What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.
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At my age, and in my circumstances, what sinister object, or personal emolument had I to seek after, in this life? The growing infirmities of age and the increasing love of retirement, daily confirm my decided predilection for domestic life: and the great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm.
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When it was reported to General Washington that the army was frequently indulging in swearing, he immediately sent out the following order: The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing - a vice little known heretofore in the American army - is growing into fashion. Let the men and officers reflect "that we can not hope for the blessing of heaven on our army if we insult it by our impiety and folly."
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A tribute . . . is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism, which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt [the Constitution]. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments no separate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests; so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality.
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Let me now ... warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party. ... The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another. ... In governments purely elective, it [the spirit of party] is a spirit not to be encouraged.
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There never was a law yet made, I conceive, that hit the taste exactly of every man, or every part of the community; of course, if this be a reason for opposition, no law can be executed at all without force, and every man or set of men will in that case cut and carve for themselves; the consequences of which must be deprecated by all classes of men, who are friends to order, and to the peace and happiness of the country.
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