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government, but, culpable as it has been and is, we believe it far better than the active and influential portion of the people it represents. The active mass of our people, those who influence public affairs, and give tone and character to the country, we believe to be utterly destitute of all sense of religion or morality, and capable of any iniquity demanded by their interests or their passions. They are ingenious, skillful, energetic, but in transferring the property of others to themselves. The boasted skill and energy of the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent have been most strikingly displayed in land-stealing. The word is hard, we know it, but it is trne. We started with fair and honorable principles towards foreign nations, for then we were weak, and must solicit, not command. Now we fancy ourselves strong, and we are strong, and there is no nation that could have a war with us without suffering severely. We are strong, and we believe onrselves even stronger than we are, and we become overbearing and aggressive, especially, to our weaker neighbors. We are strong, and we are preparing to use our strength, in defiance of honor and justice, against the peace of the world. We know that we gain no friends by saying this; we know that we against our own interest in saying it; but it is true, and it is true that it was said by an American, not in wrath or exultation, but in true love and deep sorrow. It is not yet too late to amend our faults, and to return to the paths of justice and honor. At present both are abandoned ; law receives no respect; the most sacred obligations are thrown off, and we are heedless of every duty that it does not please us to perform. Can things continue thus with us, and we not rush to speedy destruction ?
We claim to be an order-loving and law-abiding people; yet no law here can be enforced that is not backed by public sentiment. What you call your neutrality laws are every day violated with impunity. Your fugitive slave law, have you fairly executed it in a single locality, where public opinion was strongly against it? Have you succeeded in convicting a single one of those who have notoriously conspired to resist its execution? Let us, my countrymen, cease boasting, and endeavor to see ourselves, for once, as we really are. Be assured that we have ample reason to humble ourselves, collectively and individually, as really the most lawless and shameless people on the globe, that claims to be ranked arnony civilized nations. We have forgotten God, we have bowed low at the shrine of Mammon; and in vain do we trust to our riches and our material prosperity. These will not save us. The pride and selfishness, the insensibility to honor, the indifference to all lofty mora! principle, because so universal, are dangerous enemies, pot merely to our virtue, but to our national existence. Let us remember that justice exalteth a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people. "Let us remember that no nation can long prosper that disregards virtue, and that gives loose reins to every base or sordid passion of corrupt nature.
It is to recall these things to the remembrance of our countrymen that we have written as we have, and it matters little what they do or say to ns if they will only profit by what we have written. Their own consciences will bear us witness that we have spoken nothing of them that is not true, and which may not be said without inalice.
Let not our readers, however, suppose that we believe our countryinen are the only people in the world that deserve to be censured. Other nations have their faults, as well as we ours, but it is our business to ascertain and correct our own faults, not theirs. We are a young people, and seldom is it that a people grows more virtuous as it grows older, stronger, and wealthier. There are, no doubt, large numbers of our countrymen who abound in the human virtues, but, unliappily, they have little to do with public affairs, and it is the lawless, the grasping, the vicious, that give a tone to our national character, and determine our public policy.
COOPER'S WAYS OF THE HOUR.
[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1851.)
We cannot characterize our government and institutions by a single term, without misleading some as to their true nature. They are not strictly democratic, for they include monarchical and aristocratic elements; they are not strictly monarchical or strictly aristocratic, for they evidently include democratic elements. It is always an error to denominate them from any one of the siinple or absolute forms of government, that is, from pure democracy, pure aristocracy, or pure monarchy, the only simple and absolute forins of government there are, or can be. Our government, whether state or national, is properly speaking a mixed government, and its characteristic is not in any one of the simple forms of government, but in its original and peculiar combination of them all in one harmonious and complex system.
* The Ways of the Tour: a Tale. By the author of “The Spy," " The Red Rover,” &c., &c. New York: 1850.
Our government is republican as opposed to hereditary monarchy; it is democratic as opposed to hereditary aristocracy, and in that it recognizes equality before the laws, makes its various officers elective by the people at large, and acknowledges general eligibility ; but it is monarchical, in that it establishes the unity of the executive, invests the president with the command of the army and navy, and gives him a conditional veto on the acts of the legislature; and it is aristocratic, in that it vests the legislative power, not in the people at large, but in the optimates, or those legally presumed to be such, and recognizes in these, during their term of office and within the linits of the constitution, the legislative power in its plenitude, to be exercised according to their own discretion, unfettered by any instructions from their constituents, and with no other responsibility than that which every man owes to God, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. It therefore includes essentially, as essential principles of its constitution, the elementary principles of all the simple forms of government, and its aim is, by tempering them one with another, to secure what is good and to guard against what is evil or hurtful in each.
