« PreviousContinue »
be. If some parts of the old world have failed in the establishment of free government, this may arise from a thousand causes which cannot operate in the new world; and here, moreover, there may be a thousand causes favorable to free government, which are no where else to be found. A sapient English writer asserted that we could establish no permanent government, because we had no lords or royal family, that we must therefore fall into a state of anarchy; for without government, said he; man can no more live than a fish without water to swim in. Admitting it as fact,' replied our venerable Franklin, “that we shall not be able to establish governments of any kind, the consequence does not follow in America, whatever it might in England : the Indians have no government, in the proper sense of the word; many of our remote settlements are without government, excepting such as the majority submits to, by a tacit consent; the colonists, in general, as respects their internal concerns, live under governments that have not the weight of a feather compared to those of Europe.” In fact, it is a matter of astonishment to Europeans, on their arrival in this country, to find it entirely destitute of government; for that which they can neither see nor feel, they presume not to exist; and yet I would ask, do they not find themselves equally secure ? This state of things arises from circumstances peculiar to the colonies of America, and common to them all-circumstances which have operated much more powerfully than our own great wisdom, or the magic of the principles first derived from Britain and purified in America.
There are facts which speak loudly in favor of the intentions of the South Americans. In all the colonies in which the standard of independence has been raised, a formal appeal has been made to the civilised world, setting forth the causes by which they were actuated. These public declarations are couched in terms similar to our own act of the same kind, and evidently dictated by the same spirit. ". Their proclamations, their political writings, are such as we might safely own in this country. These cannot have failed to have reached the minds of the young and ardent ; and those who are growing up, will cherish them through life. I have been told by a gentleman who has frequently questioned the boys of the most .common class, " what are you ?” -“ a patriot”_" why are you a patriot?'--- because I will defend my country against invaders ; because I do not like tha my country should be governed by strangers, and because I wish to be free." The establishment of newspapers has invariably followed the expulsion of the Spanish authorities; the enlightened and liberal political dissertations with which these papers are filled, furnish sufficient refutation to the slanders of their enemies. Correct notions on political subjects, are, it is true, confined to a smaller number than they were amongst us at the commencement of our political struggle ; but the desire to free themselves from foreign power, has conipletely taken possession of the great mass of the people. Our constitutions are translated and distributed everywhere, as well as our best revolutionary writings. Two young lawyers were expressly employed for this purpose by the government of Venezuela, and sent to Philadelphia, where they executed many translations. It would certainly be very strange, if, in this long protracted struggle, a struggle calculated to rouse all the dormant faculties and energies of man, no advancement should have been made in political knowledge. I will mention another fact, which furnishes additional presumption in favor of the patriots, and which at the same time cannot but be grateful to every Americân bosom-it is the spontaneous affection and esteem, uniformly, and on all occasions, manifested towards the citizens and government of these states. The Americans are hailed as brothers; they are admired, they are received with unbounded confidence ; the success and prosperity of the United States is their continued theme; and it is the topic which keeps alive their resolution in their most gloomy and trying moments. How easy would it be to secure, for ever, the friendship of people so disposed! How much is in our power, in shaping the character of nations destined to act so important a part in the affairs of the world! Any considerable changes for the better, in the government of Europe, is, for the present, hopeless, and cannot be effected but by slow degrees ; moreover, it is not wise policy in us to concern ourselves about them ; but it will be inexcusable in us to remain indifferent as to the nature of the government of our American neighbors. The value of a house depends not a little upon the neighborhood in which it stands ; our situation may be better or worse, from the character of those who adjoin us surrounded, fortunately for us, we cannot be. The patriots are well aware, that the individual Americans entertain the most ardent wishes for their success, but they complain that our government is cold towards them, as if ashamed to own them; they are unable to assign the reason why, in a republic, the government should be indifferent, and the people animated by the most anxious interest.
