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MVB et al., Address to the citizens of Columbia County, New York, 31 January 1809


Citizens of Columbia!

As well those of you who are attached to the present administration of your general and state governments, as you who, though doubting the propriety of some of their measures, have still a sense of patriotism, a love of country that soars above the mean and selfish considerations of party—we invite your attention. A crisis has arrived in the affairs of our common country, which demands the cool, sober and dispassionate consideration of every citizen devoted to its welfare or interested in its prosperity.

Assailed by the lawless and despotic edicts and pretensions of the two great belligerents of Europe—annihilating your commerce, condemning and disregarding your neutral rights, treading under foot the law of nations, insulting your independence, and demanding the surrender of your sovereignty—the government of your country has been driven to the imperious necessity of either leading you into an immediate and calamitous war, or imposing on you restrictions and privations which, to many, are the cause of embarrassment and distress. That government which has conducted you through seasons of unequalled public and private prosperity and happiness, and which participates equally in your welfare or adversity, has not at this moment become insensible to your interest and their dignity. They have resorted to measures which have, at all times, and by enlightened men of all parties, been considered as suitable to an occasion like the present. As measures of safety and precaution, their effects have been most salutary—as measures of coercion, they have as yet proved ineffectual. Our enemies still persevere in their career of iniquity and outrage. Why is this so? Is it because the exportation of our produce is unimportant to them, and that the restrictions laid upon it does not affect them? No. The inducements which are held out for the evasions and violations of our laws, and the enormous prices given for your produce at foreign markets, disprove the idea. No, fellow-citizens! Your aggressors are sensible of the importance of your trade to them: but they are not convinced of your determination to support your government in their exertions for its protection. Your old and relentless enemy wishes to impose upon you an infamous tribute, and she is induced to believe that you will submit to it—and it is therefore that she hesitates in doing us justice—and many of our citizens, to their eternal disgrace, are laboring with unparalleled industry to confirm her in her impressions. Every evil which is produced by foreign aggressions, is by them imputed to your own government. The passions of the people are inflamed—confidence between them and their government, the main sinew of a republic in seasons of impending danger, is attempted to be destroyed; disaffection is encouraged, and rebellion is not only spoken of with indifference, but treated as a sacred duty. To promote these objects, meetings are convened, inflammatory speeches are made, and resolutions passed to carry them into effect.

Fellow Citizens!—These things require a corrective—you have a deep interest in their consequences—they are the prelude to scenes which may cover your nation with infamy, and your country with the horrors of civil war! The corrective is at hand. Let party-spirit be stifled—Let all other feelings be absorbed in a sacred devotion to your country and its interests—Let us meet in unison, and resolve to support our government and its laws against the despots of Europe. When this becomes the general and prevailing sentiment and conduct of our citizens, all will be well. But if, unfortunately, there does not exist sufficient patriotism to accomplish this glorious end, we are the authors of our own ruin, and the consequences will be upon our own heads. Our government has done their duty—let us do ours.

By order of the Meeting,


Erastus PrattSecretary.

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Source: Farmers' Register (Troy, NY)
Collection: N/A
Series: Series 1 (5 December 1782-31 December 1811)