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The American Crisis, Part 2 | The Pragmatic Constitutionalist


TPC Guest:  “A Chatterer”

A note about “A Chatterer” – None of these are my words.

As we watch America fall to pieces, I often can’t help but wish that her Founders could be here to guide us. They were prolific writers of anonymous letters and pamphlets, and since we no longer have their wisdom directly, I’ve attempted to repurpose their original words for 2020. If the Founding Fathers were here today, I think they’d be writing letters like these – a claim I feel reasonably confident in making, as they are all copied and pasted directly from their quotes.*

To the People of the United States: Friends and Fellow-Citizens,

Our Affairs—according to my judgment—are now come to a crisis. The tragedy of American freedom, it is to be feared, is nearly completed. How important, therefore, is the part which the actors in this momentous scene have to perform! The present juncture is so interesting that if it does not produce correspondent exertions, it will be a proof that motives of honor, public good & even self preservation have lost their influence upon our minds.

Happy will you be if you miss the fate of those nations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism! Almost all mankind have lost their liberties, through ignorance, inattention and disunion. Ignorant—they have been cheated; asleep—they have been surprised; divided—the yoke has been forced upon them.

These are the facts: the conclusion is irresistible. It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us. For there is much truth in the Italian saying, make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers and destroyers press upon them so fast that there is no resisting afterwards.

We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it.

What then is to be done? I will venture a bold assertion. We have only two things to look for: 1. A change of men & measures … or 2. A severe civil war. That the former is preferable to the latter course cannot be doubted. The cause of liberty is a cause of too much dignity, to be sullied by turbulence and tumult. All men will agree that such steps ought not to be taken, but in cases of absolute necessity, and that such necessity must be very clear. But remember my countrymen, it will be better to have your liberties wrested from you by force, than to have it said that you even implicitly surrendered them. The public liberty must be preserved, though at the expense of many lives! 

I know there are many pretended friends to liberty, who will take offense at this declaration. Let them call me rebel and welcome. The fact however is directly the reverse. What has been commonly called rebellion in the people, has often been nothing else but a manly & glorious struggle in opposition to the lawless power of rebellious Kings and Princes. Opposition, nay open, avowed resistance by arms, against usurpation and lawless violence, is not rebellion by the law of God, or the land. Resistance to lawful authority makes rebellion.

I shall now with a few general reflections conclude.The crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition that can be heaped upon us.  In short, we are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils. But so it is. Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

Here, my Countrymen, impelled by every motive that ought to influence an enlightened people, let us make a firm stand for our safety, our tranquillity, our dignity, our reputation. Let us at last break the fatal charm which has too long seduced us from the paths of felicity and prosperity. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter.

I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us. Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth! You would be a disgrace to your ancestors, and the bitterest enemies to yourselves and to your posterity, if you did not act like men, in protecting and defending those rights you have hitherto enjoyed.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

But I am fearful I have lived long enough to become an old-fashioned fellow. I find every where some men, who are afraid of a free government. Such a thought’s unworthy a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart.

Are these men ignorant, that usurpations, which might have been successfully opposed at first, acquire strength by continuance, and thus become irresistible? Have you considered, gentlemen, the importance of the points to which your political creed may be applied? What is your opinion of the revolution? Had you lived in those days of ignorance, with what lucky assistance might you have propped up the tottering tyrant, by maxims of law to prove, that kings can do no wrong! The case is shortly this: all the happiness you possess, you owe to the force of the principle, which you now reproach.

But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then … whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

“A Chatterer”

* This letter, specifically, includes quotations from: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, John Dickinson, Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.

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