Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, August 15, 1789, Image 1

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[No. XXXVI.]
a Whether the winner laughs or not, the lofsr wih
THE sources of clamor and disquietude in
any society multiply in proportion as
it becomes opulent and civilized. Nothing is
more evident than that competition is a very for
cible spring at - r ti° n • unless there are more
n)e u than bufinel's, more candidates than offices,
private as well as public affairs will be managed
v itli and inattention. The competitors
are of course engaged in a kind of warfare with
each other ; and are only reflraiued from violent
hostilities by thole fenriments of politeness and
propriety, which are inspired by good-breeding
aid a knowledge of the world. It is eaiy how
ever to distinguish the different lides in which
men range tliemfelves, and the different objects
tbev are pursuing. Those who are rivals may
carry external marks of good-willand confidence,
but the disguise is easily penetrated. As those
■who are dilappointed and discontented form a
more numerous class, than those who are fatisfied
andfucccfsful, it mull be expedled that complaints
and reproaches will give the predominating tone
toconverfation. In whatever company one falls
itmcft not therefore agitate him to find a strong
propensity to complain.
In creating the various branches of the execu
tive department of government, it is natural to
expedthe number of candidate;, will far exceed
the places that are to be filled. This opens a
great scene of competition. The inevitable re
fultcf such a situation is, that many persons must
be disappointed, and will be difgulted. It
would be paying too great a compliment to hu
man nature to imagine that, in the great num
ber whole expectations are fruftrated, there will
be none who secretly wish, and even openly de
monstrate theirwifhes, to impede the success, and
blur the reputation of our national government.
There is however a circumftaVice that will mueh,
though perhaps not totally restrain a dilpofition
tocenfure and oppofc the adminifbration.
Itisfo universally believed that our chief ma
gistrate, in all his measures aild appointments is
actuated by just and impartial motives,that few of
the disappointed will think it worth while to raise
clamors. The public ear will be shut against the
infiiroations of the artful, and the reproaches of
the petulant. As reltlefs and discontented men
are more adtive and vigilant, than those who en
joy a fatisfacftion of mind, either from fortunate
affairs, or from a natural calmness of spirits, there
will of course be more people to vex and difturh
the government, than to applaud and vindicate
its proceedings. From this view of the matter,
honest and moderate men, who have the public
prosperity at heart, should guard themselves a
gainllimproper impressions from those, who will
be apt to grumble through envy and disappoint
ment. There are unavoidably a great proportion
of persons in every society, who may be denomi
nated unfortunate. Whether their ill luck is the
elreCt of imprudence, or merely adverse fortune
it may have the fame influence on their temper,
andjudging by their own feelings,they may seri
ously imagine every thing is going wrong. In
every community fucli men are capable of doing
great mifchief. Thepeopleof the United States
are too well experienced in political tranfatftions
to be easily deceived, and drawn into tumult and
(Mentions. But still there is in human nature a
strong propensity to take part with the unfortu
nate, and to believe their complaints have some
foundation. (To be continued.)
We are happy to have it in our power to enrich the
Mifccllanj of the Gazette, by the f allowing specula
tion on the interesting jtibi. Sis of
I RECOLLECT but one good reason for a nu
merous representation of the people-—that is, the
greater certainty of having their interests and
faitiments understood in the representative af
lembly. The objects of the national government
we not the local, but the general concerns. Of
fourfe, a moderate number is fufficient. Refpon
"bility decreases as the body increases. In a small
embly a member has more to do, and more to
answer for. He is more in public view, and feels
'Sindnftry, and his generous paflions excited by
Mroiiger ftimutus. In a numerous aflcmbly he
eels his personal weight and influence diminifh
c ■ The members will a<sl less as individuals,
? more by combinations and parties. If a man
« not great talents, singly, he can do little. If
e has, he gains an ascendency, and attaches many
,? ' s Viexv s. Their aflociation is cemented by
los ac ting together—by the fear of
o ing a tavovite point—by the anger ori having
Jj.- 1 P^ted— by the joy of gaining it, or the cha
a By degrees the two
SATURDAY, August lij3g.
fides are divided, strongly marked and agitated
by the spirit of their body (l'efprit de corps, as
the trench term it.) In faCt, all great afleniblies
have been led astray by the spirit of party. Per
haps all parties are nearly equally^-indiCtive,vio
lent and blind. The true check upon them is
the interpofitionof the public sentiment. A free
press, and an enlightened people will form a con
foul over all parties ; and oblige them to seek
the means of superiority and power by the pro
motion of the public good. Party spirit is an
evil ; but it is the inevitable confequence.of a nu
merous aflembly. It is not, however, impoilible
to draw good from evil. These are the confe
rences which result from the principles; but it
is obviously preferable to exclude the evil, if pofli
ble. 1 hough parties may promote the public
good, they often do infinite mifchief. Tlieydif
turb the tranquility, impair the happiness, and
endanger the fafety of lociety.
Whether it is polfible so to constitute a small
aflembly as wholly to banilh, or in a considerable
degree to restrain this spirit, is a problem of some
nicety. Its solution is highly important to man
kind, and especially to the United States. A go
vernment strong by the means of a rich treasury,
by troops, and by the habits of a people broken to
lubjection may be disturbed, but will not be en
dangered by party disputes. But in Ameriea,
government reds on public opinion, and we
lhould carefully avoid those causes which are
powerful enough to subvert its foundations.
In forming a legillative aflembly, we should
counteract as much as poflible the gregarious dis
position of the members, which is the aliment of
faction. It will be neceflary to analyze the hu
man character, and to lay open the motives which
lead public men to combine together, and to act
in parties. It is true that a public life calls forth
the strongest paflions of the heart. But it is also
true that these paflions are not continually in ac
tion. On great and rare occasions, they are rou
sed to aCt with violence. But ordinarily they are
held suspended by motives oflefs strength, but of
a more uniform and permanent influence. These
motives are the fenfeof weakness, the love of ease,
and the love of power.
Suppose a member of csmmon ability in an as
sembly of fifty. He has a fiftieth part of the du
ty, as well as of the weight of the body. Increase
the aflembly to two hundred members. His voice
will lose three fourili's of its influence. He
will lose more of his responsibility—be further
removed from public view—and as party influence
will be more active, he will probably loose nine
tenths of his personal weight, and his vote will
become proportionably oflefs consequence to his
conflituents, and to the public. Suppose him a
weak but well intentionedman, hisfenfe of weak
ness and sense of duty will combine to subject him
to the influence of some leading member. Know
ing that his voice will not govern the vote of any
other, and doubting how to give his own, he will
relieve his fufpence by following the guide in
whom he places most confidence.
The love of ease is a more powerful agent than
is generally fuppoled. It is the greatelt impedi
ment to eminence. Reft is the reward of labor,
and the hope of this reward is probably one ofthe
springs of action, even with those men who seem
to abhor repose. We compare action with reft.
We calculate the value of the object proposed to
be attained by our exertions, and the price of
those exertions. A member conscious of being
able to effect little, singly, will not make the at
tempt. He will be obliged to add his strength to
a party. There is something unaccountable in
the fympathv of many minds. Probably a large
aflembly of the wisest men would not be wholly
exempt from that distrust of their own under
standings, and that complacency towards the er
rors and wishes of one another which has been
found totally to banish reason, and even human
ity, from mobs and riotous meetings.
That the administration of a government should
correspond with its principles, and be secured
from faction and commotion, it seems to be im
portant that the legislative powers should be lod
ged in as few hands as may be neceflary for pro
curing information of the stare of the society,
and that they fliould be carefully selected from the
best informed and best disposed citizens—men,
who understand, and are able to manage business,
and who, in a body of fifty, are individually im
portant, will act more according to the dictates
of tlieir own understandings, and be less influen
ced by party paflions than the aflembly of two
hundred. The great question of the Conftituiion
had divided the community. It was natural to
expect the newCongrefs would be tinctured with
the hue of the rival parties. It is not owing to
any miracle, suspending the human paflions, that
the national legislature has been so remarkably
rPublijhid on Wednesday and Saturday.
diftingiiiilied by the spirit of candor and mode l "
ation. Nothing like faction or cabal and intrigu e
has been charged upon that body—and the pub
lic are disposed to think favorably of their patri
otism and independency of fentiinent. Two
events may be contemplated, either of which
would wholly change the character and conduct
of the aflembly ; increasing the number of the
members would expose the government to fac
tion—it would diminilh the agency of the under-
Handing, and augment that of the paflions. Im
proper persons would more easily get elected.
For the number of suitable perlons is not great
in any country—of these, many will be indisposed
to the duty. Probably, this country is as little
deficient in this refpedt as any whatever. If how
ever more representatives are to be elected than
a due proportion of those who are willing and
qualified to serve, the probability of inferior can
didates being elecled will rife. Learned men
have disputed whether so large a territory could
remain united under one government, even if the
administration lhould beentrufted to men of con
summate wisdom and incorruptible virtue. The
chance would be made considerably more unfa
vorable by the appointment of men of a different
To make the people happy, and the govern
ment permanent, two principles mult be regard
ed. That the members of the legislature be few,
and that provision should be made for drawing
forth the belt qualified citizens to serve.
In a republic, it is not neceflary, perhaps not
fafe, that a citizen lhould be allowed, and surely
he lhould not be obliged to lay the public under
obligations of gratitude to him by serving at a
loss. Pay for services is as republican as it is
equitable. Adequate compensation may be un
derstood very varioully in its application to parti
cular cases. It niuft always mean such compen
sation as will secure to the public the perform
ance of the services in question. If the pay of the
members of the Legislature is eftablilhed at an
higher rate than is neceflary to secure the atten
dance of men belt qualified to serve, it is impro
per. The interest of the people requires the a
doption of the principle infilled upon. Many will
dispute the application of the doctrine to the cale,
though none will deny the docftrine itfelf. The
dispute, if any lhould arise, will be of the left
consequence, because as it is a question of fa<ft
only, no inference unfavorable to the intentions
of thehoufe could be drawn from the tenor of the
bill which has palled the house of representatives.
Those who may happen to be violent on the fub
jetft, will be sorry tofind anyreafons to vindicate
what has been done, because it will disappoint
their pallions of an expeCted gratification. But
candid men will conlider the principles which
have been difcufled in this speculation, and they
will not overlook the rate of compensation which
has been allowed to members of the former Con
gress by the refpcclive States—the average of
which is said to be equal to the fuin proposed by
the bill. They will alio note that that body being
in feflion the whole year was better paid than the
new Congress, which, probably, after the firft
year will not fit more than one fourth of the time,
and that the recefles, and the diminiflied bufmefs
of eighteen hundred members of tlje State Legi
(latures will make a saving by the national go
vernment. Perhaps, however, it would have been
advifableto have reduced the pay, as it is not an
objeCl which the members will deem a balance
for any fubtraiflion of the approbation and con
fidence of the people.
Another circumstance is worthy of being men
tioned. The difficulty of preserving a govern
ment over a great traCl of country is principally
in proportion to the inconvenience of aflembling
the members from the extreme parts to the feat of
government. Very low pay would render this
inconvenience speedily intolerable, and produce
a general desire for a division of the Union. The
distant members fubniit to a kind of banilhment,
and cannot regulate their private concerns. This
furnilhes 110 reason for profufion and extravagance
—but it is hereby a caution against extreme par
simony. There is a just medium which is to be
prefered—it will extend the principle of Union
to the extremities, and bring the outside of the
circle nearer to the centre. The people will con
lider, therefore, whether the Union is not more
valuable than any other objedt, and whether they
would delire to have any small savings of money,
which, in any future period, lhould endanger
that blelling. Thele observations are submitted
to the candid public. If upon an impartial ex
amination, they lhould be found to have less weight
than the writer has given them, the voice of the
public will unquestionably reach the walls of the
Legislature. For in this country, the general
sentiment of the wife and worthy is law.