Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, June 03, 1789, Image 1
oft/je Ho. XV. THE TABLE T. No. XV. „ tfu Jaws often become odious and ufeltfs, Irwjthe rajhncfs, the vice, or the folly of thoft -jjh,extcute,them." 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 laws. 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. A SKETCH OF THE POLITICAL STATE OF AMERICA. [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 \ PRICE SIX PENCE.