Philip Freneau:

                  Rules for Changing a Republic
                   [into a Democracy and then]
                        into a Monarchy


                    Organizing the New Nation

                      THE ANNALS OF AMERICA

                  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.


     Those who  had opposed  the constitution thought their fears
justified by the conduct of the government that began to function
in 1789.   Under the aggressive leadership of Alexander Hamilton,
the Secretary  of the Treasury, economic measures were taken that
favored the  few, while  a effective  party machine was organized
and the  army strengthened  in such a way as to suggest an intent
to control  rather than to represent the many.  The whole tone of
Washington's administration  was aristocratic, favoring as it did
the educated,  the wealthy,  the clergy  and the  press, who were
fearful of  "mob rule"  and preferred to see what Hamilton called
"gentlemen of  principle and  property" in  command.  As Hamilton
had at  his service  a newspaper  -- John  Fenno's Gazette of the
United States  -- to  support his policies, his opponents, led by
Jefferson and  Madison, decided  to establish  a rival newspaper,
the National  Gazette.  Philip Freneau, an experienced journalist
of known  democratic leanings, was chosen to edit the paper.  The
editorial, reprinted  here, is  typical of those in which Freneau
criticized the Hamiltonian program from 1791 to 1793.

Source: American Museum, July 1792: "Rules for Changing a Limited
Republican Government into an Unlimited Hereditary One."

             [Read aloud with heavy British accent.]

     Rules for  changing a  limited republican government into an
unlimited hereditary one:

     1.   It being  necessary in  order to  effect the change, to
get rid  of constitutional  shackles and  popular prejudices, all
possible means  and occasions  are to  be  used  for  both  these

     2.   Nothing being  more likely  to prepare  the vulgar mind
for aristocratical  ranks  and  hereditary  powers  than  titles,
endeavor in  the offset  of the government to confer these on its
most dignified  officers.   If the  principal  magistrate  should
happen to  be particularly  venerable in  the eyes of the people,
take advantage  of that  fortunate circumstance  in  setting  the

     3.   Should the attempt fail through his republican aversion
to it,  or from the danger of alarming the people, do not abandon
the enterprise  altogether, but  lay up  the proposition  in  the
record.   Time may  gain it  respect, and it will be there always
ready, cut  and dried,  for any  favorable conjuncture  that  may

     4.   In drawing  all bills,  resolutions and  reports,  keep
constantly in  view that  the limitations in the Constitution are
ultimately to be explained away.  Precedents and phrases may thus
be shuffled  in, without  being adverted  to by  candid  or  weak
people, of which good use may afterward be made.

     5.   As  the   novelty  and   bustle  of   inaugurating  the
government will  for some time keep the public mind in a heedless
and unsettled  state, let the press during this period be busy in
propagating the  doctrines of monarchy and aristocracy.  For this
purpose, it  will be  particularly useful  to confound  a mobbish
democracy with  a representative republic, that by exhibiting all
the turbulent examples and enormities of the former, an odium may
be thrown  on the  character of the latter.  Review all the civil
contests, convulsions,  factions, broils,  squabbles,  bickering,
black eyes  and bloody  noses of ancient, middle and modern ages;
caricature them into the most frightful forms and colors that can
be imagined,  and unfold  one scene  of  horrible  tragedy  after
another till the people be made, if possible, to tremble at their
own shadows.   Let  the discourses  on Davila  then contrast with
these pictures  of terror  the quiet  hereditary succession,  the
reverence claimed  by birth  and nobility,  and  the  fascinating
influence  of   stars,  and   ribbons  and   garters,  cautiously
suppressing all  the bloody  tragedies and  unceasing oppressions
which form  the history  of this species of government.  No pains
should be  spared in  this  part  of  the  undertaking,  for  the
greatest will be wanted, it being extremely difficult, especially
when a  people have  been taught to reason and feel their rights,
to convince  them that  a king,  who is  always an  enemy to  the
people, and  a nobility, who are perhaps still more so, will take
better  care   of  the  people  than  the  people  will  take  of

