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titude of their intentions, they appealed to "a candid world” and to “ the Supreme Judge of the world.” The independence they then declared, and the nation that they brought to consciousness by that Declaration, have stood for a hundred years.
I have dwelt thus minutely upon the essential attributes of a nation, because in the fact that the colonists had grown to be a nation is given a justification of the Revolution, and because, also, in this fact is given a conclusive answer to the pretended “right of secession,” under which was organized the rebellion of the Southern States in 1861. That plea was, that the Union was a compact of several independent sovereignties, and that any or all of these could at any time withdraw from the compact, renounce the paramount sovereignty of the Union, and fall back upon its original independence as a power, or enter into new compacts with other powers according to its pleasure. But the original thirteen Colonies became independent States only through their union: it was a Congress representing “the good people of the Colonies” that proclaimed the fact of independence. The nation existed long before the Constitution, which it made for a more perfect realization of its inherent and essential unity and sovereignty; the nation existed years before the Articles of Confederation, which were a crude attempt to give expression to that unity and sovereignty, under the pressure of the Revolutionary war; and the nation existed before the Declaration of Independence, by which it declared its own consciousness, and challenged the recognition of the world. The nation might be rent in twain by civil war, or be robbed of a portion of its territory and people by conquest; and it is even conceivable that the nation, acting of its free-will and in its entirety, - in view of the vastness of its territory or its population, or of certain
1 The Declaration reais, “We, the representatives, &c., ... do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Many of the members of this Congress had been electeil directly by conventions of the people.
2 By the preamble to the Declaration, it was a “PEOPLE” — not a confederation of governinents, but a people – that dissolved the political bonds which had connected them with another, and assumed “a separate and equal station” – that is, as a distinct nation - “among the powers of the earth.” The nation lay back of all forms of political organization. .
theistion, and nece training wheple of the unit
features of its physical geography, — might deem it wise to portion off a section of itself as a separate political community, for greater convenience or efficiency of government. But “right of secession” there is and can be none. To admit such a right would be to put into each and every constituent of the nation the means of the political suicide of the whole body. The nation is not a group of distinct commonwealths held together by a rope of sand : it is a people, a living organism, having in itself the inalienable and indivisible functions and attributes of life. Such a nation is the people of the United States of America. The training which fitted that people to be a nation, and necessitated their independence as soon as their right of local self-government was assailed, is a study in political philosophy which more and more attracts the publicists and statesmen of Europe. Thirty years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville advised his countrymen to look to America, not in order to make a servile copy of the institutions which she has established, but to gain a clearer view of the polity which would be best for France; to look to America less to find examples than instruction; to borrow from her the principles, rather than the details, of her laws, — those principles of order, of the balance of powers, of true liberty, of deep and sincere respect for right, on which the American Constitution rests. Prof. von Holst of the University of Freiburg, having spent five years in the United States in the diligent study of their political history and institutions, is now seeking to promote that study in Germany, where correct and philosophical knowledge of American society is so sadly wanting.2 And Mr. Gladstone has lately said of the independence of the United States of America,3 The circumstances of the war which yielded that result, the principles it illustrates, and the remarkable powers of the principal men who took part, whether as soldiers or citizens, in the struggle, ... constitute one of the most instructive chapters of modern history; and I have repeatedly recommended them to younger men as subjects of especial study.”
1 Democracy in America, Preface to twelfth edition, 1848.
2 Verfassung und Demokratie der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, von Dr. H. v. Holst: Dussellorf, 1873.
3 Reply to invitation to the Lexington centenary.'
A leading journal of London, having no partiality for the United States, also says, “ The Revolution which gave birth to the United States, in some respects may be regarded, even more than the French Revolution, as the starting-point of modern history. It was the first example of a nation completely breaking loose from its position as part of the old historic world of Christendom, starting for itself on entirely new ground, and trusting to its inherent power of organization. ... We have lived thenceforth in a larger sphere, physically, socially, and politically.” 1
Now, the American Revolution could never have attained to this dignity and power, nor have so commanded the respect of statesmen and philosophers for its benefits to mankind, had it been only or chiefly a revolt against the payment of a tax. It is true that the Stamp Act and other oppressive impositions were the occasion of rousing in the American Colonies the spirit of resistance to the authority of Great Britain: yet it was not the tax as money, but the mode of levying the tax, that they resisted; it was not the pocket that was touched, but the principle, by whose authority the pocket should be opened.
