New York
James Fenimore Cooper

italics have been transcribed in ALL CAPITALS. Annotations
(identified by {curly} brackets, have been occasionally
added--identifying allusions, translating foreign terms, and
correcting a few obvious typographical errors.

{Introduction from "The Spirit of the Fair" (April 5, 1864):

{Unpublished MS. of James Fenimore Cooper.

{Our national novelist died in the autumn of 1850 [sic]; previous
to his fatal illness he was engaged upon a historical work, to be
entitled "The Men [sic] of Manhattan," only the Introduction to
which had been sent to the press: the printing office was
destroyed by fire, and with it the opening chapters of this work;
fortunately a few pages had been set up, and the impression sent
to a literary gentleman, then editor of a popular critical
journal, and were thus saved from destruction: to him we are
indebted for the posthumous articles of Cooper, wherewith, by a
coincidence as remarkable as it is auspicious, we now enrich our
columns with a contribution from the American pioneer in letters.
In discussing the growth of New York and speculating on her
future destiny, the patriotic and sagacious author seems to have
anticipated the terrible crisis through which the nation is now
passing; there is a prescience in the views he expresses, which
is all the more impressive inasmuch as they are uttered by a
voice now silenced for ever. They have a solemn interest, and
were inspired by a genuine sympathy in the progress and
prosperity of the nation. It should be remembered that, when
these observations were written, the public mind had been and was
still highly excited by the "Compromise Measures"--the last vain
expedient to propitiate the traitors who have since filled the
land with the horrors of civil war.}


THE increase of the towns of Manhattan, as, for the sake of
convenience, we shall term New York and her adjuncts, in all that
contributes to the importance of a great commercial mart, renders
them one of the most remarkable places of the present age. Within
the distinct recollections of living men, they have grown from a
city of the fifth or sixth class to be near the head of all the
purely trading places of the known world. That there are
sufficient causes for this unparalleled prosperity, will appear
in the analysis of the natural advantages of the port, in its
position, security, accessories, and scale.

The State of New York had been steadily advancing in population,
resources, and power, ever since the peace of 1785. At that time
it bore but a secondary rank among what were then considered the
great States of the Confederacy. Massachusetts, proper and
singly, then outnumbered us, while New England, collectively,
must have had some six or seven times our people. A very few
years of peace, however, brought material changes. In 1790, the
year in which the first census under the law of Congress was
taken, the State already contained 340,120 souls, while New
England had a few more than a million. It is worthy of remark
that, sixty years since, the entire State had but little more
than half of the population of the Manhattanese towns at the
present moment! Each succeeding census diminished these
proportions, until that of l830, when the return for the State of
New York gave 1,372,812, and for New England 1,954,709. At this
time, and for a considerable period preceding and succeeding it,
it was found that the proportion between the people of the State
of New York and the people of the city, was about as ten to one.
Between 1830 and 1840, the former had so far increased in numbers
as to possess as many people as ALL New England. In the next
decade, this proportion was exceeded; and the late returns show
that New York, singly, has passed ahead of all her enterprising
neighbors in that section of the Union. At the same time, the old
proportion between the State and the town--or, to be more
accurate, the TOWNS on the Bay of New York and its waters--has
been entirely lost, five to one being near the truth at the
present moment. It is easy to foresee that the time is not very
distant when two to one will be maintained with difficulty, as
between the State and its commercial capital.

Bold as the foregoing prediction may seem, the facts of the last
half century will, we think, justify it. If the Manhattan towns,
or Manhattan, as we shall not scruple to term the several places
that compose the prosperous sisterhood at the mouth of the
Hudson--a name that is more ancient and better adapted to the
history, associations, and convenience of the place than any
other--continue to prosper as they have done, ere the close of
the present century they will take their station among the
capitals of the first rank. It may require a longer period to
collect the accessories of a first-class place, for these are the
products of time and cultivation; though the facilities of
intercourse, the spirit of the age, and the equalizing sentiment
that marks the civilization of the epoch, will greatly hasten
everything in the shape of improvement.

New York will probably never possess any churches of an
architecture to attract attention for their magnitude and
magnificence. The policy of the country, which separates religion
from the state, precludes this, by confining all the expenditures
of this nature to the several parishes, few of which are rich
enough to do more than erect edifices of moderate dimensions and
cost. The Romish Church, so much addicted to addressing the
senses, manifests some desire to construct its cathedrals, but
they are necessarily confined to the limits and ornaments suited
to the resources of a branch of the church that, in this country,
is by no means affluent. The manner in which the Americans are
subdivided into sects also conflicts with any commendable desire
that may exist to build glorious temples in honor of the Deity:
and convenience is more consulted than taste, perhaps, in all
that relates to ecclesiastical architecture. Nevertheless, a
sensible improvement in this respect has occurred within the last
few years, to which we shall elsewhere advert.

It will be in their trade, their resources, their activity, and
their influence on the rest of the world, as well as in their
population, that the towns of Manhattan will be first entitled to
rank with the larger capitals of Europe. So obvious, rapid, and
natural has been the advance of all the places, that it is not
easy for the mind to regard anything belonging to them as
extraordinary, or out of rule. There is not a port in the whole
country that is less indebted to art and the fostering hand of
Government than this. It is true, certain forts, most of them of
very doubtful necessity, have been constructed for defence; but
no attack having ever been contemplated, or, if contemplated,
attempted, they have been dead letters in the history of its
progress. We are not aware that Government has ever expended one
cent in the waters of Manhattan, except for the surveys,
construction of the aforesaid military works, and the erection of
the lighthouses, that form a part of the general provision for
the safe navigation of the entire coast. Some money has been
expended for the improvement of the shallow waters of the Hudson;
but it has been as much, or more, for the advantage of the upper
towns, and the trade coastwise, generally, than for the special
benefit of New York.

The immense natural advantages of the bays and islands at the
mouth of the Hudson have, in a great degree, superseded the
necessity of such assistance. Nature has made every material
provision for a mart of the first importance: and perhaps it has
been fortunate that the towns have been left, like healthful and
vigorous children, managed by prudent parents, to take the
inclination and growth pointed out to them by this safest and
best of guides.

London is indebted to artificial causes, in a great degree, for
its growth and power. That great law of trade, which renders
settling places indispensable, has contributed to her prosperity
and continued ascendency, long after the day when rival ports are
carrying away her fleets and commerce. She is a proof of the
difficulty of shaking a commercial superiority long established.
Scarce a cargo that enters the ports of the kingdom that does not
pay tribute to her bankers or merchants. But London is a
political capital, and that in a country where the representation
of the Government is more imposing, possessing greater influence,
than in any other Christian nation. The English aristocracy,
which wields the real authority of the state, here makes its
annual exhibition of luxury and wealth, such as the world has
never beheld anywhere else, ancient Rome possibly excepted, and
has had a large share in rendering London what it is.

