(I'm not sure if the above paragraph is related to what follows, but it seems to, so am including it. Note the essay is undated as to year, I presume, March 28 is 1779, because it follows some other articles in the book dated 1779. Note, it is anonymous, and he seems to not take sides, or at least is somewhat favorable towards Silas.)
In my last address to my fellow-citizens I observed, That while Heaven had thus far smiled on our just exertions in self-defence, the most obligations were laid on us for improving the advantages therefrom accruing, to the good of society, and the glory of the allwise Disposer of human events. The substance of this position I have seen warmly held forth by resolves of Congress, proclamations and messages of His Excellency our Governor to our Representatives, and their answers, and also echoed to by many pieces in the public prints.--This produced the most agreeable feeling and encouraging prospects, in the minds of the virtuous part of our community.--I, for my part, flattered myself that this important truth would have had such influence on the minds of our citizens, that in proportions as the clamours and confusions of war should decrease and leave opportunities for cool reflections, we should have vied with each other to be foremost in promoting that happiness of society we had pretended to contend for, and the glory of that Being which has given such remarkable success to our public efforts. But alas! alas! how disagreeably am I disappointed. After serious reflection on the prevailing disposition and conduct of this people, we would bealmost persuaded it is not the same it was two years ago.--This change truly affects my heart. I see the danger my dear country is exposing itself to, and sincerely lament it, wishing, with the tenderest emotions of my heart, to see it preserved. Providence, however, has been pleased to place me in such a sphere of action, as leaves me no other opportunity for serving my country, save only by offering such warnings and advice as I truly esteem ubservient to its happiness and welfare, and my warmest addresses to the gracious Sovereign of the universe, to preserve it in its bleeding struggles. From a consciousness of honest intentions, I humbly hope for the serious attention and candid judgment of those I presume to address.
3. A third sympton is a general decay and loss of social virtues, even to the undermining of that confidence which the community ought to place in the august Assembly of their Representatives. Charity, harmony and mutual confidence are the sinews of society; individuals are the members hereby united and enabled to exert their force for the benefit of the whole. In proportion as these relax, the state shakes and trembles under paralytic attacks, until it exceeds a certain degree, and then an incurable national palsy ensues. This dangerous decay will evidently appear from a few examples. When Boston was blockaded, what generous exertions were made throughout all the rest of the continent, in order to alleviate their distresses and encourage them to perseverance? The last year Congress having become sensible of the many opportunities for monopoly, forestalling and extortion, and their pernicious and dangerous effects upon our public affairs, warmly recommended to the Legislatures of the different states, the passing of laws for the regulation of prices; Pennsylvania published a bill, New Jersey immediately enacted a law for that purpose. Commissioners were sent from different States, who agreed upon a general plan of regulation. What was the consequence? The middle States, then the only seat of war, who had the supplying of our army with provisions, immediately complied with the general plan. Massachusetts-Bay, though their Commissioners had agreed, refused, with some of the southern States. The only prevailing reason to oppose so necessary and salutary a measure in that critical conjuncture could be, having their ports more open, to be at liberty to improve their opportunities of extortioning upon their suffering brethren, in articles of foreign trade. And if long and general report may be allowed any degree of evidence, even that Boston beforementioned, was the chief agent in this opposition. Monstrous ingratitude! Base uncharitableness! Pernicious policy! Under the effects of which America totters and threatens to give her last gasp, if not speedily relieved.--Need I repeat the anecdote and remarks on monopoly and general extortions? I only observe that these monstrous vices have in a great measure destroyed mutual confidence and charity among us. What advances the vices of malice and discord have made, is evident from the accursed and murderous practice of duelling, of late become so much in vogue among the Gentlemen of our Army; and also the many publications filled with personal reflections and virulent invectives. While the impartial publick views and treats their virulence with disdain, they cannot but feel anxiously engaged in the matter of their debates, because they are deeply interested in it. When we read Mr. Deane's address, we would readily conclude that there was some formidable scheme of treason hatching against us, which is ready to burst upon us, with all the attendant train of misery and ruin. That Mr. Deane had discovered the plot, and as a true friend to America, had endeavored to reveal it to Congress, but that Congress had been so much engaged in more important matters, that he had not been able to obtain an audience for that purpose, during all the time from his arrival until the publication of his address. Mr. Paine, on the other side of the question, charges Mr. Deane of endeavoring, by many unjust means, to make a present of Two Hundred Thousand Pounds an American debt. He also insinuates, that Congress received the evidence of this intended fraud, together with the treaty entered into with France, but that their attention was so entirely taken up with the treaty, that they became wholly inattentive to this atrocious fraud.--Can it be possible that such publications should fail of filling the minds of a free people with jealous suspicions and perplexing concerns? There certainly is a possibility of both charges being true. Are there not many instances of accomplices in villainy getting to loggerheads, and then discovering each other? It is highly probable that there is villainy lurking somewhere. What appears to me more alarming than either or both of the charges (supposing them to be true) is, that they must retort upon Congress.--They are appointed as the guardian of the liberties, lives and properties of the people. In committing the care of such invaluable treasures to them, they confide in their vigilance and integrity. It must needs appear unaccountable to the judicious among them, that Congress should be engaged from the time of Mr. Deane's arrival to the publication of his address, in matters more important than those he published. Are treasonable practices against the State to be ranked amongst trivial affairs?
How could Congress know what was of it without an inquiry? How long a time would it have required to have found out the purport of what Mr. Deane had to communicate in the audience he had frequently requested? How could they know that the matters he had to communicate were trivial or of the last importance, without such inquiry? As to the other charge, what intricate importance was there in this noble and equitable treaty, that could so entirely engross their attention, as to make an intended fraud in the sum of œ200,000 foreign debt, to escape it, even when they had just received the evidences of it, and this inattention to have continued till the publication of Deane's address? Add to these, the immense debt we are involved in, in the space of four years. When the community beholds the conduct of Quarter-Masters, Commissaries, and the whole host of their Deputies, the immense sums it is generally reported and believed they engross, induces them to ask, Are these not the servants of Congress? Is Congress only ingorant of these abuses, which the whole publick beholds with grief and concern? Does Congress know what becomes of the public money.--Can it be possible that even the greatest part of our national debt has been accounted for? The investigation of answers to such queries would add too much fuel to the suspicions already kindled in the breasts of my fellow-citizens, than that I shall attempt it.--The strict secrecy which Congress seems to enjoin on its Members, with respect to almost all its business, is by no means calculated to remove the conceived suspicions. A jealous community is fearful, and diffident, and if this takes place with respect to the persons on whom the greatest tranquil confidence is required, it unhinges in a great measure society, and places it as it were on a dangerous precipice.
These, my dear countrymen, are a few of the many evils our nation struggles under. My heart trembles at the view of the fatal consequences. May God in his kind Providence direct to the cure before it be too late!--I fear I have already been too tedious in this essay, and therefore shall defer pointing out the things I apprehend to be the causes of these evils, and the remedies for their cure, to a future opportunity.
am, Sir, your friend, and the Publick's
Humble servant and real wellwisher,
A TRUE PATRIOT.
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