AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed
than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much
alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore,
to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for
it. The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases
under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which
the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions
on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality,
to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere
heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and
personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties,
and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the
superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation,
the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a
candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation
of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest
misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights,
which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness
and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole,
who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or
to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential
to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to
faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty,
which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which
is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues
fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between
his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former
will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of
property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is
the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession
of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views
of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,..." Declaration of Independence, 1776