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PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE

ON THE

UNITED STATES.

BEFORE the discovery of America by the Europeans, tribes of savages, unsettled and feeble, occupied, in this great conti. nent, the territory where now flourishes the Republic of the United States. They lived in the open air, or inhabited wigwams, that is, huts of the rudest structure. Their only raiment consisted of skins of wild beasts; their arms, of the bow and the tomahawk: they depended for nourishment, upon the uncertain supplies of fishing and hunting, and sometimes devoured the Aesh of their prisoners of war. Barbarous usages and supersti. tious rites stood them in lieu of laws and religion.

These wretched hordes gradually disappeared from the country which they had so long possessed. Some were destroyed by the strangers whom they had welcomed with hospitality: others spontaneously migrated towards the west. The English colonies took their place, and were established by men distinguished for the perseverance and courage, which seem to spring out of religious persecution. Most of these adventurous exiles were skilful in some trade or profession. They found, on disembarking, the wealth the most desirable for those whom labour does not appal;-tracts of vast extent, requiring only the arm of indus'try to become fertile, and which soon assumed a different aspect under the new masters.

Cultivation disclosed at length, the hidden treasures of the soil: The youthful generation now reaped the fruits of the toils of their fathers, and the Golden Age, the fiction of the old world, was realized in the new. Population, arts, education, husbandry, all the stamina of civilization, made rapid progress in these regions hitherto wild and almost desert. Antecedently, every thing belonged alike to all, and this jealous communion preclud.

ed the enjoyment of any particular private right. Now, on the contrary, there is no country of the universe where private property is more respected, and this respect is not founded on the authority or power of the proprietor. It rests upon generally received notions of equity and utility which, in securing to a man and his family, the produce of his labour, bind up social order with private gratification. It may also, perhaps, be ascribed to the great facility with which the very lowest of the poor can themselves become proprietors. They have no reason to envy those who have already acquired this character; and they are sure of reaching, in their turn, a condition of ease and affluence, by lawful means, and without extraordinary efforts.

The ideas of good government were carried to America, in the sixteenth century, by men who had emigrated from Europe in the hope of a better lot. Numerous sects of Christians banished by intolerance, and who were themselves intolerant in the outset, soon changed their maxims of conduct. These sects or persuasions for it is thus they are styled in the language of the country—are not, perhaps, even yet, wholly exempt from superstitious fancies; but, abjuring fanaticism, they profess and practice bencficence, charity, philanthropy, the love of peace, not only as religious virtues, but as the principles the most favourable to human happiness. There, all creeds that acknowledge Christ, are equally revered. The government knows no preference for any, and none needs protection against the rest: The divine moral which they all profess is a sufficient shield; and those who administer affairs are deeply penetrated with this truth--that the state in which Religion ceases to be honoured, itself immediately verges towards ruin.

A cause superior to the authority of the magistrate, to the fear of punishment, to the vigilance of the domestic police,-a cause unrivalled in efficacy, averts crimes and maintains public tranquillity; I mean the happiness' which is invariably found in all classes and professions. With a community so blessed, religion is no longer an engine of fear, necessary for the preservation of order and peace: It is an additional delight to existence; a new recompense for virtue.

Guided by these easy and simple means, all pursued, instinctively as it were, the track marked out by the legislator: They were never dragged into it by violence or prejudice. Sound principles, disseminated with a wholesome caution, prepared the Revolution which we have witnessed. It is the most remarkable within the reach of history, and circumstances peculiar to America stipulate perpetuity to the good effects which it has produced.

Among these circumstances, the most worthy of attention is that the founders of the English Colonies, carried with them the seeds of genuine liberty, which time ripened by degrees,

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and which were in a state of complete maturity when the Revolution began. This explains the facility with which social freedom was established in America-so quickly, and in such full perfection; while, elsewhere, the most arduous efforts were insufficient to naturalize it, because different principles had predominated through a long series of ages. Reformers, in whatever country, must beware of attempting to anticipate time; their business is to watch and foster the improvements which the lapse of years and the progress of knowledge induce-infallibly and inevitably. This amelioration is slow but sure; and, if there be risk in the attempt to accelerate it, to aim at frustrating the process is accompanied with at least equal danger. Popular government might, then, be established without difficulty, in a country where the most material change was the expulsion of the officers of the royal administration.

Society, in the United States, is not graduated into orders. There, no individuals are to be seen arrayed in sinecure titles; for, exalted orders without privilege or authority, titles without functions, would appear, in a republic, mere fictions unworthy of serious and sensible men. Every American title implies a magistracy and certain powers; and the title is honourable only in proportion to the merit with which the correlative office is discharged. With this nation--for these communities are already a nation-liberty hangs neither on the wisdom nor on the moderation of any individual. It is under the safeguard of the law, and is the most perfect of which the social compact is susceptible. The new constitutions in which it is digested were framed by sages whose dearest ambitionthe noblest of all-was to render men happy. This sublime purpose they have completely achieved. They undertook what the most renowned philosophers, ancient and modern, only ventured to suggest as a theory more easy to be imagined than executed. They overleaped the limits which Aristotle, Bodin, More, Harrington, durst not pass. They could even, before quitting the stage of life, be themselves witnesses of the perfect success of the transcendent enterprise, and the world has, perhaps for the first time, seen Republics. But-what had not, certainly, been before seen, these republics were reared by the people; for their delegates, strangers to intrigue and ambition, were truly the organs of the public will. Famine, scarcity,—those scourges of the rest of the globe,

appear not in the American states, and are not be to apprehended there as long as the labourer can find rich, virgin lands, through which to drive his plough.

Crimes must be infrequent where all wants are easily satisfied, and public inflictions almost unknown. Official authority may dispense with the aid of an armed force. The constitution

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