Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, June 03, 1789, Image 1

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Ho. XV.
„ tfu Jaws often become odious and ufeltfs,
Irwjthe rajhncfs, the vice, or the folly of thoft
ThFRE is no propensity of the human mind,
that is more couftantly on the itretch, than
f„fnicous temper towards those, who take any
art in the administration of public affairs.Though
L disposition may be indulged to exce's, yet us
Itiftence conltitutes one ofthefafeguards ol pub
fa virtue and prosperity. The clamors of reft
left men, and the vigilance of jealous ones, have
110 doubt an influence, in rellraimng public ofh
«ers front an improper conduCt. As men ioinetunes
complain without lufficient reason, their coin
plaints do not funiiih a certain Itandard, for elh
marinethe merit of persons in the different branch
es of government. There is less probability that
initances of ; eal milcoiiduct will el tape notice
and censure, than that meritorious actions will
escape envy and low intrigue. If it is acknow
ledged that part of the murmurs and uneasiness,
that prevail againlt public men, originates in ig
norance, caprice, envy, or in any other unreason
able caufc, it would ltill be no concluiive argu
ment that public characters Ihould be indifferent,
whether their conduct was blamed or praised.
It iliould atleaft produce this effeCt ; that as they
neet with much in.ur.dkfi reproach, they should
be careful not to make themlelves liable to any
repreheniion that is well grounded. Many honelt
andl'enfible men, who a<ft ill dignified llations,
are so conlcious that they meet with more censure
and oppolition than they deserve, that they are
apt, by way of veiaiiation, to become petulent
and dil'dainVul. Sometimes they carry their feel
ings of rel'entment so far, towards unprovoked
abuse and injury, th; t they afford a luiiicicuc caulc
tor thereturnof that very treatment, which they
are retaliating. Dilgufted by the meaneis, and
provoked by the malice and llander of their op
pofers, they unwarily aflimilate themlelves, by
their mode of revenge, to the characters they pro
i'elsto reprohate.
it is a queltion that may TiPTTTTaIIy be aflced—
What vices and failings, in the ul'ual run of af
fairs, are molt obfervablc in the officers of govern
ment \ This queliion admits not of an anlwer
that is definite, and applicable to all situations.
In different ftjtges of civilization, there is a dif
ference in the predominant vices and weaknelles,
that attend all deloriptions of men. Theerrors,
that art obfeived in the firlt periods of ft govern
ment, often have their origin in an ignorance or
neglect of duty. During the late war, the prin
cip«l lories and'damage the public fultained, were
owing to inattention and waitefulnefs. Few in
itances of deliberate fraud and peculation liavfc
happened, compared with the miltakes and omis
sions that have occurred, merely from the imbe
cility of the motives, that prompted men to a vi
gilant and exatft performance of the diverfified
branches of their duty. It was notunufualto ob
serve aitore-keeper, who was minutely attentive
infccariug the property committed to his care,
from theft or unauthorized appropriation ; and
yet who was totally rbmife in securing it againlt
the attacks of weather, or in counteracting any
inherent caufcs in such articles to perilh from
their own tendency.
Once ir. particular, I recolie<ft to have observed,
a Coniiflarv making application to the command
ing officer of a department, for a guard of soldiers,
to be placed over a magazine of flour. This
Comifiary exprefled an anxiety in the bufinels,
'hat seemed to result from an honert delire to lave
the public property. lie obtained an order for
the guard and placed it, without loss of time, o> er
themao;?rine. The flour calks were without ftiel
ter, and ;n so bad repair, that a moderate ftoitn
ofrain would so injure the flour, as to render it
totally ul'elels. It happened ffiortly that iome
rain fell, and in fpitc of all the sentinels, the flour
Was damaged, if not ruined. The
v °ni:!lary could have prevented this damage, with
10 [ s trouble to himfelf, than he took to obtain the
■oidiers; andtl*e United States fuffered more by
drat ait of neglect, than they would have done, in
te months, by plunder, at that magazine, evfen
•■tough there had not been a sentinel employed
■■He whole time.
