TO THE ELECTORS
When a candidate is offered for your suffrages, to whom is to be committed an important trust, it is right and proper that you should be made acquainted with his political opinions. Custom however would have prevented me from thus publicly addressing you upon this occasion, were it not that my opinions upon various subjects have been misrepresented to you. I will not charge any man or set of men, with having wilfully misrepresented my opinions; charity would rather believe that in the general conflict of political discussion, that the misrepresentations have their origin in unintentional mistake. But from whatever source the evil has arisen, justice to myself, and to those friends to whose solicitations I am indebted for being a candidate, as well as a proper respect for the opinions of my fellow citizens, all unite in requiring that the charges thus presented against me should be promptly and publicly contradicted.
The charges to which I allude are, that I am unfriendly to the right of suffrage, as exercised in this state; and also that all elections should be held at the seat of justice for the whole county. As to the first, it has always been my opinion, that no individual ought to be required to pay taxes or to bear arms in support of any government in which he had not a voice. I have esteemed it as the peculiar characteristic of our constitution, that all the citizens of our country are bound and knit together by this enjoyment of an equal participation of the rights and immunities; and while the corrupt and unstable governments of Europe, are nothing else than conspiracies of the few, for the oppression and degradation of the many, so long as we recognize the principle that “all men are free and equal,” we shall always find among the hard sons of the soil, those who feel that in fighting the battles for their country they are fighting for themselves, for their children, and for their homes. I have always considered, that one man can derive no advantage over another in a political point of view from the possession or enjoyment of wealth, & that it would be a monstrous perversion of language to say that in a Republican government the poor should fight the battles and protect the property of the rich, and that they should have no voice in the election of the officers of government. Suffer me to close this part of my address by observing that the right which we now enjoy, that every man who pays his tax and shoulders his musket, should be entitled to a vote in all elections, is a right which we ought not to surrender but with our lives, and that property can give no man any political rights which he does not possess in common with the poorest man in the government.
As to the second charges, that if elected I would use my influence to have the elections for the county holden at the seat of justice, altho’ it is one of minor consequence with the other, still a proper respect for the opinions of my fellow citizens induces me to declare my opinions in opposition to such a measure. It would be an inconvenience to which the electors of the distant townships ought not, and would not, willingly submit, and that man who would throw such obstructions in the way of the exercise of the right of suffrage, as would almost amount to a prohibition, would ill deserve to be your representative. To those therefore who have made this as an objection, I can unhesitatingly declare that I have never entertained such an opinion and would strenuously oppose any attempt thus to abridge the rights of my fellow citizens.
As it respects the reduction of the expenses of government, I have observed that more is often promised than the people realized. I can assure you however that every measure having for its object the relief of the people from their burdens shall receive my cordial support so far as the same shall be consistent with the public good. It must be admitted that our taxes are accumulating---our public embarrassments are increasing, notwithstanding all the efforts of preceding legislators to remedy an evil so loudly and so justly complained of by the people. But my fellow citizens the evil is beyond the reach of partial & temporary expedients. The fault lies in the system, and until a thorough change is effected these taxes will continue to increase and these burthens will continue to accumulate. I am not in favor of theoretical experiments in the affairs of government, but whoever carefully compares our system with that of other states, will find it complicated in the extreme and expensive beyond all endurance. So long therefore as our present system is adhered to, the people will in vain call for a reduction of the public burdens to any considerable extent. Our system of punishment appears to me to be particularly defective. Our punishments instead of being objects of terror and disgrace, would rather seem to be temptations and inducements to the commission of crimes. One who is too indolent to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, has nothing to do but steal a pig, and he is fed and clothed and warmed and lodged in your county jail for six months. He can then steal a horse and find very comfortable quarters in the penitentiary for six years. I will not say what should be the substitute, but some course surely ought to be devised to relieve the honest farmer from the burthen of maintaining those wretches in ease and luxury. However, upon this, as upon every other subject, the effort of an individual member of a popular assemble, entertaining an almost infinite variety of opinions, will often be very limited in its effect. He can only pursue that course which shall be the result of his own reflection, and trust to his constituents for a reward for his honest, although often unsuccessful endeavor.
As to my attachment to the government from which we derive so many blessings and to the country where I have chosen to fix my home, I believe no man who has any knowledge of my political sentiments, will hesitate in admitting that I possess those attachments in common with my fellow citizens. Bred to the profession of the law and having daily occasion to refer to the principles of the constitution, I have learned to venerate and admire a system which imparts so many blessings and diffuses its benign influences through the whole mass of the community. A system, which, while it effectually protects the rich in the enjoyment of their wealth, gives to the humble tenant of the cabin, an equal share in the administration of the government. Our country is one where in common with you I have fixed my home. I came here without a penny, and it is to you that I owe my present comfortable situation, and I must be base indeed if I could forget the benefits which I have received at your hands.
Finally, my fellow citizens, my case is with you, and while others have those who feel in their duty to make frequent and eloquent appeals to your favor, in support of their respective friends, I have chosen a more direct channel of communication, and as it is to you that I must look for support at the ensuing polls, I have chosen to disreqard the forms of anonymous publication, relying upon your candor and liberality for its reception. I have been induced to offer myself as a candidate, by the solicitations of those whose good opinions I shall always respect. To say that I have no anxiety upon the event, would be saying what would not be true, and what no man would believe. To receive the free and voluntary suffrages of my fellow citizens and to be called to fill an important place in the government would be an event which ought call for a return of every grateful emotion and ought to inspire a zeal in their service commensurate with the trust reposed. I am sensible that I have not lived to the present period of my life without committing many errors “but let him that is without fault cast the first stone.” If I should be so fortunate as to succeed in the present contest I shall endeavor to return the obligation by faithfully watching over your interests and by every justifiable means endeavor to promote your welfare. If on the other hand I should prove so unfortunate as not to meet with your approbation I shall find ample consolation, in the reflection that among such a number of candidates all possessing equal pretensions, it will reflect no disgrace to be found among the unsuccessful party. But whether successful or not, the people of Montgomery county to whom I am already so much indebted, for so liberal a support in my professional course, shall always receive my warm wishes for their future welfare, however deficient I may be in ability to serve them in a public capacity.
I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,