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REPLY TO CHEETHAM.
The Editor of the New York American Citizen, James Cbeetham, has, consistently with his usual mode of abuse, published a long-winded piece in his paper of Thursday last, which, without doubt, he thinks clever because it is spiteful. This piece in the Citizen is an attack on a publication of mine in the New York Public Advertiser of the preceding Tuesday against the project of obstructions in the channel of solid blocks of stone or earth, because such obstructions " would prevent the tide coming up and lay the wharfs at the city dry, and be the ruin of all the towns on the North River that depended for commerce on tide water."
Mr. Cheetham says, "that the entire obstruction recommended in this paper (meaning his own paper) would injure the harbour, is a thought which has occurred to every man in the city, vulgar or refined." Why then could not James Cheetham see it? If he had he certainly would not have proposed such a stupid project.
Mr. Cheetham has said this that I might not have the credit of being the first or only man that discovered the danger, and in the eagerness of his malignancy to do this he has libelled himself; for he has proved that every other man in the city, vulgar or refined, had more sense than James Cheetham. I know not how soon other persons might see the danger of the project, but I wrote my objections against it the same day the piece appeared, which was on Saturday, and gave it to a friend on Sunday, Mr. Walter Morton, for the Public Advertiser. Mr. Morton gave the piece to the printer on Monday morning.
Mr. Cheetham, in his rage for attacking every body, and every thing that is not his own, (for he is an ugly-tempered man, and he carries the evidence of it in the vulgarity and forbiddingness of his countenance—God has seta mark upon Cain) has attacked me on the ground of my political works, and in doing this he has exposed the barrenness of his understanding as fully as in the former case.
He quotes the following paragraph from a short anonymous piece of mine in the Public Advertiser of June 1.
"In 1714, the English nation, for the principles of free government were not understood at that time, sent to Hanover for a man and his family, George the First, to come and govern them."
Mr. Cbeetham, in remarking upon this paragraph, says, "The sending for the idiot, George the First, is true, but the lines underscored, that is, for the principles of free government were not understood at that time, are a libel on the venerable dead. In 1714, the principles of a free Government were as well understood in England as they are now in any part of the world."
James Cheetham is such a splenetic John Bull, that he has not discernment enough to see the result of his own statements, for, if the principles of free government were as well understood in England in 1714 as they are now in any part of the world, including America, they certainly would not have sent to Hanover for an idiot to govern them! And as they did send to Hanover for an idiot to govern them, it proves that the principles of free, that is, representative government, were not understood in England at that time.
After this Mr. Cheetham speaks much about Locke, and says, "that all political elementary writers on Government since the days of Locke, including Mr. Paine, are but the mere retailers of his ideas and doctrines." This is John Bullism all over.
He also says, that " On hereditary and elective Government, Mr. Paine, in his Common Sense and Rights of Man, has followed Locke idea for idea." It may be so for what I know, for I never read Locke, nor ever had the work in my hand, and by what I have heard of it from Horne Tooke, I had no inducement to read it. It is a speculative, not a practical work, and the style of it is heavy aud tedious, as all Locke's writings are.
I suppose Locke has spoken of hereditary and Elective Monarchy, but the representative as laid down in Common Sense and Rights of Man, is an entire different thing to elective monarchy. So far from taking any ideas from Locke or from any body else, it was the absurd expression of a mere John Bull in England about the year 1773, that first caused me to turn my mind to systems of Government. In speaking of the then King of Prussia, called the Great Frederick, he said, "He is the right sort of man for a King for he has a deal of the devil in him." This set me to think if a system of Government could not exist that did not require the devil, and I succeeded without any help from any body. It is a great deal may be learned from absurdity, and I expect to learn something from James Cheetham. When I do, I will let him know it in the Public Advertiser.