     6.   But the  grand nostrum  will be a public debt, provided
enough of  it can  be got  and it  be medicated  with the  proper
ingredients.   If by  good fortune  a debt  be ready at hand, the
most is  to be made of it.  Stretch it and swell it to the utmost
the items  will bear.  Allow as many extra claims as decency will
permit.  Assume all the debts of your neighbors -- in a word, get
as much  debt as  can be raked and scraped together, and when you
have got  all you  can, "advertise"  for more,  and have the debt
made as  big as  possible.   This object  being accomplished, the
next will  be to  make it as perpetual as possible;  and the next
to that,  to get  it into  as few  hands as  possible.   The more
effectually to  bring this about, modify the debt, complicate it,
divide it,  subdivide it,  subtract it, postpone it, let there be
one-third of  two-thirds, and  two-thirds of  one-third, and two-
thirds of  two-thirds;   let there be 3 percents, and 4 percents,
and 6  percents, and  present 6  percents, and future 6 percents.
To be  brief, let the whole be such a mystery that a few only can
understand  it;     and   let  all   possible  opportunities  and
informations fall  in  the  way  of  these  few  to  cinch  their
advantages over the many.

     7.   It must  not be  forgotten  that  the  members  of  the
legislative body  are to  have a deep stake in the game.  This is
an essential  point, and  happily is attended with no difficulty.
A sufficient number, properly disposed, can alternately legislate
and speculate, and speculate and legislate, and buy and sell, and
sell and  buy, until  a due  portion of  the  property  of  their
constituents has passed into their hands to give them an interest
against their  constituents, and  to ensure  the part they are to
act.   All this,  however, must  be carried on under the cover of
the closest  secrecy;  and it is particularly lucky that dealings
in paper  admit of  more  secrecy  that  any  other.    Should  a
discovery take place, the whole plan may be blown up.

     8.   The ways  in which  a great  debt, so  constituted  and
applied, will  contribute to  the ultimate  end in  view are both
numerous and obvious:

(1)  The favorite  few, thus  possessed of  it, whether within or
     without the  government, will  feel the staunchest fealty to
     it, and  will go through thick and thin to support it in all
     its oppressions and usurpations.

(2)  Their money  will give  them consequence and influence, even
     among those who have been tricked out of it.

(3)  They will  be the readiest materials that can be found for a
     hereditary aristocratic order, whenever matters are ripe for

(4)  A great  debt will  require great  taxes;  great taxes, many
     tax gatherers  and other  officers;   and all  officers  are
     auxiliaries of power.

(5)  Heavy taxes  may produce  discontents;   these may  threaten
     resistance;   and in  proportion to  this danger will be the
     pretense for a standing army to repel it.

(6)  A standing  army, in its turn, will increase the moral force
     of the  government by means of its appointments, and give it
     physical force by means of the sword, thus doubly forwarding
     the main object.

     9.   The management  of a  great funded debt and a extensive
system of  taxes will  afford a  plea, not  to be  neglected, for
establishment of  a great  incorporated bank.   The use of such a
machine is  well understood.   If  the Constitution, according to
its fair  meaning, should  not authorize  it, so much the better.
Push it  through by  a forced  meaning and  you will  get in  the
bargain an admirable precedent for future misconstructions.

     In fashioning  the bank,  remember that  it is  to  be  made
particularly instrumental in enriching and aggrandizing the elect
few, who  are to  be called  in due  season  to  the  honors  and
felicities of  the kingdom  preparing for  them, and  who are the
pillars that  must support  it.   It will  be easy  to throw  the
benefit entirely  into their  hands,  and  to  make  it  a  solid
addition of  50, or 60, or 70 percent to their former capitals of
800 percent,  or 900  percent, without  costing them  a shilling;
while it  will be  difficult to  explain to  the people that this
gain of the few is at the cost of the many, that the contrary may
be boldly  and safely  pretended.  The bank will be pregnant with
other important advantages.  It will admit the same men to be, at
the same time, members of the bank and members of the government.
The two  institutions will  thus be  soldered together,  and each
made stronger.   Money  will be  put under  the direction  of the
government, and  government under  the direction  of money.    To
crown the whole, the bank will have a proper interest in swelling
and perpetuating  the public  debt and public taxes, with all the
blessings of  both, because  its agency  and its  profits will be
extended in exact proportion.

