Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who Said It?

In 1786, farmers and merchants in the new Republic rebelled against the newly instituted government. Beginning in Massachusetts the rebellion spread to many other states. Although the rebels were tried, the results of the rebellion was the election of more popular leaders and the Constitution of the United States. The rebellion was called the "Shay's Rebellion."

Speaking about the Shay's Rebellion, who said the following?

"'God forbid we should even be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all and always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have thirteen states independent for eleven years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that the people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.' Without commenting on the accuracy of his arithmetic, or the tendency of his principles, it is sufficient to observe that tyranny on the one side, and patriotism on the other, are not necessarily the causes, or the concomitants of rebellion."

Wolcott, Oliver, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John Adams. Vol. 1, New York : William Van Norden, Printer, 1846.

Gerald F. Ward

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