in Chiefe of our Armies, and the Gratitude & warm
Affection which his Countrymen do & ought to feel
towards him will give Weight to any thing he patronizes,
& Lustre to all who may be connected with him.
It is a Tribute due to the Man who has servd his Country
well, to esteem him highly & confide in him.
We ought not however to think any Man incapable of
Error. But so it is with the Bulk of Mankind &
even in a free Country. They will reprobate the
Idea of implicit Faith; and at the same time, while
the Impression of Gratitude is deep in their Minds,
they will not admit of a Benefactor, which must be
said of every Man, “aliquando dormitat.”
I would never inculcate a mean & envious Suspicion
of any Man especially of those who have renderd signal
Services to their Country. But there is a Degree
of Watchfulness over all Men possessd of Power or
Influence upon which the Liberties of Mankind much
depend. It is necessary to guard against the Infirmities
of the best as well as the Wickedness of the worst
of Men. Such is the Weakness of human Nature
that Tyranny has oftener sprang from that than any
other Source. It is this that unravels the Mystery
of Millions being enslavd by a few. What was
it that indued the Cincinnati Gentlemen who have undertaken
to deliberate and act upon Matters which may essentially
concern “the Happiness & future Dignity of the
American Empire,” to admit foreign Military
Subjects into their Society? Was there not Danger
before that a foreign Influence might prevail in America?
Do not Foreigners wish to have Weight in our Councils?
Can such a Junction of Subjects of different Nations
(& those Nations widely different in their principles
of Government) to Deliberate upon things which relate
to the Union & national Honor, the Happiness & future
Dignity of one consist with sound Policy? Are
we sure that those foreign Nations will never have
separate Views & very national & interrested ones
too, because they once united in the same object &
it was accidentally their mutual Interest to fight
Side by Side? If the Cincinnati had a Right to
erect themselves into an order for the national Purposes
of their Institution, had they a Right to call in
foreign Aid for those Purposes? It appears to
me as impolitic, preposterous & dangerous as it would
be for the United States to invite & admit a Delegation
from that foreign Power into their Congress.
I take Notice that the Committee of Congress propose
that the Govts of the ten new States to be formd shall
be in Republican form & shall admit no Person to be
a Citizen who holds any hereditary Title. I hope
Congress will not fail to make this an indispensible
Your Letter of the 2d relating to Colo Gridleys Affair
came to hand. I am obligd to you for the Care
you have taken.
Believe me to be yr sincere & affectionate Friend,
1 Cf. J. F. Jameson, Essays in Constitutional
History, pp. 32 et seq.
TO NOAH WEBSTER.