all our native citizens that they have always lived under a free government; and yet they were brought up to the age of twenty-one under a pure despotism.
But this does not deprive them of their right to boast.
True, the government conferred almost absolute control upon the parent, or guardian, or master of the apprentice!
These might have oppressed them.
But the government, which stood ready to vindicate their rights, did not do it. The government, in what it did, only accorded them their natural rights, as we have seen — provided to confer on them the highest amount of freedom of which their condition would admit.
It was to them essentially a free government, though in one of the forms of despotism.
So in that form of despotism appropriate to a race of uncivilized people dwelling in the midst of a civilized people, if adapted to their condition, or securing to them (as in the case of minors) their natural rights, it is, for
them, and to
them, a free government
. So far from being a curse, as many of our philosophers teach, it is a blessing, which their essential rights entitle them to claim.
Any other form of government would be, in their case, as well as in that of minors, a practical denial of their rights; because it would result in the annihilation of their essential rights; that is, the enslavement of their wills to the basest passions of fallen nature.