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the seaboard and on the frontiers.
A gallant navy protects our commerce, which spreads its banners on every sea, and extends its enterprize to every clime. Our diplomatic relations connect us on terms of equality and honest friendship with the chief powers of the world; while we avoid entangling participation in their intrigues, their passions, and their wars. Our national resources are developed by an earnest culture of the arts of peace. Every man enjoys the fruits of his industry; every mind is free to publish its convictions. Our government, by its organization,
, is necessarily identified with the interests of the people, and relies exclusively on their attachment for its durability and support. Even the enemies of the state, if there are any among us, have liberty to express themselves undisturbed; and are safely tolerated, where reason is left free to combat their errors. Nor is the constitution a dead letter, unalterably fixed; it has the capacity for improvement, receiving into itself whatever changes time and the public will may require ; and is safe from decay, so long as that will retains its energy. New states are forming in the wilderness; canals, intersecting our plains and cross
; ing our highlands, open numerous channels to internal commerce; manufactures prosper along our watercourses; the use of steam on our rivers and railroads annihilates distance by the acceleration of speed. Our wealth and population, already giving us a place in the first rank of nations, are so rapidly cumulative, that the former is increased four-fold, and the latter is doubled, in every period of twenty-two or twenty
three years. There is no national debt; the com-
it is but little more than two centuries, since the oldest of our states received its first
permanent colony. Before that time the whole territory was an unproductive waste. Throughout its wide extent the arts had not erected a monument. Its only inhabitants were a few scattered tribes of feeble barbarians, destitute of commerce, of political con
nexion, and of morals. The axe and the ploughshare were unknown. The soil, which had been gathering fertility from the repose of centuries, was lavishing its strength in magnificent but useless vegetation. In the view of civilization the immense domain was a solitude.
It is the object of the present work to explain, how the change in the condition of our land has been accomplished; and, as the fortunes of a nation are not controlled by blind destiny, to follow the steps, by which a favoring Providence, calling our institutions into being, has conducted the country to its present happiness and glory.
EARLY VOYAGES. FRENCH SETTLEMENTS.
The enterprize of Columbus, the most memora- CHAP. ble maritime enterprize in the history of the world, formed between Europe and America the communication which will never cease. The national pride of an Icelandic historian' has indeed claimed for his ancestors the glory of having discovered the western hemisphere. It is said, that they passed 1000, from their own island to Greenland, and were driven by adverse winds from Greenland to the 1003. shores of Labrador ; that the voyage was often repeated; that the coasts of America were extensively
1 Thormoder Thorfæus, His- of New-York, Part i. p. 110—125; toria Winlandiæ Antiquæ; printed Irving's Life of Columbus, first at Copenhagen, 1705. Compare edition, v. iii. p. 292—300. Crantz's History of Greenland, b. These writers, with the excepiv.c. i. sec. 7. Robertson's History tion of Irving, favor the opinion, of America: Notes and Illustra- that the Icelanders reached Amertions: Note xvii.
ica. Thorfæus has been consultOf American authors, consulted quite as often as Sturleson, Wheaton's History of the North- the original historian, whose work men, p. 22–28; Belknap's Am. contains the tradition. Franklin's Biography, v. i. p. 47–58; Yates opinion is given but casually in a and Moulton's History of the State private letter. Works, v. vi. p. 102.
CHAP. explored,' and colonies established on the shores of
Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. It is even suggested, 1492. that these early adventurers anchored near the harbor
of Boston ;3 or in the bays of New-Jersey. But this belief rests only on a narrative, traditional in its form and obscure in its meaning, although of undoubted antiquity. The geographical details are so vague, that they cannot even sustain a conjecture; the accounts of the mildness of the winter and the fertility of nature in the climes which were visited, are, on any hypothesis, fictitious or exaggerated; while the remark," which should define the length of the shortest winter's day, has received interpretations to suit every latitude from New-York to Cape Farewell. The first discoveries in Greenland were in a high northern latitude ; Vinland was but another and more southern portion of the same extensive territory."
Imagination had conceived the idea, that vast inhabited regions lay unexplored in the west; and
1 Moulton's New-York,p. 115. Schöning in Hist. Norv. v. i. p. 2 Belknap's American Biogra- 309, says nine hours; Thorfæus, phy, v. i. p. 52–56.
p. 7, and in the Addenda, p. 2, 3 Wheaton's History of the suits his exposition to the latitude Northmen, p. 24.
of Newfoundland, and allows eight 4 Moulton's New-York, p. 115, hours; Pontoppidan (see Belknap's 116.
Biog. v. i. p. 52,) reduces the day 5 See the original Icelandic Saga itself, collated from several 9 This opinion is forced upon manuscripts, and printed with a me by a perusal of the Saga itself translation into Danish and Latin, in the Latin version. I find it conin Gerhard Schöning's edition of firmed in a recent publicationHistoria Regun Norvegicorum, Discovery and Adventures in the conseripta a Snorrio Sturlæ Filio, Polar Seas and Regions, by Leslie, v. i. p. 304–325. Copenhagen, Jameson, and Murray, p. 87 of the 1777, in folio.
New-York edition of 1832. He 6 On Snorre Sturleson, that would learn a lesson of hisWheaton's Northmen,p.100—109. torical scepticism, should compare
7 Historia Reg. Norv. v. i. p. 309. the narrative of Sturleson with Sól haldi par eyktar stad oc day- the glowing and confident commála stad, um skamm-degi. mentary in Moulton.