Every citizen has a right to bear arms in self defence. . . . taking the name of democrats, oppossed to their utmost, every important measure . . .
. . . Here no haughty aristocracy, claiming to be hereditary legislators, mock, by the splendor of their equipage, and the loftiness of their demeanor, the humble state of the farmer, the merchant and the mechanic.
Our senate is composed of citizens chosen by ourselves: and whose is the fault if they are not as distinguished for every attainment, as they are by the high elevation to which our sufferages have exalted them.
Nor are our laws made by men, chosen from rotten boroughs, or, who are indebted for their places, to the overbearing influence of some lordly patron. Our representatives are elected by ourselves, and if good men are not chosen, the blame rests not on the government, but upon the people.
Our elections are free.
Our judiciary is independent.
The Habeas Corpus, and religious toleration, are guarded by constitutional provisions.
The right of trial by Jury is secured.
The Press is free.
Every citizen has a right to bear arms in self defence.
Indeed, every right which our intelligent and patriotick fathers deemed worth preserving, is secured to us in the strongest manner that human wisdom could devise.
With such securities that our laws shall be wise, what more can forms and constitutions provide?
What more is necessary, fellow citizens, to complete our happiness, and to perpetuate these benefits to posterity?–A wise and frugal Administration, which shall guard guard with vigour and good faith, the rights committed to their protection.
Were men perfect, government would be useless. Were rulers perfect, constitutional checks would e unnecessary, and that vigilant watchfulness of their conduct, now so necessary, would cease to be a virtue. But power corrupts the human heart. Men, long invested with authority, are prone to forget the people–to think only of their own interest, and of securing
their own power. All the lessons of history and experience warn us to guard our rulers with a jealous eye. The people must be vigilant to protect their own rights, or they will not long have rights worthy protection.
Unfortunately for us our affairs are now confided to those who possess neither the qualities of greatness to excite our admiration, nor goodness to inspire esteem.
Blessed with the best government in the world, all our rights are jeopardized by the misconduct of a weak administration. It is wise to look back upon our past conduct; to review the road we have traveled, and from the errors we have committed to learn wisdom for the future.
When our excellent constitution was formed, it is notorious that a great portion of the Democratic party then denominated Anti-Federalists, were the zealous–bitter–persevering enemies to that instrument. It was confidently predicted that the nation would be ruined by its adoption; and it is a fact that it was publickly burnt by the party, though they now affect to revere it.
Their opposition was unavailing–The Federalists succeeded.–The Constitution was adopted–WASHINGTON was elected President– Hamilton and Pickering were called to his councils; and for the sake of harmony, Jefferson, the enemy of the Constitution was appointed secretary of state.
Young men can hardly believe it. The anti-federalists taking the name of democrats, opposed to their utmost, every important measure of the administration of Washington. His sacred character was assailed by the malignity of party spirit. Jefferson countenanced and supported a printer who was the most violent opposer of Washington and his administration.–Verifying the fable of the viper he stung the bosom that had warmed him to political existence.
The Revolution in France broke out. Washington issued his proclamation of neutrality. The Federalists supported the true interests of the country by pursuing peace. The democratic party inflaming the public mind with a most unholy zeal, endeavoured to drive the country into war on the side of France. It was then insinuated that Washington was devoted to Britain. That the Federal party was under the influence of British gold. That the liberties of the nation were to be sacrificed, and all–because we would not madly abandon the peace of the nation and throw ourselves into the vortex of French revolutionary politics. . . .
–William Markham, Excerpted from speech published in article: Oak Hill Celebration of Independence [From the Wilkesbarre [Penn.] Gleaner.]