I should know the number of troops to compose the Army here, I must request the favour of your honourable body to inform me how many regiments are raising in this Province for the Continental service, by order of Congress, and what their state is as to men and arms. From the accounts I have had, I have reason to fear there is a great deficiency in the latter, which, at a crisis when nothing else seems left to decide the contest we are engaged in, is truly alarming, and calls aloud for their utmost exertions to procure them. The pleasing and ready assurances I have received from you to co-operate with me in every measure advancive of the common cause, leave me no room to doubt but proper steps will be pursued for obtaining them, and lead me to ask what expectations and source you have for getting a supply.
If there have been any officers commissioned by you, I shall be obliged by having a list of their appointments.
I have been informed that there is a number of arms at Kingston, that were taken from the forces in Dutchess County; if so, are they not at your disposal, and can they be had? I am, &c.,
To William Paulding, Esq., Chairman of the Committee of Safety of New-York.