New York has none of this adventitious aid. Both of the
Governments, that of the United States and that of the State,
have long been taken from her, leaving her nothing of this sort
but her own local authorities. But representation forms no part
of the machinery of American policy. It is supposed that man is
too intellectual and philosophical to need it, in this
intellectual and philosophical country, PAR EXCELLENCE. Although
such is the theory, the whole struggle in private life is limited
to the impression made by representation in the hands of
individuals. That which the Government has improvidently cast
aside, society has seized upon: and hundreds who have no claim to
distinction beyond the possession of money, profit by the mistake
to place themselves in positions perhaps that they are not always
exactly qualified to fill. Of all social usurpations, that of
mere money is the least tolerable--as one may have a very full
purse with empty brains and vulgar tastes and habits. The wisdom
of thus throwing the control of a feature of society, that is of
much more moment than is commonly supposed, into the chapter of
commercial accidents may well he questioned

Some crude attempts have been made to bring the circles of New
York within the control of a code prepared and promulgated
through the public press. They who have made these abortive
attempts have been little aware of the power with which they have
to contend. Napoleon himself, who could cause the conscription to
enter every man's dwelling, could not bring the coteries of the
Faubourg under his influence. In this respect, society will make
its own laws, appeal to its own opinions, and submit only to its
own edicts. Association is beyond the control of any regular and
peaceful government, resting on influences that seem, in a great
measure, to be founded in nature--the most inflexible of all
rulers. Tastes, conditions, connections, habits, and even
prejudices, unite to form a dynasty that never has yet been
dethroned. New York is nearer to a state of nature, probably, as
regards all its customs and associations, than any other
well-established place that could be named. With six hundred
thousand souls, collected from all parts of Christendom--with no
upper class recognized by, or in any manner connected with, the
institutions, it would seem that the circles might enact their
own laws, and the popular principle be brought to bear socially
on the usages of the town--referring fashion and opinion
altogether to a sort of popular will. The result is not exactly
what might be expected under the circumstances, the past being
intermingled with the present time, in spite of theories and
various opposing interests; and, in many instances, caprice is
found to be stronger than reason.

{conscription = the military draft; the Faubourg = the
fashionable neighborhoods of Paris; the popular principle =

We have no desire to exaggerate, or to color beyond their claims,
the importance of the towns of Manhattan. No one can better
understand the vast chasm which still exists between London and
New York, and how much the latter has to achieve before she can
lay claim to be the counterpart of that metropolis of
Christendom. It is not so much our intention to dilate on
existing facts, as to offer a general picture, including the
past, the present, and the future, that may aid the mind in
forming something like a just estimate of the real importance and
probable destinies of this emporium of the New World.

It is now just three-and-twenty years since, that, in another
work, we ventured to predict the great fortunes that were in
reserve for this American mart, giving some of the reasons that
then occurred to us that had a tendency to produce such a result.
These predictions drew down upon us sneers, not to say derision,
in certain quarters, where nothing that shadows forth the growing
power of this republic is ever received with favor. The
intervening period has more than fulfilled our expectations. In
this short interval, the population of the Manhattan towns has
more than trebled, while their wealth and importance have
probably increased in a greatly magnified proportion. Should the
next quarter of a century see this ratio in growth continued,
London would be very closely approached in its leading element of
superiority--numbers. We have little doubt that the present
century will bring about changes that will place the emporium of
the Old World and that of the New nearly on a level. This opinion
is given with a perfect knowledge of the vast increase of the
English capital itself, and with a due allowance for its
continuance. We propose, in the body of this work, to furnish the
reasons justifying these anticipations.

{another work = James Fenimore Cooper, "Notions of the Americans:
Picked up by a Travelling Bachelor" (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and
Carey, 1828)--a detailed description, in the guise of letters
written by a fictitious Belgian traveler, of the geography,
history, economy, government, and culture of the United States}

Seventeen years since, the writer returned home from a long
residence in Europe, during which he had dwelt for years in many
of the largest towns of that quarter of the world. At a convivial
party in one of the most considerable dwellings in Broadway, the
conversation turned on the great improvements that had then been
made in the town, with sundry allusions that were intended to
draw out the opinions of a traveller on a subject that justly
ever has an interest with the Manhattanese. In that conversation
the writer--his memory impressed with the objects with which he
had been familiar in London and Paris, and Rome, Venice, Naples,
etc., and feeling how very provincial was the place where he was,
as well as its great need of change to raise it to the level of
European improvement--ventured to say that, in his opinion,
speaking of Broadway, "There was not a building in the whole
street, a few special cases excepted, that would probably be
standing thirty years hence." The writer has reason to know that
this opinion was deemed extravagant, and was regarded as a
consequence of European rather than of American reasoning. If the
same opinion were uttered to-day, it would meet with more
respect. Buildings now stand in Broadway that may go down to
another century, for they are on a level with the wants and
tastes of a capital; but none such, with a single exception,
existed at the time of which we are writing.

{seventeen years since = Cooper had returned to New York in
November 1833, after a seven year sojourn in Europe}

In these facts are to be found the explanation of the want of
ancient edifices in America. Two centuries and a half are no very
remote antiquity, but we should regard buildings of that, or even
of a much less age, with greater interest, did the country
possess them. But nothing was constructed a century since that
was worth preserving on account of its intrinsic merits; and,
before time can throw its interest around them, edifice after
edifice comes down, to make way for a successor better suited to
the wants and tastes of the age. In this respect New York is even
worse off than the other ancient places of the country--ancient
as things can be regarded in America--its great growth and
commercial spirit demanding sacrifices that Philadelphia and
Boston have as yet escaped. It is quite within the scope of
probable things, that, in a very few years, there should not be
standing in the old town a single structure of any sort, that was
there previously to the Revolution. As for the new towns,
Brooklyn, Williamsburgh, etc., they had no existence worth
alluding to anterior to the commencement of the present century.
If any dwelling is to be found within the limits of either, that
can claim a more remote origin, it is some farmhouse that has
been swallowed up by the modern improvements.

