The whole powers of the State, executive, legislative and judicial, are in the hands of one man--and even that power, which the people never willingly relinquish or delegate--the power of the ballot--is virtually absorbed by himself.
This unlimited and despotic power, exercised by the most unprincipled and unscrupulous of men, with no other view but to enrich himself and his creatures, has become so insupportable and degrading as. to render some action on the part of the people necessary.
We cannot appeal to the elective franchise, for it is destroyed; nor to the judiciary--the last refuge of an oppressed people--as that is under his corrupt influence, therefore, we, the undersigned citizens of Louisiana, principally residents of the Second Ward of the city of New Orleans, without distinction of party, being deeply impressed by the deplorable condition of public affairs, do, hereby agree and mutually pledge ourselves to employ every means in our power to rescue our State from that universal financial ruin which threatens to overwhelm it. As the passive acquiescence of the people in the great wrongs perpetrated upon them has been construed into a tacit approval, we, having faith in the moral power of public opinion, propose to agitate and use every means to influence public sentiment; we will denounce by name and hold up to public execration all who betray their trusts as public servants, or who participate in nefarious schemes of public plunder.
We demand the repeal of all obnoxious laws, and for them the substitution of others, in consonance with the wants, wishes and interests of the people; we demand the repeal of those laws, which interfere with municipal rights; and a cessation of special legislation; but above all, we demand an economical and honest administration of public affairs, manifested in a reduction of taxes, without which all other measures will be considered as but trifling evasion. To accomplish our ends, we propose to form ourselves into clubs, which shall meet periodically to discuss public affairs; but as moral power is rendered more effective if sustained by physical force, and keeping in view that the Constitution of the United States guaranteed to every man the right to "keep and bear arms," we propose to give ourselves a military organization, dividing into companies, and electing our own officers. We suggest that clubs to co-operate with us be formed in every Ward in the city and throughout the State, fully arganized to assist in defending our inalienable rights, when all other means shall have failed.
We emphatically disclaim all partizanship in this movement; our aim is exclusively to redeem our State from moral degradation, and to rescue it from that onerous taxation, which is rapidly destroying its commerce, trade, agriculture and manufacturing industry; equally oppressive to all, whatever be their position in life, their race, color, or previous condition.