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affairs, — disgraceful, it is true, in the highest degree to us, - not reflecting credit on the race from which we are descended, — nor holding out encouragement anywhere for the adoption of liberal principles of government. If there is any feeling in England that can welcome the thought, that Americans have degenerated, the further reflection that it is the sons of Englishmen who have degenerated, must chasten the sentiment. If there is any country, where this supposed state of things should be readily believed to exist, surely it cannot be the parent country. If there is any place where such a suggestion should find ready credence, it cannot be in that House of Commons, where Burke uttered those golden words: “My hold of the Colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection.” It cannot be in that House of Peers, where Chatham, conscious that the Colonies were fighting the battle not only of American but of English liberty, exclaimed, with a fervor that almost caused the storied tapestry to quicken into life, “I rejoice that America has resisted.” It must be in Venice, it must be in Naples, or wherever else on the face of the earth liberal principles are scoffed at, and constitutional freedom is known to exist, only as her crushed and mangled form is seen to twitch and quiver under the dark pall of arbitrary power. Before admitting the truth of such a supposition, in itself so paradoxical, in its moral aspects so mournful, in its natural influence on the progress of liberal ideas so discouraging, let us, for a few moments, look at facts.
The first object in the order of events, after the discovery of America, was, of course, its settlement by civilized inan. It was not an easy task ; — a mighty ocean separated the continent from the elder world; a savage wilderness covered most of the country ; its barbarous and warlike inhabitants resisted from the first all coalescence with the new comers. To subdue this waste, — to plant cornfields in the primeval forest, to transfer the civilization of Europe to the new world, and to make safe and sufficient arrangements, under political institutions, for the organized growth of free principles, — was the great problem to be solved. It was no holiday pastime, – no gainful speculation, — no romantic adventure; but grim, persistent, weary toil and danger. That it has been upon the whole performed with wonderful success, who will deny? Where else in the history of the world have such results been brought about in so short time? And if I desired, as I do not, to give this discussion the character of recrimination, might I not, — dividing the period which has elapsed since the commencement of the European settlements in America into two portions, namely, the one which
preceded and the one which has followed the Declaration of Independence, the former under the sway of European governments, England, Holland, France, Spain, the latter under the government of the independent United States, — might I not claim for the latter, under all the disadvantages of a new government and limited resources, the credit of greatly superior energy and practical wisdom, in carrying on this magnificent work? It was the inherent vice of the colonial system, that the growth of the Amer-' ican colonies was greatly retarded for a century, in consequence of their being involved in all the wars of Europe. There never was a period, on the other hand, since Columbus sailed from Palos, in which the settlement of the country has advanced with such rapidity as within the last sixty years. The commencement of the Revolution found us with a population not greatly exceeding two millions; the census of 1800 a little exceeded five millions; that of the present year will not probably fall short of thirty-two millions. The two centuries and a half which preceded the Revolution witnessed the organization of thirteen Colonies, raised by the Declaration to States, to which the period that has since elapsed has added twenty more. I own it has filled me with amazement to find cities like Cincinnati and Louisville, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis, not to mention those still more remote, on spots which
within the memory of man were frontier military posts ; — to find railroads and electric telegraphs traversing forests, in whose gloomy shades, as late as 1789, and in territories not more remote than the present State of Ohio, the wild savage still burned his captives at the stake.
The desponding or the unfriendly censor will remind me of the blemishes of this tumultuous civilization;-outbreaks of frontier violence in earlier and later times; acts of injustice to the native tribes, (though the policy of the Government toward
them has in the main been paternal and conscien· tiously administered,) the roughness of manners in
infant settlements, the collisions of adventurers not yet compacted into a stable society, deeds of wild justice and wilder injustice, border license, lynch law. All these I admit and I lament;- but a community cannot grow up at once from the log-cabin, with the wolf at the door and the savage in the neighboring thicket, into the order and beauty of communities which have been maturing for centuries. We must remember, too, that all these blemishes of an infant settlement, the inseparable accompaniment of that stage of progress and phase of society and life, have their counterpart at the other end of the scale, in the festering iniquities of large cities, the gigantic frauds of speculation and trade, the wholesale corruption, in a word, of older societies, in all parts of the world. When I reflect that the day we celebrate found us a feeble strip of thirteen Colonies along the coast, averaging at most a little more than 150,000 inhabitants each ; and that this, its eighty-fourth return, sees us grown to thirty-three States, scattered through the interior and pushed to the Pacific, averaging nearly a million of inhabitants, — each a wellcompacted representative republic, securing to its citizens a larger amount of the substantial blessings of life, than are enjoyed by equal numbers of people in the oldest and most prosperous States of Europe, I am lost in wonder; and, as a sufficient answer to all general charges of degeneracy, I am tempted to exclaim, Look around you.
But, merely to fill up the wilderness with a population provided with the ordinary institutions and carrying on the customary pursuits of civilized life, though surely no mean achievement, was not the whole of the work allotted to the United States, and thus far performed with signal activity, intelligence, and success. The Founders of America and their descendants have accomplished more and better things. On the basis of a rapid geographical extension, and with the force of teeming numbers, they have, in the very infancy of their political existence, successfully aimed at higher progress in a generous civilization. The mechanical arts have not only been cultivated, but they have been cultivated with unusual