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Accept my thanks for the sermon on the death of General Washington, which you was so obliging as to send me. In my opinion, it abounds in excellent sentiments, well arranged and expressed. Writing thus freely, I think it candid to observe, that in some instances ideas are conveved which do not appear to me to be correct ; such, for instance, as " our glorious emancipation from Britain." The Congresses of 1771 and 1775 regarded the people of this country as being free ; and such was their opinion of the liberty we enjoyed so late as the year 1763, that they declared the colonies would be satisfied on being replaced in the political situation in which they then were. It was not until after the year 17 03, that Britain attempted to subject us to arbitrary domination. We resisted the stamp act with energy and success ; and when afterward she claimed to bind us in all cases whatever, the same spirit of resistance animated' our councils and our conduct : when she recurred to arms to put a yoke upon us, we recurred to arms to keep it off. A struggle ensued which produced the revolution, and ended in an entire dissolution of all the political ties which had before subsisted between the two countries. Thus we became a distinct nation; audi think truth will justify our indulging the pride of saying, that we and our ancestors have kept our necks free from yokes, and that the term emancipation is not applicable to us.
Speaking of the measures of General Washington's civil administration, you observe, and so is the fact, " that there is less unanimity among his countrymen with respect to these, than with respect to his military services." But, do facts warrant our ascribing this diminution of unanimity entirely to doubts respecting the wisdom of those measures? The revolution found and left only two primary parties, viz. the whigs who succeeded, and the tories who were suppressed. The former were unanimous in approving the leading measures, both civil and military, which gave them victory. When the adoption of the new constitution afterward came into question, the whigs divided into two parties, the one for and the other against it. The party for the constitution prevailed ; and they have with as great unanimity approved of General Washington's civil as of his military measures and services. The party opposed to the constitution disapproved of the government established by it ; and there are very few of the important measures of that government which have escaped their censure.
I take the liberty of making these remarks from the respect I have for your talents ; and an opinion, that with due circumspection they will promote the great interests of truth, virtue, and national liberty. Receive them, therefore, as marks of the esteem with which I am, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
- John Jay