Front Page Titles (by Subject) : Philo Publicus: [ Untitled ] - American Political Writing During the Founding Era: 1760-1805, vol. 1
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: Philo Publicus: [ Untitled ] - Charles S. Hyneman, American Political Writing During the Founding Era: 1760-1805, vol. 1 
American Political Writing During the Founding Era: 1760-1805, ed. Charles S. Hyneman and Donald Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1983). 2 vols. Volume 1.
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Frugality was a central virtue for the Puritans, and it was esteemed throughout New England as one of the pristine American virtues setting them apart from the corrupt, venal, and extravagent English in the mother country. The anonymous author of this short essay stakes out a position frequently reiterated in American newspapers during the founding era. Frugality was a virtue with political implications for two reasons. First, a people hoping to be self-governing, it was felt, needed to be frugal if they were to restrain themselves in their demands on the public wealth. Money saved rather than spent could be invested to increase the common wealth. Also, the colonies, and later the young republic, produced few of the luxuries of life. These had to be imported from England and elsewhere, which not only used up scarce sterling but also tended to undercut American independence from foreign influence. Messrs. Edes and Gill were the editors of the Boston Gazette when this letter appeared on October 1, 1764.
Messieurs EDES & GILL,
As I am a hearty Well-wisher to every Attempt towards a public Reformation, it gives me peculiar Pleasure to heart that Numbers of the Inhabitants of Boston have entered into an Agreement to suppress Extravagance and promote Frugality; as Friends to Society they deserve the Thanks of every Individual; thro’ the Channel of your Paper I return them mine.
We have taken wide Steps to Ruin, and as we have grown more Luxurious every Year, so we run deeper and deeper in Debt to our Mother Country; and ’tis hard to say where the growing Evil will stop, if some vigorous Endeavours are not speedily us’d to retrieve our Affairs. Industry and Frugality are Virtues which have been buried out of Sight; ’tis Time, high time to revive them. He that Leads in this Cause, and is himself the Example, is a Patriot. I hope the present Appearances will not issue in a bare Flourish, but be exhibited in real Life; and that not only the Extravagancies of Dress, but of the House and the Table, will come under proper Regulations. When I enter the Doors of a Gentleman in Trade, and observe the Decorations of the Parlour, the shining Side Boards of Plate, the costly Piles of China; when he asks me to take a friendly Meal, and I behold a Variety of Meats and other Elegancies on his Table, and his Side Board enrich’d with a Collection of different Wines; and see the Mistress of it dress’d in Apparel which can be worn by none with Propriety but those who live on their Income; I say when I observe all this, I wonder not when I hear of frequent Bankruptcies.—I therefore beg Leave humbly to propose, that some Addition be made to the Articles agreed to by those Gentlemen who aim to give a helping Hand to their sinking Country, and wou’d ask. Why we may not limit the Number of Dishes at our Tables to Two?—Why we can’t sleep as well after supping on an Oyster, or a Bowl of Milk, as if we had feasted on a Patridge or a Rabbit?—And why the Cyder and the Beer of our own Manufacture will not agree as well with our Constitutions, as the Wines of Madeira, Bordeaux or Lisbon?—or at least may not the latter be us’d with Caution; and rather presented as a Cordial is to the Sick, when Nature really requires its Aid? and while our Gardens and our Fields afford us so many excellent Plants and Roots which our merciful Creator has provided for our Use, why need we on ev’ry slight Mallady run to the Physician to prescribe, and the Apothecary to supply us with foreign and very expensive Drugs? In this Article only great Sums are annually expended, and to my Knowledge in many Cases very needlessly—Here I am aware some Gentlemen of the Faculty will think me their declared Enemy, but not so the more judicious. I esteem the Profession, and am for supporting a sufficient Number of them in an honourable Manner; but I appeal to the most sensible of them, whether they are not often causelessly applied to, and even forced against their Judgments to prescribe Medicines where there is scarce any real Disease, at least none but Temperance, Exercise and Simples wou’d soon remove?
And on this Occasion, my fair Country-women will allow me to wish a general Reformation among them.—May they lay aside their Fondness for Dress and Fashions, for Trinkets and Diversions, and apply themselves to manage with Prudence the Affairs of the Family within, while their Husbands are busied in providing them the Means. May none think themselves above looking into every Article of Expence,—nor exempt from performing any Part of Family Business, when properly called to it—And especially do I wish they would bear on their Minds the Importance of educating their Children in the Principles of Virtue and Oeconomy, and assiduously apply themselves to cultivate the Minds, and form the Manners of those who in future Times will be either the Glory or the Disgrace of New England.
Cambridge, Sept. 26, 1764