That which is true of the towns, in this respect, is equally true
of the whole country. A dwelling that has stood half a century is
regarded as a sort of specimen of antiquity, and one that has
seen twice that number of years, of which a few are to be found,
especially among the descendants of the Dutch, is looked upon
with some such reverence as is felt by the modern traveller in
gazing at the tomb of Cecilia Metella, or the amphitheatre of

{tomb of Cecilia Metella = the most famous monument on the Appian
Way outside Rome, commemorating the wife of Crassus (d. 53 BC),
who as member of the First Triumvirate, joined with Caesar and
Pompey to end the Roman Republic; amphitheatre of Verona = built
by the Emperor Diocletian about 290 A.D. to stage gladiator
combats, it is one of the largest surviving Roman amphitheaters}

The world has had a striking example of the potency of commerce
as opposed to that of even the sword, in the abortive policy of
Napoleon to exclude England from the trade of the Continent. At
the very moment that this potentate of unequalled means and iron
rule was doing all he could to achieve his object, the goods of
Manchester found their way into half of his dependent provinces,
and the Thames was crowded with shipping which belonged to states
that the emperor supposed to be under his control.

{abortive policy = in the early years of the 19th century the
French Emperor Napoleon had sought, largely unsuccessfully, to
blockade England from trade with Europe}

As to the notion of there arising any rival ports, south, to
compete with New York, it strikes us as a chimera. New Orleans
will always maintain a qualified competition with every place not
washed by the waters of the great valley; but New Orleans is
nothing but a local port, after all--of great wealth and
importance, beyond a doubt, but not the mart of America.

New York is essentially national in interests, position, and
pursuits. No one thinks of the place as belonging to a particular
State, but to the United States. The revenue paid into the
treasury, at this point, comes in reality, from the pockets of
the whole country, and belongs to the whole country. The same is
true of her sales and their proceeds. Indeed, there is very
little political sympathy between the places at the mouth of the
Hudson, and the interior--the vulgar prejudice of envy, and the
jealousy of the power of collected capital, causing the country
to distrust the town.

We are aware that the governing motive of commerce, all over the
world, is the love of gain. It differs from the love of gain in
its lower aspects, merely in its greater importance and its
greater activity. These cause it to be more engrossing among
merchants than among the tillers of the soil: still, facts prove
that this state of things has many relieving shades. The man who
is accustomed to deal in large sums is usually raised above the
more sordid vices of covetousness and avarice in detail. There
are rich misers, certainly, but they are exceptions. We do not
believe that the merchant is one tittle more mercenary than the
husbandman in his motives, while he is certainly much more
liberal of his gains. One deals in thousands, the other in tens
and twenties. It is seldom, however, that a failing market, or a
sterile season, drives the owner of the plough to desperation,
and his principles, if he have any, may be preserved; while the
losses or risks of an investment involving more than the merchant
really owns, suspend him for a time on the tenter-hooks of
commercial doubt. The man thus placed must have more than a
common share of integrity, to reason right when interest tempts
him to do wrong.

Notwithstanding the generally fallacious character of the
governing motive of all commercial communities, there is much to
mitigate its selfishness. The habit of regarding the entire
country and its interests with a friendly eye, and of associating
themselves with its fortunes, liberalizes its mind and wishes,
and confers a catholic spirit that the capital of a mere province
does not possess. Boston, for instance, is leagued with Lowell,
and Lawrence, and Cambridge, and seldom acts collectively without
betraying its provincial mood; while New York receives her goods
and her boasted learning by large tran{s}shipments, without any
special consciousness of the transactions. This habit of
generalizing in interests encourages the catholic spirit
mentioned, and will account for the nationality of the great mart
of a great and much extended country. The feeling would be apt to
endure through many changes, and keep alive the connection of
commerce even after that of the political relations may have
ceased. New York, at this moment, contributes her full share to
the prosperity of London, though she owes no allegiance to St.

The American Union, however, has much more adhesiveness than is
commonly imagined. The diversity and complexity of its interests
form a network that will be found, like the web of the spider, to
possess a power of resistance far exceeding its gossamer
appearance--one strong enough to hold all that it was ever
intended to inclose. The slave interest is now making its final
effort for supremacy, and men are deceived by the throes of a
departing power. The institution of domestic slavery cannot last.
It is opposed to the spirit of the age; and the figments of Mr.
Calhoun, in affirming that the Territories belong to the States,
instead of the Government of the United States; and the
celebrated doctrine of the equilibrium, for which we look in vain
into the Constitution for a single sound argument to sustain it,
are merely the expiring efforts of a reasoning that cannot resist
the common sense of the nation. As it is healthful to exhaust all
such questions, let us turn aside a moment, to give a passing
glance at this very material subject.

{Calhoun = Senator John C. Calhoun (1782-1850} of South Carolina}

At the time when the Constitution was adopted, three classes of
persons were "held to service" in the country--apprentices,
redemptioners, and slaves. The two first classes were by no means
insignificant in 1789, and the redemptioners were rapidly
increasing in numbers. In that day, it looked as if this
speculative importation of laborers from Europe was to form a
material part of the domestic policy of the Northern States. Now
the negro is a human being, as well as an apprentice or a
redemptioner, though the Constitution does not consider him as
the equal of either. It is a great mistake to suppose that the
Constitution of the United States, as it now exists, recognizes
slavery in any manner whatever, unless it be to mark it as an
interest that has less than the common claim to the ordinary
rights of humanity. In the apportionment, or representation
clause, the redemptioner and the apprentice counts each as a man,
whereas five slaves are enumerated as only three free men. The
free black is counted as a man, in all particulars, and is
represented as such, but his fellow in slavery has only three
fifths of his political value.

This is the celebrated clause in which the Constitution is said
to recognize slavery. To our view the clause is perfectly
immaterial in this sense, making the simple provision that so
long as a State shall choose to keep a portion of her people in
this subordinate condition, she shall enjoy only this limited
degree of representation. To us, it appears to be a concession
made to freedom, and not to slavery. There is no obligation,
unless self-imposed, to admit any but a minority of her whites to
the enjoyment of political power, aristocracy being, in truth,
more closely assimilated to republicanism than democracy.
Republicanism means the sovereignty of public THINGS instead of
that of PERSONS; or the representation of the COMMON interests,
in lieu of those of a monarch. There is no common principle of
popular sway recognized in the Constitution. In the government of
the several States monarchy is denounced, but democracy is
nowhere proclaimed or insisted on. Marked differences in the
degrees of popular control existed in the country in 1789; and
though time is lessening them, are still to be found among us.

The close consideration of all these facts, we feel persuaded
will give a coloring to some of the most important interests of
the country, differing essentially from those that have been
loosely adopted in the conflicts of parties, and many heresies
appear to us to have crept into the political creed of the
Republic, purely from the struggles of faction. When men have a
specific and important purpose in view, it is but natural they
should bend most of its collateral connections to the support of
their own objects. We conceive that the Constitution has thus
been largely misinterpreted, and they who live at the epoch of
the renowned "equilibrium" and of the "rights of the people of
the Sovereign States," will have seen memorable examples of the
truth of this position.

