Patriotism is the feeling which prompts man to respect the right of his fellow man; also his obligation to his country and to his God. Every man might say these are my sentiments, but as one opinion is as good as another, we must find a higher principle than opinion to try them by. Now what is that feeling that we call patriotism? This can only be proved by the same scale that all other truths are proved. A nation is nothing but a child; like any child, it contains its father and mother. The father is of the earth or opinions; the mother is the warmth or sympathy of the earth or opinion. Every person takes after his father or mother. George Washington was like his mother; therefore, his life was attached to his country or mother.
Opinion is the man; wisdom or science is the woman. As each man contains these two characters, to know who is a patriot is to know which rules in man, opinion or wisdom. Each rules its offspring according to its character. The man rules his child by arbitrary power; the mother by love. Just so in a young nation. The opinion of man rules by arbitrary measures; the higher principle rules by wisdom.
I will give the platforms of both. The nation, like father and mother, has offspring; and the inhabitants of the United States are the offspring of the Republic. It is necessary that some sort of an agreement must be entered into to unite the children, who contain the wisdom of the mother and the opinions of the father. As a nation grows up, there must be some kind of an organization, for all will acknowledge that the earth produces neither nation nor individuals. Therefore, all nations are the offspring of other nations; as men are the children of parents. So as a nation commences its growth, it respects its parents, just as long as it thinks itself bound. Children are bound to their parents till they are twenty-one; then they are free. So nations arise from some governments and continue their relations to each other as parent and child. This nation is the descendant of England, and as such, they respected their mother country; but it contains another element from other nations. The renegades of all nations came and united themselves with this young province. They, not respecting the mother but dictated by the father’s opinion, became stubborn and had to leave their country. So in the bosom of this country, they found sympathy.
As time passed on, and opinions came in contact with wisdom or that part of man called science, it, being more subtle than wisdom, made war. For opinions and all that opposes it must come down. So it makes war with the harmless Indians, instead of enlightening them. It made war with its father, for its mother or science never made war. At last it conquered its father and established itself. Then it, being weak, it was found necessary to enter into some contract that would hold itself together. As the mother or higher principles are always ready to yield, they, with opinions, came together to establish a government or contract to bind themselves together for their defense. Opinions ruled, as they must always do. For it is easier to force people than to reason with them. And they formed the best government that could be formed, for their fears caused their opinions to yield to the subjection of the higher wisdom of the mother.
Slavery was not recognized by wisdom, but was created by opinions; which would not yield up this overbearing clause. So the contract was made binding on all, so that they should unite themselves, like one family, for their own protection. Opinions ruled, and wisdom sanctioned the bargain and called on the mother-of-all to attest the agreement and hold the deed. In the course of time, the father commenced war with the sons. They fought, and the latter succeeded, and in the trade they got more territory. Then the earthly or aristocratic part wanted to increase their power. And as opinions or error must always have a pretext for their acts, they went to over-hauling the old agreement of the people made with the contract. Difference of opinions sprang up, and each man selected from the old agreements the opinions of their fathers; and in their zeal, they forgot the wisdom of their mother. So parties sprang up, and arguments were made upon the opinions got from the Constitution.
All error has its object in view and therefore cannot agree with wisdom; but being a chemical change, must beat itself to pieces by its own strength, for action and reaction are equal. The evil of slavery, being admitted at first, wisdom held the people to their agreement. But error never wants to be bound, but wants to bind everything that happens to affect its progress. Liberty or freedom is the destiny of man, as well as all wisdom. Its heat or love sets error in action. So freedom in religion, and every other department of wisdom, warms the heart of man, and a chemical change takes place, and man throws off the elements of his existence. So if there is more of opinion than wisdom in him, then opinion takes the lead, and wisdom or freedom is bound. Wisdom, having nothing to gain; and opinion having its life to lose, fights itself, like an insane man. Whenever opinions get the better of wisdom, then man is beside himself.
This is a demagogue, and when wisdom gets the stand, then he is a patriot. Both are tested, like all other facts. The true standard is wisdom, according to the agreement in the Constitution. So all patriotism that would destroy the Constitution is of demagogues or opinions, not of wisdom. Each man stands on one or the other of these platforms. One rests on the Constitution or agreement; the other on opinions or arbitrary power. One wants the Constitution as it is; the other wants it for the party, or to have it destroyed with the idea that they can make another one, without the element of freedom. The Constitution is like a man in the hands of the people. It is passive. It makes no trouble. It is the same today and forever. But parties spring up to get favors from it, and as it has no respect for persons, opinions arise; then men argue. The man of opinion leads off, for wisdom never gives any opinion. Wisdom does not move itself, so opinions show themselves through a machine called man.
Now when you see a man trying to alter wisdom and turn it to an opinion, he is either a fool or a knave. I do not say the Constitution is true to the letter, but it is true that there was a Constitution which the people admitted right and true, and it came as near true wisdom as the people were able to make it. If it is assailed, it must be by someone who thinks his opinion is better than the wisdom of the framers. For they do not say that the framers made any mistake, but they think the people do not understand it. Thus they set up a standard, based on opinions, and make war with the wisdom or Constitution. The patriot sustains the wisdom or Constitution; while the demagogue tries to destroy it.
The demagogue always uses reason, as he calls it; his weapons are getting up false issues, throwing them out like a fisherman to catch the people. When he sees them nibbling at the bait, then he begins to draw in the net. And as there are all kinds of people or opinions, it sometimes happens that the net is torn, and all the people escape. So the demagogue gets mistaken; when he thinks the people have swallowed the bait, he commences to draw them up on the dry land, where opinions can be seen. And he finds his net full of all sorts of absurdities or impressions that the people cannot receive.
Now all a man has got to do is to apply this one rule to allay their argument, to see that their opinions are based on some false issue that the people have been made to believe. The true patriot’s duty is to stand firm on the Constitution or mother; never making any false issue, nor any compromise that will rob the children of their inheritance. So as the Constitution is a spiritual truth in the heart of every patriot, sanctioned by the blood of our fathers, never let our earthly passions become wedded to harlots or opinions that will rob us of the blessing that wisdom has bequeathed to us.
— August, 1861.
P. P. Quimby