The history of mankind is pregnant with frequent, bloody
and almost imperceptible transitions from freedom to slavery.
A Cumberland County Mutual
Improvement Society Addresses
the Pennsylvania Minority
Carlisle Gazette (Pennsylvania),
January 2, 1788
Mercy Otis Warren
And when patriotism is discountenanced and publick
virtue becomes the ridicule of the sycophant – when
every man of liberality, firmness, and penetration, who cannot
lick the hand stretched out to oppress, is deemed an enemy
to the State – then is the gulph of despotism set open,
and the grades to slavery, though rapid, are scarce perceptible
“A Columbian Patriot”
Wherever the real power in
a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our
Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community,
and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended,
not from acts of the Government contrary to the sense of its
constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the
mere instrument of the major number of the constituents
Letter to Thomas Jefferson
October 17, 1788
The just way of investigating any power given to a government,
is to examine its operation supposing it to be put in exercise.
If upon enquiry, it appears that the power, if exercised, would
be prejudicial, it ought not to be given. For to answer objections
made to a power given to a government, by saying it will never
be exercised, is really admitting that the power ought not to
be exercised, and therefore ought not to be granted.
New York Journal,
March 6, 1788
Mercy Otis Warren
Despotism usually while it is gaining ground, will suffer
men to think, say, or write what they please; but when once
established, if it is thought necessary to subserve the purposes
of arbitrary power, the most unjust restrictions may take place
in the first instance, and an imprimator on the Press in the
next, may silence the complaints, and forbid the most decent
remonstrances of an injured and oppressed people.
...it is evident that there is something amiss in the
ruling political power which requires a steady, regulating and
energetic hand to correct and control.
to John Armstrong
Mount Vernon, Virginia
April 25, 1788
...the jaws of power are always opened to devour, and
her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the
freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.
Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”
The lust for power is so universal, that a speculative
unascertained rule of construction would be a poor security
for the liberties of the people. Such as body as the intended
Congress, unless particularly inhibited and restrained, must
grasp at omnipotence...
Reply to James Wilson's Speech
Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia),
October 24, 1787
Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental
opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a
distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every
change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical
plan of reducing us to slavery.
“A Summary View of the Rights of British
There seems to be a direct and formal design on foot,
to enslave all America. This, however, must be done by degrees.
The first step that is intended, seems to be an entire subversion
of the whole system of our fathers...
“A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal
The abuse of any power always operates to call the
right of that power in question.
“Attack on Paper Money Laws”