The first popular error, then, that we shall venture to assail,
is that connected with the prevalent notion of the sovereignty of
the States. We do not believe that the several States of this
Union are, in any legitimate meaning of the term, sovereign at
all. We are fully aware that this will be regarded as a bold, and
possibly as a presuming proposition, but we shall endeavor to
work it out with such means as we may have at command.

We lay down the following premises as too indisputable to need
any arguments to sustain them: viz., the authority which formed
the present Constitution of the United States had the legal power
to do so. That authority was in the Government of the States,
respectively, and not in their people in the popular
signification, but through their people in the political meaning
of the term, and what was then done must be regarded as acts
connected with the composition and nature of governments, and of
no minor or different interests of human affairs.

It being admitted, that the power which formed the government,
was legitimate, we obtain one of the purest compacts for the
organization of human society that probably ever existed. The
ancient allegiance, under which the Colonies had grown up to
importance, had been extinguished by solemn treaty, and the
States met in Convention, sustained by all the law they had and
backed in every instance by institutions that were more or less
popular. The history of the world cannot, probably, furnish
another instance of the settlement of the fundamental compact of
a great nation under circumstances of so much obvious justice.
This gives unusual solemnity and authority to the Constitution of
1787, and invests it with additional claims to our admiration and

The authority which formed the Constitution admitted, we come
next to the examination of its acts. It is apparent from the
debates and proceedings of the Convention, that two opinions
existed in that body; the one leaning strongly toward the
concentration of power in the hands of the Federal Government,
and the other desirous of leaving as much as possible with the
respective States. The principle that the powers which are not
directly conceded to the Union should remain in first hands,
would seem never to have been denied; and some years after the
organization of the Government, it was solemnly recognized in an
amendment. We are not disposed, however, to look for arguments to
the debates and discussions of the Convention, in our view often
a deceptive and dangerous method of construing a law, since the
vote is very frequently given on even conflicting reasons.
Different minds arrive at the same results by different
processes; and it is no unusual thing for men to deny each
other's premises while they accept their conclusions. We shall
look, therefore, solely to the compact itself, as the most
certain mode of ascertaining what was done.

No one will deny that all the great powers of sovereignty are
directly conceded to the Union. The right to make war and peace,
to coin money, maintain armies and navies, &c., &c., in
themselves overshadow most of the sovereignty of the States. The
amendatory clause would seem to annihilate it. By the provisions
of that clause three fourths of the States can take away all the
powers and rights now resting in the hands of the respective
States, with a single exception. This exception gives breadth and
emphasis to the efficiency of the clause. It will be remembered
that all this can be done within the present Constitution. It is
a part of the original bargain. Thus, New York can legally be
deprived of the authority to punish for theft, to lay out
highways, to incorporate banks, and all the ordinary interests
over which she at present exercises control, every human being
within her limits dissenting. Now as sovereignty means power in
the last resort, this amendatory clause most clearly deprives the
State of all sovereign power thus put at the disposition of
Conventions of the several States; in fact, the votes of these
Conventions, or that of the respective legislatures acting in the
same capacity, is nothing but the highest species of legislation
known to the country; and no other mode of altering the
institutions would be legal. It follows unavoidably, we repeat,
that the sovereignty which remains in the several States must be
looked for solely in the exception. What then is this exception?

It is a provision which says, that no State may be deprived of
its equal representation in the Senate, without its own consent.
It might well be questioned whether this provision of the
Constitution renders a Senate indispensable to the Government.
But we are willing to concede this point and admit that it does.
Can the vote of a single State, which is one of a body of thirty,
and which is bound to submit to the decision of a legal majority,
be deemed a sovereign vote? Assuming that the whole power of the
Government of the United States were in the Senate, would any one
State be sovereign in such a condition of things? We think not.
But the Senate does not constitute by any means the whole or the
half of the authority of this Government; its legislative power
is divided with a popular body, without the concurrence of which
it can do nothing; this dilutes the sovereignty to a degree that
renders it very imperceptible, if not very absurd. Nor is this
all. After a law is passed by the concurrence of the two houses
of Congress it is sent to a perfectly independent tribunal to
decide whether it is in conformity with the principles of the
great national compact; thus demonstrating, as we assume, that
the sovereignty of this whole country rests, not in its people,
not in its States, but in the Government of the Union.

Sovereignty, and that of the most absolute character, is
indispensable to the right of secession: Nay, sovereignty, in the
ordinary acceptation of the meaning of the term, might exist in a
State without this right of secession. We doubt if it would be
held sound doctrine to maintain that any single State had a right
to secede from the German Confederation, for instance; and many
alliances, or mere treaties, are held to be sacred and
indissoluble; they are only broken by an appeal to violence.

Every human contract may be said to possess its distinctive
character. Thus, marriage is to be distinguished from a
partnership in trade, without recurrence to any particular form
of words. Marriage, contracted by any ceremony whatever, is held
to be a contract for life. The same is true of governments: in
their nature they are intended to be indissoluble. We doubt if
there be an instance on record of a government that ever existed,
under conditions, expressed or implied, that the parts of its
territory might separate at will. There are so many controlling
and obvious reasons why such a privilege should not remain in the
hands of sections or districts, that it is unnecessary to advert
to them. But after a country has rounded its territory,
constructed its lines of defence, established its system of
custom-houses, and made all the other provisions for security,
convenience, and concentration, that are necessary to the affairs
of a great nation, it would seem to be very presumptuous to
impute to any particular district the right to destroy or
mutilate a system regulated with so much care.

The only manner in which the right of secession could exist in
one of the American States, would be by an express reservation to
that effect, in the Constitution. There is no such clause; did it
exist it would change the whole character of the Government,
rendering it a mere alliance, instead of being that which it now
is--a lasting Union. But, whatever may be the legal principles
connected with this serious subject, there always exists, in
large bodies of men, a power to change their institutions by
means of the strong hand. This is termed the right of revolution,
and it has often been appealed to to redress grievances that
could be removed by no other agency. It is undeniable that the
institution of domestic slavery as it now exists in what are
termed the Southern and South-Western States of this country,
creates an interest of the most delicate and sensitive character.
Nearly one half of the entire property of the slave-holding
States consists in this right to the services of human beings of
a race so different from our own as to render any amalgamation to
the last degree improbable, if not impossible. Any one may easily
estimate the deep interest that the masters feel in the
preservation of their property. The spirit of the age is
decidedly against them, and of this they must be sensible; it
doubly augments their anxiety for the future. The natural
increase, moreover, of these human chattels renders an outlet
indispensable, or they will soon cease to be profitable by the
excess of their numbers. To these facts we owe the figments which
have rendered the Southern school of logicians a little
presuming, perhaps, and certainly very sophistical. Among other
theories we find the bold one, that the Territories of the United
States are the property, not of the several States, but of their
individual people; in other words, that the native of New York or
Rhode Island, regardless of the laws of the country, has a right
to remove to any one of these Territories, carry with him just
such property as he may see fit, and make such use of it as he
may find convenient. This is a novel co-partnership in
jurisdiction, to say the least, and really does not seem worthy
of a serious reply.

