Who Are the Best Keepers of the People's
National Gazette, December 22, 1792
Republican. — The people themselves. The sacred trust can be
no where so safe as in the hands most interested in preserving it.
Anti-republican. — The people are stupid, suspicious,
licentious. They cannot safely trust themselves. When they have established
government they should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of
their liberties to their wiser rulers.
Republican. — Although all men are born free, and all
nations might be so, yet too true it is, that slavery has been the general lot
of the human race. Ignorant — they have been cheated; asleep — they
have been surprized; divided — the yoke has been forced upon them. But
what is the lesson? That because the people may betray themselves, they
ought to give themselves up, blindfold, to those who have an interest in
betraying them? Rather conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, to be
awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch
over it, as well as obey it.
Anti-republican. — You look at the surface only, where
errors float, instead of fathoming the depths where truth lies hid. It is not
the government that is disposed to fly off from the people; but the people that
are ever ready to fly off from the government. Rather say then, enlighten the
government, warn it to be vigilant, enrich it with influence, arm it with
force, and to the people never pronounce but two words — Submission
Republican. — The centrifugal tendency then is in the
people, not in the government, and the secret art lies in restraining the
tendency, by augmenting the attractive principle of the government with all the
weight that can be added to it. What a perversion of the natural order of
things! to make power the primary and central object of the social
system, and Liberty but its satellite.
Anti-republican. — The science of the stars can never
instruct you in the mysteries of government. Wonderful as it may seem, the more
you increase the attractive force of power, the more you enlarge the sphere of
liberty; the more you make government independent and hostile towards the
people, the better security you provide for their rights and interests. Hence
the wisdom of the theory, which, after limiting the share of the people to a
third of the government, and lessening the influence of that share by the mode
and term of delegating it, establishes two grand hereditary orders, with
feelings, habits, interests, and prerogatives all inveter-ately hostile to the
rights and interests of the people, yet by a mysterious operation all
combining to fortify the people in both.
Republican. — Mysterious indeed! But mysteries belong to
religion, not to government; to the ways of the Almighty, not to the works of
man. And in religion itself there is nothing mysterious to its author; the
mystery lies in the dimness of the human sight. So in the institutions of man
let there be no mystery, unless for those inferior beings endowed with a ray
perhaps of the twilight vouchsafed to the first order of terrestrial
Anti-republican. — You are destitute, I perceive, of every
quality of a good citizen, or rather of a good subject. You have neither
the light of faith nor the spirit of obedience. I denounce you to the
government as an accomplice of atheism and anarchy.
Republican. — And I forbear to denounce you to the people,
though a blasphemer of their rights and an idolater of tyranny. Liberty
disdains to persecute.