American Institutions and Their Influence
Alexis de Tocqueville et al

Part 10 out of 11

having previously extinguished their right by purchase.

As to the rights of sovereignty over the natives, the principle admitted
in the United States is that all persons within the territorial limits
of a state are and of necessity must be, subject to the jurisdiction of
its laws. While the Indian tribes were numerous, distinct, and separate
from the whites, and possessed a government of their own, the state
authorities, from considerations of policy, abstained from the exercise
of criminal jurisdiction for offences committed by the Indians among
themselves, although for offences against the whites they were subjected
to the operation of the state laws. But as these tribes diminished in
numbers, as those who remained among them became enervated by bad
habits, and ceased to exercise any effectual government, humanity
demanded that the power of the states should be interposed to protect
the miserable remnants from the violence and outrage of each other. The
first recorded instance of interposition in such a case was in 1821,
when an Indian of the Seneca tribe in the state of New York was tried
and convicted of murder on a squaw of the tribe. The courts declared
their competency to take cognizance of such offences, and the
legislature confirmed the declaration by a law.--Another instance of
what the author calls interpretation of the constitution against the
general government, is given by him in the proposed act of 1832, which
passed both houses of congress, but was vetoed by the president, by
which, as he says, "the greatest part of the revenue derived from the
sale of lands, was made over to the new western republics." But this act
was not founded on any doubt of the title of the United States to the
lands in question, or of its constitutional power over them, and cannot
be cited as any evidence of the interpretation of the constitution. An
error of fact in this statement ought to be corrected. The bill to which
the author refers, is doubtless that usually called Mr. Clay's land
bill. Instead of making over the greatest part of the revenue to the new
states, it appropriated twelve and a half per cent. to them, in addition
to five per cent. which had been originally granted for the purpose of
making roads. See Niles's Register, vol. 42, p. 355.--_American

The slightest observation in the United States enables one to appreciate
the advantages which the country derives from the bank. These advantages
are of several kinds, but one of them is peculiarly striking to the
stranger. The bank-notes of the United States are taken upon the borders
of the desert for the same value as at Philadelphia, where the bank
conducts its operations.[284]

The bank of the United States is nevertheless an object of great
animosity. Its directors have proclaimed their hostility to the
president; and they are accused, not without some show of probability,
of having abused their influence to thwart his election. The president
therefore attacks the establishment which they represent, with all the
warmth of personal enmity; and he is encouraged in the pursuit of his
revenge by the conviction that he is supported by the secret
propensities of the majority. The bank may be regarded as the great
monetary tie of the Union, just as congress is the great legislative
tie; and the same passions which tend to render the states independent
of the central power, contribute to the overthrow of the bank.

The bank of the United States always holds a great number of the notes
issued by the provincial banks, which it can at any time oblige them to
convert into cash. It has itself nothing to fear from a similar demand,
as the extent of its resources enables it to meet all claims. But the
existence of the provincial banks is thus threatened, and their
operations are restricted, since they are only able to issue a quantity
of notes duly proportioned to their capital. They submit with impatience
to this salutary control. The newspapers which they have bought over,
and the president, whose interest renders him their instrument, attack
the bank with the greatest vehemence. They rouse the local passions, and
the blind democratic instinct of the country to aid their cause; and
they assert that the bank-directors form a permanent aristocratic body,
whose influence must ultimately be felt in the government, and must
affect those principles of equality upon which society rests in America.

The contest between the bank and its opponents is only an incident in
the great struggle which is going on in America between the provinces
and the central power; between the spirit of democratic independence,
and the spirit of gradation and subordination. I do not mean that the
enemies of the bank are identically the same individuals, who, on other
points, attack the federal government; but I assert that the attacks
directed against the bank of the United States originate in the
propensities which militate against the federal government; and that the
very numerous opponents of the former afford a deplorable symptom of the
decreasing support of the latter.

The Union has never displayed so much weakness as in the celebrated
question of the tariff.[285] The wars of the French revolution and of
1812 had created manufacturing establishments in the north of the Union,
by cutting off all free communication between America and Europe. When
peace was concluded, and the channel of intercourse reopened by which
the produce of Europe was transmitted to the New World, the Americans
thought fit to establish a system of import duties, for the twofold
purpose of protecting their incipient manufactures, and of paying off
the amount of the debt contracted during the war. The southern states,
which have no manufactures to encourage, and which are exclusively
agricultural, soon complained of this measure. Such were the simple
facts, and I do not pretend to examine in this place whether their
complaints were well founded or unjust.

As early as the year 1820, South Carolina declared, in a petition to
Congress, that the tariff was "unconstitutional, oppressive, and
unjust." And the states of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama,
and Mississippi, subsequently remonstrated against it with more or less
vigor. But Congress, far from lending an ear to these complaints, raised
the scale of tariff duties in the years 1824 and 1828, and recognized
anew the principle on which it was founded. A doctrine was then
proclaimed, or rather revived, in the south, which took the name of

I have shown in the proper place that the object of the federal
constitution was not to form a league, but to create a national
government. The Americans of the United States form a sole and undivided
people, in all the cases which are specified by that constitution; and
upon these points the will of the nation is expressed, as it is in all
constitutional nations, by the voice of the majority. When the majority
has pronounced its decision, it is the duty of the minority to submit.
Such is the sound legal doctrine, and the only one which agrees with the
text of the constitution, and the known intention of those who framed

The partisans of nullification in the south maintain, on the contrary,
that the intention of the Americans in uniting was not to reduce
themselves to the condition of one and the same people; that they meant
to constitute a league of independent states; and that each state,
consequently, retains its entire sovereignty, if not _de facto_, at
least _de jure_; and has the right of putting its own construction upon
the laws of congress, and of suspending their execution within the
limits of its own territory, if they are held to be unconstitutional or

The entire doctrine of nullification is comprised in a sentence uttered
by Vice-President Calhoun, the head of that party in the south, before
the senate of the United States, in the year 1833: "The constitution is
a compact to which the states were parties in their sovereign capacity;
now, whenever a contract is entered into by parties which acknowledge no
tribunal above their authority to decide in the last resort, each of
them has a right to judge for himself in relation to the nature, extent,
and obligations of the instrument." It is evident that a similar
doctrine destroys the very basis of the federal constitution, and brings
back all the evils of the old confederation, from which the Americans
were supposed to have had a safe deliverance.

When South Carolina perceived that Congress turned a deaf ear to its
remonstrances, it threatened to apply the doctrine of nullification to
the federal tariff bill. Congress persisted in its former system; and at
length the storm broke out. In the course of 1832 the citizens of South
Carolina[286] named a national [state] convention, to consult upon the
extraordinary measures which they were called upon to take; and on the
24th November of the same year, this convention promulgated a law, under
the form of a decree, which annulled the federal law of the tariff,
forbade the levy of the imposts which that law commands, and refused to
recognize the appeal which might be made to the federal courts of
law.[287] This decree was only to be put into execution in the ensuing
month of February, and it was intimated, that if Congress modified the
tariff before that period, South Carolina might be induced to proceed no
farther with her menaces; and a vague desire was afterward expressed of
submitting the question to an extraordinary assembly of all the
confederate states.

In the meantime South Carolina armed her militia, and prepared for war.
But congress, which had slighted its suppliant subjects, listened to
their complaints as soon as they were found to have taken up arms.[288]
A law was passed, by which the tariff duties were to be progressively
reduced for ten years, until they were brought so low as not to exceed
the amount of supplies necessary to the government.[289] Thus congress
completely abandoned the principle of the tariff; and substituted a mere
fiscal impost for a system of protective duties.[290] The government of
the Union, in order to conceal its defeat, had recourse to an expedient
which is very much in vogue with feeble governments. It yielded the
point _de facto_, but it remained inflexible upon the principles in
question; and while congress was altering the tariff law, it passed
another bill, by which the president was invested with extraordinary
powers, enabling him to overcome by force a resistance which was then no
longer to be apprehended.

But South Carolina did not consent to leave the Union in the enjoyment
of these scanty trophies of success: the same national [state]
convention which annulled the tariff bill, met again, and accepted the
proffered concession: but at the same time it declared its unabated
perseverance in the doctrine of nullification; and to prove what it
said, it annulled the law investing the president with extraordinary
powers, although it was very certain that the clauses of that law would
never be carried into effect.

Almost all the controversies of which I have been speaking have taken
place under the presidency of General Jackson; and it cannot be denied
that in the question of the tariff he has supported the claims of the
Union with vigor and with skill. I am however of opinion that the
conduct of the individual who now represents the federal government, may
be reckoned as one of the dangers which threaten its continuance.

Some persons in Europe have formed an opinion of the possible influence
of General Jackson upon the affairs of his country, which appears highly
extravagant to those who have seen more of the subject. We have been
told that General Jackson has won sundry battles, that he is an
energetic man, prone by nature and by habit to the use of force,
covetous of power, and a despot by taste. All this may perhaps be true;
but the inferences which have been drawn from these truths are
exceedingly erroneous. It has been imagined that General Jackson is bent
on establishing a dictatorship in America, on introducing a military
spirit, and on giving a degree of influence to the central authority
which cannot but be dangerous to provincial liberties. But in America,
the time for similar undertakings, and the age for men of this kind, is
not yet come; if General Jackson had entertained a hope of exercising
his authority in this manner, he would infallibly have forfeited his
political station, and compromised his life; accordingly he has not been
so imprudent as to make any such attempt.

Far from wishing to extend the federal power, the president belongs to
the party which is desirous of limiting that power to the bare and
precise letter of the constitution, and which never puts a construction
upon that act, favorable to the government of the Union; far from
standing forth as the champion of centralization, General Jackson is the
agent of all the jealousies of the states; and he was placed in the
lofty station he occupies, by the passions of the people which are most
opposed to the central government. It is by perpetually flattering these
passions, that he maintains his station and his popularity. General
Jackson is the slave of the majority: he yields to its wishes, its
propensities, and its demands; say rather, that he anticipates and
forestalls them.

Whenever the governments of the states come into collision with that of
the Union, the president is generally the first to question his own
rights: he almost always outstrips the legislature; and when the extent
of the federal power is controverted he takes part, as it were, against
himself; he conceals his official interests, and extinguishes his own
natural inclinations. Not indeed that he is naturally weak or hostile to
the Union; for when the majority decided against the claims of the
partisans of nullification, he put himself at its head, asserted the
doctrines which the nation held, distinctly and energetically, and was
the first to recommend forcible measures; but General Jackson appears to
me, if I may use the American expressions, to be a federalist by taste,
and a republican by calculation.

