It's not exactly an obscure classic today. The introduction is well-known and needs no introduction (although the two phrases that ring happily to my ear are the clubbish-shounding "Prudence, indeed, will dictate..." and the conclusion before the list of grievances: "To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world." I like that, in this sentence, the listeners must be candid also, or they won't get the whole picture.
To be political for a second I will pull out two of Jefferson's et al. complaints:
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislature.One of my political complaints is the fact that a sizeable number of people don't want you to criticize the troops; this, to me, will tend to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. (Slightly on-topic: in my career I've met a few M*A*S*H writers, all of whom had been in the military in one way or another, because of the draft when they were in college. I think it was much easier to make fun of the military when everyone had been in it, and, on the flip side, it's much easier for those who had no experience of it to feel excessively reverent.)
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Such reverence also seems bound to happen when you have, in times of peace, a Standing Army; once you have a Standing Army, it seems inevitable that you will no longer have times of peace ( “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?” -- Madeline Albright).
The Founders had experienced empires from the business end and knew what they were about. Prudence, indeed!
(photo via Uni Watch.)