Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

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a member of the Virginia legislature. He was a delegate to the Continental
Congress, and, because of his well-known skill in composing state papers,
was appointed upon the drafting committee of the Congress. The Declara-
tion of Independence, though it embodies emendations by John Adams and
Benjamin Franklin, is mainly the work of Jefferson, and his name will always
be indissolubly connected with it. Despite the fact that it has been common
to sneer at certain features of the Declaration (see article by Moses Coit
Tyler, "The Declaration of Independence in the Light of Modern Criticism,"
reprinted in this volume on page 158), it remains, as someone has said, "the
most powerful, the most significant piece of literature that ever came from
the pen of a statesman." It is not needful to enumerate the public positions
held by Jefferson in his later career. After retiring from the Presidency in
1809, he spent the remainder of his life at Monticello, his country estate in



When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary
for one people to dissolve the political bands which have con-
nected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of
the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of
nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation.



We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with cer-
tain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, govern-
ments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of
government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of
the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new govern-
ment, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing
its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate
that governments long established should not be changed for
light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath
shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils
are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms
to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses
and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a
design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right,
it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide
new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient
sufference of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which
constrains them to alter their former systems of government.
The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of
repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To
prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and
necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate
and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till
his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has
utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of
large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the
right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to
them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,


uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public
records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance
with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for oppos-
ing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to
cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, in-
capable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for
their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean tune, exposed
to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States;
for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of for-
eigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration
hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing
his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone for the ten-
ure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither
swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their sub-

He has kept among us in times of peace, standing armies,
without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and
superior to, the civil power.

He has combined, with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction
foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for
any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of
these States:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by


For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbor-
ing province, establishing therein an arbitrary government and
enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example
and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into
these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable
laws, and altering, fundamentally, the forms of our governments :

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here by declaring us out of his
protection, and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our
towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mer-
cenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyr-
anny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy
scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally
unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the
high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the
executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves
by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has
endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the
merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for
redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have
been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose char-
acter is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant,
is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British breth-
ren. We have warned them, from time to tune, of attempts by
their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration


and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice
and magnanimity, and we have conjured them, by the ties of
our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would
inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They,
too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.
We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces
our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind,
enemies in war in peace, friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of
America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Su-
preme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do,
in the name, and by authority of the good people of these col-
onies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies
are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that
they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and
that all political connection between them and the state of
Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that,
as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war,
conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to
do all other acts and things which independent States may of
right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm
reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually
pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.


New Hampshire


Fras. Hopkinson,

Josiah Bartlett,

Roger Sherman,

John Hart,

Win. Whipple,

Sam'el Huntington,

Abra. Clark.

Matthew Thornton.

Wm. Williams,

Oliver Wolcott.


Massachusetts Bay

Robt. Morris,

Saml. Adams,
John Adams,
Robt. Treat Paine,
Elbridge Gerry.

New York
Wm. Floyd,
Phil. Livingston,
Frans. Lewis,
Lewis Morris.

Benjamin Rush,
Benja. Franklin,
John Morton,
Geo. Clymer,
Jas. Smith,

Rhode Island

New Jersey

Geo. Taylor,
James Wilson,

Step. Hopkins,

Richd. Stockton,

Geo. Ross.

William Ellery. Jno. Witherspoon,


Caesar Rodney,
Geo. Read,
Tho. M'Kean.

Samuel Chase,
Wm. Paca,
Thos. Stone,
Charles Carroll of Car-

George Wythe,
Richard Henry Lee,
Th Jefferson,
Benja. Harrison,
Thos. Nelson, jr.,
Francis Lightfoot Lee,
Carter Braxton.

North Carolina
Wm. Hooper,
Joseph Hewes,
John Perm.

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge,
Thos. Hey ward, Junr.,
Thomas Lynch, Junr.,
Arthur Middleton.


Button Gwinnett,
Lyman Hall,
Geo. Walton.


