Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tile to the system of Europe, and of course it has encountered a constant opposition from that quarter. The European governments have opposed it by intrigue, sometimes by force. Foreign interests always, and sometimes the prejudices of our own countrymen, have interposed obstacles to its success.

It is not the least, among the evils of a state of dependence, that it renders its subjects unfit for the full enjoyment of the advantages proceeding from a change in their condition. Their habitual mode of thinking, influences them after they have shaken off their bonds. Their movements still indicate, that they were brought up in shackles, and that the iron chains of dependence have sunk deep into their souls. To this state of feeling may be ascribed the difficulty which exists in eradicating the prejudices, that keep all colonists in a condition of habitual dependence, after their political connection with the mother country has been dissolved.

The statesmen of Europe were not ignorant of this prejudice, and they endeavoured to avail themselves of it, in establishing their commercial relations with the new republics. Shortly after the close of the Revolutionary War, the celebrated Brissott wrote a work to persuade the world, that it would be unwise in us to manufacture or produce any thing, that was produced or manufactured in France. The famous work of Lord Sheffield, which produced such a decisive effect upon public opinion in England, and prevented the passage of a law brought forward by Mr. Pitt in 1783, to place our intercourse upon an equal and liberal footing, teaches the same doctrine with regard to British manufactures. It inculcates the principle, that the United States are essentially dependent upon Europe, and that by judicious commercial regulations, the same monopoly of their carrying trade, and the same advantages in their commerce, may be obtained as existed before their separation from Great Britain.

This work was unfortunately made the text-book of the British government, in all its commercial arrangements with this country, and has proved an abundant source of difficulties. It aims to secure to England a monopoly of American commerce, and especially of the carryingtrade between the two countries. Having

D

relinquished the power of directly effecting that object, it now seeks the same result by imposing burdens on the shipping of the United States, and by availing itself of the habits and prejudices engendered in a state of colonial dependence.

These efforts to stay the progress of a great people have been unavailing. The policy of the federal government has been directed to correct the evils entailed upon us by the colonial system, and to cure the prejudices which were its legitimate results. It has proved eminently successful.

The first half century has scarcely closed since our birth as an independent power, and what momentous changes have taken place! Our own wealthy metropolis even now presents striking marks of the helpless and dependent state of its early inhabitants. Dwelling-houses still exist here, which were built of bricks that the colonists were obliged to import from Holland. Little more than a century has passed since the date of their erection, and what a contrast ! On the uncultivated island of the Manhadoes stands a city—the commercial emporium of a new world, greater in importance than any in the native country of its founders. The silent forest has disappeared, and in its stead are crowded streets alive with the bustle of civilized men. A capacious harbour, which then only gave shelter to the canoes of the aborigines, is now filled with shipping, that crowd from every port to Pour their tribute into the great mart of American commerce; and a new application of power by American genius has peopled the then lonely, but always magnificent Hudson, with a novel species of navigation, which move over the waters self-impelled and self-directed.

The parent colony of New-England, that in its infancy was saved from famine by the unexpected arrival of a provision ship, has now expanded into six powerful states, rich in a native population, and abounding in wealth, industry, science, and all the arts of civilization. Other communities, too, on the banks of the Mississippi and on the shores of Erie and of Huron, claim her as their origin, and surpass in power and numbers the most sanguine expectations as to the future growth of that infant colony. The states, that were formed from the old North West Territory-a territory that within the memory of the present generation was the abode of Indian tribes--now own a population nearly equal to that of the whole provinces, when some members of this society were in their infancy; and all these great and growing republics, refer back to the landing at Plymouth as the era of their birth, and hail that settlement as their common mother.

Instead of several distinct communities, thinly scattered through thirteen provinces along the sea-coast, we find a dense and united population pouring into the interior, accompanied by the arts of civilization, and the refinements of social and cultivated communities. Educated and intelligent man is taking the place of the savage, and is fast advancing to the borders of the Pacific ocean, making the wilderness to smile like a garden, and “ sowing towns and villages as it were broadcast through the country.”