( bat peiiod is part, A new government is
-iblif.rcd, and an higher degree of civilization
; confequeiitlv we must look out for a
ere ut clai* of imperfections and vices. In the
ptmation of the executive part of the conftitu
!on diere is an admirable ftiwulus fuggelted, by
-,iicicafin^t he rel'ponfibility of officers, from the
'•inner r.<f their appointment. This will over
-1 and make them attentiveand cir
pea in a complete performance oftheir duty,
11111 le - v In *>y g"in the approbation of tliofe, who
From SATURDAY, May 30, to WEDNESDAY, June 3, 1789
participate in the fame feelings of responsibility.
But are no disadvantages introduced by this ar
rangement ? What are the inconveniencies of this
fpeciesof responsibility, and how may they be re
medied Those, who are to be employed in the
execution of the laws, will be relponfible for their
conduct in such a way, as will stimulate their ex
ertions, and restrain their cfiihonefty ; but as they
are not accountable to their fellow-citizens, they
will feel themselves released from the necelfity
of a civil, refpectful deportment to mankind,
and afl'ume a pride and arrogance of manners to
wards all, who move in a sphere less elevated than
their own. Such insolence of behaviour, may
naturally be expected to refalt from the cafe, and
it will be calculated to render the government
odious, and to fubjectthe laws to the imputation
of being oppreHive. lam far, however, from
anticipating any sudden evils from this quarter.
But as this is to be the vicious part of the cha
racter of offices sooner or later, it may be well to
endeavour to ward of the evil, to as remote a pe
riod as possible. Perhaps no description of men
whatever are so blindly ignorant of the true
principles of human nature, as the various exe
cutive officers in an old-established government.
If we critically examine the subject, we shall find
that the leading cause why officers in general are
so obnoxious to the people, and so many laws com
plained of as grievous, is, that such officers make
it no part of their fludy to understand the various
springs and operations of the human mind.
Every situation in life has virtues and vices pe
culiar to itfelf. Officers elected by the people
can generally find an easier way of obtaining po
pularity, thun the laborious talk of performing
their duty. They can proiliote their purposes
better, by flattering the prejudices, than by serv
ing the interest of their constituents. On the
other hand, officers appointed by the Supreme
JVlagiftrate, can only gain his approbation, by a
rigorous execution of duty. In accomplishing this
object, they feel no responsibility to society in
general, and are apt to neglect those common ci
vilities, which one person usually expedts from
another i and which if they <rt>rerved, would ren
der them agreeable, and their office acceptable.
In either ot tliefe cases, a man of a liberal and vir
tuous mind avoids the errors, into which, by his
situation, he has a tendency to fall. A man well
acquainted with the human character, and who
poflefles lioneft principles, may always perform
his duty with fidelity and honor, and at the fame
time acquire estimation, for liis amiable andcivi]
deportment, from all dalles of citizens.
An insolent, overbearing conductmay be com
patible with the ftricfteft integrity ; but it argues
either a weak understanding, or an erroneous e
ducation. Though a man of this call may not
hi.nfelf connive at any frauds against government,
yet his manners and conversation are so disgust
ing, that he raises enemies against the laws, and
in tliat way, very often provokes fraudulent coin
binations. It is difficult to estimate precisely the
evils such characters produce in society ; but I
believe a considerable part of the discontentment
and knavery, that exist in any government, are in
ftigated by the injudicious conduct of public of
ficers. The people aflociate their ideas, in such
a manner, as to imagine that the occasional mis
management of individuals is a fault neceflarily
incident to government; and therefore suppose,
that an evasion of law is juttifiable, no less than
opposition and hatred to those who exccute the
The present age is a period of experiment and
improvement. It iseafy for us to trace public dis
orders to their true sources ; but it will be more
difficult to apply suitable remedies. It will not be
attainable to avoid such inconveniencies altogeth
er ; but when we know how liable they are to hap
pen, it Should induce us to guard against them, as
far as may be practicable. For this purpose, it
ihould be one circumstance to be in es
timating the qualifications of public officers, whe
ther they combine such properties as will lead to
an able and faithful discharge of their duty, and
at the fame time, render their services not odi
ous and contemptible to the people.—lt may ap
pear capricious to suggest the idea, but I think it
will occur on a little reflection, that no man no
toriously unpopular, should ever be employed in
any important office. Though I acknowledge,
that popularity is often connecftcd with meanefs
and knavery ; yet I have obfei ved, that charac
ters who are extremely obnoxious, are so defec
tive, either in talents or prudence, as to difquali
fy them from acting in any station, with reputa
tion to themselves or advantage to the community.
