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State of the Country

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

January 1. –The virtue of the British court seems to have swallowed up all the virtue of the island of Great Britain. The common people are lost in a night of ignorance. They annex no ideas to slavery but wooden shoes and soup meagre. Even the Roman Catholic religion has now no terrors in it to Englishmen.

The American colonies are just beginning to emerge from Egyptian darkness, with respect to the rights of human nature. About two hundred years ago, the human heart discovered its folly and depravity upon the theatre of religion; about one hundred years they both appeared through the medium of science. We are shocked at our species, when we read the history of the human understanding at these memorable periods. The present age shows equal absurdities and vices upon the theatre of politics. Here we discover in other forms every thing for which we condemn our ancestors. Posterity will tread most heavily upon our ashes, as the principles of government are more simple than the principles of religion and science. They will wonder whether we were men or brutes.

There has always been such a mixture of monarchy and aristocracy in republics, that they never have had fair play in the world. We can say but little from experience of their expediency or duration. Most of the free states in the world have been formed by men just emerged from a state of slavery. No wonder, therefore, they have been liable to disorders, and a speedy dissolution. What sort of government would the negroes in the southern colonies form, if they were suddenly set at liberty? Almost all the blood that has been shed in contests for liberty, has been to shake off a subjection to foreign states.

The British constitution, with all its imperfections, even absolute monarchy itself, would insure more happiness to the colonies than they can expect (according to the usual operation of moral and natural causes) from a union with the people, or a dependence upon the ministry of Great Britain. 1


1 “Seasonable Thoughts,” in the Pennsylvania Journal, January 3.

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