From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
August 24.—In the present unsettled state of things in America, when the British are in possession of a part of the southern States, and when men’s minds are distracted between a love of property, and that attention which should ever be paid to the solemn agreements entered into by them at the commencement of the war, it may not be amiss to throw the following remarks respecting our situation, upon paper, convinced that it is not the case with us, (as we believe it to be with the people of England,) that we are unable to bear full liberty. In a republic where its powers are well poised, liberty may be better preserved, than by any monarchial government we know of, whatever forms may exist in imagination. Those who have already enjoyed, in any degree, the benefits of this establishment, will not. we presume, easily give it up, and run infinite hazards in endeavoring to obtain one a little better, even if they have the prospect of attaining it.
The American government is a good one, and must be much better as soon as we have expelled the British from it, and buried in oblivion those prejudices which have done infinitely more harm than any thing else. From our unhappy divisions, our enemies have derived more benefit than they have ever done from the success of their arms; they have taken the advantage of our internal contentions, and endeavored to crush us in this moment of adversity. These unfortunate dissensions have contributed upon every occasion to deprive us of that strength which is ever the attendant of national union. It is ridiculous to suppose that we can ever entertain the same affection for the people of Great Britain we formerly did, or even to expect the renewal of those blessings we enjoyed under that government, previous to the Stamp Act. While their manners remained entire, they corrected the vice of their laws and softened them to their own temper, but in all their late proceedings we see very few traces of that generosity, humanity, and dignity, which formerly characterized them. War seems to have suspended all the rules of moral obligation; civil wars strike deeply into the manners of the people, vitiate their politics, corrupt their morals, and even pervert the natural taste and relish of equity and justice; the very names of affection and kindred, which were the bond of union while we agreed, are now become incentives to rage and hatred.
It is too late to flatter ourselves that we shall not fall into this misfortune. Experience has convinced us that we are not exempt from the ordinary frailties of our nature, and that we have nothing to hope for but from perseverance, that pillar of fire, which can alone conduct us to the promised land.
The affairs of Britain are certainly at this ^ time in a most distressing situation; at war with France, Spain, Holland, and America. She seems tamely to acquiesce in the loss of her East and West India possessions, in the destruction of her commerce, and in the diminution of her credit, merely to cherish the delusive idea of reducing America; but after all her exertions, she must be convinced it is now wholly impossible that America can ever be conquered. Not a single district throughout our extensive continent has yet voluntarily submitted. Even in Carolina and Georgia (where from the loss of the army in Charleston, they had the fairest opportunities) they now only occupy the spot they encamp on, and no more. Wherever they move they spread devastation and horror, and their perfidy ,and cruelties invariably tend to unite the people more firmly in their opposition.
At a time when we are insulted by enemies, long accustomed to conquer, when some of our governments are not so well established as we could wish, and their existence endangered, it is too late to inquire minutely into the causes which have brought us into this situation. The conjuncture calls for the immediate exertion of whatever wisdom or vigor is left among us, and the man who withholds his assistance, on any pretence, is an enemy to his country. It is a common cause, in which every one is concerned, and in which all should be engaged; the blunders of the ruling powers should be overlooked, and the gratification of personal animosities should give way to the public good of the community. At such a crisis, to arouse the drooping spirit of the people, to encourage the timid, to revive the desponding, and to animate the brave, is the duty of every friend to his country; for by vigorously resenting the injuries, and avenging the insults we have received, we lay the most solid foundation of peace, independence, and safety.1
1 A “Carolina Planter,” in the Pennsylvania Packet, August 28.