Centinel X

Centinel

January 12, 1788

To THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Fellow Citizens. What illustrious evidence and striking demonstration does the present momentous discussion afford of the inestimable value of the liberty of the press? No doubt now remains, but that it will prove the rock of our political salvation. Despotism, with its innumerable host of evils, by gliding through the mist of deception, had gained some of the principal works, had made a lodgement in the very citadel of liberty before it was discovered, and was near carrying the fortress by surprise: at this imminent alarming crisis the centries from the watch-towers sounded the alarm, and aroused the dormant votaries of liberty to a due sense of their danger; who, with an alacrity and spirit suited to the exigence, answered to the call, repulsed the enemy, dislodged it from most of its acquisitions, and nothing is now wanting to a total rout and compleat defeat, but a general discharge from the artillery of freedom. As the shades of night fly the approach of the radiant sun, so does despotism before the majesty of enlightened truth; wherever free discussion is allowed, this is invariably the consequence. Since the press has been unshackled in Pennsylvania; what an astonishing transition appears in the sentiments of the people! Infatuation is at an end, execration and indignation have succeeded to blind admiration and mistaken enthusiasm. The rampant insolence of the conspirators is prostrated, black dispair has taken possession of many of them, their countenances proclaim their defeat, and express serious apprehension for their personal safety from the rising resentment of injured freemen.

James, the Caledonian, lieutenant general of the myrmidons of power, under Robert, the cofferer, who, with his aid du–camp, Gouvero, the cunning man, has taken the field in Virginia;– I say James, in this exigence, summonses a grand council of his partizans in this city, and represents, in the most pathetic moving language, the deplorable situation of affairs, stimulates them to make a vigorous effort to recover the ground they have lost and establish their empire; that for this purpose, a generous contribution must be made by all those who expect to taste the sweets of power, or share in the fruits of dominion, in order to form a fund adequate to the great design, that may put them in possession of the darling object: then recommends that a committee be appointed of those who are gifted with Machiavelian talents, of those who excel in ingenuity, artifice, sophistry and the refinements of falsehood, who can assume the pleasing appearance of truth and bewilder the people in all the mazes of error; and as the task will be arduous, and requires various abilities and talents, the business ought to be distributed, and different parts assigned to the members of the committee, as they may be respectively qualified; some by ingenious sophisms to explain away and counteract those essays of patriotism that have struck such general conviction; some to manufacture extracts of letters and notes from correspondents, to give the complexion of strength to their cause, by representing the unanimity of all corners of America in favor of the new constitution; and others to write reams of letters to their tools in every direction, furnishing them with the materials of propagating error and deception; in short that this committee ought to make the press groan and the whole country reverberate with their productions. Thus to overpower truth and liberty by the din of empty sound and the delusion of falsehood.

The conspirators, deceived by their first success, grounded on the unreserved confidence of the people, do not consider that with the detection of their views, all chance of success is over; that suspicion once awakened, is not so soon to be lulled, but with eagle–eye will penetrate all their wiles, and detect their every scheme, however deeply laid, or speciously glossed. The labours of their committee will be unavailing, the point of deception is passed, the rays of enlightened patriotism have diffused general illumination. However, this new effort will serve to shew the perseverance of ambition and the necessity of constant vigilance in the people for the preservation of their liberty.

Already we recognize the ingenuity and industry of this committee; the papers teem with paragraphs, correspondents, &c. that exhibit a picture which bears no resemblance to the original; if we view this mirror for the representation of the sentiments of the people, a perfect harmony seems to prevail, every body in every place are charmed with the new Constitution, consider it as a gift from heaven, as their only salvation, &c. &c. &c. and I am informed expresses are employing to waft the delusion to the remotest corners; such a scene of bustle, lying, and activity, was never exhibited since the days of Adam. The contributions to the grand fund are so great, that it is whispered a magazine of all the apparatus of war is to be immediately provided, and if all other means fail, force is to be recurred to, which they hope will successfully terminate the disagreeable discussion of the rights of mankind, of equal liberty, &c. and thus establish a due subordination to the well born few.

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