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institutions are the wisest that have been devised. You have invented an infallible mode of bringing the first talents, and the highest virtues into the public service. Every citizen is well governed, yet every citizen is free. The expression of public favor, by election, constitutes the only distinction known among you. The federal government is an unexampled display of wisdom. Its form is adapted to any number of members; its powers may be exercised to the same beneficent ends, in thirteen, or in ten times thirteen States. You will fill the whole space from the St Lawrence, to the Gulf of Mexico; from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Already the variety of climate, and of product, give continual employment, and ample wealth in the common course of interchange. You would be prosperous, and great, even if shut out from the rest of the world. You are strangers to the degrading servitudes, pretended rights, and incorrigible prejudices which have fastened on other nations. You know, and value your rights, too well, not to preserve, and transmit them, through a long line of exulting followers. The inhabitants of South America, charmed by your enviable example, will form themselves into similar communities; and by a firm alliance, founded on mutual interests, the 'two Americas,' will hold a proud preeminence over the ancient world, alike regardless of its moral influence, and of its physical power.
What should we think of a parent, who should address his son, on entering the world,-You are wiser, more virtuous, more able than all others.
Your constitution is too strong to permit injury, or decay. You need no counsellor, but your own suggestions. Your sudden emotions will never surprise your prudence. Your talents will ensure success.. You will find all others ready to yield precedence to you; if not, you can command it. You need no lessons from the experience, nor from the failures, of others. Be then your own director; master of health, success, fortune, and fame.
We owe too much to the memory of the Pilgrims, too much to ourselves, too much to posterity, to permit ourselves to be thus deceived, or misled. The American people, are making an experiment in self-government. What reflecting mind can doubt that it is an experiment. Who among us feels assured, that this country will continue as free, and as happy, as the Pilgrims intended it should be. Is our case an exception from that of all similar governments? are we exempt from the frailties of human nature? if not, are we so defended against them, that they cannot prostrate, or degrade us? In all untried cases, it is usual to look at home, and abroad for precedents, and analogies.
In what do we resemble the Grecian Republics? The whole duration of the Grecians from their first emerging from barbarism, to the time when they sunk into slaves, under the Roman despotism, was little more than thrice that length of time, which has elapsed since our Fathers began their perilous adventure. Republican Grecce sent forth its colonies from Judea to the Atlantic; from the coast of Africa to the Northern shores of the Euxine. It
contended successfully against the most powerful monarch of that era; yet this same Greece contained, only half the number of square miles, which are comprised in the State of New York; it exceeded the four smallest of the New England States only in three hundred miles.* Its length was two hundred and twenty miles, its breadth one hundred and forty. It is the most mountainous country of Europe, Switzerland only excepted. It has one range of mountains as high as any in the old United States, and two of still greater elevation. Separated valleys, rapid torrents, and tracts of uncultivable lands, necessarily belong to such a country. This small space contained fifteen Independent States, or rather cities. The number of slaves was far greater than that of all the citizens. In Athens the proportion was thirty thousand citizens, and four hundred thousand slaves. In such republics, where the whole population could be assembled in a single day, where laws were made, judged of, and executed by popular assemblies, we find very little by which to measure what we are, or may become. Our resemblance to the Greeks becomes still less, when we consider them as a people who made their religion out of monstrous mythological fables, and absurd mysteries; and who governed their public, and private affairs, by the equivocal answers of oracles, and by contemptible superstitions.
Our citizens and their institutions, resemble those of Rome, as little as those of Greece. If in Greece
* Macedonia is not considered a part of Greece. It is about the same, in extent, as Greece.
we see many republics within narrow limits; among the Romans we see one city, subduing and governing nearly all that was known of the habitable globe, while the same city was alternating between popular tumult, and odious tyranny; the extremes of frugality and profligacy; and was, at last, abandoned to a luxury of which there had been no example, and of which there could be no imitation; as there never have been any republicans, or other citizens, rich like those of Rome. Not but that Greece, and Rome, had their glorious days. Both of them have sent down an imperishable fame, for taste, science, eloquence, arts, and arms; not that each of them did not exhibit examples of illustrious virtue, and proud patriotism. But we discern in neither of them, in their rise, prosperity, decline, or fall, anything to tell us what we are, or may be.
The conquerors of the world submitted, in their turn, to those innumerable hosts which came like ocean waves before the storm. A night of barbarism closed over the civilized world. All that science, arts, and refinement had brought forth perished in its long duration, except the solitary column, and the massive temple, which even barbarian strength could not utterly destroy. When this darkness fled before commerce, printing, and reformed religion, Europe presented no aspect to console the friends of human rights. Kingly power, sustained on the one hand by the sword, on the other by superstition; some men raised above all others by wealth, and hereditary right; a subdued and enslaved mass of human beings; and a blind
devotion to a profligate prelacy, raising its awful majesty above all other power, is the short outline of Europe in that day. To what extent has it changed since? In many respects it has changed, at least so far as individual merit could affect its condition. But the great features of political Europe, are still the same. It resembles a giant who wields his power in shackles. His efforts serve only to enervate and to prostrate him. He sinks subdued, and helpless, by his own fruitless struggles, to retrieve his liberty. We are grateful debtors to the Pilgrim Fathers that there is one people on the earth who can compare themselves without arrogance, with any of Europe, in ancient or modern times.
For hereditary right to rule, we have periodical elections; for the absurd privileges of birth, all the equality, which nature permits;-for unalienable wealth, laws which dissipate, in a few devolutions, any riches that can be acquired ;—for mercenary troops, forces composed of native citizens, who own what they protect;—for arbitrary exactions, payments which are almost voluntary;-for titled and imperious clergy, teachers who depend on their own merits for respect and obedience. But above all we have an entire separation and independence of legislative, judicial, and executive power.
Will a people who have such rights and privileges throw them away, permit them to drop from their enervated hold, or be wrested from their manly grasp?
These are questions, which it becomes us to ask, on a day devoted, not merely to praise and thanks