Speech On Conciliation With America "Parties Must Ever Exist In A Free Country"

Edmund Burke

"Parties Must Ever Exist In A Free Country"

Context: In this speech in the House of Commons, Edmund Burke, believing the time was ripe, on both sides, for conciliation between the American colonists and the British government, spoke up for his government's admitting past wrongs and admitting the colonists into the same status as other Englishmen. He cites the growth of the population in the Colonies and the ever-increasing trade with the home country, trying to show that it is to Britain's advantage to conciliate; he gives historical examples to prove that a free people are easier to govern than a people hounded by tyranny. Not to conciliate the Americans, he says, is to have a perpetual quarrel with them instead of a regular revenue from them. He suggests to his fellow members that it is in the best interest of the government itself to keep the Colonies as vigorous, prosperous portions of Great Britain, in order that revenues from them may benefit the government. He points out, as a member of the opposition, that the party in power should bear in mind the welfare of the people and the country:

Next we know, that parties must ever exist in a free country. We know too, that the emulations of such parties, their contradictions, their reciprocal necessities, their hopes, and their fears, must send them all in their turns to him that holds the balance of the state. The parties are the gamesters; but government keeps the table, and is sure to be the winner in the end. When this game is played, I really think it is more to be feared that the people will be exhausted, than that the government will not be supplied.