From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
May 25. –At a time when tyranny bears fire in one hand, and instruments of death in the other, let us exert every nerve, and, to our utmost, promote justice, equity, and good economy; that by virtue, resolution, and union, we may break the monster’s head, though he, Colossus-like, bestrides our harbors, shading the ocean with his lowering brow, and yawns with horrid jaws for the innocent blood of this continent.
But the most effectual way to prevent his blood-thirsty designs, and ward off devastation, will be to seize and confine, within the narrow circuit of a gaol or prison, the sons of this infernal monster. It is the part of a prudent man to confine the lion to his cage when in his power, though he should cease from roaring, or even feign himself a lamb; and to break a serpent’s head, though she, when caught, falsely pretended herself a dove. Let me tell you, words do not convert lions into lambs, serpents into doves, nor Tories into Sons of Liberty. Remember, as our Saviour was betrayed by one of his disciples, so is our country by her pretended friends.
But how ridiculous and destructive is this, to allow persons a right of property in any country, where they employ both their talents and properties to destroy its immunities, and even to sacrifice the blood of its inhabitants, to satisfy the wanton cravings of a greedy monster.
Let me say, to suffer those who contradict the true interest of their country at this important struggle to go unconfined, or to enjoy their former property, upon a slight confession or promise of reformation, is to give them the advantage to sport with our liberties, as well as to appear ridiculously stupid our selves. I say, such folly as this cannot fail to give vice the laurel, whilst virtue sits in tears. There is a way to shun calamities of every kind, if rightly understood. The only one for us seems this: to discard the thought of riches, and seek for men of virtue, to serve the public cause. Virtue joined with knowledge will save a state from the greatest calamities; while riches joined with avarice, like an impetuous torrent, drives headlong all within reach, and drowns them within its gloomy vortex.
My countrymen, when you are to employ a. man for public trust, consider, not who is most fond of such an office, or may like its profits best, but who is most fit, and who will serve his country best. He who gives his vote, being swayed by birth, fortune, or any thing beside the general good, sells his country. He who devotes his all to do it service, let his condition be what it may, is one of the noble columns upon which it stands. Those who prefer the favor of selfish persons, or their own private interest to the true interest of their country, do not long support their own or their country’s cause; but being an insufficient basis for such a trust, by the assistance of avarice and luxury attempt the arduous task, till whatever they pretend to support falls, together with themselves, in one general ruin. Witness the British Parliament! There, virtue has long since been a crime; avarice hath taken the field, and entered the gates where the public councils are held; justice gives up the keys, and flies to seek an asylum in some propitious clime. And now behold what follows! How is the blood of her citizens sported with?–some living an ignoble life, others dying an inglorious death! Who can atone for such a crime as this? to sacrifice more than a thousand troops on death’s grim altar, to gain what in reason’s view was not their right, and what those who survived the bloody scene could not maintain.
Then to shun such horrid deeds, let us despise both avarice and avaricious men. Consider, I entreat you, that folly in a judge, a general, or a king, is folly indeed, and draws most aggravated ruin at its heels. O let virtue, prudence, and resolution, take the field! Let them possess the bench, the council chamber, and the senate.
Thus alone can a people be rendered happy, and a country glorious; but give me leave, my countrymen, as I both feel for ourselves and millions yet unborn, to warn you neither to suffer inattention to possess your minds or idleness your pens; and may each one within his own peculiar sphere, strive for the good of the whole. Then shall we, as individuals, be happy; as a people, terrible to our enemies; and as a country, glorious wherever fame shall celebrate the exploits of heroes, and just triumphs of virtuous deeds. And provinces and kingdoms, over which the Roman Eagle never flew, shall bow to the imperial sceptre of the free and independent States of America. 1
1 Addressed to all Americans who love liberty, and hold their country dear, by “Amicus Patriae et Filius Libertatis.”–Providence Gazette, May 25.