The territory of the United States is strictly subject to the
Government. The only clause in the Constitution which refers to
this interest conveys that meaning. But, were the instrument
silent, the power would remain the same. Sovereignty of this
nature is not determined by municipal law, but by the law of
nations. Thus, for instance, the right to make war, which is
inherent in every state of FOREIGN RELATIONS, infers the right to
secure its conquests; and that clause of the Constitution which
declares that the war-making power shall abide in Congress, says,
at the same time, by an unavoidable implication, that the
national legislature shall have all authority to control the
consequences of this war. It may dispose of its prisoners and its
conquests according to its own views of policy and justice,
subject only to the great principles that modern civilization has
introduced into public concerns.

One can understand why a different theory is in favor at the
South. It would be very convenient, no doubt, to the slaveholder
to be permitted to transfer his slaves to the gold diggings, and
gather the precious metal in lieu of a crop of cotton. But this,
the policy of the whole country forbids. Congress has very justly
left the decision of this very important matter to the people of
California itself; and they have almost unanimously raised their
voices against the measure. This, after all, is the really sore
point in controversy between the South and the North. The
fugitive slave has been, and will be given up to the legal claims
of his master; and, in a vast majority of the people of the
North, there is no disposition to disturb the legislative
compromise that has been made of this matter. It is true that the
North still owes the South a great deal more, though it may be
questioned if the machinations of demagogues and the ravings of
fanaticism will permit it to discharge the obligation. Penal laws
should be passed, punishing those who meddle with this grave
interest out of the limits of the State in which the parties
reside; and energy should be shown in rendering such an act of
justice effective and sure. Good-neighborhood, alone, would exact
some such provision from every well-disposed community, and there
cannot be a doubt that good policy coincides. The abolitionists,
beyond a dispute, have only had a tendency to rivet the fetters
of the slave, and to destroy the peace of the country.
Emancipation has not been extended a single foot by any of their
projects; while the whole South has been thrown into an attitude
of hostile defiance, not only towards these misguided persons,
but to their innocent and disgusted fellow-citizens. There might
be a hope that the well-intentioned portion of these people, and
it is both numerous and respectable, could be induced to adopt a
wiser mode of procedure, were it not that dissolute politicians,
who care only for the success of parties, and who make a
stalking-horse of philanthropy, as they would of religion or
patriotism, or any other extended feeling that happened to come
within their influence, interpose their sinister schemes to keep
agitation alive for their benefit. This, then, is the actual
state of things, as between the North and the South; and we will
take a hasty view of its probable consequences on the growth and
commerce of the towns at the mouth of the Hudson.

{California = California, newly conquered from Mexico and where
gold had been discovered in 1848, had in 1849 adopted a
Constitution banning slavery, at the same time that it applied
for admission to the Union as a free State; it was admitted in
1850 as part of the so-called Compromise of 1850, which included
the Fugitive Slave Act empowering the Federal Government to seize
and return slaves fleeing from slave to free States}

It is undeniable that any serious derangement of the political
institutions of the country, would produce a very injurious
effect on its prosperity generally; and perhaps in its immediate
influence, primarily on its commerce. But the first reverses of
such a calamity overcome, we do not see reason for believing that
the well-established principle, that trade will make its own
laws, should not apply to these towns as well as to any other
place known in the history of the world. New York, as has already
been intimated, at this moment contributes quite as much to the
prosperity of London, as it would probably have done had the
political connection between England and her colonies never been
severed. Making allowances for the greater prosperity induced by
the political independence of America, it is not improbable that
she even contributes more. Society and trade enact their own
laws. The first is found to be mainly independent of the
influence of political power, and the same, with certain
qualifications, may be said to be equally true of the last.

But we see little to apprehend from this source of danger. If the
slave-holding interest would be rendered really more secure by
separation or secession, then, indeed, such a result might be
looked for with some degree of confidence. But it is very certain
that the measure would lead to an escape of most of the slaves
near the northern frontiers of the Southern Confederacy, as well
as of a vast number of those who live at a greater distance from
what would probably be the dividing line. The North has been
aroused to the necessity of being just, and of adhering to the
conditions of the Constitution; and the recent measures of the
country go to prove there is no real disposition, in the masses,
to do otherwise. The attachment to the Union is very strong and
general throughout the whole of this vast country, and it is only
necessary to sound the tocsin to bring to its maintenance a
phalanx equal to uphold its standard against the assaults of any
enemies. The impossibility of the North-western States consenting
that the mouth of the Mississippi should be held by a foreign
power, is in itself a guaranty of the long existence of the
present political ties. Then, the increasing and overshadowing
power of the nation is of a character so vast, so exciting, so
attractive, so well adapted to carry with it popular impulses,
that men become proud of the name of American, and feel unwilling
to throw away the distinction for any of the minor considerations
of local policy. Every man sees and feels that a state is rapidly
advancing to maturity which must reduce the pretensions of even
ancient Rome to supremacy, to a secondary place in the estimation
of mankind. A century will unquestionably place the United States
of America prominently at the head of civilized nations, unless
their people throw away their advantages by their own
mistakes--the only real danger they have to apprehend: and the
mind clings to this hope with a buoyancy and fondness that are
becoming profoundly national. We have a thousand weaknesses, and
make many blunders, beyond a doubt, as a people; but where shall
we turn to find a parallel to our progress, our energy, and
increasing power? That which it has required centuries, in other
regions, to effect, is here accomplished in a single life; and
the student in history finds the results of all his studies
crowded as it might be into the incidents of the day.

A great deal that has been done among us of late, doubtless
remains to be undone; but we are accustomed to changes of this
nature, and they do not seem to be accompanied by the same danger
here as elsewhere. The people have yet to discover that the
seeming throes of liberty are nothing but the breath of their
masters, the demagogues; and that at the very moment when they
are made to appear to have the greatest influence on public
affairs, they really exercise the least. Here, in our view, is
the great danger to the country--which is governed, in fact, not
by its people, as is pretended, but by factions that are
themselves controlled most absolutely by the machinations of the
designing. A hundred thousand electors, under the present system
of caucuses and conventions, are just as much wielded by command
as a hundred thousand soldiers in the field; and the wire-pullers
behind the scenes can as securely anticipate the obedience of
their agents, as the members of the bureaux in any cabinet in
Europe can look with confidence to the compliance of their
subordinates. Party is the most potent despot of the times. Its
very irresponsibility gives it an energy and weight that
overshadows the regular action of government. And thus it is,
that we hear men, in their places in the national legislature,
boasting of their allegiance to its interests and mandates,
instead of referring their duties to the country.