General Jackson stoops to gain the favor of the majority but when he
feels that his popularity is secure, he overthrows all obstacles in the
pursuit of the objects which the community approves, or of those which
it does not look upon with a jealous eye. He is supported by a power
with which his predecessors were unacquainted; and he tramples on his
personal enemies wherever they cross his path, with a facility which no
former president ever enjoyed; he takes upon himself the responsibility
of measures which no one, before him, would have ventured to attempt; he
even treats the national representatives with disdain approaching to
insult; he puts his veto upon the laws of congress, and frequently
neglects to reply to that powerful body. He is a favorite who sometimes
treats his master roughly. The power of General Jackson perpetually
increases; but that of the President declines: in his hands the federal
government is strong, but it will pass enfeebled into the hands of his

I am strangely mistaken if the federal government of the United States
be not constantly losing strength, retiring gradually from public
affairs, and narrowing its circle of action more and more. It is
naturally feeble, but it now abandons even its pretensions to strength.
On the other hand, I thought that I remarked a more lively sense of
independence, and a more decided attachment to provincial government, in
the states. The Union is to subsist, but to subsist as a shadow; it is
to be strong in certain cases, and weak in all others; in time of
warfare, it is to be able to concentrate all the forces of the nation
and all the resources of the country in its hands; and in time of peace
its existence is to be scarcely perceptible: as if this alternate
debility and vigor were natural or possible.

I do not foresee anything for the present which may be able to check
this general impulse of public opinion: the causes in which it
originated do not cease to operate with the same effect. The change will
therefore go on, and it may be predicted that, unless some extraordinary
event occurs, the government of the Union will grow weaker and weaker
every day.

I think, however, that the period is still remote, at which the federal
power will be entirely extinguished by its inability to protect itself
and to maintain peace in the country. The Union is sanctioned by the
manners and desires of the people; its results are palpable, its
benefits visible. When it is perceived that the weakness of the federal
government compromises the existence of the Union, I do not doubt that a
reaction will take place with a view to increase its strength.

The government of the United States is, of all the federal governments
which have hitherto been established, the one which is most naturally
destined to act. As long as it is only indirectly assailed by the
interpretation of its laws, and as long as its substance is not
seriously altered, a change of opinion, an internal crisis, or a war,
may restore all the vigor which it requires. The point which I have been
most anxious to put in a clear light is simply this; many people,
especially in France, imagine that a change of opinion is going on in
the United States, which is favorable to a centralization of power in
the hands of the president and the congress. I hold that a contrary
tendency may be distinctly observed. So far is the federal government
from acquiring strength, and from threatening the sovereignty of the
states, as it grows older, that I maintain it to be growing weaker and
weaker, and that the sovereignty of the Union alone is in danger. Such
are the facts which the present time discloses. The future conceals the
final result of this tendency, and the events which may check, retard,
or accelerate, the changes I have described; but I do not affect to be
able to remove the veil which hides them from our sight.

* * * * *


The Union is Accidental.--The Republican Institutions have more prospect
of Permanence.--A Republic for the Present the Natural State of the
Anglo-Americans.--Reason of this.--In order to destroy it, all Laws must
be changed at the same time, and a great alteration take place in
Manners.--Difficulties experienced by the Americans in creating an

The dismemberment of the Union, by the introduction of war into the
heart of those states which are now confederate, with standing armies, a
dictatorship, and a heavy taxation, might eventually compromise the fate
of the republican institutions. But we ought not to confound the future
prospects of the republic with those of the Union. The Union is an
accident, which will last only so long as circumstances are favorable to
its existence; but a republican form of government seems to me to be the
natural state of the Americans; which nothing but the continued action
of hostile causes, always acting in the same direction, could change
into a monarchy. The Union exists principally in the law which formed
it; one revolution, one change in public opinion, might destroy it for
ever; but the republic has a much deeper foundation to rest upon.

What is understood by republican government in the United States, is the
slow and quiet action of society upon itself. It is a regular state of
things really founded upon the enlightened will of the people. It is a
conciliatory government under which resolutions are allowed time to
ripen, and in which they are deliberately discussed, and executed with
mature judgment. The republicans in the United States set a high value
upon morality, respect religious belief, and acknowledge the existence
of rights. They profess to think that a people ought to be moral,
religious, and temperate, in proportion as it is free. What is called
the republic in the United States, is the tranquil rule of the majority,
which, after having had time to examine itself, and to give proof of its
existence, is the common source of all the powers of the state. But the
power of the majority is not of itself unlimited. In the moral world
humanity, justice, and reason, enjoy an undisputed supremacy; in the
political world vested rights are treated with no less deference. The
majority recognizes these two barriers; and if it now and then overstep
them, it is because, like individuals, it has passions, and like them,
it is prone to do what is wrong, while it discerns what is right.

But the demagogues of Europe have made strange discoveries. A republic
is not, according to them, the rule of the majority, as has hitherto
been taught, but the rule of those who are strenuous partisans of the
majority. It is not the people who preponderates in this kind of
government, but those who best know what is for the good of the people.
A happy distinction, which allows men to act in the name of nations
without consulting them, and to claim their gratitude while their rights
are spurned. A republican government, moreover, is the only one which
claims the right of doing whatever it chooses, and despising what men
have hitherto respected, from the highest moral obligations to the
vulgar rules of common sense. It had been supposed, until our time, that
despotism was odious, under whatever form it appeared. But it is a
discovery of modern days that there are such things as legitimate
tyranny and holy injustice, provided they are exercised in the name of
the people.

The ideas which the Americans have adopted respecting the republican
form of government, render it easy for them to live under it, and ensure
its duration. If, in their country, this form be often practically bad,
at least it is theoretically good; and, in the end, the people always
acts in conformity with it.

It was impossible, at the foundation of the states, and it would still
be difficult, to establish a central administration in America. The
inhabitants are dispersed over too great a space, and separated by too
many natural obstacles, for one man to undertake to direct the details
of their existence. America is therefore pre-eminently the country of
provincial and municipal government. To this cause, which was plainly
felt by all the Europeans of the New World, the Anglo-Americans added
several others peculiar to themselves.

At the time of the settlement of the North American colonies, municipal
liberty had already penetrated into the laws as well as the manners of
the English, and the emigrants adopted it, not only as a necessary
thing, but as a benefit which they knew how to appreciate. We have
already seen the manner in which the colonies were founded: every
province, and almost every district, was peopled separately by men who
were strangers to each other, or who associated with very different
purposes. The English settlers in the United States, therefore, early
perceived that they were divided into a great number of small and
distinct communities which belonged to no common centre; and that it was
needful for each of these little communities to take care of its own
affairs, since there did not appear to be any central authority which
was naturally bound and easily enabled to provide for them. Thus, the
nature of the country, the manner in which the British colonies were
founded, the habits of the first emigrants, in short everything, united
to promote, in an extra-ordinary degree, municipal and provincial

In the United States, therefore, the mass of the institutions of the
country is essentially republican; and in order permanently to destroy
the laws which form the basis of the republic, it would be necessary to
abolish all the laws at once. At the present day, it would be even more
difficult for a party to succeed in founding a monarchy in the United
States, than for a set of men to proclaim that France should
henceforward be a republic. Royalty would not find a system of
legislation prepared for it beforehand; and a monarchy would then exist,
really surrounded by republican institutions. The monarchical principle
would likewise have great difficulty in penetrating into the manners of
the Americans.

In the United States, the sovereignty of the people is not an isolated
doctrine bearing no relation to the prevailing manners and ideas of the
people: it may, on the contrary, be regarded as the last link of a chain
of opinions which binds the whole Anglo-American world. That Providence
has given to every human being the degree of reason necessary to direct
himself in the affairs which interest him exclusively; such is the grand
maxim upon which civil and political society rests in the United States.
The father of a family applies it to his children; the master to his
servants; the township to its officers; the province to its townships;
the state to the provinces; the Union to the states; and when extended
to the nation, it becomes the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people.

Thus, in the United States, the fundamental principle of the republic is
the same which governs the greater part of human actions; republican
notions insinuate themselves into all the ideas, opinions, and habits of
the Americans, while they are formally recognized by the legislation:
and before this legislation can be altered, the whole community must
undergo very serious changes. In the United States, even the religion of
most of the citizens is republican, since it submits the truths of the
other world to private judgment: as in politics the care of its temporal
interests is abandoned to the good sense of the people. Thus every man
is allowed freely to take that road which he thinks will lead him to
heaven; just as the law permits every citizen to have the right of
choosing his government.

It is evident that nothing but a long series of events, all having the
same tendency, can substitute for this combination of laws, opinions,
and manners, a mass of opposite opinions, manners and laws.

If republican principles are to perish in America, they can only yield
after a laborious social process, often interrupted, and as often
resumed; they will have many apparent revivals, and will not become
totally extinct until an entirely new people shall have succeeded to
that which now exists. Now, it must be admitted that there is no symptom
or presage of the approach of such a revolution. There is nothing more
striking to a person newly arrived in the United States, than the kind
of tumultuous agitation in which he finds political society. The laws
are incessantly changing, and at first sight it seems impossible that a
people so variable in its desires should avoid adopting, within a short
space of time, a completely new form of government. Such apprehensions
are, however, premature; the instability which affects political
institutions is of two kinds, which ought not to be confounded: the
first, which modifies secondary laws, is not incompatible with a very
settled state of society; the other shakes the very foundations of the
constitution, and attacks the fundamental principles of legislation;
this species of instability is always followed by troubles and
revolutions, and the nation which suffers under it, is in a state of
violent transition.

Experience shows that these two kinds of legislative instability have no
necessary connexion; for they have been found united or separate,
according to times and circumstances. The first is common in the United
States, but not the second: the Americans often change their laws, but
the foundation of the constitution is respected.

In our days the republican principle rules in America, as the
monarchical principle did in France under Louis XIV. The French of that
period were not only friends of the monarchy, but they thought it
impossible to put anything in its place; they received it as we receive
the rays of the sun and the return of the seasons. Among them the royal
power had neither advocates nor opponents. In like manner does the
republican government exist in America, without contention or
opposition; without proofs and arguments, by a tacit agreement, a sort
of _consensus universalis_. It is, however, my opinion, that, by
changing their administrative forms as often as they do, the inhabitants
of the United States compromise the future stability of their

It may be apprehended that men, perpetually thwarted in their designs by
the mutability of legislation, will learn to look upon republican
institutions as an inconvenient form of society; the evil resulting from
the instability of the secondary enactments, might then raise a doubt as
to the nature of the fundamental principles of the constitution, and
indirectly bring about a revolution; but this epoch is still very

[It has been objected by an American review, that our author is mistaken
in charging our laws with instability, and in answer to the charge, the
permanence of our fundamental political institutions has been contrasted
with the revolutions in France. But the objection proceeds upon a
mistake of the author's meaning, which at this page is very clearly
expressed. He refers to the instability which modifies _secondary laws_,
and not to that which shakes the foundations of the constitution. The
distinction is equally sound and philosophic, and those in the least
acquainted with the history of our legislation, must bear witness to the
truth of the author's remarks. The frequent revisions of the statutes of
the states rendered necessary by the multitude, variety, and often the
contradiction of the enactments, furnish abundant evidence of this
instability.--_American Editor_.]

