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Centinel XVII

Philadelphia, March 19th, 1788.


Fellow-Citizens, In my last number I exposed the villanious intention of the framers of the new constitution, to defraud the public out of the millions lying in the hands of individuals by the construction of this system, which would, if established, cancel all debts now due to the United States. I also shewed that thereby the delinquent states would be exonerated of all arrearages due by them on former requistions of Congress; and to prove that the cancelling of the public dues was premeditated in regard to individuals, I stated that the general convention contained a number of the principal public defaulters, and that these were the most influential members, and chiefly instrumental in framing the new constitution: In answer to which, the conspirators have, by bold assertions, spurious vouchers, and insuffcient certificates, endeavoured to exculpate one member, and to alleviate the weight of the charge of delinquency against another. In the face of a resolution of Congress of the 20th June, 1785, declaring their intention of appointing 3 commissioners, to settle and adjust the receipts and expenditures of hte late financier; the conspirators have asserted, that his accounts were finally settled in November, 1784, for which they pretend to have vouchers and by a pompous display of certain resolutions of Congress, respecting a particular charge of fraud against him, as commerical agent to the United States, they vainly hope to divert the public attention from his great delinquency, in never accounting for the millions of public money, entrusted to him in that line. When we consider the immense sums of money taken up by Mr. M-s, as commercial agent, to import military suppplies, and even to trade in behalf of the United States, at a time when the risque was so great, that individuals would not venture their property; that all these transactions were conducted under the private firm of W-g and M-, which afforded unrestrained scope to peculation and embezzlement of the public property, by enabling Mr. M-s to throw the loss of all captures by the enemy, at that hazardous period, on the public, and converting most of the safe arrivcals (which were consequently very valuable) into his private property; and when we ad to these considerations, the principals source of his affluence was the commercial agency of the United States, during the war, not that I would derogate from his successful ingenuity in his numerous speculations in the paper monies, Havannah monopoly and job, or in the sphere of financiering.

The certificate published in behalf of general M-ffl-n, the quarter master gen-l, will not satisfy a discerning public, or acquit him of the charge of delinqency, as this certificate was procured to serve an electioneering purpose, upon a superficial and hasty inspection of his general account, unchecked by the accounts of his deputies, whose receipts and expenditures had not been examined, and consequently, by errors, collusion between him and them, or otherwise g-l M-ffl-n may retain a large balance in his hands; in such case a quietus may have been thought expedient to continue his affluence.

For the honor of human nature, I wish to draw a veil over the situation and conduct of another weighty character, whose name has given a false lustre to the new constitution, and been the occasion of sullying the laurels of a Washington, by inducing him to acquiesce in a system of despotism and villainy, at which enlightened patriotism shudders.

The discovery of the intended fraud, which for magnitude and audacity, in unparalelled, must open the eyes of the deluded to the true character and principles of the men who had assumed the garb of patriotism, with an insidious design of enslaving and robbing their fellow-citizens-of establishing those odious distinctions between the well born and the great body of the people, of degrading the latter to the level of slaves, and elevating the former to the rank of nobility.

The citizens of this state, which is in advance in its payments to the federal treasury, whilst some of the others have not paid a farthing since the war, ought in a peculiar manner to resent the intended imposition, and make its authors experience their just resentment; it is incumbent upon them in a particular manner, to exert themselves to frustrate the measures of the conspirators, and set an example to those parts of the union, who have not enjoyed the blessing of a free press on this occasion, but are still enveloped in the darkness of delusion, and enthralled by the fascination of names.

Could it have been supposed seven years ago, that, before the wounds received in the late conflict for liberty were scarcely healed, a post master general and his deputies would have had the daring presumption to convert an establishment intended to promote and secure the public welfare into an engine of despotism, by suppressing all those newspapers that contain the essays of patriotism and real intelligence, and propagating instead thereof falsehoods and delusion? Such a supposition at that time, would have been treated as chimerical; but how must our indignation rise when we find this flagitious practice is persevered in, after being publicly detected! Must not the bribe from the conspirators be very great to compensate the post master-general and his deputies, for the loss of character and infamy consequent upon such conduct, and for the danger they incur of being impeached and turned out of office?

The scurrilous attack of the little Fiddler upon Mr. Workman of the university, on a suspicion, perhaps, unfounded of his being the author of a series of essays under the signature of Philadelphiensis, is characteristical of the man; he has ever been the base parasite and tool of the wealthy and great, at the expence of truth, honor, friendship, treachery to benefactors, nay to the nearest relatives; all have been sacrificed by him at the shrine of the great: he ought however, to have avoided a contrast with so worthy and highly respected a character as Mr. Workman, who had an equal right with himself to offer his sentiments on the new constitution; and if he viewed it as a system of despotism, and had talents to unfold its nature and tendency, he deserves the thanks of every patriotic American, if he has exerted them under the character of Philadelphiensis.-His not being above four years in the country can be no objection; the celebrated Thomas Paine wrote his Common Sense before he had been two years in America,8 which was not the less useful or acceptable upon that account. The public have nothing to do with the author of a piece; it is the merits of the writing that are alone to be considered. - Mr. Workman, prior to his coming to America, was a professor in an eminent academy in Dublin.-Little Francis should have been cautious in giving provocation, for insignificance alone could have preserved him the smallest remnant of character; I hope he will take the hint, or such a scene will be laid open as will disgrace even his patrons; the suit of cloaths, and the quarter cask of wine, will not be forgot.

Philadelphia, March 19th, 1788.

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