The Key of Liberty (William Manning, 1798): Excerpt 4

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4. The Means by which the few Destroy it [free Government]

This I will endeavor to do my making a few remarks of the few on the eight following things, Viz. 1st on the Ignorance of the Many –2nd on the Combinations of the few. 3 on Learning — 4 on knowledge –5th on Constitutions 6tly on Money or the Medium — 7th on Elections 8thly on wars.

1. On the Ignorance of the Many

Solomon said, Train up a Child in the way he should go, & when he is old he will not depart from it. And it is as true that if a child is trained up in the way he should not go, when he is old he will keep to it. It is the universal custom & practice of monarchical and despotic government to train up their subjects as much in ignorance as they can in matters of government, & to teach them to reverence & worship great men in office, & to take for truth what ever they say without examining for themselves.

Consequently when ever Revolutions are brought about & free governments established it is by the influence of a few leading men, who after they have obtained their object (like other men) can never receive compensation & honors enough from the people for their services, & the people being brought up from their youths to reverence & respect such men they go on old ways & neglect to search & see for themselves & take care of their own interests. Also being naturally very fond of being flattered, they readily hear to measures proposed by great men who they are convinced have done them good services. This is the principal ground on which the few work to destroy a free government.

2. On the Combinations of the Few

In a free government the few, finding their schemes & views of interest borne down by the many, to gain the power they can’t constitutionally obtain, Always endeavor to get it by cunning & corruption, conscious at the same time that usurpation when once begun the safety of the usurper consists only in grasping the whole. To effect this no costs nor pains are spared, but they first unite their plans & schemes by associations, conventions, and correspondences with each other. The Merchants associate by themselves, the Physicians by themselves, the Ministers by themselves, the Judicial and Executive Officers are by their professions often called together & know each other’s minds, & all literary men & the over grown rich, that can live without laboring, can spare time for consultation. All being bound together by common interest, which is the strongest bond of union, join in their secret correspondence to counteract the interests of the many & pick their pockets, which is effected only for want of the means of knowledge among them.

3. On Learning

Learning is of the greatest importance to the support of a free government, & to prevent this the few are always crying up the advantages of costly colleges, national academies and grammar schools, in order to make places for men to live without work, & so strengthen their party. But are always opposed to cheap schools & woman schools, the only or principal means by which learning is spread among the Many.

4. On Knowledge

The greatest & best means of obtaining the knowledge necessary for a free man to have, is by the Liberty of the Press, or public Newspapers. To counteract and destroy this privilege the few spare no pains to make them as costly as possible & to contradict everything in them that favors the interests of the Many, putting Darkness for Light, & Light for Darkness, falsehood for truth, & truth for falsehood, etc.

5. On Constitutions & Laws

The few have a great advantage over the Many in forming and constructing Constitutions & Laws, & are highly interested in having them numerous, intricate & as inexplicit as possible. By this they take to themselves the right of giving them such explanations as suits their interests, & make places for numerous lawyers & Judicial & Executive officers, which adds greatly to their strength by numbers.

6. On the Medium of Trade

Money or a Medium of trade is of such a nature that there are innumerable ways by which the few can manage it to the injury of the Many, such as erecting banks & using partiality in remittances, ruining public & private credit, & stopping the circulation of money, etc.; by which they can bring the Many into distress & set them to quarreling and suing one another, & so make a plenty of business for their party.

7. On Elections

This is a great object with the few, to carry their points in elections, this being the only means by which the Many can support their Rights. Consequently the few all unite in extolling the goodness and abilities of their candidates, & of running down and blackguarding the candidates on the other side. Some they will flatter by promises of favors, such as being customers to them, or helping them out of debt, or other difficulties; or help them to a good bargain, or treat them, or trust the, or lend them money, or even give them a little money, if they will vote for such & such a man. Others they will threaten, “if you don’t vote for such & such a man,” or “if you do” etc., “you shall pay me what you owe me,” or “I will sue you” — “I will turn you out of my house” or “off of my farm” — “I won’t be your customer any longer” — “I will wager a ginna that you dare not vote for such a man — if you do you shall have a bloody nose for it,” Or they will hire somebody to communicate these things to the electors. Also they will hinder votes from being counted or returned right, & often will themselves (or hire others) to put in two or three votes a piece. All these things have been practiced & may be again.

8. On Wars

So apt are Mankind to be wrought up into a passion by false reports & slight offenses that it is an easy matter for cunning men to set peaceable families & friends at variance, where there is no grounds for it on either side. In the same manner Towns, States & Nations may be set at war against each other, & I have no doubt but that it has been the case many a time, that thousands and Millions have been slain on both sides equally thinking that they have been fighting in a good cause, when the whole matters in dispute would have made little or no dispute between honest neighbors. Nor do I dispute but that it has been agreed upon by Rulers of Nations to make war on each other, only that they might have a pretense to raise & keep up standing armies to deprive their own subjects of their Rights & Liberties. This is a great object with the few, & when they attain it, It adds so much to their number, strength & importance that they have but little more to fear, and the Many have but little reason to expect that they can maintain their Liberties Long.

In the foregoing remarks, I have but touched on the principal means by which the few destroy free governments.


1:03 pm on December 27, 2012