It may, however, be foreseen, even now, that when the Americans lose
their republican institutions, they will speedily arrive at a despotic
government, without a long interval of limited monarchy. Montesquieu
remarked, that nothing is more absolute than the authority of a prince
who immediately succeeds a republic, since the powers which had
fearlessly been intrusted to an elected magistrate are then transferred
to an hereditary sovereign. This is true in general, but it is more
peculiarly applicable to a democratic republic. In the United States,
the magistrates are not elected by a particular class of citizens, but
by the majority of the nation; they are the immediate representatives of
the passions of the multitude; and as they are wholly dependent upon its
pleasure, they excite neither hatred nor fear: hence, as I have already
shown, very little care has been taken to limit their influence, and
they are left in possession of a vast deal of arbitrary power. This
state of things has engendered habits which would outlive itself; the
American magistrate would retain his power, but he would cease to be
responsible for the exercise of it; and it is impossible to say what
bounds could then be set to tyranny.

Some of our European politicians expect to see an aristocracy arise in
America, and they already predict the exact period at which it will be
able to assume the reins of government. I have previously observed, and
I repeat my assertion, that the present tendency of American society
appears to me to become more and more democratic. Nevertheless, I do not
assert that the Americans will not, at some future time, restrict the
circle of political rights in their country, or confiscate those rights
to the advantage of a single individual; but I cannot imagine that they
will ever bestow the exclusive exercise of them upon a privileged class
of citizens, or, in other words, that they will ever found an

An aristocratic body is composed of a certain number of citizens, who,
without being very far removed from the mass of the people, are,
nevertheless, permanently stationed above it: a body which it is easy to
touch, and difficult to strike; with which the people are in daily
contact, but with which they can never combine. Nothing can be imagined
more contrary to nature and to the secret propensities of the human
heart, than a subjection of this kind; and men, who are left to follow
their own bent, will always prefer the arbitrary power of a king to the
regular administration of an aristocracy. Aristocratic institutions
cannot subsist without laying down the inequality of men as a
fundamental principle, as a part and parcel of the legislation,
affecting the condition of the human family as much as it affects that
of society; but these things are so repugnant to natural equity that
they can only be extorted from men by constraint.

I do not think a single people can be quoted, since human society began
to exist, which has, by its own free will and by its own exertions,
created an aristocracy within its own bosom. All the aristocracies of
the middle ages were founded by military conquest: the conqueror was the
noble, the vanquished became the serf. Inequality was then imposed by
force; and after it had been introduced into the manners of the country,
it maintained its own authority, and was sanctioned by the legislation.
Communities have existed which were aristocratic from their earliest
origin, owing to circumstances anterior to that event, and which became
more democratic in each succeeding age. Such was the destiny of the
Romans, and of the Barbarians after them. But a people, having taken its
rise in civilisation and democracy, which should gradually establish an
inequality of conditions until it arrived at inviolable privileges and
exclusive castes, would be a novelty in the world; and nothing intimates
that America is likely to furnish so singular an example.

* * * * *


The Americans destined by Nature to be a great maritime People.--Extent
of their Coasts.--Depth of their Ports.--Size of their Rivers.--The
commercial Superiority of the Anglo-Saxons less attributable, however,
to physical Circumstances than to moral and intellectual Causes.--Reason
of this Opinion.--Future Destiny of the Anglo-Americans as a commercial
Nation.--The Dissolution of the Union would not check the maritime Vigor
of the States.--Reason of this.--Anglo-Americans will naturally supply
the Wants of the inhabitants of South America.--They will become, like
the English, the Factors of a great portion of the World.

The coast of the United States, from the bay of Fundy to the Sabine
river in the gulf of Mexico, is more than two thousand miles in extent.
These shores form an unbroken line, and they are all subject to the same
government. No nation in the world possesses vaster, deeper, or more
secure ports for shipping than the Americans.

The inhabitants of the United States constitute a great civilized
people, which fortune has placed in the midst of an uncultivated
country, at a distance of three thousand miles from the central point of
civilisation. America consequently stands in daily need of European
trade. The Americans will, no doubt, ultimately succeed in producing or
manufacturing at home most of the articles which they require; but the
two continents can never be independent of each other, so numerous are
the natural ties which exist between their wants, their ideas, their
habits, and their manners.

The Union produces peculiar commodities which are now become necessary
to us, but which cannot be cultivated, or can only be raised at an
enormous expense, upon the soil of Europe. The Americans only consume a
small portion of this produce, and they are willing to sell us the rest.
Europe is therefore the market of America, as America is the market of
Europe; and maritime commerce is no less necessary to enable the
inhabitants of the United States to transport their raw materials to the
ports of Europe, than it is to enable us to supply them with our
manufactured produce. The United States were therefore necessarily
reduced to the alternative of increasing the business of other maritime
nations to a great extent, if they had themselves declined to enter into
commerce, as the Spaniards of Mexico have hitherto done; or, in the
second place, of becoming one of the first trading powers of the globe.

The Anglo-Americans have always displayed a very decided taste for the
sea. The declaration of independence broke the commercial restrictions
which united them to England, and gave a fresh and powerful stimulus to
their maritime genius. Ever since that time, the shipping of the Union
has increased in almost the same rapid proportion as the number of its
inhabitants. The Americans themselves now transport to their own shores
nine-tenths of the European produce which they consume.[291] And they
also bring three-quarters of the exports of the New World to the
European consumer.[292] The ships of the United States fill the docks of
Havre and of Liverpool; while the number of English and French vessels
which are to be seen at New York is comparatively small.[293]

Thus, not only does the American merchant face competition in his own
country, but he even supports that of foreign nations in their own ports
with success. This is readily explained by the fact that the vessels of
the United States can cross the seas at a cheaper rate than any other
vessels in the world. As long as the mercantile shipping of the United
States preserves this superiority, it will not only retain what it has
acquired, but it will constantly increase in prosperity.

It is difficult to say for what reason the Americans can trade at a
lower rate than other nations; and one is at first led to attribute this
circumstance to the physical or natural advantages which are within
their reach; but this supposition is erroneous. The American vessels
cost almost as much to build as our own[294]; they are not better built,
and they generally last for a shorter time. The pay of the American
sailor is more considerable than the pay on board European ships; which
is proved by the great number of Europeans who are to be met with in the
merchant vessels of the United States. But I am of opinion that the true
cause of their superiority must not be sought for in physical
advantages, but that it is wholly attributable to their moral and
intellectual qualities.

The following comparison will illustrate my meaning. During the
campaigns of the revolution the French introduced a new system of
tactics into the art of war, which perplexed the oldest generals, and
very nearly destroyed the most ancient monarchies in Europe. They
undertook (what had never been before attempted) to make shift without a
number of things which had always been held to be indispensable in
warfare; they required novel exertions on the part of their troops,
which no civilized nations had ever thought of; they achieved great
actions in an incredibly short space of time: and they risked human life
without hesitation, to obtain the object in view. The French had less
money and fewer men than their enemies; their resources were infinitely
inferior; nevertheless they were constantly victorious, until their
adversaries chose to imitate their example.

The Americans have introduced a similar system into their commercial
speculations; and they do for cheapness what the French did for
conquest. The European sailor navigates with prudence; he only sets sail
when the weather is favorable; if an unforeseen accident befalls him, he
puts into port; at night he furls a portion of his canvass; and when the
whitening billows intimate the vicinity of land, he checks his way, and
takes an observation of the sun. But the American neglects these
precautions and braves these dangers. He weighs anchor in the midst of
tempestuous gales; by night and by day he spreads his sheets to the
wind; he repairs as he goes along such damage as his vessel may have
sustained from the storm; and when he at last approaches the term of his
voyage, he darts onward to the shore as if he already descried a port.
The Americans are often shipwrecked, but no trader crosses the seas so
rapidly. And as they perform the same distance in a shorter time, they
can perform it at a cheaper rate.

The European touches several times at different ports in the course of a
long voyage; he loses a good deal of precious time in making the harbor,
or in waiting for a favorable wind to leave it; and he pays daily dues
to be allowed to remain there. The American starts from Boston to go to
purchase tea in China: he arrives at Canton, stays there a few days and
then returns. In less than two years he has sailed as far as the entire
circumference of the globe, and he has seen land but once. It is true
that during a voyage of eight or ten months he has drunk brackish water,
and lived upon salt meat; that he has been in a continual contest with
the sea, with disease, and with the tedium of monotony; but, upon his
return, he can sell a pound of his tea for a halfpenny less than the
English merchant, and his purpose is accomplished.

I cannot better explain my meaning than by saying that the Americans
affect a sort of heroism in their manner of trading. But the European
merchant will always find it very difficult to imitate his American
competitor, who, in adopting the system which I have just described,
follows not only a calculation of his gain, but an impulse of his

The inhabitants of the United States are subject to all the wants and
all the desires which result from an advanced stage of civilisation; but
as they are not surrounded by a community admirably adapted, like that
of Europe, to satisfy their wants, they are often obliged to procure for
themselves the various articles which education and habit have rendered
necessaries. In America it sometimes happens that the same individual
tills his field, builds his dwelling, contrives his tools, makes his
shoes, and weaves the coarse stuff of which his dress is composed. This
circumstance is prejudicial to the excellence of the work: but it
powerfully contributes to awaken the intelligence of the workman.
Nothing tends to materialise man, and to deprive his work of the
faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labor. In a
country like America, where men devoted to special occupations are rare,
a long apprenticeship cannot be required from any one who embraces a
profession. The Americans therefore change their means of gaining a
livelihood very readily; and they suit their occupations to the
exigencies of the moment, in the manner most profitable to themselves.
Men are to be met with who have successively been barristers, farmers,
merchants, ministers of the gospel, and physicians. If the American be
less perfect in each craft than the European, at least there is scarcely
any trade with which he is utterly unacquainted. His capacity is more
general, and the circle of his intelligence is enlarged.

The inhabitants of the United States are never fettered by the axioms of
their profession; they escape from all the prejudices of their present
station; they are not more attached to one line of operation than to
another; they are not more prone to employ an old method than a new one;
they have no rooted habits, and they easily shake off the influence
which the habits of other nations might exercise upon their minds, from
a conviction that their country is unlike any other, and that its
situation is without a precedent in the world. America is a land of
wonders, in which everything is in constant motion, and every movement
seems an improvement. The idea of novelty is there indissolubly
connected with the idea of melioration. No natural boundary seems to be
set to the efforts of man; and what is not yet done is only what he has
not yet attempted to do.

This perpetual change which goes on in the United States, these frequent
vicissitudes of fortune, accompanied by such unforeseen fluctuations in
private and in public wealth, serve to keep the minds of the citizens in
a perpetual state of feverish agitation, which admirably invigorates
their exertions, and keeps them in a state of excitement above the
ordinary level of mankind. The whole life of an American is passed like
a game of chance, a revolutionary crisis or a battle. As the same causes
are continually in operation throughout the country, they ultimately
impart an irresistible impulse to the national character. The American,
taken as a chance specimen of his countrymen, must then be a man of
singular warmth in his desires, enterprising, fond of adventure, and
above all of innovation. The same bent is manifest in all that he does;
he introduces it into his political laws, his religious doctrines, his
theories of social economy, and his domestic occupations; he bears it
with him in the depth of the backwoods, as well as in the business of
the city. It is the same passion, applied to maritime commerce, which
makes him the cheapest and the quickest trader in the world.

