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as to be incapable of conversing diplomatically upon the general subject of government, is indeed ridiculous to contemplate, and justified by no principle except the one least likely to arisenamely, that of repulsion and self-defence.
Austria, communicating with us only by the Danube and a port on the Adriatic, has no conceivable reason for making war upon us, or we upon her; unless by a foolish application of political theories. She may insult, and we retaliate-but to what end? To illustrate a slater's quarrel from opposite house-tops? Such a quarrel may give us an opportunity of announcing our policy and principles to the world, and the announcement in the dignified and temperate language of the present day may be salutary, and that is enough: the application of the announcement will be for other times and to other nations; it is a protest, with only the prospective merit of a protest.
Adhering firmly to the rule, that the American sovereignties, no less than other governments, ought to consult the common interest before they yield themselves to an enthusiasm, we are ready to justify, in the case of Hungary-first, the enthusiasm of our people; because it showed they were not insensible to eloquence, to manhood, or to merit, and could not listen without excitement to a story of wrong, of treachery, and of oppression; and second, the subsidence of the feeling, which left them standing as at first, upon the immovable basis of common sense and discretion.
If the American sovereignties engage in war with a European power, it will be for the defence, primarily, of their own interests. They do not claim the foresight and wisdom of Divine Providence, to attempt a general patronage and supervision of the human race. Nearness and remoteness enter into all our considerations of foreign, as well as of domestic policy. If it is difficult for the Central Executive at Washington to regulate the appropriation of a few millions of dollars to the improvement of lakes and rivers along the boundaries of our own territories, because they are too remote for strict supervision; if one sovereignty endangers the system of the Union, by attempting to regulate the domestic system of another, would it not be mere madness, for those who understand these difficulties, to attempt a supervision and regulation of Interior Europe? We are, therefore, not at all surprised at the entire subsidence of feeling among the people, in regard to European intervention. It is a result which ought to have been anticipated from the general prudence and sagacity.
Our relation or rather, our want of relation-with Italy, and with the northern nations of Europe on this side Russia, precludes even the conjecture of a solid reason for interfering in their affairs, or attempting to apply the doctrine of universal emancipation to their interior economy. If Massachusetts cannot apply that doctrine to Virginia, much less can Virginia and Massachusetts jointly apply it to any European State. The Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to every State admitted to the benefits of the Union. The Monroe declaration forbids imperial or monarchic colonization upon the continent of North America; but these provisions do not extend to other continents, whose political condition does not exercise an immediate influence upon the common interests of the thirty-two sovereignties.
Neither has it yet been discovered that the interior condition of Spain and Portugal would be in the least degree improved by establishing hostile relations with the governments of the Peninsula. In regard to Cuba, American interests are at stake, and here the only rightful and natural ground of intervention, namely, the general good of the Union, can be brought to bear. To this topic we shall presently recall the attention of our readers, in another article, as it is of vital importance.
But, first, let us turn our attention upon France, and ask ourselves to what end should we become the enemies of her government or of her people. The French people neither are nor ever have been republicans. Only the more intelligent orders, a small minority of that warlike and sensitive nation, have just ideas of the nature and necessities of republicanism. With us, on the contrary, the government has its seat in the mind and will of the individual, where alone it can find a solid and enduring foundation. We have citizens of all degrees of intellect and wealth, but we have not an ignorant and degraded majority, individually without force, freedom, or ideas; too poor and feeble to exercise the common liberties of men, when these liberties have been temporarily secured to them by the generous patriotism of a superior class. Commercially, the amity of France is important and agreeable to us. Our intercourse with her, though it may somewhat impair our morals and cultivate our sensual tastes, is beneficial in a much greater degree, as it rubs off Democratic asperities, and subdues our too fierce and haughty manners. It is by no means certain, that in the event of a republican revolution in France, we should be called upon to assist her with money or with arms. That gallant nation have never called in the assistance of a
foreign power to aid them in establishing a republic. On the contrary, their national vanity revolts at the idea, and those who should appear officiously active at such a time, would probably find themselves in the situation more of instruments than of allies. France is not only jealous of her imperial character, but she is naturally averse to equal alliances, and much more ready to force aid upon others than to accept it from them in turn.
The most important and interesting of our Transatlantic relations being with England and her immediate dependencies, it seems proper to consider them last in order. It is not probable that two great empires were ever united by so many and such powerful motives of interest as the British and American. The negroes of the cotton-fields, and the operatives of Manchester, are engaged in but one process of industry upon the same material. The master of the negro, and the employer of the operative, have consequently a common interest. They supply Great Britain and all parts of the world with cotton fabrics, necessary to the human race in all climates and longitudes. The industrial energy and surpassing talents of the Northern States of the Union have, indeed, established a formidable competition, in all markets, with the products of British labor, but the Southern planter, apart from patriotic considerations, is allied equally with American and foreign industry and capital. By this two-fold relationship of the Southern States with the North and with England, the union of the sovereignties has been preserved, and the peace of England with us established upon interests so vast and ramified, their disturbance causes vibrations of the entire human race.
