A Pennsylvania Farmer
November 27, 1787
Mr. Oswald: In searching among some old papers a few days ago, I accidentally found a London newspaper, dated in March, 1774, wherein a certain Dean Ticker, after stating several advantages attendant on a separation from the then colonies, now United States of America, proceeds thus: “After a separation from the colonies our influence over them will be much greater than ever it was, since they began to feel their own eight and importance.” “The moment a separation takes effect, intestine quarrels will begin;” and “in proportion as their factious republican spirit shall intrigue and cabal shall split into parties, divide and sub-divide, in the same proportion shall we be called in to become their general umpires and referees.”
I stood aghast on perusing this British prophecy, and could not help reflecting how my infatuated countrymen are on the very verge of suffering it to be fulfilled. Already have they in several of the States spurned at the federal government, despised their admonitions, and absolutely refused to comply with their requisitions; nay, they have gone further, and have enacted laws in direct violation of those very requisitions; not does the present federal constitution give Congress power to enforce a compliance with the most trifling measure they may recommend. Hence, liberty becomes licentiousness (for while causes continue to produce their effects, want of energy in government will be followed by disobedience in the governed). Hence, also, credit, whether foreign or domestic, public or private, hath been abused, and, of course, is reduced to the lowest ebb; Rhode Island faith in particular is become superlatively infamous, even to a proverb. Would to God that censure in this respect were only due to that petty State! Sorry I am to say, several others merit a considerable share of it. Ship-building and commerce no more enrich our country; agriculture is neglected, or what is just the same, our produce, instead of being exported, is suffered to rot in the fields. Britain has dared to retain our frontier posts, whereby she not only deprives us of our fur trade, but is enabled to keep up a number of troops, to take every advantage of any civil broils which may arise in these States; and to close the dismal scene, rebellion, with all its dire concomitants, has actually reared its head in a sister State—such have been the deplorable effects of a weak and impotent government. Perhaps the present situation of American cannot be better described than by comparing her to a ship at sea in a storm, when the mariners tie up the helm and abandon her to the fury of the winds and waves. O, America! arouse! awake from your lethargy! bravely assert the cause of federal unanimity! and save your sinking country! Let it not be said that those men who heroically extirpated tyranny from America, should suffer civil discord to undo all that they have achieved, or to effect more than all the powers of Britain, aided by her blood-thirsty mercenaries, were able to accomplish. Let not posterity say: “Alas, our fathers expended much blood and treasure in erecting the temple of liberty; and when nothing more was wanting but thirteen pillars to support the stately edifice, they supinely neglected this essential part; so has the whole become one mighty heap of ruins, and slavery is entailed on their unhappy offspring.” God forbid that this should ever be the case!
Do any of my fellow citizens ask, how may we avert the impending danger? The answer is obvious; let us adopt that federal constitution, which has been earnestly recommended by a convention of patriotic sages, and which, while it gives energy to our government, wisely secures our liberties. This constitution, my friends, is the result of four months’ deliberation, in an assembly composed of men whose known integrity, patriotism and abilities justly deserve our confidence; let us also remember that the illustrious WASHINGTON was their President. And shall we, my fellow citizens, render all their measures ineffectual by withholding our concurrence? The preservation of ourselves and our country forbid it. Methinks I hear every hill from St. Croix to the Mississippi reecho the praises of this simple but excellent constitution.
Having once adopted this truly federal form of government, Dean Tucker and all the divines in England may prophecy our downfall if they will, we shall not regard them. Then shall commerce revisit our shores; then shall we take a distinguished rank among the nations of the earth; then shall our husbandmen and mechanics of every denomination enjoy the fruits of their industry; and then, and not till then, shall we be completely happy.