‘The judgment of a whole people,’—such
was the sentiment of Franklin
,—‘if unbiased by faction, undeluded by the tricks of designing men, is infallible.’
That the voice of the people is the voice of God, he declared to be universally true; and therefore ‘the people cannot, in any sense, divest themselves of the supreme authority.’
Thus he asserted the common rights of mankind, by illustrating ‘eternal truths, that cannot be shaken even with the foundations of the world.’
Such was public opinion in Pennsylvania
more than a century ago.
was still more in contrast with England
The eighteenth century was the age of commercial ambition; and Virginia
relinquished its commerce to foreign factors.
It was the age when nations rushed into debt, when stockjobbers and bankers competed with landholders for political power; and Virginia
paid its taxes in tobacco, and alone of all the colonies, alone of all civilized states, resisting the universal tendency of the age, had no debts, no banks, no bills of credit, no paper money.
The committee of its burgesses did not fear ‘to speak irreverently of the king's government;’ even royalists acknowledged that the people esteemed ‘a friendship for the governor incompatible with the interest of the country;’ but the people, though fond of independence, had no sullen griefs, no brooding discontent.
Thus were the colonies forming a character of their own. Throughout the continent, national freedom and independence were gaining vigor and maturity.
They were not the offspring of deliberate forethought; they were not planted or watered by the hand of man they grew like the lilies, which neither toil nor spin.