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Extract of a Letter from a Member of the Virginia Convention


FEBRUARY 20, 1776.

Some people among us seem alarmed at the name of Independence, while they support measures, and propose plans, that comprehend all the spirit of it, Have we not made laws, erected courts of judicature, established magistrates, made money, levied war, and regulated commerce, not only without His Majesty' s intervention, but absolutely against his will? Are we not as criminal in the eye of Britain for what we have done, as for what we can yet do? If we institute any Government at ail, for God' s sake, let it be the best we can; we shall as certainly be hanged for a bad as a good one; for they will allow nothing for the waverings of filial tenderness, it will be all placed to the account of blundering ignorance. If, therefore, we incur the danger, let us not decline the reward. In every other instance, independence raises an idea in the mind that the heart grasps at with avidity, and a feeling soul never fails to be stricken and depressed with the very sound of dependance. If in a private family, the children, instead of being so educated as to take upon them the function of good citizens, should be brought to years of maturity, under the apparel, food, and discipline of infancy, what laws, natural or civil, would acquit the parent or the child of infamy and criminality? A set of great lounging infants, tied to mamma' s apron, with long bibs and pap-spoons, at two-and-twenty, would put the Sabarite to the blush. Now, as every moral virtue or vice, almost, is vastly enhanced, when considered in its relation to the community as well as individuals, I insist upon it, that he who would keep a community in a state of infantile dependance, when it became a fit member of the great Republick of the world, would be vastly more criminal and infamous, than the imaginary family I mentioned before. Whenever I have been an advocate for dependance, I have felt a conscious want of publick virtue; I own it arose from laziness in me; I was willing to brush through life as I began it, and to leave the rooting out the thorns and thistles, as well as the harvest of the laurels, to posterity; and this, I think, was the case of most of us; but now, that we have gone through the rough work, to desert the glorious prospect it opens to us, would be heretical, damnable, and abominable, even to a sensible Pope. No, my friend, it is a duty of much moment to us as men, and of the last degree of magnitude as citizens, to maintain, at every risk, a perfect independence


of every thing, but good sense, good morals, good laws, good Government, and our good Creator.