Original Document
Original Document
The Democratic Society of Pennsylvania, "Principles, Articles, and Regulations," May 30, 1793

The rights of man, the genuine objects of society, and the legitimate principles of government have been clearly developed by the successive Revolutions of America and France. Those events have withdrawn the veil which concealed the dignity and the happiness of the human race, and have taught us, no longer dazzled with adventitious splendor or awed by antiquated usurpation, to erect the Temple of LIBERTY on the ruins of Palaces and Thrones.

At this propitious period, when the nature of freedom and equality is thus practically displayed, and when their value (best understood by those who have paid the price of acquiring them) is, universally acknowledged, the patriotic mind will naturally be solicitous, by every proper precaution, to preserve and perpetuate the blessings which Providence hath bestowed upon our country: For, in reviewing the history of nations, we find occasion to lament that the vigilance of the people has been too easily absorbed in victory; and that the prize which has been achieved by the wisdom and valor of one generation has too often been lost by the ignorance and supineness of another.

With a view, therefore, to cultivate the just knowledge of rational liberty, to facilitate the enjoyment and exercise of our civil rights, and to transmit, unimpaired, to posterity, the glorious inheritance of a free Republican Government, the DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY of Pennsylvania is constituted and established. Unfettered by religious or national distinctions, unbiased by party and unmoved by ambition, this institution embraces the interest and invites the support of every virtuous citizen. The public good is indeed its sole object, and we think that the best means are pursued for obtaining it when we recognize the following as the fundamental principles of our association.

I. That the people have the inherent and exclusive right and power of making and altering forms of government; and that for regulating and protecting our social interests, a REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT is the most natural and beneficial form which the wisdom of man has devised.

II. That the Republican Constitutions of the UNITED STATES and of the STATE of PENNSYLVANIA, being framed and established by the people, it is our duty as good citizens to support them. And in order effectually to do so, it [is] likewise the duty of every freeman to regard with attention and to discuss without fear the conduct of the public servants in every department of government.

III. That in considering the administration of public affairs, men and measures should be estimated according to their intrinsic merits; and therefore, regardless of party spirit or political connection, it is the duty of every citizen, by making the general welfare the rule of his conduct, to aid and approve those men and measures which have an influence in promoting the prosperity of the Commonwealth.

IV. That in the choice of persons to fill the offices of government, it is essential to the existence of a free Republic that every citizen should act according to his own judgment, and, therefore, any attempt to corrupt or delude the people in exercising the rights of suffrage, either by promising the favor of one candidate or traducing the character of another, is an offence equally injurious to moral rectitude and civil liberty.

V. That the People of Pennsylvania form but one indivisible community, whose political rights and interest, whose national honor and prosperity, must in degree and duration be forever the same; and, therefore it is the duty of every freeman and shall be the endeavor of the Democratic Society to remove the prejudices, to conciliate the affections, to enlighten the understanding, and to promote the happiness of all our fellow-citizens....

Credit: Lance Banning, ed., Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004.
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