As long as the sailors of the United States retain these inspiriting
advantages, and the practical superiority which they derive from them,
they will not only continue to supply the wants of the producers and
consumers of their own country, but they will tend more and more to
become, like the English, the factors of all other peoples.[295] This
prediction has already begun to be realized; we perceive that the
American traders are introducing themselves as intermediate agents in
the commerce of several European nations;[296] and America will offer a
still wider field to their enterprise.

The great colonies which were founded in South America by the Spaniards
and the Portuguese have since become empires. Civil war and oppression
now lay waste those extensive regions. Population does not increase, and
the thinly-scattered inhabitants are too much absorbed in the cares of
self-defence even to attempt any melioration of their condition. Such,
however, will not always be the case. Europe has succeeded by her own
efforts in piercing the gloom of the middle ages; South America has the
same Christian laws and Christian manners as we have; she contains all
the germs of civilisation which have grown amid the nations of Europe or
their offsets, added to the advantages to be derived from our example;
why then should she always remain uncivilized? It is clear that the
question is simply one of time; at some future period, which may be more
or less remote, the inhabitants of South America will constitute
flourishing and enlightened nations.

But when the Spaniards and Portuguese of South America begin to feel the
wants common to all civilized nations, they will still be unable to
satisfy those wants for themselves; as the youngest children of
civilisation, they must perforce admit the superiority of their elder
brethren. They will be agriculturists long before they succeed in
manufactures or commerce, and they will require the mediation of
strangers to exchange their produce beyond seas for those articles for
which a demand will begin to be felt.

It is unquestionable that the Americans of the north will one day supply
the wants of the Americans of the south. Nature has placed them in
contiguity; and has furnished the former with every means of knowing and
appreciating those demands, of establishing a permanent connexion with
those states, and of gradually filling their markets. The merchant of
the United States could only forfeit these natural advantages if he were
very inferior to the merchant of Europe; to whom he is, on the contrary,
superior in several respects. The Americans of the United States already
exercise a very considerable moral influence upon all the people of the
New World. They are the source of intelligence, and all the nations
which inhabit the same continent are already accustomed to consider them
as the most enlightened, the most powerful, and the most wealthy members
of the great American family. All eyes are therefore turned toward the
Union; and the states of which that body is composed are the models
which the other communities try to imitate to the best of their power:
it is from the United states that they borrow their political principles
and their laws.

The Americans of the United States stand in precisely the same position
with regard to the peoples of South America as their fathers, the
English, occupy with regard to the Italians, the Spaniards, the
Portuguese, and all those nations of Europe, which receive their
articles of daily consumption from England, because they are less
advanced in civilisation and trade. England is at this time the natural
emporium of almost all the nations which are within its reach; the
American Union will perform the same part in the other hemisphere; and
every community which is founded, or which prospers in the New World, is
founded and prospers to the advantage of the Anglo-Americans.

If the Union were to be dissolved, the commerce of the states which now
compose it, would undoubtedly be checked for a time; but this
consequence would be less perceptible than is generally supposed. It is
evident that whatever may happen, the commercial states will remain
united. They are all contiguous to each other; they have identically the
same opinions, interests, and manners, and they are alone competent to
form a very great maritime power. Even if the south of the Union were to
become independent of the north, it would still require the service of
those states. I have already observed that the south is not a commercial
country, and nothing intimates that it is likely to become so. The
Americans of the south of the United States will therefore be obliged,
for a long time to come, to have recourse to strangers to export their
produce, and to supply them with the commodities which are requisite to
satisfy their wants. But the northern states are undoubtedly able to act
as their intermediate agents cheaper than any other merchants. They will
therefore retain that employment, for cheapness is the sovereign law of
commerce. National claims and national prejudices cannot resist the
influence of cheapness. Nothing can be more virulent than the hatred
which exists between the Americans of the United States and the English.
But, notwithstanding these inimical feelings, the Americans derive the
greater part of their manufactured commodities from England, because
England supplies them at a cheaper rate than any other nation. Thus the
increasing prosperity of America turns, notwithstanding the grudges of
the Americans, to the advantage of British manufactures.

Reason shows and experience proves that no commercial prosperity can be
durable if it cannot be united, in case of need, to naval force. This
truth is as well understood in the United States as it can be anywhere
else: the Americans are already able to make their flag respected: in a
few years they will be able to make it feared. I am convinced that the
dismemberment of the Union would not have the effect of diminishing the
naval power of the Americans, but that it would powerfully contribute to
increase it. At the present time the commercial states are connected
with others which have not the same interests, and which frequently
yield an unwilling consent to the increase of a maritime power by which
they are only indirectly benefited. If, on the contrary, the commercial
states of the Union formed one independent nation, commerce would become
the foremost of their national interests; they would consequently be
willing to make very great sacrifices to protect their shipping, and
nothing would prevent them from pursuing their designs upon this point.

Nations, as well as men, almost always betray the most prominent
features of their future destiny in their earliest years. When I
contemplate the ardor with which the Anglo-Americans prosecute
commercial enterprise, the advantages which befriend them, and the
success of their undertakings, I cannot refrain from believing that they
will one day become the first maritime power of the globe. They are born
to rule the seas, as the Romans were to conquer the world.

* * * * *


[207] See the map. [Transcriber's Note: Map of North America.]

[208] The native of North America retains his opinions and the most
insignificant of his habits with a degree of tenacity which has no
parallel in history. For more than two hundred years the wandering
tribes of North America have had daily intercourse with the whites, and
they have never derived from them either a custom or an idea. Yet the
European have exercised a powerful influence over the savages: they have
made them more licentious, but not more European. In the summer of 1831,
I happened to be beyond Lake Michigan, at a place called Green Bay,
which serves as the extreme frontier between the United States and the
Indians on the northwestern side. Here I became acquainted with an
American officer, Major H., who, after talking to me at length on the
inflexibility of the Indian character, related the following fact: "I
formerly knew a young Indian," said he, "who had been educated at a
college in New England, where he had greatly distinguished himself, and
had acquired the external appearance of a member of civilized society.
When the war broke out between ourselves and the English, in 1810, I saw
this young man again; he was serving in our army at the head of the
warriors of his tribe; for the Indians were admitted among the ranks of
the Americans, upon condition that they would abstain from their
horrible custom of scalping their victims. On the evening of the battle
of ----, C. came and sat himself down by the fire of our bivouac. I
asked him what had been his fortune that day: he related his exploits;
and growing warm and animated by the recollection of them, he concluded
by suddenly opening the breast of his coat, saying, 'You must not betray
me--see here!' And I actually beheld," said the major, "between his body
and his shirt, the skin and hair of an English head still dripping with

[209] In the thirteen original states, there are only 6,273 Indians
remaining. (See Legislative Documents, 20th congress, No. 117, p. 90.)

[210] Messrs. Clarke and Cass, in their report to congress, the 4th
February, 1829, p. 23, expressed themselves thus: "The time when the
Indians generally could supply themselves with food and clothing,
without any of the articles of civilized life, has long since passed
away. The more remote tribes, beyond the Mississippi, who live where
immense herds of buffalo are yet to be found, and who follow those
animals in their periodical migrations, could more easily than any
others recur to the habits of their ancestors, and live without the
white man or any of his manufactures. But the buffalo is constantly
receding. The smaller animals--the bear, the deer, the beaver, the
otter, the muskrat, &c., principally minister to the comfort and support
of the Indians; and these cannot be taken without guns, ammunition, and

"Among the northwestern Indians particularly, the labor of supplying a
family with food is excessive. Day after day is spent by the hunter
without success, and during this interval his family must subsist upon
bark or roots, or perish. Want and misery are around them and among
them. Many die every winter from actual starvation."

The Indians will not live as Europeans live; and yet they can neither
subsist without them, nor exactly after the fashion of their fathers.
This is demonstrated by a fact which I likewise give upon official
authority. Some Indians of a tribe on the banks of Lake Superior had
killed a European; the American government interdicted all traffic with
the tribe to which the guilty parties belonged, until they were
delivered up to justice. This measure had the desired effect.

[211] "Five years ago," says Volney in his Tableaux des Etats Unis, p.
370, "in going from Vincennes to Kaskaskia, a territory which now forms
part of the State of Illinois, but which at the time I mention was
completely wild (1797), you could not cross a prairie without seeing
herds of from four to five hundred buffaloes. There are now none
remaining; they swam across the Mississippi to escape from the hunters,
and more particularly from the bells of the American cows."

[212] The truth of what I here advance may be easily proved by
consulting the tabular statement of Indian tribes inhabiting the United
States, and their territories. (Legislative Documents, 20th congress,
No. 117, pp. 90-105.) It is there shown that the tribes of America are
rapidly decreasing, although the Europeans are at a considerable
distance from them.

[213] "The Indians," says Messrs. Clarke and Cass in their report to
congress, p. 15, "are attached to their country by the same feelings
which bind us to ours; and, besides, there are certain superstitious
notions connected with the alienation of what the Great Spirit gave to
their ancestors, which operate strongly upon the tribes who have made
few or no cessions, but which are gradually weakened as our intercourse
with them is extended. 'We will not sell the spot which contains the
bones of our fathers,' is almost always the first answer to a
proposition for a sale."

[214] See in the legislative documents of congress (Doc. 117), the
narrative of what takes place on these occasions. This curious passage
is from the abovementioned report, made to congress by Messrs. Clarke
and Cass, in February, 1829. Mr. Cass is now secretary of war.

"The Indians," says the report, "reach the treaty-ground poor, and
almost naked. Large quantities of goods are taken there by the traders,
and are seen and examined by the Indians. The women and children become
importunate to have their wants supplied, and their influence is soon
exerted to induce a sale. Their improvidence is habitual and
unconquerable. The gratification of his immediate wants and desires is
the ruling passion of an Indian: the expectation of future advantages
seldom produces much effect. The experience of the past is lost, and the
prospects of the future disregarded. It would be utterly hopeless to
demand a cession of land unless the means were at hand of gratifying
their immediate wants; and when their condition and circumstances are
fairly considered, it ought not to surprise us that they are so anxious
to relieve themselves."

[215] On the 19th of May, 1830, Mr. Edward Everett affirmed before the
house of representatives, that the Americans had already acquired by
_treaty_, to the east and west of the Mississippi, 230,000,000 of acres.
In 1808, the Osages gave up 48,000,000 acres for an annual payment of
1,000 dollars. In 1818, the Quapaws yielded up 29,000,000 acres for
4,000 dollars. They reserved for themselves a territory of 1,000,000
acres for a hunting-ground. A solemn oath was taken that it should be
respected: but before long it was invaded like the rest. Mr. Bell, in
his "Report of the Committee on Indian Affairs," February 24th, 1830,
has these words: "To pay an Indian tribe what their ancient
hunting-grounds are worth to them, after the game is fled or destroyed,
as a mode of appropriating wild lands claimed by Indians, has been found
more convenient, and certainly it is more agreeable to the forms of
justice, as well as more merciful, than to assert the possession of them
by the sword. Thus the practice of buying Indian titles is but the
substitute which humanity and expediency have imposed, in place of the
sword, in arriving at the actual enjoyment of property claimed by the
right of discovery, and sanctioned by the natural superiority allowed to
the claims of civilized communities over those of savage tribes. Up to
the present time, so invariable has been the operation of certain
causes, first in diminishing the value of forest lands to the Indians,
and secondly in disposing them to sell readily, that the plan of buying
their right of occupancy has never threatened to retard, in any
perceptible degree, the prosperity of any of the states." (Legislative
documents, 21st congress, No. 227, p. 6.)