All large commercial towns are, in their nature, national in
feeling. The diversity and magnitude of their interests are
certain to keep them so; and, as we have already said, New York
forms no exception to the rule. She belongs already more to the
country than she does to the State, and every day has a tendency
to increase this catholic disposition among the votaries of

That some extravagant notions, in which interest has thrown its
mists before the reason of our people, exist, is, we think
undeniable; and we concede that the two recently promulgated
figments of the equilibrium and the rights of persons over the
property and Territory of the United States have a character of
feebleness and obvious delusion that would excite our wonder, did
we not have so many occasions to observe and comment on the
frailty of human judgment when warped by motives of this nature.
To us it would seem, that the people of any particular State have
just the same claim to use the ships of war, and forts, and
public buildings of the United States, as they have, unpermitted
by the sovereign power, to occupy any of its lands. That which is
the property of the public is no more the property of
individuals, in law or reason, than the estate of any one man is
the estate of his neighbor. Carry out the doctrine in spirit, and
it would lead to general confusion, and a state of things so
impracticable as to disorganize society. If the people are thus
intrinsically masters and owners of all around them, why are they
not the proprietors of the banks and other corporations created
by themselves? They made the government, if you will, though in a
very limited capacity; and they made these corporations, much
more directly and unequivocally; and, admitting the truth of this
copartnership principle, in which every man is so far a member of
the firm that he may take his share of the assets, we cannot see
that he is not equally entitled to lay his hands on all the other
progeny of the popular will. In a word, the doctrine would seem
to be not only weak, but absurd; and we find a difficulty in
believing that any cool-headed and reflecting man can feel the
necessity for refuting it.

{just the same claim = Cooper is again ridiculing John C.
Calhoun's assertion that, because the new Territories of the West
acquired from Mexico belonged to the people rather than the
Federal Government, Southerners had an inherent right to bring
and keep their slaves in them regardless of Federal law}

But other dangers undeniably beset the country, that have no
connection with this question of Slavery. However repugnant it
may be to the pride of human nature, or the favorite doctrines of
the day, there can be little question that the greatest sources
of apprehension of future evil to the people of this country, are
to be looked for in the abuses which have their origin in the
infirmities and characteristics of human nature. In a word, the
people have great cause to distrust themselves; and the numerous
and serious innovations they are making on all sides, on not only
the most venerable principles in favor with men, but on the
divine law, must cause every reflecting man to forbode a state of
things, far more serious than even that which would arise from a
separation of the States into isolated parts.

The particular form in which this imminent danger is now, for the
first time seriously since the establishment of the Government,
beginning to exhibit itself, is through the combinations of the
designing to obtain a mercenary corps of voters, insignificant as
to numbers, but formidable by their union, to hold the balance of
power, and to effect their purposes by practising on the wilful,
blind, wayward, and, we might almost add, fatal obstinacy of the
two great political parties of the country. Here, in our view, is
the danger that the nation has most to apprehend. The result is
as plain as it is lamentable. In effect, it throws the political
power of the entire Republic into the hands of the intriguer, the
demagogue, and the knave. Honest men are not practised on by such
combinations; but, with a fatality that would seem to be the very
sport of demons, there they stand, drawn up in formidable array,
in nearly equal lines of open and deriding hostility, leading
those who no longer conceive it necessary to even affect the
semblance of respect to many of the plainest and most important
of the principles of social integrity that have ever been
received among men.

Anyone familiar with the condition of Europe must know, that
under the pressure of society in that quarter of the world, and
toward which we are fast tending by a rapid accumulation of
numbers, the present institutions of America, exercised under the
prevalent opinions of the day, could not endure a twelvemonth.
That which is now seen in France rendering real political liberty
a mere stalking-horse for the furtherance of the projects of the
boldest adventurers, would inevitably be seen here; the bayonet
alone would be relied on for the preservation of the nearest and
dearest of human rights. There could and would be no other
security for the peace of society, and that circle of power
which, rising in the masses, ends in the sceptre of the single
despot, would once more be made as it might be in derision of all
our efforts to be free.

{now seen in France = following the French Revolution of 1848
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873), nephew of the first Emperor
Napoleon, had been elected as President of France and was
consolidating his power--in December 1851, shortly after Cooper's
death, he would proclaim himself Emperor Napoleon III}

If the existence of nations resembled that of individuals, it
would not be difficult to foretell the consequences of this state
of things; but communities may be said to have no lives, and are
ever to be found occupying their places, and using the means
assigned to them by Providence, whether free or enslaved,
prosperous or the reverse. No one can foretell the future of this
great country, in consequence of the extent and number of its
outlets, each a provision of Providence to put a check on
revolutions and violence.

The elements of a monarchy do not exist among us; the habits of
the entire country are opposed to the reception of such a form of
government. Nor do we know, bad as our condition is rapidly
getting to be, strong as are the tendencies to social
dissolution, and to the abuses which demand force to subdue, that
anything would be gained by the adoption of any substitute for
the present polity of the country to be found in Europe. The
abuses there are possibly worse than our own, and the only
question would seem to be as to the degree of suffering and wrong
to which men are compelled to submit through the infirmities of
their own nature. There is one great advantage in the monarchical
principle, when subdued by liberal institutions, as in the case
of the government of that nation from which we are derived, which
it would seem a republic cannot possess. We allude to the
transmission of a nominal executive power that spares the
turmoil, expense, and struggles of an election, and which answers
all the purposes of the real authorities of the State in
designating those who are to exercise the functions of rulers for
the time being. It has often been predicted that the periodical
elections of the chief magistrate of this country will, at no
distant day, destroy the institutions. It would be idle to deny
that the danger manifestly increases with the expedients of
factions; and that there are very grave grounds for apprehending
the worst consequences from this source of evil. As it now is,
the working of the system has already produced a total departure
from the original intention of the Government; a scheme,
probably, that was radically defective when adopted, and which
contained the seeds of its own ruin. Recourse to electors has
become an idle form, ponderous and awkward, and in some of its
features uselessly hazardous. We are in the habit of comparing
the cost of government in this country with that of other nations
in the Old World. Beyond a question, the Americans enjoy great
advantages in this important particular, owing to their exemption
from sources of expenses that weigh so heavily on those who rely
for the peace of society solely on the strong hand. But confining
the investigation simply to the cost of Executives it may well be
questioned if we have not adopted the most expensive mode at
present known among civilized nations. We entertain very little
doubt that the cost of a presidential election fully equals the
expenditures of the empire of Great Britain, liberal as they are
known to be, for the maintenance of the dignity of its chief
magistracy. Nor is this the worst of it; for while much of the
civil list of a monarch is usefully employed in cherishing the
arts, and in fostering industry, to say nothing of its boons to
the dependent and meritorious in the shape of pensions, not a
dollar of the millions that are wasted every fourth year among
ourselves in the struggles of parties, can be said to be applied
to a purpose that has not a greater tendency to evil than to
good. The simple publication of documents, perhaps, may form some
exception to these abuses; but even they are so much filled with
falsehoods, fallacies, audacious historical misstatements,
exaggerations, and every other abuse, naturally connected with
such struggles, that we are compelled to yield them our respect
and credulity with large allowances for caution and truth. Were
this the place, and did our limits permit, we would gladly pursue
this subject; for so completely has the hurrah of popular sway
looked down everything like real freedom in the discussion of
such a topic as to render the voice of dissent almost unknown to
us. But our purpose is merely to show what probable effects are
to flow from the abuses of the institutions on the growth of the
great commercial mart of which we are writing.