The great political danger in this country arises from forgetfulness or neglect of this mixed or complex character of our government and institutions, and the constant tendency to interpret them according to the principles of a simple and absolute form of government. Simplicity is more easily understood than complexity; the former is within the reach of everybody, the latter is within the reach of none but the few who make it a special study. The human understanding also loves simplicity, and naturally tends on all the matters on which it operates to reduce all as far as possible to a singlé principle, and to eliminate wliatever is opposed to it, or does not logically proceed from it. It craves unity and simplicity, and looks upon multiplicity and complexity as defects. The constitution of the continental governments of Europe is far more simple, and follows far more strictly the law of unity, than that of Great Britain, and hence, while a cultivated Englishman readily comprehends a continental government, a Frenchman or a German cannot, without a long and special study, speak for five minutes of the English constitution withont committing some egregious blunder. Foreigners always blunder, for the same reason, when they speak of our complicated government, and so do the great body of our own people, whenever they attempt to go beyond the mere routine of practice to which they are accustomed from childhood. They do not take in the government as a complex whole, but seize it merely in one of its elements, and seek to understand and explain the whole by virtue of that as its exclusive principle. Whatever does not proceed froin that as its principle, or is not logically reconcilable with it, they regard as an anomaly to be cleared away. The single element seized upon is regarded as the norma of the government, and whatever would oppose, limit, restrain, or modify its practical operation, as repugnant to the governinent itself, and therefore not to be suffered to remain. Consequently, the tendency is always to reduce the government as far as possible to a simple and absolute form of government, and therefore to pave the way for tyranny, since every simple and absolute form of government, untempered by some admixture of the elements of the other forms, is always tyrannical.
The monarchical and aristocratic elements, though essential to our constitution, do not hold in it the most prominent place. They are there, but they are there withont éclat and without development, and their real character and importance in our system are the very last that strike the student of our peculiar civil polity. The democratic element has apparently a much larger sphere than either of them, is the most prominent, and that which first strikes the attention. It accordingly is the element first apprehended, and the one the majority take to be the exclusive principle, the norma of the government. Hence the government is generally taken to be in its principle and intention a purely democratic government, to be interpreted and administered on the democratic principle alone. This is a great mistake, and involves the gravest consequences,-conseqnences, per haps, no less grave, in the long run, than the total destruction of our government as a mixed government.
This mistake is perfectly natural. The democratic element has in our institutions too large a sphere, as Washington and the more eminent statesmen of his time contended. Let is not be inisunderstood. When we say that the democratic element has too large a spliere, we do not mean that the sphere actually assigned it in the constitution is too large, providing it practically remains within that sphere. It is too large in the sense that it has the power to make itself larger, and to gain the absolute ascendency over the other elements intended to restrain or temper it. If democracy would be contented to remain and operate only within the bounds prescribed, it would not have too large a sphere; but as these bounds are to a great extent prescribed only on the parchment constitution, and as they are not sufficiently defended by the power given to the other elements, it is able to transcend them, and to operate beyond its constitutional sphere. The original defect of the American constitutions was not so much in the too great power given to the dernocratic element as in the weakness of the defences provided against its usurpation. The framers of those constitutions gave a just proportion to the several elements so long as each reinained within its constitutional limits, and in the exercise of its legitimate power; but they did not guard sufficiently against democratic ascendency. They were familiar with the abuses of monarchy and aristocracy, and effectually guarded against them; but they were not so fainiliar with the abuses of democracy, and did not fully anticipate and guard against them. They did not take into the account the fact that every people, by a sort of instinctive logic, labors incessantly to simplify its institutions, and that in the process of simplification the stronger element gains the ascendency, and tends to render itself exclusive by eliminating or absorbing the others. They did not take sufficiently into the account the influence of popular theories, or foresee the consequences which would be drawn from certain maxims which passed current with them, and certain principles which they laid down as the basis of their own proceedings. They had had no experience of the Jacobinical revolutions which followed the establishment of our republic, and consequently could not anticipate the facility with which their own principles could be perverted to serve as the basis of a system with which they had no affinity. They did not see that the Contrat Social was already in Locke's Essays on Government, and that the French revolution and