Many persons are so ignorant of the principles
of human nature, as to imagine, that they can
only discover an honesty andfirmnefs of conduct,
by a captious temper, and a domineering deport
ment. It seems not to occur to such people, that
discretion should ever be ranked among the ufeful
qualifications of a public officer. By this means,
their virtues, and such good qualities as they re
ally do poflefs, lose their bcneticial influence.
If one were enquired of, whether the propen
sity of the people to complain of publickmea
fures without any cause was greater, than the lia
bility of officers to give attual occasion of offence,
it would be difficult to adjult an answer to the
question. It is evident, that most of the clamors
against public measures, do not proceed from
motives that are pure and disinterested ; but then,
this malignity of motives is heightened by the ill
nature and discontentment, which are excited by
real mifinanagement.
[Continued from No. XIV.]
A MERE description, or definition, of certain,
powers to be verted in a conltixuent body of men,
has never yet been found to poflefs intuitively
those effects, which answer the end and aim for
which all power was originally delegated; nor
has the molt diffufive patriotifin, operating among
any people, towards the aid of Government, yet
fuperceded the want of that encouragement to
duty, which arises from the emoluments of of
fice : But all nations have uniformly deemed it
neceflary to call for a portion of the wealth of
their citizens, to establish and support Govern
ment in its various executive branches.—This
faCt being established, the most obvious reflection
which presents itfelf is, how is this neceflary sup
port to be obtained with the greatest ease ? And
so as to bear most equally on the different clafles
of the people, and the various interests of the
community i The varying practices of different
nations, make the solution of this question in a
degree problematical, and to depend on a com
bination of circumstances and causes, which it
would require a volume to explore, and far ex
ceeds the bounds of my present design.
1 conceive the best criterion for us will be, to
commence with an investigation of natural prin
ciples, and their corresponding effedls, which an
acquaintance with human nature, will enable us
to develope, and as far as a. detail of reasoning may
be neceflary, that we limit our refearclies to those
cases, which apply best to the confequence.—lt is
to be regretted,that for want of a prior system 011
this fubje<ft, owing to our late unhinged and di
vided situation, we evidently feel the lofsof those
accurate data, and that compleat' information
from the various parts of the Continent, which
would subserve the most valuable purposes.—l
lhall venture a few ideas, on the proper mode of
obtaining such information in future, in some
subsequent paper.
We now coine to speak of the mpft eligible
plan, on which to rail'e the neceflary supplies of
vjovermnent—and shall here find it expedient to
consult the peculiar genius of the American peo
ple, and foine leading traits of the human cha
racter :—There is ever a prevailing jealousy
among the mass of a free people, relating to the
grants and appropriations of their pecuniary pro
perty : It will hence follow, that such a system
of taxation should be adopted, as wjll, in its ope
ration, touch most delicately this tender string ;
and that the objects, for which any afleflments are
made, should be regularly published, except in
cases of war, &c. where the public good makes se
crecy indifpenfible : Perhaps no people existing
ever poflefled, in a greater degree, that kind of
jealousy above mentioned, than the Americans,
and which in some instances, descends to mean,
suspicions: It will therefore be thought proper
in forming the Revenue System, not only to have
a regard to the interests which will be immediate
ly affe<fted thereby ; but to the peculiar nature
and genius of the people to be governed ; let the
" fuaviter in modo" be adopted, but without loos
ing fight of the " fortiter m re." The liberal, or
rather loose principles of government heretofore
existing in America, have been, and without the
nicest hand in future dire<ftions, may continue to
be opposed to bringing into action those great re
sources ofnational wealth, which are to be found,
if explored. The native enterprize of Americans
towards the extension of commerce, affords us a
a fair profpe<ft of collecting an important share
of the public revenue from foreign importations,
ifthetariff is levied with judgment ; and perhaps
for the "present this will be ccnfidered the only
source ofnational consequence: Foreign luxuries
brought into this country ought to be duly noti
ced by our impost laws, as common observation
and constant experience dictate the policy of tax
ing the paflions of mankind, which may tend to
good moral as well as political purposes, and is a.
species of taxation, which will be more cheerful
ly fuftaioed, as men but little value any obftaeles