Address to the Massachusetts legislature

1795-06-01 - Samuel Adams


The people of this Commonwealth, in their declaration of rights, have recorded their own opinion, that the Legislature ought frequently to assemble for the redress of grievances, correcting, strengthening and confirming the Laws, and making new Laws, as the common good may require.—The Laws of the Commonwealth are intended to secure to each and all the Citizens, their own rights and liberties, and the property which they honestly possess. If there are any instances wherein the Laws in being, are inadequate to these great and capital ends, your eye will discern the evil, and your wisdom will provide a suitable remedy.…

I cannot but recommend to your consideration, whether it may not be necessary more effectually to guard the elections of public agents and officers against illegal practices. All elections ought to be free, and every qualified elector who feels his own independence as he ought, will act his part according to his best, and most enlightened judgment. Elections are the immediate acts of the people’s sovereignty, in which no foreigners should be allowed to intermeddle. Upon free and unbiased elections, the purity of the government, and consequently the safety and welfare of the citizens, may I not say altogether depend.

If we continue to be a happy people, that happiness must be assured by the enacting and executing of reasonable and wise laws, expressed in the plainest language, and by establishing such modes of education as tend to inculcate in the minds of youth, the feelings and habits of “piety, religion and morality,” and to lead them to the knowledge and love of those truly Republican principles upon which our civil institutions are founded. We have solemnly engaged ourselves, fellow citizens, to support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this Commonwealth. This must be reconcileable in the mind of any man, who judiciously considers the sovereign rights of the one as limited to federal purposes, and the sovereign rights of the other, as acting upon and directing the internal concerns of our own Republic.…

Those who wish to persuade the world to believe, that a free representative Republic cannot be supported, will no doubt make use of every art to injure, and by degrees to alter, and finally to eradicate the principles of our free Constitutions: But the virtuous and enlightened citizens of this Commonwealth, and of all united America, have understanding and firmness, sufficient to support those Constitutions of Civil Government which they have themselves formed, and which have done them so much honor in the estimation of the world.

It is with pain that I mention the insurrection which has lately taken place in a sister state. It was pointed more immediately at an act of the Federal Government. An act of that government, as well as of the governments in the Union, is constitutionally an act of the people, and our Constitutions provide a safe and easy method to redress any real grievances. No people can be more free under a Constitution established by their own voluntary compact, and exercised by men appointed by their own frequent suffrages. What excuse then can there be for forcible opposition to the laws? If any law shall prove oppressive in its operation, the future deliberations of a freely elective Representative, will afford a constitutional remedy. But the measures adopted by The President of the United States, supported by the virtue of citizens of every description, in that, and the adjacent states, have prevailed, and there is an end of the insurrection. Let the glory be given to Him, who alone governs all events, while we express the just feelings of respect and gratitude due to all those, whom He honours as instruments to carry into effect his gracious designs.