In the,conclusion of the piece of mine which Mr. Cheetham has vomited his spleen upon, I threw out some reproach against those who instead of practising themselves in arms and artillery, that they might be prepared to defend New York, should it be attacked, were continually employing themselves on imaginary fortifications and skulking behind projects of obstruction. As Mr. Cheetham supposed himself included in this description, (and he thought right) he made, as he imagined, an effectual retort, but in doing this as in every thing else he does, he betrayed his want of knowledge both as to the spirit and circumstances of the times he speaks of.
"I would not," says Mr. Cheetham, " charge with cowardice that gentleman, (meaning me) who in the ' times that tried men's souls,' stuck very correctly to his pen in a safe retreat, and never handled a musket offensively."
By this paragraph Mr. Cheetham must have supposed that when Congress retreated from Philadelphia to Baltimore in the "times that tried men's souls," that I retreated with them as Secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs.
In the first place, the Committee for Foreign Affairs did not exist at that time.
In the next place. I served in the army the whole of the "time that tried men's souls" from the beginning to the end.
Soon after the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Congress recommended that a body of ten thousand men, to be called the flying camp, because it was to act wherever necessary, should be formed from the militia and volunteers of Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I went with one division from Pennsylvania under General Roberdeau. We were stationed at Perth Am boy, and afterwards at Bergen; and when the time of the flying camp expired, and they went home, I went to Fort Lee and served as aid-de-camp to Greene, who commanded at Fort Lee, and was with him through the whole of the black times of that trying campaign.
I began the first number of the Crisis, beginning with the well-known expression, " These are the times that try men's souls") at Newark upon the retreat from Fort Lee, and continued writing it at every place we stopt at, and had it printed at Philadelphia the 19th of December, six days before the taking the Hessians at Trenton, which, with the affair at Princetown the week after, put an end to the black times.
It therefore is not true that I stuck to my pen in a safe retreat with Congress from Philadelphia to Baltimore in the "times that tried men's souls." But if I had done so I should not have published the cowardice James Cheetham has done. In speaking of the affair of the Driver sloop of war at Charleston, South Carolina, he said in his paper, if the Driver and her comrades should take it in their heads to come here (New York) we must submit. What abominable cowardice, for a man to have such a thought in his mind that a city containing twenty thousand able-bodied men, numbers of them as stout in person as himself, should submit to a sloop of war containing about a hundred and fifty men.
After this Mr. Cheetham will take care how he attacks old revolutionary characters whose undiscouraged intrepidity in the "times that tried men's souls" made a home for him to come to.
New York, Aug. 21,1807.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER TO DR. MICIIELL, SENATOR FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK, WRITTEN IMMEDIATELY SUBSEQUENT TO THE DISCHARGE OF AARON BURR.
Whereas time, experience and circumstances, have shewn that the article in the Federal Constitution, which establishes the judiciary, is vague and defective, and requires amendment.
According to that article, the judges hold their offices, daring, that is, on the condition of good behaviour. Yet the Constitution has not authorised any power to take cognizance of that good behaviour, or the breach of it. Every law, and a Constitution is the supreme law, point out the mode of redress, at the same time that it specifies the offence. But the Federal Constitution is defective in this important particular. This being the case, therefore resolved.
That the following amendment to the article in the Federal Constitution which establishes the judiciary, be proposed to the States severally, for their concurrence therein; that is to say.
That after the words as they now stand in the article," the judges of the supreme and inferior courts shall hold their offices during good behaviour," to add but for reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient groundfor impeachment, the president may remove any of them, on the address of a major ity of both houses of Congress.
It may be proper to observe, that the people of the United States have no share in the appointment of judges, nor any controul over them afterwards. And if their representatives in Congress have no cognizance of judges as to good behaviour, the judiciary may become domineering or dangerous. They lie open to the intrigues of a foreign enemy, or any corrupt party in the States associated with that enemy, or projecting a separation of the Union. It is fair to suppose, that those who formed the Constitution, never thought of this, when they made the judges independent of our own executive.