George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Butler, 14 September 1793

From John Butler

New-York, Sept. 14, 1793.


NOTHING can be more gratifying to me, than the pleasure of dedicating a portion of my labors to a character of your eminence, distinguished as you are in the political world by an uniformity of your patriotic rectitude, and a faithful discharge of those important duties to which you have been called by the voice of a free people—the impartial system of the American government, and the equitable frame of her legislation, are such as puts censure to defiance, and the most insidious despot to silence.

I am neither addicted to adulation or fulsom flattery, yet I cannot but exult, with a joy of unaffected purity, on the numerous blessings resulting to the American States, under the smiles of your auspices.

Being early initiated into those principles, in which you have so eminently signalized the valor and virtue of a true republican, I rejoice at the priviledge of laying this essay at your feet, as an oblation offered upon the altar of liberty and equality.

Posterity will look back with veneration on the name of Washington, as the secondary source from which republican liberty derived its energy. We know of few nations which have not experienced their revolutions, and changes of government, by the fate of war. May the wisdom of your counsel stimulate the united Americans to preserve, inviolate, that freedom they now enjoy; and may they long continue to participate in the blessings of mutual laws, reciprocal government, and impartial legislation, which are the dazling symbols of liberty and freedom.

Convinced that liberty is no exemption from labor or industry, but is a powerful incentive to both–so in all free nations there must be hewers of wood and drawers of water; and it appears the essential duty of the whole community of republicans, to unite their efforts in erecting the plain, but magnificient edifice of equality, as a monument sacred to liberty and the freedom of conscience.

These are the sentiments of a fugitive who has emigrated from the severe rigor of political persecution, to avoid the crushing power of haughty rulers, under whose despotism the thunder of anarchy roars from pole to pole. Storms and tempests shock the affrighted villager. The rapacity of kings and courtiers shed alike their sedition and their desolation: They plunge their sabres into the blood of innocence. Contending for power, they transform liberty into slavery; and, by their intrigue and subtlety, inveigle their subjects into vassalage.

To see Europe tranquilized by a speedy adoption of those principles which inspire men with the sacred love of liberty—to see the sabre of despotism arrested from the hands of tyrants—to see thrones leveled with the earth’s smooth surface—and to see liberty reign paramount, is the fervent prayer of A devoted Advocate for the Cause of Liberty,


Printed, John Butler, The Political Fugitive: Being a Brief Disquisition into the Modern System of British Politics; and the Unparalleled Rigor of Political Persecution: Together with Several Miscellaneous Observations on the Abuses and Corruptions of the English Government (New York, 1794), iii–v. This document serves as the dedication for Butler’s book, which was advertised beginning in September 1793 but not published until March 1794 (Diary; or, Loudon’s Register [New York], 4 Sept. 1793; Greenleaf’s New York Journal, & Patriotic Register, 19 March 1794).

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