As it is idle to attempt the establishment of firm political relations between nations not united by commercial interests, so, it cannot be denied, that the commercial amity and tacit alliance for the purposes of trade, between America and England, is more firm, at the present moment, than any alliances between other nations, unless they be confederated states. Although, to use a vulgar phrase, "there is no love lost" between the American Democrat and the British millionaire, the political and social hatred of the two, if it deserves so hard a name, is held in check by the master motive of commercial advantage. The corn and cotton of America presents an enormous surplus of wealth to the landholder, which it is necessary for him to sell, if he means to enjoy the luxuries and comforts of modern life. In vain the economist assures him that he is losing money; that the Englishman makes what he
loses; that by feeding the British operative with corn and pork, and giving him cotton to manufacture, "he deprives himself of the inalienable right of communicating the highest value to his own products;" that British goods ought to be excluded, and the corn, cotton, &c., wrought in America. He replies: "Your logic is perfect, Mr. Economist; I admire your reasonings, and I believe you are inspired by truly patriotic motives. I am ready to dispose of all the cotton and corn to you and your friends if you stand ready to pay for it. You have land and water privileges, and money to build your factory, and men to work up your cotton and your iron. Go ahead." The conclusion need not be given. To establish the new manufacture, it is found necessary to lay an indirect tax for its protection in the shape of a tariff, operating as a partial embargo upon the exportation of produce and the importation of British goods. The first effect of the system is to lessen the profits of the farmer and planter. The prospective good fails to balance, in his idea, the immediate loss. The agricultural interest of America strains every nerve to out-do that of Great Britain, allowing her manufacturing industry to take the lead. The wealth of the two countries increases with astonishing rapidity. It is found possible to collect a revenue of fifty millions from the commerce of the country, without a single tax upon exports, and without materially impeding the movements of exchange. Our opponents may show the other side of the picture. We have no theory, and shall not offer one. For the abstract merits of "free trade" we care as little as for the abstract merits of negro emancipation. Paper arguments, for protection on one side, and low tariffs or no tariffs on the other, have an equally patriotic and intellectual sound. Tables of figures, which, of all things, lie with the most imposing gravity and assurance, are constructed daily, to show how rapidly we are growing rich, or how fast we are becoming poor. Farmers and planters do not read-do not regard them. They only read the quotations, and when corn and cotton "go up" they annex new territories to the Union, for the larger cultivation of cotton and of corn. The Empire of Freedom expands meanwhile, and grows in power and population with a rapidity which it inspires awe to contemplate.
The reader will not have failed to anticipate the idea, that all just and sound reasons for a modification of our foreign policy must be derived, primarily at least, from our commercial and productive economy. An intelligent citizen conducts him
self towards strangers with a view to his own good. The highest justice is derived from the highest good, and nations, like men, must consult their proprium, their individuality, not only in constructing laws for a State, but in forming a policy of foreign intercourse.
The instant it appears, that the material interests of Great Britain are adverse and destructive to American liberty and wealth, it will be necessary to adopt a more or less hostile policy toward England: and not till then.
We are proceeding in this argument upon grounds which every trader, merchant, and planter, will understand and immediately sympathize with. We adhere firmly to the policy of Washington, to avoid foolish alliances and interventions, which gratify the vanity without increasing the dignity, wealth, or power of a nation. We offer commercial intercourse to all nations who are ready to accept our terms; and we shall not busy ourselves with endeavors to emancipate their servants or to reform their interior constitution.
While we avoid every description of fanaticism and folly, placing a check upon our own passions by the weightier motives of national prosperity and wealth,—with which the greatest possible integrity is of course, by the laws of nature, consistent,—we are not the less keenly alive to all the necessities of the future. Like the planter who finds it necessary to purchase an adjoining field, in order to prevent its falling into the hands of a troublesome neighbor, we may be called upon to enter into armed negotiations with foreign powers, to prepare for the exigencies of the future. We must show always a firm front and an indomitable will. The glorious administrations of Washington, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, and Polk, have established the policy of a firm assertion of American rights, and generally of the rights of nations, as the safest and most prudent for the Republic. The addition of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California to the Union, always by the help of arms, or by armed negotiation for the better regulation of a purchase, have established a brilliant series of precedents for the foreign policy of the Union. It would be folly and weakness to argue against a policy which has borne such glorious fruits. The laws of nations were not established to check the growth of republics; nor is it necessary to violate a single law, or to depart from a single principle or admitted precedent.
The spirit of the inviolable Compromises does not permit sectional considerations to interfere with the legitimate extension of the Republican boundary. Central legislation will never by