Friday, January 27, 2012

Liberty, Part X

From Observations on the American Revolution, published by the Second Continental Congress in 1779, and written by Gouverneur Morris:

“The great principle therefore is and ever will remain in force, that MEN ARE BY NATURE FREE. As accountable to him that made them, they must be so; and so long as we have any idea of divine justice, we must associate that of human freedom. Whether men can part with their liberty is among the questions which have exercised the ablest writers; but it is conceded on all hands, that the right to be free can never be alienated. Still less is it practicable for one generation to mortgage the privileges of another. The right of a state over its own members hath also been brought into question; and there are not wanting authorities to shew, that citizens who renounce allegiance and protection may fly from the territories of the state, and erect new independent governments in new countries. Be this as it may, the point is clear that when the consent of government is obtained, the individuals are again in a state of nature; alike free either to submit to a society existing or to establish one, as their interest or their inclination may prompt. Here then is the situation of those who wearied with the contentions and oppressions of the old world, boldly threw themselves upon the protection of Providence to explore the new, and traversed the ocean to inhabit a wilderness amid nations of barbarous foes.”


“From what hath already been said it must appear, that as a free people we could not be bound by arbitrary edicts of the prince, that by still stronger reasons we could not be bound by the more arbitrary edicts of our fellow subjects; and of consequence, that altho' the prince and our fellow subjects should join against us whatever force they might acquire, they could acquire no right by the union. But it will appear also, that we had on every principle a right to become independent, particularly if the crown should violate those contracts which formed the basis of an union.”

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