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The situation of these States is very unlike that of the United Provinces. Remote as we are from Europe, in a little time we should fancy ourselves out of the reach of attempts from abroad, and in full liberty, at our leisure and convenience, to try our strength at home. This might not happen at once, but if the Federal Government should lose its authority it would certainly follow. Political societies in close neighborhood must either be strongly united under one government, or there will infallibly exist emulations and quarrels; this is in human nature, and we have no reason to think ourselves wiser or better than other men. Some of the larger States, a small number of years hence, will be in themselves populous, rich, and powerful in all those circumstances calculated to inspire ambition and nourish ideas of separation and independence. Though it will ever be their true interest to preserve the Union, their vanity and self-importance will be very likely to overpower that motive, and make them seek to place themselves at the head of particular confederacies independent of the general one. A schism once introduced, competitions of boundary and rivalships of commerce will easily afford pretexts for war.
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Flax and hemp we should undoubtedly have in abundance. The immense tracts of new rich land, which may be planted with these articles, would yield immense quantities of them. What large supplies of seed do we annually export to Ireland! When we come to withhold these, and make the cultivation of flax and hemp a matter of serious attention, we shall soon procure a plenty of them. In speaking of this matter, you confine your views to the single small province of New York. You say: “We sow already as much flax as we can conveniently manage. Besides, it requires a rich, free soil; nor will the same ground in country produce flax a second time till after an interval of five or six years. If the measures of the Congress should be carried into full effect, I confess we may, in a year or two, want a large quantity of hemp for the executioner. But I fear we must import it. It exhausts the soil too much to be cultivated in the old settled parts of the province.”
It is said “there is ability and humanity enough in the nation to relieve those who are distressed by us, and to put them into some other way of getting their living.” I wish the gentleman had obliged his readers so much as to have pointed out this other way. I must confess, I have racked my brains to no purpose to discover it; and I am fully of opinion it is purely ideal. Besides the common mechanic arts, which are subservient to the ordinary uses of life, and which are the instruments of commerce, I know no other ways, in time of peace, in which men can be employed, except in agriculture and the liberal arts. Persons employed in the mechanic arts are those whom the abridgment of commerce would immediately affect; and as to such branches as might be less affected, they are already sufficiently stocked with workmen, and could give bread to no more. Not only so, but I can’t see by what legerdemain a weaver, a clothier, could be at once converted into a carpenter or blacksmith. With respect to agriculture, the lands of Great Britain and Ireland have been long ago distributed and taken up; nor do they require any additional laborers to till them, so that there could be no employment in this way. The liberal arts cannot maintain those who are already devoted to them; not to say, it is more than probable, the generality of mechanics would make but indifferent philosophers, poets, painters, and musicians.
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I shall now proceed to take such a survey of the political history of the colonies as may be necessary to cast a full light upon their present contest and at the same time, to give the public a just conception of the profound and comprehensive knowledge you have of the dispute, the fairness and candor with which you have represented facts, and the immaculate purity of your intentions.
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This council had “full power and authority to make, ordain, and establish all manner of and of government and magistracy fit and necessary for and concerning the government of the said colony; and the same to abrogate, revoke, or change, at all times, not only within the precincts of the said colony, but also on the seas, in going or coming to or from said colony.”
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The third charter is a still farther enlargement of their territory and privileges, and is that by which their present form of government is modelled. The following extract will show the nature of it: “We do hereby ordain and grant, that the said treasurer and company of adventurers and planters aforesaid shall and may, once every week, and oftener, at their pleasure, hold and keep a court or assembly, for the better order and government of the said plantation; and that any five persons of our council for the time being, of which company the treasurer, or his deputy, to be always one, and the number of fifteen persons, at the least, of the generality of the said company assembled together in such a manner as hath been heretofore used and accustomed, shall be reputed to be, and shall be, a sufficient court for the handling, ordering, and dispatching of all such casual and particular occurrences, as shall, from time to time, happen, touching and concerning the said plantation. And, nevertheless, for the handling, ordering, and disposing of the matters and affairs of greater weight and importance, such as shall, concern the public weal and the general good of the said plantation, as, namely, the from time to time, to be used, the ordering and disposing of the lands and possessions, and the or such like, there shall be held and kept, every year one great general and solemn assembly. In all and every of which said great and general courts, so assembled, our will and pleasure is, and we do, for us, our heirs and successors for ever, give and grant to the said treasurer and company, or the greater number of them, so assembled, that they shall and may have full power and authority, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, to and discreet persons to be of our said council, for the first colony of Virginia; and to nominate and appoint such officers as they shall think fit and requisite for the government, managing, ordering, and dispatching of the affairs of the said company; and shall likewise have full power and authority to ordain and make such laws and ordinances for the good and welfare of the said plantation as to them, from time to time, shall be thought requisite and meet; ”