     10.  "Divide and  govern" is  a  maxim  consecrated  by  the
experience of  ages, and  should be  familiar in its use to every
politician as  the knife  he carries  in his pocket.  In the work
here to  be executed,  the best  effects may  be produced by this
maxim, and with peculiar facility.  An extensive republic made up
of lesser republics necessarily contains various sorts of people,
distinguished by  local and  other interests and prejudices.  Let
the whole  group be well examined in all its parts and relations,
geographical and  political, metaphysical  and metaphorical;  let
there be  first a  northern and  a southern  section, by  a  line
running east  and west,  and then an eastern and western section,
by a  line running  north and south.  By a suitable nomenclature,
the   landholders   cultivating   different   articles   can   be
discriminated from  one another, all from the class of merchants,
and both from that of manufacturers.

     One of  the subordinate  republics may  be represented  as a
commercial state,  another as  a navigation  state, another  as a
manufacturing state, others as agricultural states;  and although
the great  body of people in each be really agricultural, and the
other characters  be more or less common to all, still it will be
politic to  take advantage  of such  an arrangement.   Should the
members of  the great republic be of different sizes, and subject
to little  jealousies on that account, another important division
will be  ready formed  to your hand.  Add again the division that
may be  carved out of personal interests, political opinions, and
local parties.   With  so  convenient  an  assortment  of  votes,
especially with  the help  of the  marked ones, a majority may be
packed for  any question with as much ease as the odd trick by an
adroit gamester, and any measure whatever carried or defeated, as
the great revolution to be brought about may require.

     It is  only necessary, therefore, to recommend that full use
be made  of the resource;  and to remark that, besides the direct
benefit to  be drawn  from these  artificial divisions, they will
tend to  smother the  true  and  natural  one,  existing  in  all
societies, between  the few who are always impatient of political
equality and the many who can never rise above it;  between those
who are  to mount  to the  prerogatives and  those who  are to be
saddled with  the burdens  of the  hereditary  government  to  be
introduced --  in one  word, between  the  general  mass  of  the
people, attached  to their  republican government  and republican
interests, and  the chosen  band devoted  to monarchy and Mammon.
It is of infinite importance that this distinction should be kept
out of sight.  The success of the project absolutely requires it.

     11.  As soon  as sufficient  progress in the intended change
shall have been made, and the public mind duly prepared according
to the  rules already  laid down, it will be proper to venture on
another and  a bolder step toward a removal of the constitutional
landmarks.   Here the aid of the former encroachments and all the
other precedents  and way-paving  maneuvers will  be called in of
course.   But, in  order to  render the  success more certain, it
will be  of special moment to give the most plausible and popular
name that  can be  found to  the power that is to be usurped.  It
may be  called, for example, a power for the common safety or the
public good, or, "the general welfare."  If the people should not
be too  much enlightened,  the name  will have  a  most  imposing
effect.   It will  escape attention  that it  means, in fact, the
same thing with a power to do anything the government pleases "in
all cases whatsoever."  To oppose the power may consequently seem
to the  ignorant, and  be called by artful, opposing the "general
welfare", and may be cried down under that deception.

     As the  people, however,  may not  run so  readily into  the
snare as might be wished, it will be prudent to bait it well with
some specious  popular interest,  such as  the  encouragement  of
manufactures, or even of agriculture, taking due care not even to
mention any  unpopular object  to  which  the  power  is  equally
applicable,  such   as  religion,  etc.    By  this  contrivance,
particular classes of people may possibly be taken in who will be
a valuable reinforcement.

     With respect  to the  patronage of  agriculture there is not
indeed much  to be expected from it.  It will be too quickly seen
through by  the owners  and tillers of the soil, that to tax them
with one hand and pay back a part only with the other is a losing
game on  their side.  From the power over manufactures more is to
be hoped.   It  will not  be so easily perceived that the premium
bestowed may  not be  equal to  the circuitous tax on consumption
which pays  it.   There are  particular reasons, too, for pushing
the experiment on this class of citizens:

(1)  As they  live in  towns and  can act together, it is of vast
     consequence to gain them over to the interest of monarchy.