6 The Saturday Review” speaks of the American Revolution as a “wanton and needless rebellion :” “needless,”'that is, without basis or plea of necessity to justify it; “ wanton,” – that is, reckless, without reason or motive, without regard to right, to methods, or to consequences. I quote this characterization of one of the greatest political and moral events of modern history simply to raise the question, whether there exists in England a class of persons of sufficient intelligence to read “ The Saturday Review," and yet of sufficient stupidity to be imposed upon by such flippant phrases. To “ The Westminster Review," however, one looks for candor, intelligence, and a fair degree of sound and accurate knowledge of the subjects of which it treats. Yet even “ The Westminster” is betrayed into a strange misapprehension of the issue between the Colonies and the mother-country. “It has been well pointed out,” says this review, “ that the principle involved in the war of independence was scarcely
1 London Times, May 5, 1875. 2 Notice of the Life of Alesander Hamilton, May 27, 1876.
whether taxation was only just where representation had been conceded, but whether the two hundred and forty million pounds sterling which had been spent by England in defence of her American Colonies from the French invasions from Canada should not, in some measure, be borne by the Colonies in whose interest the war had been undertaken, and for whose benefit the struggle had been prosecuted to a successful issue." I
Had the writer taken pains to consult the journals of the House of Commons, and especially the journal of Franklin's examination before the House, or the speeches of Burkc, he could not have fallen into so mischievous an error. Of Franklin's testimony I shall speak by and by. But here is the official record of the House of Commons: On the 28th January, 1756, a message was received from the king, that “ His Majesty, being sensible of the zeal and vigor with which his faithful subjects of certain Colonies in North America have exerted themselves in defence of his Majesty's just rights and possessions, recommends it to this House to take the same into their consideration, and to enable his Majesty to give them such assistance as may be a proper reward and encouragement.” On the 3d February following, the House voted one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds as a recompense to the Colonies, in almost the words of the royal message. This was in the second year after the outbreak of the so-called “ French and Indian” or “ Old French” war. This war continued for nine years, and was at last terminated by the Treaty of Paris, Feb. 10, 1763. Now, in each and every year of that war, the journal of the House of Commons bears witness, that, on recommendation of the crown, the House made an appropriation to reimburse the Colonies for their excess of outlay in a war that was not simply in their own defence, but for the rights of the crown in America.?
The Colonies did not begin the French war. The question of the boundary of Nova Scotia did not directly concern them; and the forts built by the French in the valley of the Mississippi, though they might eventually menace the Colonies, did not encroach upon the actual settlements, but upon territory claimed by Great Britain. The king's speech at the opening of Parliament, Nov. 13, 1755, recognizing the state of war, said, “Since your last session, I have taken such measures as might be conducive to the protection of our possessions in America, and to the regaining of such posts thereof as had been encroached upon or invaded, in violation of the peace, and contrary to the faith of the most solemn treaties.” 1
1 Our Colonial Empire: Westminster Review, April, 1876.
See Journal, vol. xxvii., 28th January and 3d February, 1756, 16th and 19th May, 1757; vol. xxviii., June 1, 1758, April 26th anıl 30th, 1759, March 26th and 31st, April 28, 1760, Jan. Sth' and Jan. 220 and 26th, 1762, March 14th and 17th, 1763.
In November, 1754, in the debate on the Address on the King's Speech, Mr. W. Beckford, M.P., said, “If we attack the French anywhere by land, let it be in America, where we are sure of the utmost assistance our Colonies can give, without subsidy or reward ; for though we have for several years treated them in such a manner that they have some reason to be indifferent whose power they may hereafter fall under, yet I am sure they will all join heartily with us in driving the French as far as possible from their confines.” 2 And the senior Horace Walpole, who bore us no sympathy, said, “ I was glad to hear that our Colonies were able to support themselves. I therefore hope they will not stand in need of much assistance from us ; but, if they should, we must give it. Even for them we must fight as if we were fighting pro aris et focis ; for it is to them we owe our wealth and our naval strength.”' 3 Surely, then, the Colonies were under no so great obligation to the mother-country for protection.”
In April, 1759, his Majesty “recommends to the consideration of the House the zeal and vigor with which his faithful subjects of North America had exerted themselves in defence of his just rights and possessions; desiring he might be enabled to give them a proper compensation for the expenses incurred by the respective provinces in levying, clothing, and paying the troops raised in that country, according as the active vigor and strenuous efforts of the several Colonies should appear to merit.” 4 And the journal records an appropriation of £200,000 as a “proper compensation to the Provinces for the expenses incurred
1 Hansari), xv. 527. 2 Ibid., xv. 358. 4 See in Hansard, vol. xv. p. 939.
3 Ibid., xv. 365.