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If private wealth is to supply the defect of public retribution, it will greatly contract the sphere within which the selection of character for office is to be made, and will proportionally diminish the probability of a choice of men, able as well as upright. Besides, it would be repugnant to the vital principles of our government, virtually to exclude from public trusts talents and virtue, unless accompanied by wealth.
2. NATIONAL PROSPERITY.
PROSPERITY OF THE UNITED STATES.
Contemplating the internal situation, as well as the external relations, of the United States, we discover equal cause for contentment and satisfaction.
While many of the nations of Europe, with their American dependencies, have been involved in a contest unusually bloody, exhausting, and calamitous, in which the evils of foreign war have been aggravated by domestic convulsion and insurrection; in which many of the arts most useful to society have been exposed to discouragement and decay; in which scarcity of subsistence has embittered other sufferings; while even the anticipation of a return of the blessings of peace and repose are alloyed by the sense of heavy
and accumulating burdens, which press upon all the departments of industry, and threaten to clog the future springs of government; our favored country, happy in a striking contrast, has enjoyed general tranquillity,—a tranquillity the more satisfactory, because maintained at the expense of no duty.
Faithful to ourselves, we have violated no obligations to others.
Our Agriculture, Commerce, and Manufactures prosper beyond example, the molestations of our trade (to prevent a continuance of which, however, very pointed remonstrances have been made,) being overbalanced by the aggregate benefits which it derives from a neutral position.
Our Population advances, with a celerity, which, exceeding the most sanguine calculations, proportionably augments our strength and resources, and guarantees our future security.
Every part of the Union displays indications of rapid and various improvement; and, with burdens go light as scarcely to be perceived, with resources fully adequate to our present exigencies, with governments founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, and with mild and wholesome laws, is it too much to say, that our country exhibits a spectacle of national happiness, never surpassed, if ever before equalled?
Placed in a situation every way so auspicious, motives of commanding force impel us, with sincere acknowledgment to Heaven, and pure love to our country, to unite our efforts to preserve, prolong, and improve our immense advantages.
AMERICA AND EUROPE.
With respect to the nations of Europe, their situation appears so awful, that nothing short of Omnipotence can predict the issue; although every human mind must feel the miseries it endures.
Our course is plain; they who run may read it. Theirs is so bewildered and dark, so entangled and embarrassed, and so obviously under the influence of intrigue, that one would suppose, if any thing could open the eyes of our misled citizens, that the deplorable situation of those people could not fail to effect it.
That the prospect before us is fair, none can deny ; what use we shall make of it, is exceedingly problematical. Not but that I believe all things will come right at last; but, like a young heir, come a little prematurely to a large inheritance, we shall wanton and run riot, until we have brought our reputation to
the brink of ruin, and then, like him, shall have to labor with the current of opinion, when compelled perhaps to do what prudence and common policy pointed out, as plain as any problem of Euclid, in the first instance.
It should be the policy of United America, to administer to the wants of other nations, without being engaged in their quarrels; and it is not in the ability of the proudest and most polite people on earth, to prevent us from becoming a great, a respectable, and a commercial nation, if we shall continue united and faithful to ourselves.
I look forward, with a kind of political faith, to scenes of National Happiness, which have not heretofore been offered for the fruition of the most favored nations.
The natural, political, and moral circumstances of our nascent empire justify the anticipation.
We have an almost unbounded territory, whose natural advantages for agriculture and commerce equal those of any on the globe. In a civil point of view, we have the unequalled privilege of choosing our own political institutions, and of improving upon the experience of mankind, in the formation of a confederated
government, where due energy will not be incompatible with the unalienable rights of freemen; and the information and morals of our citizens appear to be peculiarly favorable for the introduction of such a plan of government.
In such a country, so happily circumstanced, the pursuits of commerce and the cultivation of the soil will unfold to industry the certain road to competence. To those hardy soldiers who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the Fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment; and the extensive and fertile Regions of the West will yield a most happy asylum to those, who, fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking for personal independence.
The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men, to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of Divine Providence, the protection of a good government, the cultivation of manners, morals, and piety, can hardly fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence in Literature, Commerce, Agriculture, improvements at home, and respectability abroad. 1789.