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who have equal rights and equal property to defend, and equal claims to a share in the management of that property. The attempts and often successful attempts, in this country, to exclude one class of citizens from any control in legislation over the property which their industry has acquired and which bears its proportion of the burdens of government, is as rude an assault on liberty, as ever disgraced the annals of despotism. Accustom yourself from your youth to consider all men as your brethren, and know no distinction between fellow citizens, except that which they make themselves, by their virtues or their vices; by their worth or their meanness.
A republican form of government is evidently the most rational form that men have devised for the protection of person and property, and for securing liberty. But hitherto no means have been devised to guard this form of government from abuse and corruption. Men in republics are as wicked, and as selfish as in monarchies, and with far more power to introduce disorders, both into legislation and into the adminstration of the laws. In republics, the influence of selfish and ambitious men over the weak, the ignorant and unsuspecting, has its full range of operation ; and sooner or later, this influence will place in office incompetent men, or men who will sacrifice principle to personal emolument or aggrandizement. The corruption of the electors is the first step towards the ruin of republics; and when the sources of power are corrupted, the evil hardly admits of a remedy.
It seems to be a political axiom that republics should be founded on an equality of rights, or so constructed as to preserve that equality. But with all the declamation which is heard on this subject, this equality of rights seems not to be understood; the very terms want definition. That all men have an equal right to the protection of their persons, their reputation and their property, is undeniable. But it may be asked, has a man who has no property to defend, and none to support the expenses of government, an equal right to legislate upon property, as a man who has property to
guard and to apply to the support and defense of his country? May it not be true in a republic, that a majority of the citizens may possess a minority of the property, and may it not happen that the minor interest may govern the major interest ? And in this case, what becomes of the equality of rights, on which we profess to found a republican government? When the sober, industrious citizen, who, by his toil and economy, collects a moderate estate, brings up a family in good habits, and pays his taxes to government, finds that his property and virtue give him no influence or advantage as a member of the government, over the idle pennyless lounger, who earns little and spends that little in vice, paying nothing to government what attachment can this good citizen feel to the government? What confidence can he place in its administration ? What expectation can he entertain of its durability ? And what sort of government is that in which the owners of the country do not govern it?
Melancholy as this view of the subject is, you are the subject and the citizen of a republic, and in these characters, duties will devolve on you of no ordinary magnitude. As a subject, yield an entire obedience to the laws and established institutions of society. Never for the paltry consideration of interest, resort to deception, concealment or equivocation, to evade your proper share in the burdens of government. As a citizen, exercise your rights with integrity and unshaken independence of mind. An obsequious elector, who temporizes with party, and yields to every varying breeze of popular opinion, is a most contemptible character.
In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate-look to his character as a man of known principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.
It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the
Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness. But if we had no divine instruction on the subject, our own interest would demand of us a strict observance of the principle of these injunctions. And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government; and which will tend to reconcile men to m chy in other countries and even in our own.
When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality, he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. Nor is it of slight importance, that men elected to office should be able men, men of talents equal to their stations, men of mature age, experience, and judgement; men of firmness and impartiality. This is particularly true with regard to men who constitute tribunals of justice the main bulwark of our rights the citadel that maintains the last struggle of freedom against the inroads of corruption and tyranny. In this citadel should be stationed no raw, inexperienced soldier, no weak temporizing defender, who will obsequiously bend to power, or parley with corruption.
One of the surest tests of a man's real worth, is the esteem and confidence of those who have long known'him, and his conduct in domestic and social life. It may be held as generally true, that respect spontaneously attaches itself to real worth; and the man of respectable virtues, never has occasion to run after respect. Whenever a man is known to seek promotion by intrigue, by temporizing, or by resorting to the haunts of vulgarity and vice for support, it may be inferred, with moral certainty, that he is not a man of real respectability, nor is he entitled to public confidence. As a general rule, it may be affirmed, that the man who never intrigues
for office, may be most safely entrusted with office ; for the same noble qualities, his pride, or his integrity and sense of dignity, which make him disdain the mean arts of flattery and intrigue, will restrain him from debasing himself by betraying his trust. Such a man cannot desire promotion, unless he receives it from the respectable part of the community ; for he considers no other promotion to be honorable.
Both in government and religion, form your opinions with deliberation, and when you have settled your opinions, adhere to them with firmness. Particularly would I commend to you this course in adopting your religious creed. And when you have attached yourself to any system, from deliberate conviction, do not rashly and for light causes, abandon it. When satisfied that you have embraced an error, conscience will direct you to renounce it. But let not a temporary inconvenience, a slight, or a fit of discontent for a trifling cause, induce you to forsake the denomination with which you have been united. Such change evidences want of principle or want of firmness and stability, neither of which is compatible with true dignity of character.
My Dear Friend,
On entering an Academy or a College, adopt the firm resolution, to yield obedience to all the officers of the Institution, and to all its laws and regulations. You are not too young to know, though you may not be able to realize, in all its extent, the importance of entire subordination in such institutions. There is, in all the human race, an instinctive reluctance to obedience a disposition to resist control. This disposition is more visible or more active in the young, who have had little experience of the necessity of restraint, to preserve order and peace in society. This leads them often to set their own will and pleasure in opposition to authority, or to claim privileges and exemptions which are inconsistent with the general regulations of the institution. But remember that all violations of the laws, are no less dishonorable to the offender, than they are injurious to the interests of the seminary. They disturb the order of studies; interrupt improvement; generate enmities between officers and students; impair the credit of the institution, and bring disreputation on the trespasser. Never be ambitious of proving yourself a stout fellow in defiance of authority. Never indulge the pride of insulting the officers by little vexations, boyish tricks, and petty mischiefs. If young men think such things heroic and manly, all the world besides, think them mean, cowardly and degrading to the offender, and what is more, he will afterwards think so himself, and blush for the folly of his youth.
In the prosecution of your studies, endeavor to make yourself master of whatever you attempt to learn. Understand well the rudiments or first principles of every branch of study, whether in literature or in science. The first principles are often difficult to beginners ; but when you have over