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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 285   View pdf image (33K)
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PRESIDENT's ADDRESS.

and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
Who can doubt that in the course of time and things the fruits of
such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by
a steady adherence to it?  Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent
felicity of a nation with its virtue?  The experiment, at least, is recommended
by every sentiment which ennobles human nature.  Alas!  is it
rendered impossible by its vices?

    In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent,
inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments
for others, should be excluded; and that in place of them just and amicable
feelings towards all should be cultivated.  The nation, which indulges towards
another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave.  It
is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it
astray from its duty and its interest.  Antipathy in one nation against another disposes
each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes or
umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or tristing occasions
of dispute occur.  Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed and bloody
contests.  The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to
war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy.  The government
sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion
what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation
subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition and other sinister
and pernicious motives.  The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of
nations has been the victim.

    So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety
of evils.  Sympathy for the favourite nation, facilitating the illusion of an
imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and
infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation
in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or
justification.  It leads also to concessions to the favourite nation of privileges
denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions;
by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting
jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal
privileges are with-held:  And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens
(who devote themselves to the favourite nation) facility to betray, or sacrifice
the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with
popularity; gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation a
commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good,
the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.

    As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are
particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot.  How
many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice
the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public
councils!  Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful
nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

    Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me,
fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since
history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes
of republican government.  But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial;
else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a
defence against it.--Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike
of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side,
and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other.--Real patriots,
who may resist the intrigues of the favourite, are liable to become suspected
and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the
people, to surrender their interests.

 

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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1796
Volume 105, Page 285   View pdf image (33K)
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