{recourse to electors = the Electoral College}

We certainly think that even the looseness of law, legislation,
and justice, that is so widely spreading itself over the land, is
not exactly unsuited to sustain the rapid settlement of a
country. No doubt men accomplish more in the earlier stages of
society when perfectly unfettered, than when brought under the
control of those principles and regulations which alone can
render society permanently secure or happy. In this sense even
the abuses to which we have slightly alluded may be tolerated,
which it would be impossible to endure when the class of the
needy become formidable from its numbers, and they who had no
other stake in society than their naked assistance, could combine
to transfer the fruits of the labors of the more industrious and
successful to themselves by a simple recurrence to the use of the
ballot box. We do not say that such is to be the fate of this
country, for the great results that seem to be dependent on its
settlement raise a hope that the hand of Providence may yet guide
us in safety through the period of delusion, and the reign of
political fallacies, which is fast drawing around us. Evil is so
much mixed with good in all the interests of life, that it would
be bold to pretend to predict consequences of such magnitude in
the history of any nation. But we feel persuaded that radical
changes must speedily come, either from the powerful but
invisible control of that Being who effects his own purposes in
his own wise ways, or the time is much nearer than is ordinarily
supposed when the very existence of the political institutions of
this country are to be brought to the test of the severest
practical experiment. The downward tendency can hardly proceed
much further with the smallest necessary security to the rights
of civilized men. When a legislative body can be brought solemnly
to decide by its vote that because the principles of law leave
them the control of the rules for the descent of property,
therefore, whenever a landlord may happen to die, his tenant
shall have the privilege of converting his leasehold estate into
a fee on which the debt is secured in the shape of mortgage,
there is little left in the way of security to the affluent and
unrepresented. They must unite their means to prevent
destruction; and woe to that land which gives so plausible an
excuse to the rich and intelligent for combining their means to
overturn the liberties of a nation, as is to be found in abuses
like those just named. We very well know that the idea is
prevalent among us of the irresistible power of popular sway; but
he has lived in vain who has seen the course of events in other
nations for the last half century, and has not made the discovery
that men in political matters become the servants of money as
certainly and almost as actively as the spirits of the lamp were
made to do the bidding of Aladdin. To us, it would seem that the
future of this country holds out but three possible solutions of
the tendencies of the present time--viz. the bayonet, a return to
the true principles of the original government, or the sway of
money. For the first it may be too soon; the pressure of society
is scarcely sufficient to elevate a successful soldier to the
height of despotism, though the ladder has been raised more than
once against the citadel of the Constitution by adventurers of
this character, through the folly and heedless impulses of the
masses. Fifty years hence, and a condition of society will
probably exist among us that would effectually have carried out
the principle of despotic rule which is beginning to show itself
in the bud amongst us, and which is nothing more than the
shadowing out of coming events.

{legislative body can be brought = the New York State legislature
had enacted laws giving certain tenant farmers the right to
purchase the land they occupied, thus ending one of the causes of
the so-called "anti-rent wars" of the 1840s in upstate New York}

Notwithstanding all these obvious tendencies and the manifest
dangers that beset the real liberties of the country, we do not
see that any material influence will be brought by them to bear
upon the fortunes and ascendancy of the particular place of which
we are writing. Even political despotism in this age would
necessarily respect the ordinary rights of commerce, and quite
probably the greater security that would be given to property,
the increased dignity and authority of the courts of justice, and
the visible control of a vigilant and efficient government might
rather have a tendency to build up than to check the progress of
the capital of any country.

Civil war, in our view, can alone produce any material checks to
the prosperity of these towns of Manhattan. Against the malign
influence of so great a source of evil no one can with discretion
venture to predict the consequences. But we do not think that it
enters into the spirit of the true American character, so
remarkable for its mildness and disposition to mercy, in carrying
out the powers of government, to permit such a struggle as would
be likely to produce long-continued, or very withering local
distress. Compromises in some form or other would be resorted to,
to restore the course of the commerce of the country; and
although it might be, and probably would be, that this could only
be accomplished in the midst of the triumph of disorder,
irresponsibility, and the derangement of most that is necessary
to permanent security and quiet, a set of laws would arise for
the control of the affairs of the towns that would exercise their
sway, without any appeal to regularly constituted authority,
beyond that of the law of necessity. At this very moment, when we
have all the machinery of an efficient government around us, and
one has a right to look to the courts for the protection of his
rights, a thousand dollars of debt are secured and paid in a
place like that of New York, by the sole influence of commercial
opinion, where one dollar is secured and paid by the process of
law. Trade issues its own edicts, and they are ordinarily found
to be too powerful for resistance, wherever there are the
concentrated means of rendering them formidable by the magnitude
of the interests they control.

We see, then, nothing in the future that is very likely seriously
to disturb the continued growth and increasing ascendancy of the
great mart of the country. A trading people will pursue its
interests under any conceivable or tolerable condition of things.
It would require a generation or two, indeed, to obliterate, or
even sensibly to diminish the habits and opinions now in
existence among the people; and it must ever be remembered that
society pursues its regular course more or less successfully,
according to circumstances, even in the midst of revolution, war,
and rapine. A battle is fought to-day, and a month hence it
becomes difficult to discover its traces, over which the p{l}ough
has already passed, and among which the husbandman is resuming
his toil, as he replaces his fences, and clears away his fallen
trees after the passage of the whirlwind. It follows from these
views, and this course of reasoning, which might be greatly
extended and much more satisfactorily developed, that political
changes have less direct influence on the ordinary march of
society than is commonly supposed. The spirit of the age is and
must be respected by rulers of every shade of character; and the
fourth estate, as opinion is commonly termed, enters largely into
the ordinary action of every form of government or combination of
social organization that the accidents of history have produced,
or the sagacity and wants of men have more ambitiously paraded
before the eyes of their fellow creatures. When we couple with
these facts the certainty that there are undercurrents which
enable ordinary society, trade, and all the other active and
daily recurring interests of life, to manage their own affairs
more or less in their own way, it is not easy to foresee any
material consequences to the progress of a place like this at the
mouth of the Hudson, that can trace their rise to the future
course of political events in the country. We do not anticipate
any apparent dissolution of the ordinary ties of society, for we
know that nations will bear burdens of this nature for a long
period of time, without struggling or making the effort necessary
to remove them; and that it is only when they are felt to be
intolerable to the great body of the people that one may
confidently hope for redress and reformation. Petty wrongs are
never repaired by the masses; they sometimes vindicate their
rights by means of the strong arm, when seriously required to do
so, but in general the wrong is endured, and the victim immolated
without awakening attention or leaving any regrets among those
who escape its immediate consequences.

