Excerpt from The Anti-Slavery Revolution in America
The construction of a government for the colonies, which had declared and main tained their independence of England, began under a natural reaction. Washington, in a letter to Henry Laurens (july 10, 1782) wrote: That spirit of freedom, which, at the commencement of this contest, would have gladly sacrificed everything to the attainment of its object, has long since subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place. It is not the public but pri vate interest which inﬂuences the genera ity of mankind, nor can the Americans any longer boast of an exception. This was, as we have said, natural; the ravages of war, and the debt created by it, must make trade paramount, and under that and the vices which follow in the train of war, the fiery lava of revolution must cool down and harden into the provisions of self-interest and the enactments of economy. A late con servative orator of New England sneered at the Declaration of Independence as the passionate manifesto of a revolutionary war, and appealed from its glittering generali ties to the wary compromises of the Con stitution it has only been amid the fires of another revolution that those glittering gen eralities have been revealed as, to use Mr. Emerson's phrase, blazing ubiquities. The great motives which prevailed to bring about the Convention of 1787, whose object was to supersede the loose articles of confedera tion and establish a more perfect Union, were apparently the greater security of all economic interests, and a more complete combination against any attempt at a re covery of the States on the part of England.
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