Debate Magazine

Joseph Chalmers On Switzerland

Posted on the 23 June 2012 by Mikeb302000
Thomas Paine's Common Sense did not go without criticism; however, Joseph Chalmers', a Maryland Tory, response has been neglected with the passage of time.
Thomas Paine, in Common Sense says:
Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority, perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic; monarchical governments, it is true, are never long at rest: the crown itself is a temptation to enterprising ruffians at home; and that degree of pride and insolence ever attendant on regal authority swells into a rupture with foreign powers, in instances where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.
Interesting that Switzerland is seen as a Shangri-la without war and that modern minds have taken that belief and attributed it to them being an armed nation.
Chalmer's response:
the rugged and incult deserts of Switzerland preclude not ambition, sedition, and anarchy. Her bleak and barren mountains do not so effectually secure precarious liberty, as daily vending her sons to the adjoining nations, particularly to France, by whom the Thirteen Cantons could be subjected in as many days, did that court meditate so senseless and delusive an object. Nugatory indeed, if we confider, that France derives more substantial advantage from the present state of Switzerland, than if she exhausted herself to maintain numerous battalions to bridle the Can tons. ' A moment, let us suppose, that our author's asserverations of Holland and Switzerland are as real as delusive: his inferences do not flow from his premises; for their superior advantages do not arise from their popular government, but from circumstances of peculiar local felicity, obliging the princes of Europe to defend them from the omnipotent land force, if I may so speak, of France. After impotently attacking our sovereign and the Constitution, he contradicts the voice of all mankind, by declaring, that America " would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her."
Likewise, it was most likely that the advantage of having a neutral Switzerland was far more beneficial to German interests than any actual aattempt at unification.
Could the "Cheese eating" French ever conquer Switzerland? Stay tuned for the next exciting post on this topic.

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