CHAPTER 15|Document 11
Pennsylvania Evening Post27 Apr. 1776
The essence of liberty consists in our having it in our power to choose our own rulers, and so far as we exercise this power we are truly free, and no farther. Many advantages flow from such a plan of government. The following two have rarely been attended to, but every one will perceive them as soon as mentioned.
A poor man has rarely the honor of speaking to a gentleman on any terms, and never with familiarity but for a few weeks before the election. How many poor men, common men, and mechanics have been made happy within this fortnight by a shake of the hand, a pleasing smile and a little familiar chat with gentlemen, who have not for these seven years past condescended to look at them. Blessed state which brings all so nearly on a level! What a clever man is Mr. ------ says my neighbour, how agreeable and familiar! He has no pride at all! He talked as freely to me for half an hour as if he were my neighbour ------ there! I wish it were election time always! Thursday next he will lose all knowledge of ------, and pass me in the streets as if he never knew me.
How kind and clever is the man who proposes to be Sheriff, for two months before the election; he knows every body, smiles upon and salutes every body, until the election is over; but then to the end of the year, he has no time to speak to you, he is so engaged in seizing your property by writ of venditioni exponas, and selling your goods at vendue.
Thus the right of annual elections will ever oblige gentlemen to speak to you once a year, who would despise you forever were it not that you can bestow something upon them.
Lying is so vulgar a failing that no gentleman would have any thing to say to it but at elections. Then indeed the greatest gentleman in the city will condescend to lye with the least of us. This year their humility is amazing; for they have stooped to the drudgery of going from house to house to circulate election lyes about division of property. I cannot commend their policy herein, for such poor rascals as I am with [wish?] nothing more. However it shews their willingness to come to a pin, which is such a favor that we ought to be truly thankful for it.
In a word, electioneering and aristocratical pride are incompatible, and if we would have gentlemen ever to come down to our level, we must guard our right of election effectually, and not let the Assembly take it out of our hands. Do you think ever Mr. J------ ------ would ever speak to you, if it were not for the May election? Be freemen then, and you will be companions for gentlemen annually.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago