A Challenge to the Federalists

A challenge to the Federalists to declare their principles.

from the American Citizen, October 17, 1806.

The old names of Whig and Tory have given place to the later names of Republicans and Federalists; by contraction Feds. The word republican contains some meaning though not very positive, except that it is the opposite of monarchy; but the word federalist contains none. It is merely a name without a meaning. It may apply to a gang of thieves federalized to commit robbery or to any other kind of association.

When men form themselves into political parties, it is customary with them to make a declaration of their principles. — But the feds do not declare what their principles are; from which we may infer, that either they have no principles, and are mere snarlers, or that their principles are too bad to be told. Their object, however, is to get possession of power; and their caution is to conceal the use they will make of it. Such men ought not to be trusted.

The republicans, on the contrary, are open and frank in declaring their principles, for they are of a nature that requires no concealment. The more they are published and understood the more they are approved.

The principles of the republicans are to support the representative system of government and to leave it an inheritance to their children and to their children’s children — to cultivate peace and civil manners with all nations as the surest means of avoiding wars, and never to embroil themselves in the wars of other nations, nor in foreign coalitions — to adjust and settle all differences that might arise with foreign nations by explanation and negociation in preference to he sword, if it can be done — to have no more taxes than are necessary for the decent support of government — to pay every man for his service, and to have no more servants than are wanted. — The republicans hold, as a fixed uncontrovertible principle, that sovereignty resides in the great mass of the people, and that the persons they elect are the representatives of that sovereignty itself. They know of no such thing as hereditary government or of men born to govern them, for besides the injustice of it, it never can be known before they are born whether they will be wise men or fools.

The republicans now challenge the federalists to declare their principles. But as the federalists have never yet done this, and most probably never will, we have a right to infer what their principles are from the conduct they have exhibited.

The federalists opposed the suppression of the internal taxes laid on in the stupid, expensive, and unprincipled administration of John Adams; though it was at that time evident, and experience has since confirmed it for a fact, that those taxes answered no other purpose than to make offices for the maintenance of a number of their dependents at the expence of the public. From this conduct of theirs we infer, that could the federalists get again into power, they would again load the country with internal taxes.

The federalists, while in power, proposed and voted for a standing army, and in order to induce the country to consent to a measure so unpopular in itself, they raised and circulated the fabricated falsehood that France was going to send an army to invade the United States; and to prevent being detected in this lie, and to keep the country in ignorance, they passed a law to prohibit all commerce and intercourse with France. As the pretence for which a standing was to be raised had no existence, not even in their own brain, for it was a wilful lie, we have a right to infer, that the object of the federal faction in raising that army, was to overthrow the representative system of government and to establish a government of war and taxes on the corrupt principles of the English government; and that, could they get again into power, they would again attempt the same thing.

As to the inconsistencies, contradictions and falsehoods of the federal faction, they are too numerous to be counted. When Spain shut up the port of New-Orleans, so as to exclude from it the citizens of the United States, the federal faction in Congress bellowed out for war and the federal papers echoed the cry. The faction both in and out of Congress declared New Orleans to be of such vast importance that without it the Western States would be ruined. But mark the change! No sooner was the cession of New-Orleans and the territory of Louisiana obtained by peaceable negociation, and for many times less expence than a war, with all its uncertainties of success, would have cost, than this self-same faction gave itself the lie and represented the place as of no value. According to them it was worth fighting for at a great expence, but not worth having quietly at a comparatively small expence. It has been said of a thief that he had rather steal a purse than find one, and the conduct of the federalists on this occasion corresponds with that saying. But all these inconsistencies become understood, when we recollect that the leaders of the federal faction are an English faction, and that they follow, like a satellite, the variations of their principal.

Their continual aim has been and still is, to involve the United States in a war with France and Spain. This is an English scheme, and the papers of the faction give every provocation that words can give, to provoke France to hostilities. The bugbear held up by them is that Bonaparte will attack Louisiana. This is an invention of the British emissary Cullen, alias Carpenter, and the association of the federalists, at least some of them, with this miserable emissary involves their own characters in suspicion.

The republicans, as before said, are open, bold, and candid in declaring their principles. They are no skulkers. Let then the federalists, declare theirs.