(2)  If the  power over  them be once established, the government
     can grant favors or monopolies, as it pleases;  can raise or
     depress this  or that  place, as  it pleases;  in a word, by
     creating a  dependence in  so numerous and important a class
     of citizens,  it will increase its own independence of every
     class and  be more  free  to  pursue  the  grand  object  in

(3)  The expense  of this  operation will not in the end cost the
     government  a   shilling,  for  the  moment  any  branch  of
     manufacture  has  been  brought  to  a  state  of  tolerable
     maturity, the  excise man  will be  ready with his constable
     and his  search warrant  to demand  a reimbursement,  and as
     much more  as can be squeezed out of the article.  All this,
     it is to be remembered, supposes that the manufacturers will
     be weak enough to be cheated, in some respects, out of their
     own interests, and wicked enough, in others, to betray those
     of their  fellow citizens;   a  supposition that,  if known,
     would totally  mar the  experiment.   Great care, therefore,
     must be taken to prevent it from leaking out.

     12.  The expediency  of seizing  every occasion  of external
danger for  augmenting and  perpetuating  the  standing  military
force is too obvious to escape.  So important is this matter that
for any  loss or  disaster whatever  attending the national arms,
there  will   be  ample   consolation  and  compensation  in  the
opportunity for  enlarging the  establishment.  A military defeat
will become  a political victory, and the loss of a little vulgar
blood contribute  to ennoble that which flows in the veins of our
future dukes and marquesses.

     13.  The same prudence will improve the opportunity afforded
by an  increase of  military expenditures  for  perpetuating  the
taxes required  for them.   If the inconsistency and absurdity of
establishing a  perpetual tax  for  a  temporary  service  should
produce any  difficulty in the business, Rule 10 must be resorted
to.   Throw in  as many  extraneous motives  as will  make  up  a
majority, and  the thing  is effected  in an  instant.   What was
before evil  would become  good as  easily as black could be made
white by the same magical operation.

     14.  Throughout this  great undertaking  it will  be wise to
have some particular model constantly in view.  The work can then
be  carried   on  more   systematically,  and  every  measure  be
fortified, in the progress, by apt illustrations and authorities.
Should there  exist a particular monarchy against which there are
fewer prejudices  than against  any other,  should it  contain  a
mixture of  the representative  principle so as to present on one
side the  semblance of  a republican aspect, should it, moreover,
have a  great, funded,  complicated, irredeemable  debt, with all
the apparatus  and appurtenances  of excises,  banks, etc.,  upon
that a  steady eye  is to  be kept.  In all cases it will assist,
and in  most its  statute books will furnish a precise pattern by
which there  may be  cut out  any moneyed  or monarchical project
that may be wanted.

     15.  As it  is not  to be  expected that  the  change  of  a
republic into  a monarchy,  with the  rapidity  desired,  can  be
carried through without occasional suspicions and alarms, it will
be necessary  to be  prepared for  such events.  The best general
rule on  the subject  is to  be taken  from the example of crying
"Stop thief"  first --  neither lungs  nor pens must be spared in
charging every  man  who  whispers,  or  even  thinks,  that  the
revolution on  foot is  meditated, with being himself an enemy to
the established  government and  meaning to overturn it.  Let the
charge be reiterated and reverberated till at last such confusion
and uncertainty  be produced  that the  people, being not able to
find out  where the truth lies, withdraw their attention from the

     Many other  rules of  great wisdom  and  efficacy  might  be
added;   but it  is conceived  that the  above will be abundantly
enough for  the purpose.   This will certainly be the case if the
people can  be either  kept asleep  so as  not to discover, or be
thrown into  artificial divisions  so as  not to  resist, what is
silently going  forward.  Should it be found impossible, however,
to prevent  the people  from awaking  and uniting;    should  all
artificial distinctions give way to the natural divisions between
the lordly minded few and the well disposed many;  should all who
have common  interest make  a common  cause and show a inflexible
attachment to  republicanism in  opposition to  a  government  of
monarchy and or money, why then ....

                             #  #  #

Return to Table of Contents