To the French Inhabitants of Louisiana



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Unjust to ourselves, because as the reimbursements of the purchase money must come out of the sale of the lands to new settlers, the govern- [begin page 179] ment of it cannot suddenly go out of the hands of Congress. They are guardians of that property for all the people of the United States.

And besides this, as the new settlers will be chiefly from the United States, it would be unjust and ill policy to put them and their property under the jurisdiction of a people whose freedom they had contributed to purchase.

You ought also to recollect, that the French Revolution has not exhibited to the world that grand display of principles and rights, that would induce settlers from other countries to put themselves under a French jurisdiction in Louisiana. Beware of intriguers who may push you on from private motives of their own.

You complain of two cases, one of which you have no right, no concern with; and the other is founded in direct injustice.

You complain that Congress has passed a law to divide the country into two territories. It is not improper to inform you, that after the Revolutionary War ended, Congress divided the territory acquired by that war into ten territories; each of which was to be erected into a constitutional state, when it arrived at a certain population mentioned in the Act; and, in the meantime, an officer appointed by the President, as the Gov- [begin page 180] ernor of Louisiana now is, presided, as Governor of the Western Territory, over all such parts as have not arrived at the maturity of statehood. Louisiana will require to be divided into twelve states or more; but this is a matter that belongs to the purchaser of the territory of Louisiana, and with which the inhabitants of the town of New Orleans have no right to interfere; and beside this, it is probable that the inhabitants of the other territory would choose to be independent of New Orleans. They might apprehend, that on some speculating pretense, their produce might be put in requisition, and a maximum price put on it - a thing not uncommon in a French Government.

As a general rule, without refining upon sentiment, one may put confidence in the justice of those who have no inducement to do us injustice; and this is the case Congress stands in with respect to both territories, and to all other divisions that may be laid out, and to all inhabitants and settlers, of whatever nation they may be.

There can be no such thing as what the memorial speaks of, that is, of a governor appointed by the President who may have no interest in the welfare of Louisiana. He must, from the nature of the case, have more interest in it than [begin page 181] any other person can have. He is intrusted with the care of an extensive tract of country, now the property of the United States by purchase. The value of those lands will depend on the increasing prosperity of Louisiana, its agriculture, commerce, and population.

You have only a local and partial interest in -the town of New Orleans, or its vicinity; and if, in consequence of exploring the country, new seats of commerce should offer, his general interest would lead him to open them, and your partial interest to shut them up.

There is probably some justice in your remark, as it applies to the governments under which you formerly lived. Such governments always look with jealousy, and an apprehension of revolt, on colonies increasing in prosperity and population and they send governors to keep them down.

But when you argue from the conduct of governments distant and despotic, to that of domestic and free government, it shows you do not understand the principles and interest of a republic, and to put you right is friendship. We have had experience, and you have not.

The other case to which I alluded, as being founded in direct injustice, is that in which you petition for power ,under the name of rights, to , import and enslave Africans!

Dare you put up a petition to heaven for such a power, without fearing to be struck from the earth by its justice?

Why, then, do you ask it of man against man?

Do you want to renew in Louisiana the horrors of Domingo?

Common Sense.



September 22,1804.
Directory: econ -> ugcm -> 3ll3 -> paine -> volume10


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