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artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.
Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion
of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.
In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.
How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.
In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my Plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually gorerned me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.
After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.
The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been virtually admitted by all.
The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any
thing more, from the obligation which justice anu humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.
The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.
Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am un. conscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, aná dangers.
GEORGE WASHINGTON. United States, September 17th, 1796.
THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT.
F the Mayflower Compact, drawn up in the cabin of the May
flower in 1620, Bancroft says: “Here was the birth of popular constitutional liberty. The middle ages had been familiar with charters and constitutions, but they had been merely compacts for immunities, partial enfranchisements, patents of nobility, concessions of municipal privileges or limitations of the sovereign power in favor of feudal institutions. In the cabin of the Mayflower, humanity reeovered its rights and instituted government on the basis of 'equal laws, enacted by all the people for the 'general good."" The Compact is as follows:
THE MAYFLOWER COMPACT. In the name of God, Amen: We, whose names are under written, the loyall subjects of our dread sovereigne King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., haveing undertaken for the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith and honor of our King and countrie, a voyage to plant the first colonie in the northerne parts of Virginia, doe, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends afore said; and, by vertue hearof, to enacte, constitute, and frame, such just and equall laws, ordenances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie. Unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes whereof, we have hereunder subscribed our names, at Cap Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the raigne of our sovereigne lord, King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fiftyburth, Anno Domini, 1620.
THE MECKLENBURGH DECLARATION.
'HE Mecklenburgh Declaration of Independence has been some
thing of a political Mrs. Harris, and there have not been wanting numerous Betsy Prigs to declare, “I don't believe there's no sich a person.” But the fact is that the Mecklenburgh Declaration was no fabrication, no canard; it really was proctaimed, as is claimed for it, in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 20, 1775, by the citizens of Mecklenburgh county, and that it is a remarkable prelude to the National Declaration of Independence many months later. To detail the evidence in favor of the actual existence of such a declaration would be foreign to the purpose of this article, but the evidence is ample and convincing. The discredit undoubtedly arose from the fact that there were two sets of resolutions: the first, a series of twenty resolutions discussing the subject of independence, but not actually declaring it, and the second, an unequivocal avowal of a dissolution “of the political bonds that have bound us to the mother country;" that the former was preserved entire, and that the original copy of the latter was destroyed by fire, leaving only an incomplete and professedly inaccurate copy of the real declaration. These facts, on slight examination, have misled many into the belief that the only Mecklenburgh Declaration was this first set of resolutions, which was really not a declaration of independence, but only a foreshadowing of one.
The authentic history of the document begins with a letter written in April, 1774, by William Hooper, a member of the North Carolina assembly, to James Iredell, subsequently one of the judges of the United States supreme court. In this letter, Hooper writes, “With you, I anticipate the important share which the colonies must soon have in regulating the political balance. They are striding fast to independence, and ere long will build an empire upon the ruins of Great Britain; will adopt its constitution, purged of its impurities,