The shipping which, at the formation of the federal government, was inadequate to the transportation of our own exports, now whitens every sea with its canvass, and bears the varied productions of our soil to every quarter of the globe that is open to American enterprise. The striped bunting, which has within so few years appeared among the symbols of national authority, now floats in every port, and at the same moment excites the jealousy of a power, self-styled the mistress of the sea, and compels the corsairs of the Mediterranean to pay homage to the laws of civilized nations.

The extensive American territories, all access to which, at the era of our Revolution, was debarred by European jealousy, as if they had belonged to another planet, have profitted by the glorious example of this country, and shaken off their colonial fetters. Their emulation has been excited by our success ; their patriotism has been stimulated by our prosperity; their desire of self-government has been warmed by contemplating the operation of our free institutions.

The crepuscular light, which first appeared in the north, and now illuminates the whole hemisphere, was the dawning of their own freedom. They have awakened from the slumber of slavery, assumed their rank in the family of nations, and the American continent, from the St. Lawrence to its southern extremity, is declared free as the bounty of Providence created it to the commerce and enterprise of the human race. Communities, each occupying territories greater in extent than the whole United States, have successively dissolved their colonial connection with Europe, and, at the moment of declaring their own freedom, have augmented the independence of those who preceded them, and pledged their national existence against the re-establishment of the colonial system. The political institutions of nations, whose fathers never heard of the name of civil freedom, are modelled after the popular constitutions of the United States. A community of independent powers, all possessing representative governments, now occupy the western world, and interpose an insuperable obstacle to the pretensions of Europe. The lofty plains of Mexico and Peru; the fertile banks of the Orinoco and La Plata ; even the awful summits of the Andes, resound with the exhilarating watch-words of liberty and independence !

The great principle of non-conformity—of dissent from religious system; abjuration of the political institutions; and resistance to the commercial policy of Europe, is at last ascendant.

Advance, then, ye rising generations! To you is entrusted the completion of this great experiment. On you, your country relies for the fulfilment of her hopes. To you, she looks for the realization of that glorious promise, which is held out to mankind by her past history, and her present institutions. To you she confides the sacred deposit of the freedom of the world. By the toils and sufferings of your fathers-by the martyrs of the Revolution by the blood poured out like water, by the patriots of humanity in every clime and every age, in the same godlike cause-she implores you to be faithful to her trust. She adjures you to persevere in the course which your history has marked out—to consider nothing as finished, while anything remains undone, until the American system is triumphant, and you are as completely separated from Europe by character and policy, as by the eternal barrier which heaven has placed between us.

From the North American Review, October, 1823.

The Principles of the Holy Alliance ; or Notes and Manifestoes

of the Allied Powers. London, 1823.

THESE papers are well calculated to excite reflection in the mind of every liberal statesman and national jurist. They afford the strongest indications, that have yet been given, of a settled determination on the part of the allied monarchs, to preserve by force the ancient system of government from any reformation ; unless proceeding from a quarter where, hitherto, every thing savoring of an innovating spirit has been carefully repressed, and where all reformers must necessarily meet with their natural and eternal enemies. If the governing principle of these documents be once established that all reformation originating with the people, or caused by their interference, is inconsistent with the welfare and repose of Europe, and, as such, is to be put down by the combined arms of foreign powers-we may indeed abandon all hope of any melioration in the condition of mankind; except through the struggles and throes of a convulsion not inferior in horror and bloodshed to the French Revolution. Instead of partial reformation, confined to each particular kingdom, and effected at different periods, the peace of the world will be destroyed by a total and general revolution, in which the aristocratic and liberal parties throughout Christendom will be engaged in active hostility. The only effect of any combination, like the Holy Alliance, to put down the spirit of revolution without extirpating its causes, must be to retard the progress of innovation, until the revolutionary excitement shall have accumulated beyond the power of resistance or control. To expect that this result will be averted, by the voluntary surrender on the part of the privileged orders of their immunities, is to hope for an event contrary to all experience.

« ZurückWeiter »