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and the laws are all-powerful in the unanimity of consent and affection.
These states, yet in the vigour of youth, carry lightly the burden of a public debt, which weighs down such as are on the decline or even stationary. Doubtless, it would be more advantageous for the United States to have no debt; but they never borrow unless with a view to some real and permanent good; and a few years of accumulation furnish means sufficient for paying the interest and extinguishing the capital. Elsewhere, credit dwindles, as loans multiply; there, the productions of the soil experience an increase, which no circumstances can impede; not even war or the folly of government. Each day the means of payment augment by a natural and necessary fructification, and confidence grows in the same proportion. I believe that, of all the states which are encumbered with a public debt, the United States will be the last to seek relief in the ignominious expedient of bankruptcy.
The nations of Europe cannot have just cause for making war upon them, and those even who are still powerful on the continent of America, will, if they are prudent, beware of disturbing their repose.
Their territory, distant from the pole on one side, and near to the tropic on the other, comprises the most highly favoured climes, and has that length of day which is most suitable for the labours of man. It is true that, in consequence of the land being but recently or imperfectly cleared, their winters are more severe than those of the parallel latitudes in our quarter of the globe. Nevertheless, the inhabitants are not condemned to inaction, like so many other nations who merely vegetate, as it were, during five or six months of the year.
While their fields are covered with snow, their merchantvessels traverse the ocean in every direction: carpenters and other mechanics are busied in building, in repairing ships, or in raising new cities. A great part of the linen and cloth used in the interior is of domestic manufacture. Numbers employ themselves in fishing and hunting, and all are engaged throughout the year in some useful vocation. Bounded on the east by the Atlantic ocean, they will spread themselves in the west as far as the Pacific. Their population is now, perhaps, relatively too great in the maritime districts; but this inconvenience, if it exist, must become less from day to day, and before the end of the century, the proper proportion will obtain between the agricultural and the sea-faring population. This adjustmeni is not a matter of indifference. A great extent of coast with little depth of country is more unfavourable to general competence, to the development and maintenance of national prosperity, than a position altogether aloof from the sea, and encompassed by foreign territory.
The fisheries of the Grand Bank belong more particularly to the Americans than to other nations. All, indeed, inight partake abundantly without exhausting the supply. It is a harvest more certain than that of the fields. The fisheries of the Bank, with that of the whale, are the best school for the formation of excellent seamen, and the Americans having the advantage of neighbourhood, cannot be behind any nation in the world in the competition for these natural treasures.
The United States must, of necessity, by reason of their situation, become the entrepôt of Europe and Asia, the two most industrious portions of the globe. Already do the Americans frequent the ports of China and the East Indies without cumbrous retinue, without the expense of privileged companies, armed factories, or garrisons. This saving enables them both to sell and buy at a cheaper rate. It could hardly be believed that their trade, in Asia, nearly equals a moiety of the British in the same quarter. They thus take a considerable share, and with no adventitious charges, in the navigation of the world, and have obtained this share, without usurping the rights of other nations, because their maritime commerce is nearly in due proportion to their territory, to its productions, to the extent of their coasts, and to their population. The revolution is begun; time will finish it; and, in spite of all obstacles, civiliza. tion will make new conquests on every side. There are nations who augur prodigious developments and collisions of power from this great change in human affairs. Their fears are awakened, and they believe that their own ruin will be the consequence. They will labour to obstruct, and may, perhaps, succeed in retarding, the natural course of things. These American states are, in fact, the only power which threatens to wrest, one day, the empire of the seas from England; but we may believe, at the same time, that the alarms of the English nation as to her trade, are groundless; for, the productions and constantly increasing riches of the United States are so considerable that they will be able, without exciting jealousy, to admit all nations to a parti. cipation in the benefits of their friendship.
If the influence of the mercantile spirit were excluded from the examination and decision of questions of this sort, it would soon be conceded that there is no nation which has not a direct interest in promoting the natural growth of the resources of all others. It is from the great colony established in America by Europeans, that Europe will learn this important lesson.
We will admit, however, that these new republics possessed of so many advantages, do not always enjoy them with perfect composure and decorum. As the agitations and disorders to which they are subject have a certain éclat, while the evidences of their domestic felicity are not so immediately perceptible, it often happens that the report of the former crosses the ocean, and engages the attention of Europe. We know, for example, that the candidates for the highest offices of government are arraigned with bitterness;-are not even safe from the coarsest obloquy. The press, of which the liberty guarantees that of society at large, lends its aid also to hatred, to jealousy, to ambition:- The partial interests of the several states clash, and are an inexhaustible source of petty disputes:-commerce is at strife with agriculture: -men of factious temper exasperate the virulence of debate, and inflame the animosities of party:-resistance is not confined to reasoning and declamation:—the deliberations of the gravest assemblies are sometimes interrupted by violence:-injustice follows, and the passions of the moment may so far transport a good citizen, as to give to his conduct the semblance of treason.—The statesman whom a numerous party honours, and whose virtues it would reward, by raising him to the first offices of government, is assailed in the Gazettes with invective and slander. But, the wiser he is, and the more free from reproach, the less can they disturb him. Immediately after the attack, he reads, perhaps in the same paper, his defence and panegyric, and these are the work of persons, whom, for the most part, he does not know, and who are more incensed at the provocation than he is himself. A free press supplies the remedy for the wound it may have inflicted, and heals without leaving the smallest scar. If however, the outrage be enormous, to repel and punish it, the injured citizen needs not the support of a faction. The laws secure to him full redress and protection.