[216] This seems, indeed, to be the opinion of almost all the American
statesmen. "Judging of the future by the past," says Mr. Cass, "we
cannot err in anticipating a progressive diminution of their numbers,
and their eventual extinction, unless our border should become
stationary, and they be removed beyond it, or unless some radical change
should take place in the principles of our intercourse with them, which
it is easier to hope for than to expect."

[217] Among other warlike enterprises, there was one of the Wampanoags,
and other confederate tribes, under Metacom in 1675, against the
colonists of New England; the English were also engaged in war in
Virginia in 1622.

[218] See the "Histoire de la Nouvelle France," by Charlevoix, and the
work entitled "Lettres Edifiantes."

[219] "In all the tribes," says Volney, in his "Tableau des Etats Unis,"
p. 423, "there still exists a generation of old warriors, who cannot
forbear, when they see their countrymen using the hoe, from exclaiming
against the degradation of ancient manners, and asserting that the
savages owe their decline to these innovations: adding, that they have
only to return to their primitive habits, in order to recover their
power and their glory."

[220] The following description occurs in an official document: "Until a
young man has been engaged with an enemy, and has performed some acts of
valor, he gains no consideration, but is regarded nearly as a woman. In
their great war-dances all the warriors in succession strike the post,
as it is called, and recount their exploits. On these occasions their
auditory consists of the kinsmen, friends, and comrades of the narrator.
The profound impression which his discourse produces on them is
manifested by the silent attention it receives, and by the loud shouts
which hail its termination. The young man who finds himself at such a
meeting without anything to recount, is very unhappy; and instances have
sometimes occurred of young warriors whose passions had been thus
inflamed, quitting the war-dance suddenly, and going off alone to seek
for trophies which they might exhibit, and adventures which they might
be allowed to relate."

[221] These nations are now swallowed up in the states of Georgia,
Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. There were formerly in the south
four great nations (remnants of which still exist), the Choctaws, the
Chickasaws, the Creeks, and the Cherokees. The remnants of these four
nations amounted, in 1830, to about 75,000 individuals. It is computed
that there are now remaining in the territory occupied or claimed by the
Anglo-American Union about 300,000 Indians. (See proceedings of the
Indian board in the city of New York.) The official documents supplied
to congress make the number amount to 313,130. The reader who is curious
to know the names and numerical strength of all the tribes which inhabit
the Anglo-American territory, should consult the documents I refer to.
(Legislative Documents, 28th congress, No. 117, pp. 90-105.)

[222] I brought back with me to France, one or two copies of this
singular publication.

[223] See in the report of the committee on Indian affairs, 21st
congress, No. 227, p. 23, the reasons for the multiplication of Indians
of mixed blood among the Cherokees. The principal cause dates from the
war of independence. Many Anglo-Americans of Georgia, having taken the
side of England, were obliged to retreat among the Indians where they

[224] Unhappily the mixed race has been less numerous and less
influential in North America than in any other country. The American
continent was peopled by two great nations of Europe, the French and the
English. The former were not slow in connecting themselves with the
daughters of the natives; but there was an unfortunate affinity between
the Indian character and their own: instead of giving the tastes and
habits of civilized life to the savages, the French too often grew
passionately fond of the state of wild freedom they found them in. They
became the most dangerous of the inhabitants of the desert, and won the
friendship of the Indian by exaggerating his vices and his virtues. M.
de Senonville, the governor of Canada, wrote thus to Louis XIV., in
1685: "It has long been believed that in order to civilize the savages
we ought to draw them nearer to us, but there is every reason to suppose
we have been mistaken. Those which have been brought into contact with
us have not become French, and the French who have lived among them are
changed into savages, affecting to live and dress like them." (History
of New France, by Charlevoix, vol. ii., p. 345.) The Englishman, on the
contrary, continuing obstinately attached to the customs and the most
insignificant habits of his forefathers, has remained in the midst of
the American solitudes just what he was in the bosom of European cities;
he would not allow of any communication with savages whom he despised,
and avoided with care the union of his race with theirs. Thus, while the
French exercised no salutary influence over the Indians, the English
have always remained alien from them.

[225] There is in the adventurous life of the hunter a certain
irresistible charm which seizes the heart of man, and carries him away
in spite of reason and experience. This is plainly shown by the memoirs
of Tanner. Tanner is a European who was carried away at the age of six
by the Indians, and has remained thirty years with them in the woods.
Nothing can be conceived more appalling than the miseries which he
describes. He tells us of tribes without a chief, families without a
nation to call their own, men in a state of isolation, wrecks of
powerful tribes wandering at random amid the ice and snow and desolate
solitudes of Canada. Hunger and cold pursue them; every day their life
is in jeopardy. Among these men manners have lost their empire,
traditions are without power. They become more and more savage. Tanner
shared in all these miseries; he was aware of his European origin; he
was not kept away from the whites by force; on the contrary, he came
every year to trade with them, entered their dwellings, and saw their
enjoyments; he knew that whenever he chose to return to civilized life,
he was perfectly able to do so--and he remained thirty years in the
deserts. When he came to civilized society, he declared that the rude
existence which he described had a secret charm for him which he was
unable to define: he returned to it again and again: at length he
abandoned it with poignant regret; and when he was at length fixed among
the whites, several of his children refused to share his tranquil and
easy situation. I saw Tanner myself at the lower end of Lake Superior;
he seemed to be more like a savage than a civilized being. His book is
written without either taste or order; but he gives, even unconsciously,
a lively picture of the prejudices, the passions, vices, and, above all,
of the destitution in which he lived.

[226] The destructive influence of highly civilized nations upon others
which are less so, has been exemplified by the Europeans themselves.
About a century ago the French founded the town of Vincennes upon the
Wabash, in the middle of the desert; and they lived there in great
plenty, until the arrival of the American settlers, who first ruined the
previous inhabitants by their competition, and afterward purchased their
lands at a very low rate. At the time when M. de Volney, from whom I
borrow these details, passed through Vincennes, the number of the French
was reduced to a hundred individuals, most of whom were about to pass
over to Louisiana or to Canada. These French settlers were worthy
people, but idle and uninstructed: they had contracted many of the
habits of the savages. The Americans, who were perhaps their inferiors
in a moral point of view, were immeasurably superior to them in
intelligence: they were industrious, well-informed, rich, and accustomed
to govern their own community.

I myself saw in Canada, where the intellectual difference between the
two races is less striking, that the English are the masters of commerce
and manufacture in the Canadian country, that they spread on all sides,
and confine the French within limits which scarcely suffice to contain
them. In like manner, in Louisiana, almost all activity in commerce and
manufacture centres in the hands of the Anglo-Americans.

But the case of Texas is still more striking: the state of Texas is a
part of Mexico, and lies upon the frontier between that country and the
United States. In the course of the last few years the Anglo-Americans
have penetrated into this province, which is still thinly peopled; they
purchase land, they produce the commodities of the country, and supplant
the original population. It may easily be foreseen that if Mexico takes
no steps to check this change, the province of Texas will very shortly
cease to belong to that government.

If the different degrees, comparatively so light, which exist in
European civilisation, produce results of such magnitude, the
consequences which must ensue from the collision of the most perfect
European civilisation with Indian savages may readily be conceived.

[227] See in the legislative documents (21st congress, No. 89),
instances of excesses of every kind committed by the whites upon the
territory of the Indians, either in taking possession of a part of their
lands, until compelled to retire by the troops of congress, or carrying
off their cattle, burning their houses, cutting down their corn, and
doing violence to their persons.

It appears, nevertheless, from all these documents, that the claims of
the natives are constantly protected by the government from the abuse of
force. The Union has a representative agent continually employed to
reside among the Indians; and the report of the Cherokee agent, which is
among the documents I have referred to, is almost always favorable to
the Indians. "The intrusion of whites," he says, "upon the lands of the
Cherokees would cause ruin to the poor, helpless, and inoffensive
inhabitants." And he farther remarks upon the attempt of the state of
Georgia to establish a division line for the purpose of limiting the
boundaries of the Cherokees, that the line drawn having been made by the
whites, and entirely upon _exparte_ evidence of their several rights,
was of no validity whatever.

[228] In 1829 the state of Alabama divided the Creek territory into
counties, and subjected the Indian population to the power of European

In 1830 the state of Mississippi assimilated the Choctaws and Chickasaws
to the white population, and declared that any of them that should take
the title of chief would be punished by a fine of 1,000 dollars and 3
year's imprisonment. When these laws were enforced upon the Choctaws who
inhabited that district, the tribes assembled, their chief communicated
to them the intentions of the whites, and read to them some of the laws
to which it was intended that they should submit; and they unanimously
declared that it was better at once to retreat again into the wilds.

[229] The Georgians, who are so much annoyed by the proximity of the
Indians, inhabit a territory which does not at present contain more than
seven inhabitants to the square mile. In France there are one hundred
and sixty-two inhabitants to the same extent of country.

[230] In 1818 congress appointed commissioners to visit the Arkansas
territory accompanied by a deputation of Creeks, Choctaws, and
Chickasaws. This expedition was commanded by Messrs. Kennerly, M'Coy,
Wash Hood, and John Bell. See the different reports of the
commissioners, and their journal, in the documents of congress, No. 87
house of representatives.

[231] The fifth article of the treaty made with the Creeks in August,
1790, is in the following words: "The United States solemnly guaranty to
the Creek nation all their land within the limits of the United States."

The seventh article of the treaty concluded in 1791 with the Cherokees
says: "The United States solemnly guaranty to the Cherokee nation all
their lands not hereby ceded." The following article declared that if
any citizen of the United States or other settler not of the Indian
race, should establish himself upon the territory of the Cherokees, the
United States would withdraw their protection from that individual, and
give him up to be punished as the Cherokee nation should think fit.

[232] This does not prevent them from promising in the most solemn
manner to do so. See the letter of the president addressed to the Creek
Indians, 23d March, 1829. ("Proceedings of the Indian Board, in the City
of New York," p. 5.) "Beyond the great river Mississippi, where a part
of your nation has gone, your father has provided a country large enough
for all of you, and he advises you to remove to it. There your white
brothers will not trouble you; they will have no claim to the land, and
you can live upon it, you and all your children, as long as the grass
grows or the water runs, in peace and plenty. _It will be yours for

The secretary of war, in a letter written to the Cherokees, April 18th,
1829 (see the same work, page 6), declares to them that they cannot
expect to retain possession of the land, at the time occupied by them,
but gives them the most positive assurance of uninterrupted peace if
they would remove beyond the Mississippi: as if the power which could
not grant them protection then, would be able to afford it them

[233] To obtain a correct idea of the policy pursued by the several
states and the Union with respect to the Indians, it is necessary to
consult, 1st, "The laws of the colonial and state governments relating
to the Indian inhabitants." (See the legislative documents, 21st
congress, No. 319.) 2d, "The laws of the Union on the same subject, and
especially that of March 20th, 1802." (See Story's Laws of the United
States.) 3d, "The report of Mr. Cass, secretary of war, relative to
Indian affairs, November 29th, 1823".

