Page 4142

4142 HISTORIC DOCUMENTS

the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations

and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real

design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation

and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this

fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force, to put in

the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community;

and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to

make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and

incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent

and wholesome plans, digested by common councils and modified

by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description

may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the

course of time and things, to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert

the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of

government; destroying afterward the very engines which have

lifted them to unjust dominion.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the

States, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discrimination. Let me now take a more comprehensive

view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful

effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having

its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists

under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed. But in those of the popular form it is seen

in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened

by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissensions, which, in

different ages and countries, has perpetuated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a

more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries

which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security

and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and, sooner or

later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more