Choosing a Candidate and Voting
Simple and again relevant to the present. Emphasis added
[Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.1]
…”I was sorry to hear, that the Number of Votes returned, the last Time, did not amount to a Quarter of the Number of qualified Electors in the Commonwealth. The Choice of Legislators, Magistrates and Governors, is surely a Business of the greatest Moment, and claims the Attention of every Citizen. The Framers of our Constitution, while they gave due Attention to Political were not forgetful of Civil Liberty—that personal Freedom and those Rights of Property, which the meanest Citizen is intitled to, and the Security of which is the great End of political Society. It was not indeed their Province to make particular Laws for these Purposes. To do this, and to provide for the equal and impartial Execution of such Laws, agreeable to the Constitution, is the Duty of the Legislature. Hence every Citizen will see, and I hope will be deeply impressed with a Sense of it, how exceedingly important it is to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his Children is connected with it, that those who are to have a Share in making as well as in judging and executing the Laws should be Men of singular Wisdom and Integrity. Such as are conscious that they are deficient in either of these Qualities, should even TREMBLE at being named as Candidates! I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the Many, to be done by the Few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption—the Tool of a Junto.—Heaven forbid! that our Countrymen should ever be byass’d in their Choice, by unreasonable Predilections (a bias in favor of something) for any man, or that an Attachment to the Constitution, as has been the Case in other Countries, should be lost in Devotion to Persons. The Effect of this would soon be, to change the Love of Liberty into the Spirit of Faction. Let each Citizen remember, at the Moment he is offering his Vote, that he is not making a Present or a Compliment to please an Individual, or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn Trusts in human Society, for which he is accountable to GOD and his Country.
“When the great Body of the People are determined not to be imposed upon by a false Glare of Virtues held before their Eyes, but, making up their own Minds, shall impartially give in their Suffrages, after their best Enquiries into the Characters of Candidates, for those whom they judge to be the fittest Persons, there will be no Danger that the generous Enthusiasm of Freedom, so characteristic of the People of Massachusetts, will ever sink into the Violence and Rage of Party, which has often proved fatal to free Republicks.”