[234] December 18th, 1829.

[235] The honor of this result is, however, by no means due to the
Spaniards. If the Indian tribes had not been tillers of the ground at
the time of the arrival of the Europeans, they would unquestionably have
been destroyed in South as well as in North America.

[236] See among other documents, the report made by Mr. Bell in the name
of the committee on Indian affairs, Feb. 24th, 1830, in which it is most
logically established and most learnedly proved, that "the fundamental
principle, that the Indians had no right by virtue of their ancient
possession either of will or sovereignty, has never been abandoned
either expressly or by implication."

In perusing this report, which is evidently drawn up by an able hand,
one is astonished at the facility with which the author gets rid of all
arguments founded upon reason and natural right, which he designates as
abstract and theoretical principles. The more I contemplate the
difference between civilized and uncivilized man with regard to the
principles of justice, the more I observe that the former contests the
justice of those rights, which the latter simply violates.

[237] It is well known that several of the most distinguished authors of
antiquity, and among them AEsop and Terence, were or had been slaves.
Slaves were not always taken from barbarous nations, and the chances of
war reduced highly civilized men to servitude.

[238] To induce the whites to abandon the opinion they have conceived of
the moral and intellectual inferiority of their former slaves, the
negroes must change; but as long as this opinion subsists, to change is

[239] See Beverley's History of Virginia. See also in Jefferson's
Memoirs some curious details concerning the introduction of negroes into
Virginia, and the first act which prohibited the importation of them in

[240] The number of slaves was less considerable in the north, but the
advantages resulting from slavery were not more contested there than in
the south. In 1740, the legislature of the state of New York declared
that the direct importation of slaves ought to be encouraged as much as
possible, and smuggling severely punished, in order not to discourage
the fair trader. (Kent's Commentaries, vol. ii., p. 206.) Curious
researches, by Belknap, upon slavery in New England, are to be found in
the Historical Collections of Massachusetts, vol. iv., p. 193. It
appears that negroes were introduced there in 1630, but that the
legislation and manners of the people were opposed to slavery from the
first; see also, in the same work, the manner in which public opinion,
and afterward the laws, finally put an end to slavery.

[241] Not only is slavery prohibited in Ohio, but no free negroes are
allowed to enter the territory of that state, or to hold property in it.
See the statutes of Ohio.

[242] The activity of Ohio is not confined to individuals, but the
undertakings of the state are surprisingly great: a canal has been
established between Lake Erie and the Ohio, by means of which the valley
of the Mississippi communicates with the river of the north, and the
European commodities with arrive at New York, may be forwarded by water
to New Orleans across five hundred leagues of continent.

[243] The exact numbers given by the census of 1830 were: Kentucky,
588,844; Ohio, 937,679. [In 1840 the census gave, Kentucky 779,828; Ohio

[244] Independently of these causes which, wherever free workmen abound,
render their labor more productive and more economical than that of
slaves, another cause may be pointed out which is peculiar to the United
States: the sugar-cane has hitherto been cultivated with success only
upon the banks of the Mississippi, near the mouth of that river in the
gulf of Mexico. In Louisiana the cultivation of the sugar-cane is
exceedingly lucrative; nowhere does a laborer earn so much by his work:
and, as there is always a certain relation between the cost of
production and the value of the produce, the price of slaves is very
high in Louisiana. But Louisiana is one of the confederate states, and
slaves may be carried thither from all parts of the Union; the price
given for slaves in New Orleans consequently raises the value of slaves
in all the other markets. The consequence of this is, that in the
countries where the land is less productive, the cost of slave labor is
still very considerable, which gives an additional advantage to the
competition of free labor.

[245] A peculiar reason contributes to detach the two last-mentioned
states from the cause of slavery. The former wealth of this part of the
Union was principally derived from the cultivation of tobacco. This
cultivation is specially carried on by slaves; but within the last few
years the market-price of tobacco has diminished, while the value of the
slaves remains the same. Thus the ratio between the cost of production
and the value of the produce is changed. The natives of Maryland and
Virginia are therefore more disposed than they were thirty years ago, to
give up slave labor in the cultivation of tobacco, or to give up slavery
and tobacco at the same time.

[246] The states in which slavery is abolished usually do what they can
to render their territory disagreeable to the negroes as a place of
residence; and as a kind of emulation exists between the different
states in this respect, the unhappy blacks can only choose the least of
the evils which beset them.

[247] There is a very great difference between the mortality of the
blacks and of the whites in the states in which slavery is abolished;
from 1820 to 1831 only one out of forty-two individuals of the white
population died in Philadelphia; but one negro out of twenty-one
individuals of the black population died in the same space of time. The
mortality is by no means so great among the negroes who are still
slaves. (See Emmerson's Medical Statistics, p. 28.)

[248] This is true of the spots in which rice is cultivated;
rice-grounds, which are unwholesome in all countries, are particularly
dangerous in those regions which are exposed to the beams of a tropical
sun. Europeans would not find it easy to cultivate the soil in that part
of the New World if it must necessarily be made to produce rice: but may
they not subsist without rice-grounds?

[249] These states are nearer to the equator than Italy and Spain, but
the temperature of the continent of America is very much lower than that
of Europe.

[250] The Spanish government formerly caused a certain number of
peasants from the Azores to be transported into a district of Louisiana
called Attakapas, by way of experiment. These settlers still cultivate
the soil without the assistance of slaves, but their industry is so
languid as scarcely to supply their most necessary wants.

[251] We find it asserted in an American work, entitled, "Letters on the
Colonization Society," by Mr. Carey, 1833, that "for the last forty
years the black race has increased more rapidly than the white race in
the state of South Carolina; and that if we take the average population
of the five states of the south into which slaves were first introduced,
viz., Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia,
we shall find that from 1790 to 1830, the whites have augmented in the
proportion of 80 to 100, and the blacks in that of 112 to 100."

In the United States, 1830, the population of the two races stood as

States where slavery is abolished, 6,565,434 whites; 120,520 blacks.
Slave states, 3,960,814 whites; 2,208,112 blacks.

[By the census of 1840, the population of the two races was as follows:
States where slavery is abolished, 9,556,065 whites; 171,854 blacks.
Slave states, 4,633,153 whites; 2,581,688 blacks.]

[252] This opinion is sanctioned by authorities infinitely weightier
than anything that I can say; thus, for instance, it is stated in the
Memoirs of Jefferson (as collected by M. Conseil), "Nothing is more
clearly written in the book of destiny than the emancipation of the
blacks; and it is equally certain that the two races will never live in
a state of equal freedom under the same government, so insurmountable
are the barriers which nature, habit, and opinions, have established
between them."

[253] If the British West India planters had governed themselves, they
would assuredly not have passed the slave emancipation bill which the
mother country has recently imposed upon them.

[254] This society assumed the name "The Society for the Colonization of
the Blacks." See its annual reports; and more particularly the
fifteenth. See also the pamphlet, to which allusion has already been
made, entitled "Letters on the Colonization Society, and on its probable
results," by Mr. Carey, Philadelphia, April, 1833.

[255] This last regulation was laid down by the founders of the
settlement; they apprehended that a state of things might arise in
Africa, similar to that which exists on the frontiers of the United
States, and that if the negroes, like the Indians, were brought into
collision with a people more enlightened than themselves, they would be
destroyed before they could be civilized.

[256] Nor would these be the only difficulties attendant upon the
undertaking; if the Union undertook to buy up the negroes now in
America, in order to transport them to Africa, the price of slaves,
increasing with their scarcity, would soon become enormous.

[257] In the original, "Voulant la servitude, il se sont laisse
entrainer, malgre eux ou a leur insu, vers la liberte."

"Desiring servitude, they have suffered themselves, involuntarily or
ignorantly, to be drawn toward liberty."--_Reviser_.

[258] See the conduct of the northern states in the war of 1812. "During
that war," said Jefferson, in a letter to General Lafayette, "four of
the eastern states were only attached to the Union, like so many
inanimate bodies to living men."

[259] The profound peace of the Union affords no pretext for a standing
army; and without a standing army a government is not prepared to profit
by a favorable opportunity to conquer resistance, and take the sovereign
power by surprise.

[260] Thus the province of Holland in the republic of the Low Countries,
and the emperor in the Germanic Confederation, have sometimes put
themselves in the place of the Union, and have employed the federal
authority to their own advantage.

[261] See Darby's View of the United States, pp. 64, 79.

[262] See Darby's View of the United States, p. 435.

[In Carey & Lea's Geography of America, the United States are said to
form an area of 2,076,400 square miles.--_Translator's Note._]

[The discrepancy between Darby's estimate of the area of the United
States given by the author, and that stated by the translator, is not
easily accounted for. In Bradford's comprehensive Atlas, a work
generally of great accuracy, it is said that "as claimed by this
country, the territory of the United States extends from 25 deg. to 54 deg.
north latitude, and from 65 deg. 49' to 125 deg. west longitude, over an area of
about 2,200,000 square miles."--_American Editor._]

[263] It is scarcely necessary for me to observe that by the expression
_Anglo-Americans_, I only mean to designate the great majority of the
nation; for a certain number of isolated individuals are of course to be
met with holding very different opinions.

Census of 1790........ 3,929,328.
do 1830........12,856,165.
[do. 1840........17,068,666.]

[265] This indeed is only a temporary danger. I have no doubt that in
time society will assume as much stability and regularity in the west,
as it has already done upon the coast of the Atlantic ocean.

[266] Pennsylvania contained 431,373 inhabitants in 1790.

[267] The area of the state of New York is about 46,000 square miles.
See Carey & Lea's American Geography, p. 142.

[268] If the population continues to double every twenty-two years, as
it has done for the last two hundred years, the number of inhabitants in
the United States in 1852, will be twenty millions: in 1874, forty-eight
millions; and in 1896, ninety-six millions. This may still be the case
even if the lands on the western slope of the Rocky mountains should be
found to be unfit for cultivation. The territory which is already
occupied can easily contain this number of inhabitants. One hundred
millions of men disseminated over the surface of the twenty-four states,
and the three dependencies, which constitute the Union, would give only
702 inhabitants to the square league: this would be far below the mean
population of France, which is 1,003 to the square league; or of
England, which is 1,457; and it would even be below the population of
Switzerland, for that country, notwithstanding its lakes and mountains,
contains 783 inhabitants to the square league. (See Maltebrun, vol. vi.,
p. 92.)

[269] See Legislative Documents, 20th congress, No. 117, p. 105.

[270] 3,672,317; census 1830.

[271] The distance of Jefferson, the capital of the state of Missouri,
to Washington, is 1,018 miles. (American Almanac, 1831, p. 40.)

