[Volume 1, Page 521]

CHAPTER 15 | Document 15

A Watchman, Pennsylvania Packet

10 June 1776

It is now high time, my dear Countrymen, to emancipate yourselves from the delusions of such artful men. You have been told that you are unfit to have any share in the formation of a new government, and yet you are acknowledged at the same time to compose nine-tenths of the people of Pennsylvania. Strange that the majority should yield to the minority in a matter of so much consequence! But your LEADERS, it is said, are men of no fortune. I deny the charge. In the first place you have no leaders--you all act from the impulses of public and not party spirit, and in the second place you have nine-tenths of the property of [Volume 1, Page 522] Pennsylvania on your side [of] the question. But you are told that you are all aiming at offices and power--Suppose this were true, you are just in your aims, for all offices and power belong solely to you, and are in your gift.

Here I cannot help making a digression from my subject. It was a custom among the Jews on certain occasions, to acknowledge the origin of their families as an antidote to pride. "A Syrian ready to perish was my father," was the confession with which they approached the temple. Suppose the same acknowledgement was demanded from some of our UNCOMMON People. I believe the answer should be, a poor tradesman, a day-labourer, or a vagrant, "ready to perish was my father."--Talk not, ye pretenders to rank and gentility, of your elevated stations.--They are derived from those very people whom you treat with so much contempt. Talk not of their vulgar countenances and behaviour. Their vulgarity is seated only in their MANNERS. It occupies a higher place among yourselves. It is seated in your MINDS. This the profane, obscene, and trifling conversation so peculiar to high life abundantly witnesses. Had you concurred in the present virtuous and necessary measure of instituting a new government, you would have probably continued to occupy your posts and offices, with that additional lustre which they would have received from being the unbiassed gifts of freemen, but you have now forfeited the confidence of the people, by despising their authority, and you have furnished them with a suspicion that in taking up arms you yielded only to the violence of the times, or that you meant to fight for your offices, and not for your country.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 15, Document 15
The University of Chicago Press