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Guide to the Right Understanding
OUR AMERICAN UNION;
Political, Economical and Literary Miscellanies.
DEDICATED TO THE YOUNG MEN OP AMERICA:
A. B. JOHNSON,
AUTHOR OF “ AN ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF INSTRUCTION ; OR, APOLOGUES AND BREVIATS ON MAN
AND MANNERS.” ETC., ETC.
CINCINNATI: H. W. Derby & Co.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857,
By DER BY & JACKSON,
Southern District of New York.
To no people is political knowledge so important as to us—each citizen being both sovereign and subject. Our duty as subjects, we, like the subjects of other countries, are taught by legislative enactments;. but our duty in assisting to enact laws and form written constitutions, we can learn only by study; especially as laws desirable for a State may be fundamentally improper for the Federal Gov. ernment. This conflict of proprieties is misunderstood universally by foreigners—their pre-existing notions of nationalities mystifying our Federal limitations—while the same difficulty, existing ratably among ourselves, disturbs the fellowship of our thirty millions of inhabitants, and endangers the union of our States. The present publication discusses most of those governmental peculiarities that our progress has shown to be disturbing, guiding us thus, by a practical detail, to a better understanding of our polity than could any treatise on Government, written systematically in abstract general propositions. The essays assume a partisan guise, because conflicting governmental notions are the elements of our party differences; but the
writer was never the disciple of any party, and hence never wrote for victory, but for the elicitation of truth, while much in the articles that seeins partisan, the author wrote before the advocated tenets were adopted by any party. Territorial self-government, for instance, on which Mr. Buchanan has been elected President, is advocated in the piece entitled “The Wilmot Proviso,” but the author published it under his own signature, August 24th, 1847, being several months before the first advocacy of the principle by Senators Cass and Dickinson, whose conspicuous position arrested thereto partisan attention. The pieces are reprinted substantially as they were originally published in various periodicals, when the respective topics engaged public attention; but they are arranged in an order dictated by the topics, the papers relating to the General Gov. ernment being placed before those relating to the State ·and the Miscellaneous articles being grouped together after the Political ; and they are all now respectfully dedicated to the young men of America as aids to reflection.
Utica, New York, 1857.