[272] The following statements will suffice to show the difference which
exists between the commerce of the south and that of the north:--

In 1829, the tonnage of all the merchant-vessels belonging to Virginia,
the two Carolinas, and Georgia (the four great southern states),
amounted to only 5,243 tons. In the same year the tonnage of the vessels
of the state of Massachusetts alone amounted to 17,322 tons. (See
Legislative Documents, 21st congress, 2d session, No. 140, p. 244.) Thus
the state of Massachusetts has three times as much shipping as the four
abovementioned states. Nevertheless the area of the state of
Massachusetts is only 7,335 square miles, and its population amounts to
610,014 inhabitants; while the area of the four other states I have
quoted is 210,000 square miles, and their population 3,047,767. Thus the
area of the state of Massachusetts forms only one thirtieth part of the
area of the four states; and its population is five times smaller than
theirs. (See Darby's View of the United States.) Slavery is prejudicial
to the commercial prosperity of the south in several different ways; by
diminishing the spirit of enterprise among the whites, and by preventing
them from meeting with as numerous a class of sailors as they require.
Sailors are generally taken from the lowest ranks of the population. But
in the southern states these lowest ranks are composed of slaves, and it
is very difficult to employ them at sea. They are unable to serve as
well as a white crew, and apprehensions would always be entertained of
their mutinying in the middle of the ocean, or of their escaping in the
foreign countries at which they might touch.

[273] Darby's view of the United States, p. 444.

[274] It may be seen that in the course of the last ten years (1820-'30)
the population of one district, as for instance, the state of Delaware,
has increased in the proportion of 5 per cent.; while that of another,
as the territory of Michigan, has increased 250 per cent. Thus the
population of Virginia has augmented 13 per cent., and that of the
border state of Ohio 61 per cent., in the same space of time. The
general table of these changes, which is given in the National Calendar,
displays a striking picture of the unequal fortunes of the different

[275] It has just been said that in the course of the last term the
population of Virginia has increased 13 per cent.; and it is necessary
to explain how the number of representatives of a state may decrease,
when the population of that state, far from diminishing, is actually
upon the increase. I take the state of Virginia, to which I have already
alluded, as my term of comparison. The number of representatives of
Virginia in 1823 was proportionate to the total number of the
representatives of the Union, and to the relation which its population
bore to that of the whole Union; in 1833, the number of representatives
of Virginia was likewise proportionate to the total number of the
representatives of the Union, and to the relation which its population,
augmented in the course of ten years, bore to the augmented population
of the Union in the same space of time. The new number of Virginian
representatives will then be to the old number, on the one hand, as the
new number of all the representatives is to the old number; and, on the
other hand, as the augmentation of the population of Virginia is to that
of the whole population of the country. Thus, if the increase of the
population of the lesser country be to that of the greater in an exact
inverse ratio of the proportion between the new and the old numbers of
all the representatives, the number of representatives of Virginia will
remain stationary; and if the increase of the Virginian population be to
that of the whole Union in a feebler ratio than the new number of
representatives of the Union to the old number, the number of the
representatives of Virginia must decrease.

[276] See the report of its committees to the convention, which
proclaimed the nullification of the tariff in South Carolina.

[277] The population of a country assuredly constitutes the first
element of its wealth. In the ten years (1820-'30) during which Virginia
lost two of its representatives in congress, its population increased in
the proportion of 13-7 per cent.; that of Carolina in the proportion of
15 per cent.; and that of Georgia 51-5 per cent. (See the American
Almanac, 1832, p. 162.) But the population of Russia, which increases
more rapidly than that of any other European country, only augments in
ten years at the rate of 9-5 per cent.; of France at the rate of 7 per
cent.; and of Europe in general at the rate of 4-7 per cent. (See
Maltebrun, vol. vi., p. 95.)

[278] It must be admitted, however, that the depreciation which has
taken place in the value of tobacco, during the last fifty years, has
notably diminished the opulence of the southern planters; but this
circumstance is as independent of the will of their northern brethren,
as it is of their own.

[279] In 1832, the district of Michigan, which only contains 31,639
inhabitants, and is still an almost unexplored wilderness, possessed 940
miles of mail-roads. The territory of Arkansas, which is still more
uncultivated, was already intersected by 1,938 miles of mail-roads. (See
report of the general post-office, 30th November, 1833.) The postage of
newspapers alone in the whole Union amounted to $254,796.

[280] In the course of ten years, from 1821 to 1831, 271 steamboats have
been launched upon the rivers which water the valley of the Mississippi
alone. In 1829, 259 steamboats existed in the United States. (See
Legislative Documents, No. 140, p. 274.)

[281] See in the legislative documents already quoted in speaking of the
Indians, the letter of the President of the United States to the
Cherokees, his correspondence on this subject with his agents, and his
messages to Congress.

[282] The first act of cession was made by the state of New York in
1780; Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, South and North Carolina,
followed this example at different times, and lastly, the act of cession
of Georgia was made as recently as 1802.

[283] It is true that the president refused his assent to this law; but
he completely adopted it in principle. See message of 8th December,

[284] The present bank of the United States was established in 1816,
with a capital of 35,000,000 dollars; its charter expires in 1836. Last
year congress passed a law to renew it, but the president put his veto
upon the bill. The struggle is still going on with great violence on
either side, and the speedy fall of the bank may easily be foreseen.

[285] See principally for the details of this affair, the legislative
documents, 22d congress, 2d session, No 3.

[286] That is to say, the majority of the people; for the opposite
party, called the Union party, always formed a very strong and active
minority. Carolina may contain about 47,000 electors; 30,000 were in
favor of nullification, and 17,000 opposed to it.

[287] This decree was preceded by a report of the committee by which it
was framed, containing the explanation of the motives and object of the
law. The following passage occurs in it, p. 34: "When the rights
reserved by the constitution to the different states are deliberately
violated, it is the duty and the right of those states to interfere, in
order to check the progress of the evil, to resist usurpation, and to
maintain, within their respective limits, those powers and privileges
which belong to them as _independent sovereign states_. If they were
destitute of this right, they would not be sovereign. South Carolina
declares that she acknowledges no tribunal upon earth above her
authority. She has indeed entered into a solemn compact of union with
the other states: but she demands, and will exercise, the right of
putting her own construction upon it; and when this compact is violated
by her sister states, and by the government which they have created, she
is determined to avail herself of the unquestionable right of judging
what is the extent of the infraction, and what are the measures best
fitted to obtain justice."

[288] Congress was finally decided to take this step by the conduct of
the powerful state of Virginia, whose legislature offered to serve as a
mediator between the Union and South Carolina. Hitherto the latter state
had appeared to be entirely abandoned even by the states which had
joined her in her remonstrances.

[289] This law was passed on the 2d March, 1833.

[290] This bill was brought in by Mr. Clay, and it passed in four days
through both houses of Congress, by an immense majority.

[291] The total value of goods imported during the year which ended on
the 30th September, 1832, was 101,129,266 dollars. The value of the
cargoes of foreign vessels did not amount to 10,731,039 dollars, or
about one-tenth of the entire sum.

[292] The value of goods exported during the same year amounted to
87,176,943 dollars; the value of goods exported by foreign vessels
amounted to 21,036,183 dollars, or about one quarter of the whole sum.
(Williams's Register, 1833, p. 398.)

[293] The tonnage of the vessels which entered all the ports of the
Union in the years 1829, 1830, and 1831, amounted to 3,307,719 tons, of
which 544,571 tons were foreign vessels; they stood therefore to the
American vessels in a ratio of about 16 to 100. (National Calendar,
1833, p. 304.) The tonnage of the English vessels which entered the
ports of London, Liverpool and Hull, in the years 1820, 1826, and 1831,
amounted to 443,800 tons. The foreign vessels which entered the same
ports during the same years, amounted to 159,431 tons. The ratio between
them was therefore about 36 to 100. (Companion to the Almanac, 1834, p.
169.) In the year 1832 the ratio between the foreign and British ships
which entered the ports of Great Britain was 29 to 100.

[294] Materials are, generally speaking, less expensive in America than
in Europe, but the price of labor is much higher.

[295] It must not be supposed that English vessels are exclusively
employed in transporting foreign produce into England, or British
produce to foreign countries; at the present day the merchant shipping
of England may be regarded in the light of a vast system of public
conveyances ready to serve all the producers of the world, and to open
communications between all peoples. The maritime genius of the Americans
prompts them to enter into competition with the English.

[296] Part of the commerce of the Mediterranean is already carried on by
American vessels.


I have now nearly reached the close of my inquiry. Hitherto, in speaking
of the future destiny of the United States, I have endeavored to divide
my subject into distinct portions, in order to study each of them with
more attention. My present object is to embrace the whole from one
single point; the remarks I shall make will be less detailed, but they
will be more sure. I shall perceive each object less distinctly, but I
shall descry the principal facts with more certainty. A traveller, who
has just left the walls of an immense city, climbs the neighboring hill;
as he goes farther off, he loses sight of the men whom he has so
recently quitted; their dwellings are confused in a dense mass; he can
no longer distinguish the public squares, and he can scarcely trace out
the great thoroughfares; but his eye has less difficulty in following
the boundaries of the city, and for the first time he sees the shape of
the vast whole. Such is the future destiny of the British race in North
America to my eye; the details of the stupendous picture are overhung
with shade, but I conceive a clear idea of the entire subject.

The territory now occupied or possessed by the United States of America,
forms about one-twentieth part of the habitable earth. But extensive as
these confines are, it must not be supposed that the Anglo-American race
will always remain within them; indeed, it has already far overstepped

There was once a time at which we also might have created a great French
nation in the American wilds, to counter-balance the influence of the
English upon the destinies of the New World. France formerly possessed a
territory in North America, scarcely less extensive than the whole of
Europe. The three greatest rivers of that continent then flowed within
her dominions. The Indian tribes which dwelt between the mouth of the
St. Lawrence and the delta of the Mississippi were unaccustomed to any
tongue but ours; and all the European settlements scattered over that
immense region recalled the traditions of our country. Louisburg,
Montmorency, Duquesne, Saint-Louis, Vincennes, New Orleans (for such
were the names they bore), are words dear to France and familiar to our

But a concourse of circumstances, which it would be tedious to
enumerate,[297] have deprived us of this magnificent inheritance.
Wherever the French settlers were numerically weak and partially
established, they have disappeared; those who remain are collected on a
small extent of country, and are now subject to other laws. The 400,000
French inhabitants of Lower Canada constitute, at the present time, the
remnant of an old nation lost in the midst of a new people. A foreign
population is increasing around them unceasingly, and on all sides,
which already penetrates among the ancient masters of the country,
predominates in their cities, and corrupts their language. This
population is identical with that of the United States; it is therefore
with truth that I asserted that the British race is not confined within
the frontiers of the Union, since it already extends to the northeast.

To the northwest nothing is to be met with but a few insignificant
Russian settlements; but to the southwest, Mexico presents a barrier to
the Anglo-Americans. Thus, the Spaniards and the Anglo-Americans are,
properly speaking, the only two races which divide the possession of the
New World. The limits of separation between them have been settled by a
treaty; but although the conditions of that treaty are exceedingly
favorable to the Anglo-Americans, I do not doubt that they will shortly
infringe this arrangement. Vast provinces, extending beyond the
frontiers of the Union toward Mexico, are still destitute of
inhabitants. The natives of the United States will forestall the
rightful occupants of these solitary regions. They will take possession
of the soil, and establish social institutions, so that when the legal
owner arrives at length, he will find the wilderness under cultivation,
and strangers quietly settled in the midst of his inheritance.