It has long been a subject of investigation among moralists,
whether the existence of towns like those of London, Paris, New
York, &c., is or is not favorable to the development of the
better qualities of the human character. As for ourselves, we do
not believe any more in the superior innocence and virtue of a
rural population than in that of the largest capitals, perfectly
conscious of the appalling accumulation of vice, and sin, and
crime that is to be found in such places as London and Paris, and
even in New York. We cannot shut our eyes to the numberless evils
of the same general character of disobedience to the law of God,
that are to be found even in the forest and the most secluded
dales of the country. If there be incentives to wrong-doing in
the crowded population of a capital town, there are many
incentives to refinement, public virtue, and even piety, that are
not to be met with elsewhere. In this respect we apprehend that
good and evil are more nearly balanced among us than is commonly
supposed; and we doubt if it were possible to render the laws a
dead letter in the streets of New York, as has been done around
the bell of the Capitol at Albany, and strictly among its rural
population, directly beneath the eyes of the highest authority of
the State. The danger to valuable and movable property would be
too imminent, and those who felt an interest in its preservation
would not fail to rally in its defence. It is precisely on this
principle that in the end property will protect itself as against
the popular inroads which are inevitable, should the present
tendencies receive no check. Calm, disinterested, and judicious
legislation is a thing not to be hoped for. It never occurs in
any state of society except under the pressure of great events;
and this for the very simple reason that men, acting in factions,
are never calm, judicious, or disinterested.

{around the bell of the Capitol = Cooper is alluding to the
public ferment in upstate New York, during the "anti-rent wars"
of the 1840s, resulting in laws infringing, in Cooper's view, on
the legal contractual and property rights of landowners}

Nevertheless, the community will live on, suffer, and be deluded:
it may even fancy itself almost within reach of perfection, but
it will live on to be disappointed. There is no such thing on
earth, and the only real question for the American statesman is
to measure the results of different defective systems for the
government of the human race. We are far from saying that our
own, with all its flagrant and obvious defects, will be the
worst, more especially when considered solely in connection with
whole numbers; though we cannot deny, nor do we wish to conceal,
the bitterness of the wrongs that are so frequently inflicted by
the many on the few. This is, perhaps, the worst species of
tyranny. He who suffers under the arbitrary power of a single
despot, or by the selfish exactions of a privileged few, is
certain to be sustained by the sympathies of the masses. But he
who is crushed by the masses themselves, must look beyond the
limits of his earthly being for consolation and support. The
wrongs committed by democracies are of the most cruel character;
and though wanting in that apparent violence and sternness that
marks the course of law in the hands of narrower governments, for
it has no need of this severity, they carry with them in their
course all the feelings that render injustice and oppression

We think that the towns of America, generally, will suffer less
from these popular abuses than the rural districts. As has been
already said, associated wealth will take care of itself. It may
make, and probably will make, in the earlier stages of these
political changes, some capital mistakes; and there cannot be a
question that in the rapacity of private efforts to accumulate,
some of the most obvious and natural expedients of protection
will be overlooked, until the neglect compels recourse possibly
even to the use of the strong hand. Still property will
eventually protect itself. For, in an age like this, when even
the bayonet must be carried ordinarily in its sheath, and when
men get to be accustomed from infancy to the inbred recognition
of many of the most important principles of government, society
starts, as it might be, far in advance of the point which it
reached in the ages of pure military and arbitrary sway. The
celebrated saying of Napoleon, "L'Europe sera, dans cinquante
ans, ou republicaine ou cossaque," has a profound signification;
yet it must be greatly qualified to be received with safety. The
"cossaque" of the close of the nineteenth century will be a very
different thing from the "cossaque" of the days of Paul. It now
means little more than conservatism, and this, too, a
conservatism that is not absolutely without that principle of
concession to the spirits and wants of the passing moment. These
quarrels and bitter conflicts of which we hear so much in the Old
World, like some of our own, have their rise in abstractions
quite as much as in actual oppression; and the alternative
offered by change half the time amounts to but little more than
the substitution of King Stork for King Log. It may not be
agreeable to the pride, recollections, and national traditions of
the Hungarian, or the Italian, to submit to the sway of a German;
but it may well be questioned if the substitutes they would offer
for the present form of government would greatly tend to the
amelioration of the respective people.

{L'Europe sera.... = Europe will, in fifty years, be either
republican or cossack [French]; Paul = Paul I, Tsar of Russia
from 1796 to 1801; King Stork for King Log = from Aesop's Fables}

What is true in the Old World will, in the end, be found to be
true here. To us, it would seem that the portion of the people of
this country, whom we should term the disinterested, or those who
have no direct connection with slavery, on the one hand, or with
fanaticism, and its handmaid demagogism, on the other, should
turn their attention solely to the achievement of a single
object. They have the strength to do it, if they only had the
will. By compelling the disturbers of the public peace to submit
to the control of the government, and to cease their meddling and
wanton invasion of the security and property of their brothers
and neighbors, the question of slavery would soon take care of
itself. A single generation would, probably, see it confined in a
great measure to the extreme Southern and Southwestern States;
for, under the present emigration from Europe, it cannot be long
before the upper counties of even the Carolinas and Georgia will
make the discovery that the introduction of a single white man
will be really of more importance to them than that of a dozen
negroes. Could Virginia be made to see her true interests in this
behalf, the glory of the Old Dominion would speedily revive, and
her fine population of gentlemen would shortly take its place
again where it so properly belongs, in the foremost ranks of the
nation. We require an exchange with that quarter of the country,
for we could give that which she greatly needs, and receive in
exchange that which would probably not a little benefit
ourselves. Puritanism, most especially when it breaks out of
bonds by the process of emigration, does not always produce the
most acceptable fruits; while, on the other hand, the descendants
of the Cavaliers might obtain homely lessons, of great practical
benefit, from the utilitarian spirit of the whole North.


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