The government likewise derives the greatest advantages from the liberty of the press. While, elsewhere, those who govern even with wisdom and moderation, dread this liberty as an offensive weapon which may reach them, the magistrates and statesmen of America find in it a shield always ready and effectual. Frequently, it even serves the government as an organ for apprizing foreign powers of the opinion and feelings of the people-with more benefit though with less parade, than by manifestos and ministerial notes.
To judge from the uproar of party, and the various tumultuary movements, it might be imagined that disunion and civil war were about to ensue. But the vivacity or heat of discussion, is a consequence of its publicity, and of the freedom which should attend it; tranquillity returns, when the majority has decided. Suppose the object of the immediate controversy an election;
as soon as it is terminated, the successful candidate, before so much reviled, experiences thereafter only marks of public veneration. If the choice be sometimes objectionable, it is rarely so, and the periodical recurrence of the exercise of the right of suffrage, affords an easy and early opportunity of rectifying the mistake. When a law, however obstinately combated in its passage, has received the sanction of the majority, its antagonists are powerless; discontent is hushed, and obedience to the rule which a short time previous was so vehemently deprecated, becomes easy and cheerful under the influence of the general assent and general good. The multitude freely submits to be
governed, when it loves the laws, and is satisfied that the magistrates conform to them.
Some of our politicians are not without fears for the future. The experience of so many centuries, and the history of human revolutions, make them apprehend, for the American republic, calamities such as those which have uniformly befallen other states. There will arise, it is said, ambitious demagogues; men greedy of false renown, eager for war and conquest. It is but too true, that, from time immemorial, great states have constantly sought further aggrandizement, while the small have exhausted themselves in futile efforts at resistance. But the American Confederacy is a new phenomenon in the political creation.—To leave no doubt on this head, I will cite a fact unique in the annals of the world.
The independence of the United States dates back more than forty years; and, for a nation yet in the cradle, forty years passed without domestic quarrels, or, at least, serious dissentions, are comparatively more than a century of internal quiet. In this interval, not only has no one state attempted to enlarge itself at the expense of its neighbours, but those which, by their population and surface, rank among the most powerful of the Union, have already, of their own accord, prescribed limits to their own increase. They have voluntarily dismembered themselves, in order, that, out of the detached portions of the body-politic, new communities might be formed which, in their turn, have been admitted upon an equal footing with the old, into the general union. The parent-stock may yet grow, notwithstanding this segregation; only it must henceforth be by internal improvements. While I am writing this, the territory of Indiana is about to be received, as a new state, into the confederation. Thus does a father share with his sons, as soon as they come to manhood, a fortune laboriously acquired; and sees them with delight, grow
and prosper near him, by the same means. No doubt, there will be ambitious spirits; but what can they hope to accomplish in a country, of all whose institutions, civil, military, and even religious, the object is equality among the citizens where oppression and want are unknown? where every man has an assurance of happiness, and a conviction of the integrity of the magistrates whom he has himself chosen? in a country, which having no neighbour to dread, has no need of large standing armies, and into which, therefore, the introduction of military despotism is for ever impossible? The am'bitious man, then, can look only to the legitimate glory of doing VOL. II.
most for the welfare of his fellow-citizens; and, if he have from nature superior endowments, his aspirations will be easily gratified, for, there, no one capable of filling an important post, can remain loog in obscurity.
Should some, however, be unjustly debarred from the management of public affairs, and indulge a hasty resentment, there will be still no ground of apprehension for the national weal. Rivalries will, it is true, blaze out between conspicuous men; they will not always be disinterested or wise enough, to relent at the touching name of country, and unite in efforts for the general good. There will be, then, a party of men opposed to the government. They will incommode, they will embarrass it at times.--But, by how many advantages will not these inconveniencies be compensated? The jealousy of authority, the ambition of those who aspire to rule, is a sentry ever on the alert to detect the least obliquity of the men in place, and is, by this vigilance, a preventive of remissness or malversation. The latter are taught to respect themselves if they wish to be respected; they know that neither power nor patronage can effectually shroud their ignorance or errors. If prudence, in unison with the law, require that the plans of government should be, for a time, kept secret, a public and faithful revelation must be made, when these plans are executed. Thus, no injudicious enterprises are likely to be formed, and through the agency of opposition itself, government is carried to that perfection in maxims and conduct so long ideal, now admirably realized.
In all the states of the union, instruction and knowledge are open to the whole population. The rich and the powerful see without inquietude the diffusion of light among even the lowest classes of the poor; and apprehension on this score would be void of foundation; for, if lettered education be dangerous in an ill-organized society, it cannot be so in a country where liberty reigns, and want is a stranger.
Such a multitude of benefits result from two causes never combined, before the establishment of American independence; -a good constitution, and lands of inexhaustible fertility which, for ten centuries to come, may continue to be distributed among a population ever on the increase!
Fortunate people whose prosperity has no limits either of time or space! Already for many years back, has the influence of this state of things begun to be felt in the other divisions of the globe. The United States offer a refuge, abundance, and quiet to all the unhappy of the human race. The potentates of Europe, those even whose authority is absolute,--have yielded without a struggle to this benign influence; and discovered by what means they might yet retain their subjects at home. Moderate freedom and equal laws are no longer alarming to their fancy, and they admit the necessity of establishing their