The lands of the New World belong to the first occupants and they are
the natural reward of the swiftest pioneer. Even the countries which are
already peopled will have some difficulty in securing themselves from
this invasion. I have already alluded to what is taking place in the
province of Texas. The inhabitants of the United States are perpetually
migrating to Texas, where they purchase land, and although they conform
to the laws of the country, they are gradually founding the empire of
their own language and their own manners. The province of Texas is still
part of the Mexican dominions, but it will soon contain no Mexicans: the
same thing has occurred whenever the Anglo-Americans have come into
contact with populations of a different origin.

[The prophetic accuracy of the author, in relation to the present actual
condition of Texas, exhibits the sound and clear perception with which
he surveyed our institutions and character.--_American Editor_.]

It cannot be denied that the British race has acquired an amazing
preponderance over all the other European races in the New World; and
that it is very superior to them in civilisation, in industry, and in
power. As long as it is only surrounded by desert or thinly-peopled
countries, as long as it encounters no dense populations upon its route,
through which it cannot work its way, it will assuredly continue to
spread. The lines marked out by treaties will not stop it; but it will
everywhere transgress these imaginary barriers.

The geographical position of the British race in the New World is
peculiarly favorable to its rapid increase. Above its northern frontiers
the icy regions of the pole extend; and a few degrees below its southern
confines lies the burning climate of the equator. The Anglo-Americans
are therefore placed in the most temperate and habitable zone of the

It is generally supposed that the prodigious increase of population in
the United States is posterior to their declaration of independence. But
this is an error: the population increased as rapidly under the colonial
system as it does at the present day; that is to say, it doubled in
about twenty-two years. But this proportion, which is now applied to
millions, was then applied to thousands, of inhabitants; and the same
fact which was scarcely noticeable a century ago, is now evident to
every observer.

The British subjects in Canada, who are dependent on a king, augment and
spread almost as rapidly as the British settlers of the United States,
who live under a republican government. During the war of independence,
which lasted eight years, the population continued to increase without
intermission in the same ratio. Although powerful Indian nations allied
with the English existed, at that time, upon the western frontiers, the
emigration westward was never checked. While the enemy laid waste the
shores of the Atlantic, Kentucky, the western parts of Pennsylvania, and
the states of Vermont and of Maine were filling with inhabitants. Nor
did the unsettled state of the constitution, which succeeded the war,
prevent the increase of the population, or stop its progress across the
wilds. Thus, the difference of laws, the various conditions of peace and
war, of order and of anarchy, have exercised no perceptible influence
upon the gradual development of the Anglo-Americans. This may be readily
understood: for the fact is, that no causes are sufficiently general to
exercise a simultaneous influence over the whole of so extensive a
territory. One portion of the country always offers a sure retreat from
the calamities which afflict another part; and however great may be the
evil, the remedy which is at hand is greater still.

It must not, then, be imagined that the impulse of the British race in
the New World can be arrested. The dismemberment of the Union, and the
hostilities which might ensue, the abolition of republican institutions,
and the tyrannical government which might succeed it, may retard this
impulse, but they cannot prevent it from ultimately fulfilling the
destinies to which that race is reserved. No power upon earth can close
upon the emigrants that fertile wilderness which offers resources to all
industry and a refuge from all want. Future events, of whatever nature
they may be, will not deprive the Americans of their climate or of their
inland seas, of their great rivers or of their exuberant soil. Nor will
bad laws, revolutions, and anarchy, be able to obliterate that love of
prosperity and that spirit of enterprise which seem to be the
distinctive characteristics of their race, or to extinguish that
knowledge which guides them on their way.

Thus, in the midst of the uncertain future, one event at least is sure.
At a period which may be said to be near (for we are speaking of the
life of a nation), the Anglo-Americans will alone cover the immense
space contained between the polar regions and the tropics, extending
from the coasts of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific ocean. The
territory which will probably be occupied by the Anglo-Americans at some
future time, may be computed to equal three-quarters of Europe in
extent.[298] The climate of the Union is upon the whole preferable to
that of Europe, and its natural advantages are not less great; it is
therefore evident that its population will at some future time be
proportionate to our own. Europe, divided as it is between so many
different nations, and torn as it has been by incessant wars and the
barbarous manners of the Middle Ages, has notwithstanding attained a
population of 410 inhabitants to the square league.[299] What cause can
prevent the United States from having as numerous a population in time?

Many ages must elapse before the divers offsets of the British race in
America cease to present the same homogeneous characteristics; and the
time cannot be foreseen at which a permanent inequality of conditions
will be established in the New World. Whatever differences may arise,
from peace or from war, from freedom or oppression, from prosperity or
want, between the destinies of the different descendants of the great
Anglo-American family, they will at least preserve an analogous social
condition, and they will hold in common the customs and the opinions to
which that social condition has given birth.

In the Middle Ages, the tie of religion was sufficiently powerful to
imbue all the different populations of Europe with the same
civilisation. The British of the New World have a thousand other
reciprocal ties; and they live at a time when the tendency to equality
is general among mankind. The Middle Ages were a period when everything
was broken up; when each people, each province, each city, and each
family, had a strong tendency to maintain its distinct individuality. At
the present time an opposite tendency seems to prevail, and the nations
seem to be advancing to unity. Our means of intellectual intercourse
unite the most remote parts of the earth; and it is impossible for men
to remain strangers to each other, or to be ignorant of the events which
are taking place in any corner of the globe. The consequence is, that
there is less difference, at the present day, between the Europeans and
their descendants in the New World, than there was between certain towns
in the thirteenth century, which were only separated by a river. If this
tendency to assimilation brings foreign nations closer to each other, it
must _a fortiori_ prevent the descendants of the same people from
becoming aliens to each other.

The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty millions of men
will be living in North America,[300] equal in condition, the progeny of
one race, owing their origin to the same cause, and preserving the same
civilisation, the same language, the same religion, the same habits, the
same manners, and imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the
same forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a fact
new to the world--a fact fraught with such portentous consequences as to
baffle the efforts even of the imagination.

There are, at the present time, two great nations in the world, which
seem to tend toward the same end, although they started from different
points; I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have
grown up unnoticed; and while the attention of mankind was directed
elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a most prominent place among the
nations; and the world learned their existence and their greatness at
almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and
only to be charged with the maintenance of their power; but these are
still in the act of growth;[301] all the others are stopped, or continue
to advance with extreme difficulty; these are proceeding with ease and
with celerity along a path to which the human eye can assign no term.
The American struggles against the natural obstacles which oppose him;
the adversaries of the Russian are men; the former combats the
wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilisation with all its
weapons and its arts; the conquests of the one are therefore gained by
the ploughshare; those of the other, by the sword. The Anglo-American
relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends, and gives free
scope to the unguided exertions and common sense of the citizens; the
Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm; the
principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude.
Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same;
yet each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway
the destinies of half the globe.

* * * * *


[297] The foremost of these circumstances is, that nations which are
accustomed to free institutions and municipal government are better able
than any others to found prosperous colonies. The habit of thinking and
governing for oneself is indispensable in a new country, where success
necessarily depends, in a great measure, upon the individual exertions
of the settlers.

[298] The United States already extend over a territory equal to one
half of Europe. The area of Europe is 500,000 square leagues, and its
population 205,000,000 of inhabitants. (Maltebrun, liv. 114, vol., vi.,
p. 4.)

[299] See Maltebrun, liv. 116, vol. vi., p.92.

[300] This would be a population proportionate to that of Europe, taken
at a mean rate of 410 inhabitants to the square league.

[301] Russia is the country in the Old World in which population
increases most rapidly in proportion.


APPENDIX A.--Page 17.

For information concerning all the countries of the West which have not
been visited by Europeans, consult the account of two expeditions
undertaken at the expense of congress by Major Long. This traveller
particularly mentions, on the subject of the great American desert, that
a line may be drawn nearly parallel to the 20th degree of longitude[302]
(meridian of Washington), beginning from the Red river and ending at the
river Platte. From this imaginary line to the Rocky mountains, which
bound the valley of the Mississippi on the west, lie immense plains,
which are almost entirely covered with sand, incapable of cultivation,
or scattered over with masses of granite. In summer, these plains are
quite destitute of water, and nothing is to be seen on them but herds of
buffaloes and wild horses. Some hordes of Indians are also found there,
but in no great number.

Major Long was told, that in travelling northward from the river Platte,
you find the same desert constantly on the left; but he was unable to
ascertain the truth of this report. (Long's Expedition, vol. ii., p.

However worthy of confidence may be the narrative of Major Long, it must
be remembered that he only passed through the country of which he
speaks, without deviating widely from the line which he had traced out
for his journey.

[302] The 20th degree of longitude according to the meridian of
Washington, agrees very nearly with the 97th degree on the meridian of

APPENDIX B.--Page 18.

South America, in the regions between the tropics, produces an
incredible profusion of climbing-plants, of which the Flora of the
Antilles alone presents us with forty different species.

Among the most graceful of these shrubs is the passion-flower, which,
according to Descourtiz, grows with such luxuriance in the Antilles, as
to climb trees by means of the tendrils with which it is provided, and
form moving bowers of rich and elegant festoons, decorated with blue and
purple flowers, and fragrant with perfume. (Vol. i., p. 265.)

The _mimosa scandens_ (acacia a grandes gousses) is a creeper of
enormous and rapid growth, which climbs from tree to tree, and sometimes
covers more than half a league. (Vol. iii., p. 227.)

APPENDIX C.--Page 20.

The languages which are spoken by the Indians of America, from the Pole
to Cape Horn, are said to be all formed upon the same model, and subject
to the same grammatical rules; whence it may fairly be concluded that
all the Indian nations sprang from the same stock.

Each tribe of the American continent speaks a different dialect; but the
number of languages, properly so called, is very small, a fact which
tends to prove that the nations of the New World had not a very remote

Moreover, the languages of America have a great degree of regularity;
from which it seems probable that the tribes which employ them had not
undergone any great revolutions, or been incorporated, voluntarily, or
by constraint, with foreign nations. For it is generally the union of
several languages into one which produces grammatical irregularities.

It is not long since the American languages, especially those of the
north, first attracted the serious attention of philologists, when the
discovery was made that this idiom of a barbarous people was the product
of a complicated system of ideas and very learned combinations. These
languages were found to be very rich, and great pains had been taken at
their formation to render them agreeable to the ear.

The grammatical system of the Americans differs from all others in
several points, but especially in the following:--

Some nations in Europe, among others the Germans, have the power of
combining at pleasure different expressions, and thus giving a complex
sense to certain words. The Indians have given a most surprising
extension to this power, so as to arrive at the means of connecting a
great number of ideas with a single term. This will be easily understood
with the help of an example quoted by Mr. Duponceau, in the Memoirs of
the Philosophical Society of America.

"A Delaware woman, playing with a cat or a young dog," says this writer,
"is heard to pronounce the word _kuligatschis_; which is thus composed;


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