1794 – Address by Wythe County Democratic Society

[transcription from Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia (Aug. 2, 1794), p. 3]

1794 Aug 2 masthead

Images of Aug. 2, 1794 issue of Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser (Newspaper Microfilm 2907, Library of Congress)


July 4, 1794
The DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY met according to adjournment.
Citizen William Neelly [Neely], chosen Chairman for the sitting,
Citizen John Montgomery, chosen Secretary.

1794 Aug 2 col 1On motion of Citizen Alexander Smyth;
ORDERED, That a Committee be appointed to prepare an Address to the people of the United States and a Committee was accordingly appointed of Citizens Alexander Smyth, Daniel Sheffy, Jehu Stephens, Jesse Evans, Joseph Crockett, William Drope, and William Hay.

Citizen Alexander Smyth, from the Committee appointed, reported an address, which being read, is unanimously agreed to.
Ordered, That the said address be signed by the Chairman, and published.

(The said Address follows.)

Address of the DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY in Wythe County, Virginia, to the people of the United States.

Fellow Citizens,

It is a right of the people peaceably to assemble and deliberate. It is a right of the people to publish their sentiments. These rights we exercise, and esteem invaluable.

A war raging in Europe; a war of tyrants against liberty, cannot be unfelt by the people of the United States. – It has roused our feelings. We have rejoiced when victory followed the standard of liberty. When despots were successful, we have experienced the deepest anxiety. – We have lamented that our good wishes were the only aid we could give the French.

Seeing the different powers combined against the Rights of Man, we have marked the British Nation the champion of despotism. With indignation we have heard their indolent dictates to the small neutral powers of Europe, to join in the subjugation of France. With sorrow we have seen every principle of liberty hitherto retained by the people of Britain, violated by its present corrupt government; and their most virtuous inhabitants transported to foreign lands, or going into voluntary exile: But we hope these things will ultimately produce good, and that there still a latent spark, which by excessive friction, will kindle to a flame and consume the rotten edifice of the British government, on the ruins of which another may arise, the best, whereof shall be justice, liberty, and equality.

1794 Aug 2 col 2While with anxious expectation we contemplate the affairs of Europe, it would be criminal to forget our own country. A Session of Congress having just passed; the first in which the people were equally represented, it is a fit time to take a retrospective view of the proceedings of Government. We have watched each motion of those in power; but are sorry we cannot exclaim, “well done thou good and faithful servant!” We have seen the nation insulted, our rights violated, our commerce ruined; — and what has been the conduct of Government? Under the corrupt influence of the paper system, it has uniformly crouched to Britain, while on the contrary our allies the French, to whom we owe our political existence, have been treated unfriendly; denied any advantages, from their treaties with us; their Minister abused; and those individuals among us, who desired to aid their arms, prosecuted as traitors. Blush Americans for the conduct of your government!!!

Shall we Americans, who have kindled the spark of liberty, [ ] and see It extinguished, when burning a bright flame, in France which hath caught it from us! Do you not see if despots prevail, you must have a despot like the rest of the nations? If all tyrants unite against free people, should not all free people unite against tyrants? Yes! Let us unite with France, and stand or fall together.

We lament that a man who hath so long possessed the public confidence, as the head of the Executive Department hath possessed it, should put it to so severe a trial as he hath by a late appointment. The constitution hath been trampled on, and your rights have no security. Citizens! What is despotism? Is it not a union of executive, legislative, and judicial authorities in the same hands? This union then has been effected. Your Chief Justice has been appointed to an executive office, by the head of that branch of Government; In that capacity he is to make treaties: Those treaties are your supreme law?—and of this supreme law he is supreme Judge!!! What has become of your constitution & liberties.

Fellow Citizens,
We hope the misconduct of the executive, may have proceeded from bad advice; but we can only look to the immediate cause of the mischief. To us; it seems a radical change of measures is necessary. How shall this be effected, citizens it is to be effected by a change of men. Deny the continuance of your confidence to such members of the Legislative body as have an interest distinct from that of the people. To trust yourselves to stockholders, what is it, but like the Romans to deliver the poor, debtor to his creditor, as his absolute property. To trust yourselves to speculators, what is it, but to committ the lamb to the wolf to be devoured.

It was recommended by the Conventions of some of the States, so to amend the constitution, as to incapacitate any man to serve as President more than eight years successively. Consider well this experiment. It is probable the most certain way to purge the different departments, and produce a new state of things.

Believe us fellow citizens, the public welfare is our only motive.

Attest, John Montgomery, Sec’ry

The Republican Printers throughout the Union, are requested to publish this address.

TOASTS drunk by the DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY, at Wythe Court-house, the Fourth of July, 1794.

  1. The United States of America—May they preserve their liberties to the end of time.
  2. The French Nation—May their glorious struggles prove fatal to despotism.
  3. The Congress of the United States—May the next election purge it of paper and aristocratical influences.
  4. The National Convention of France.
  5. George Washington—May he be actuated by republican principles and remember the spirit of the constitution, or cease to preside over the United States.
  6. The ever memorable 4th of July—May its return still rekindle the patriot flame in each American bosom.
  7. The memory of the heroes who fell for American Liberty.
  8. The Guillotine—May it have an attractive virtue to draw despots to it.
  9. The Democrats throughout the world.
  10. The Tree of Liberty—May it flourish on the ruins of Despotism.
  11. The Republican Fair of America.
  12. Perpetual union between the United States and French Republic.
  13. The Republicans of the British Islands—May they cease to be governed by lunatics.
  14. Thomas Jefferson.
  15. Liberty, Equality, fraternity and valor.

RESOLVED, That a subscription be opened for the purpose of procuring a number of pamphlets on the Rights of Men, for the dissemination of Republican principles.
The sum of twenty-four dollars, and seventy-five cents being subscribed, Ordered, the same be applied as aforesaid by citizen Daniel Sheffy.