[George Washington (1732-1799), the first President of the United States,
was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and died at Mount Vernon, his
famous estate, not many miles from his birthplace. The details of his life
are so well known that no attempt is made in this note to recount them.
Light on his character as an American citizen will be found in the selection,
Van Dyke's The Americanism] of Washington, page 67, this volume. After
being twice elected President without opposition, Washington felt that
he had done his work in founding the Republic and resolved to withdraw
to private life. His Farewell Address was written upon this occasion and
issued in 1796. It is a simple, touching letter of advice, caution, and bene-
diction, in spite of the stiff and formal diction in which, according to the
literary fashion of that time, it is couched. As has been long known, the
Address is a composite production. The substance and spirit of it, the main
idea and the trend, are wholly Washington's; the language, in great part, is
undoubtedly Madison's and Hamilton's (see Horace Binney's Inquiry into
the Formation of Washington's Farewell Address; also a briefer account in the
Forum, vol. xxvii, p. 145). In reprinting the address here a few opening
paragraphs are omitted.]

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to ter-
minate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit
me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of grati-
tude, which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors
it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence


with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I
have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by
services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal
to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these
services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an
instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in
which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to
mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of
fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfre-
quently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism,
the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the
efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were affected.
Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to
my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that
Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its benefi-
cence; that your union and brotherly affection may be per-
petual, that the free constitution, which is the work of your
hands, may be sacredly maintained, that its administration in
every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue;
that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the
auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a pres-
ervation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to
them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection,
and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your
welfare, which cannot end but with my life and the apprehension
of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion
like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to
recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are
the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation,
and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of
your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the
more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested
warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal
motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encourage-
ment to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a for-
mer and not dissimilar occasion.


Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of
your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify
or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government, which constitutes you one people,
is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in
the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tran-
quility at home, your peace abroad, of your safety; of your
prosperity; of that very liberty, which you so highly prize.
But as it is easy to foresee, that, from different causes and from
different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices em-
ployed, to weaken hi your minds the conviction of this truth; as
this is the point in your political fortress against which the
batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly
and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed,
it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the
immense value of your national union to your collective and
individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual,
and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to
think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety
and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous
anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a sus-
picion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly
frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate
any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the
sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest.
Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country
has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American,
which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always
exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation
derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of dif-
ference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and
political principles. You have in a common cause fought and
triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess
are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common
dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address


themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those
which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every
portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for
carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South,
protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in
the productions of the latter, great additional resources of mari-
time and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manu-
facturing industry. The South, in the same intercourse, benefit-
ing by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its
commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the sea-
men of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated;
and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and in-
crease the general mass of the national navigation, it looks for-
ward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is
unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the
West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of
interior communications by land and water, will more and more
find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from
abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the
East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is
perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the
secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions
to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the
Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community
of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West
can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its
own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural con-
nexion with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate
and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot
fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater
strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from
external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by
foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must
derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars
between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring


countries not tied together by the same governments, which
their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but
which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would
stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the
necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which,
under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and
which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican
liberty. In this sense it is, that your union ought to be considered
as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought
to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every
reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the
Union as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt
whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere?
Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation hi such a
case were criminal. We are authorized to hope, that a proper
organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of govern-
ments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue
to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment.
With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting ah 1
parts of our country, while experience shall not have demon-
strated its impracticability, there will always be reason to dis-
trust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavor
to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union,
it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should
have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical
discriminations, northern and southern, Atlantic and western;
whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there
is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expe-
dients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts,
is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You
cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and
heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations;
they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be
bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our
western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head;


they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the
unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain,
and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the
United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the sus-
picions propagated among them of a policy in the General Gov-
ernment and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests
in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the for-
mation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with
Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in
respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their pros-
perity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation
of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured?
Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there
are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect
them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Govern-
ment for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however
strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they
must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions,
which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this
momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by
the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated
than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious
management of your common concerns. This Government, the
offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted
upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free
in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security
with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own
amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your sup-
port. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acqui-
escence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental
maxims of true Liberty. ' The basis of our political systems is the
right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of
government. But the constitution which at any time exists, till
changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people,
is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power
and the right of the people to establish Government presup-


poses the duty of every individual to obey the established

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations
and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the
real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular
deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are de-
structive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.
They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extra-
ordinary force; to put, hi the place of the delegated will of the
nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enter-
prising minority of the community; and, according to the alter-
nate triumphs of different parties, to make the public adminis-
tration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonNational ideals and problems; essays for college English → online text (page 11 of 39)