In contrasting the efforts of these people to throw off the Spanish yoke, with our own efforts, and with those of other nations, we shall find that on this score there will be no reason to despise them. How long, for instance, did Spain struggle to free herself from the Moors? How long did the Swiss contend, in their almost inaccessible mountains, before they could earn the glorious privilege of having a government of their own ? Holland contended forty years against Spain, through a thousand vicissitudes of fortune; to conciliate the different courts of Europe, she repeatedly offered to receive a king from any of them, but none was & weak enough to believe that she was serious. There are many things in the history of our struggle, of which we have not much reason to be proud. We had many difficulties to encounter amongst ourselves; out of a population of two millions and a half, it was with the greatest difficulty we could raise inconsiderable armies, while their supplies were always deficient. A contest which, if we had united, if the vigorous had fought, if the rich had furnished means, if all had persevered with constancy and firmness to act their parts, would soon have terminated, was protracted for seven years, and with the aid of a powerful nation. We ought to make some allowance for the South Americans. The incidents of our revolutionary war did not authorise us to speak with contempt of the efforts of a people who labor under a thousand disadvantages, which did not necessarily belong to our situation. The contest in South America has already lasted seven years, with a variety of success ; but its general progress has been retarded in the same manner as ours, by the prospect of reconciliation. Before the formation of the constitution, by which the colonies were placed on an equal footing with Spain, the patriots were everywhere successful.; by this they were lulled into dangerous security, until they found, that instead of a ratification of this instrument, which had been the means of restoring Ferdinand to his throne, this ungrateful monarch suddenly threw all his disposable troops into different portions of the continent, and directed all his efforts to reduce them to absolute subjection. He pursued a system of cruelty and extermination unparalleled in the history of the world; the monsters who perpetrated these atrocities will be held up in the darkest page of the bloody and monkish reign of Ferdinand. It is not surprising that the patriots should have experienced reverses; it is not surprising that, in the midst of these scenes of horrid carnage, they should not have had time to establish everywhere well ordered governments. But we find that they are again regaining the ascendency, even where the Spaniards appeared at first to carry every thing before them. Notwithstanding the fabrications of the enemies of the patriots, stubborn facts prove to us, that they are in the full tide of success. In the vast provinces of Granada, Venezuela, and Guiana, the royalists have little more than a slight foothold on the coast and in the cities, while all the interior acknowledges no subjection, but is continually sending out parties of armed men, which, like our militia, cannot be long retained in a body, or may not be efficient in fronting a regular disciplined force, yet must ultimately destroy the enemy in detail. The contest in this section of South America can scarcely be doubtful; a country more extensive than the old thirteen states, inhabited by two millions of
people scattered over its vast surface, cannot be subdued by a few thousand foreign troops. These, in fact, perish on the sea coast, without daring to penetrate the interior, while the Spaniards would make us believe, that because they have taken possession of a few maritime towns, the country is therefore subdued. If the inconsiderable territory of Holland or Switzerland could resist with success, why may not countries twenty times their extent - resist invaders who are compelled to traverse an ocean of three thousand miles?: The conquest of such countries is a project of madness ; Spain may send army after army of executioners to be destroyed, while the colonists will be every day gathering fresh strength and resolution, and their detestation of their enemies is continually increasing. Is it possible that the colonies, after the dreadful barbarities committed by the Spaniards, can ever be their subjects ? There is no part of that country which has not borne testimony to the demoniac cruelty of the invaders ; these must ever be present to their memories. Nothing short of total extermination of the people can ever place these countries again in peaceable possession of Spain; this is the only hope remaining to her despicable fury. She exhibits at the same time, the contemptible character of a mendicant for assistance to all the courts of Europe, tacitly acknowledging that without this, her colonies are lost; she is going about like the wolf, with a bone in her throat, but no one will take compassion on the hateful monster.
The united provinces of La Plata, as well as Chili and Peru, are already lost to Spain for ever. For seven years, the first of these has remained entirely unmolested, opening a free intercourse with all nations, and already beginning to feel the advantages of independence. So far from being in danger of the power of Spain, thc Buenos Ayreans have been able to detach a sufficient force to assist their brethren and neighbors of Chili, and put an end to the Spanish power in that colony. Peru must soon follow the condition of Chili; the power of Spain once annihilated in this quarter, can never be restored; she can only send troops round Cape Horn, (an enterprise beyond her strength) or through the province of La Plata. Five millions of souls are therefore free; they have now an opportunity of enjoying that blessing so much desired by all nations, as well as by individuals, of directing their own course of pursuing their happiness in their own way. May Heaven guide them in the proper use of it, is
! The situation of Mexico, which, perhaps, more nearly concerns us than any other part of the world, it is difficult precisely to ascertain. The nature of its coast, its want of ports, its secluded situation, enables the royalists to keep from us all correct information as to the state of the interior. A thousand petty artifices and fabrications are used to impose upon the world, in this instance, as well as in every thing which concerns the colonies. The Spaniards are continually spreading ridiculous rumors of the entire submission of the country ; of large armies arriving, and of measures taken by European allies. Has Spain yet succeeded in persuading the colonies, contrary to every wish of the human heart-contrary to the plainest dictates of reason, that it would be better for them to continue her abject slaves, than to follow their own inclinations and be great and happy?. Has she convinced them that slavery is better than freedom-that poverty is better than abundance - that to be ruled by another's will, is better than to pursue our own inclination--that to be robbed, is better than to be secured in our possessions--that to be shut up like felons, and denied all intercourse with other men, is the most agreeable condition of society? If she has succeeded in these things, we may then presume that her power is again established.
my most ardent
These idle fabrications are now well understood to form a part of the system to which Spain has been driven, and are therefore no longer believed. We have little or no information from Mexico, that is not derived from Spanish authority, and therefore entirely unworthy of belief, excepting where it inakes against themselves. According to their own account, all resistance in Mexico had ceased a year ago; and yet we find that they still continue to gain the most splendid victories. The probability is, that the contest still prevails, and that the Spaniards are growing every day more feeble. It is now nine months since General Mina landed with a handful of men, the first news we had of him from the Spaniards, was his total annihilation, and yet it now appears that he has hastily fled into the very heart of a populous country, at the head of four times the numbers with which he landed, with the intention of joining General Vittoria, a chief whose name has been heretofore concealed by the royalists ! But an intercepted letter written last November, by a bishop at Valladolid, describes the situation of the country to be such as we should naturally expect. His letter expresses the most complete despair-mentions several leaders who are in considerable force, and speaks of the whole country as having thrown off all restraint of government, and living free from the control of Spain, whose armies can do no more than escape from one town to another, losing many of their numbers on the way. Torrents of blood have already been shed in the war of New Spain; its inhabitants from the first, labored under peculiar difficulties; the only arms which they could procure, were wrenched from the-hands of their oppressors; they are still but badly armed, and without discipline, although becoming every day more formidable.