National Gazette, December 19, 1791
Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real
sovereign in every free one.
As there are cases where the public opinion must be obeyed by the
government; so there are cases, where not being fixed, it may be influenced by
the government. This distinction, if kept in view, would prevent or decide many
debates on the respect due from the government to the sentiments of the
In proportion as government is influenced by opinion, it must be so, by
whatever influences opinion. This decides the question concerning a
Constitutional Declaration of Rights, which requires an influence on
government, by becoming a part of the public opinion.
The larger a country, the less easy for its real opinion to be
ascertained, and the less difficult to be counterfeited; when ascertained or
presumed, the more respectable it is in the eyes of individuals. This is
favorable to the authority of government. For the same reason, the more
extensive a country, the more insignificant is each individual in his own eyes.
This may be unfavorable to liberty.
Whatever facilitates a general intercourse of sentiments, as good roads,
domestic commerce, a free press, and particularly a circulation of
newspapers through the entire body of the people, and Representatives
going from, and returning among every part of them, is equivalent to a
contraction of territorial limits, and is favorable to liberty, where these may
be too extensive.