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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 aristocracy. 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 are things 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 civilization 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.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CAUSES OF THE COMMERCIAL PROSPERITY OF THE UNITED STATES.
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-Americans less attributable, however, to physical circumstances than to moral 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 civilization. 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.✻ And they also bring three quarters of the exports of the New World to the European consumer.† 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.i. 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 ves. sels of the United States can cross the seas at a cheaper rate than any otber 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 ;✻ 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 before been 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 commer. cial 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
* 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.
† The value of goods exported during the same year amounted to 87,176,943 dollars; the value of goods exported by foreign vessels announted to 21,036,183 dollars, or about one quarter of the whole sum. (Williams's Register, 1833, p. 398.)
‡ 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,
* Materials are, generally speaking, less expensive in America than in Europe, but the price of labor is much higher.
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 nature. The inhabitants of the United States are subject to all the wants and all the desires which result from an advanced stage of civilization ; 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; hut it powerfully contributes to awaken the intelligence of the workman. Nothing tends to materialize 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,