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NEXT to the interest which our friends felt in the beginning of this enterprise, must be their desire to have recorded, its successful establishment. The patrons of the American Review, who generously and patriotically aided its first struggles into life, may be desirous of knowing its present position and future intentions. A sad decree has forbidden the hand that should have made the record.
The experience of three years, with the counsel and advice of many able and judicious friends, had determined the Editor to begin a new Series of his Journal, upon a more liberal scale of expenditure, and with an infusion of greater vigor and attention in every department. The proper conduct of the whole was found to surpass the abilities of any one person, and a greater outlay became necessary to obtain the requisite aid. The price paid for valuable articles, though it already exceeded what the finances would bear, had to be increased, that none but good material might be used. The political department, especially, it was found, must be improved in quantity, and the standard of the best maintained.
To the accomplishment of these ends, it was necessary that the subscription list should be increased.
VOL. I. NO. I. NEW SERIES.
Were it possible to explain the difficulties, delays, and losses, which attend the collection of the dues of such a journal, reducing the average value of its subscriptions by more than a third, the friends of the Review would find less difficulty in understanding why all the necessary improvements were not sooner made. They have been kept constantly in view, but are the work of much time, and of the joint labor and enthusiasm of many persons.
In the midst of these plans, and in the bloom and vigor of his youth, the generous spirit who strove to execute them, and thereby to deserve well of his country, was cut off by a severe and lingering illness; but as he was a man free in his confidences, and loving to make common cause with many, he left those behind him who had taken an equal interest in the work, and had advised and strenuously labored with him for its accomplishment: it was their part, therefore, to make this statement, both for the regard they bear his memory, and for the duty they owe to the friends and supporters of the enterprise.
It has always been borne in mind that a truly national journal must represent the spirit and principles of the Nation, in its best moods, and as they appear in the
wisdom of its earlier lawgivers. In every free nation, two great parties have arisen, tending towards opposite extreines: Differing in this particular from all ancient, and even from modern European nations, that we are not composed of an inferior, politically mingled, and sharing power with a superior race-a commonalty with an aristocracy-both parties, with us, profess to sustain liberty, and the common right. In the spirit and heart of the nation there can be no division. The nation, as a body, extends freedom-political, social, and religious to all men equally; and out of this spring all our national and political peculiarities.
Yet it will happen, for the most part, that even in pursuit of a good, men are easily misled and deceived into radical ex
The friends and conductors of this journal incline not, therefore, hastily to despise and subvert the institutions of our fathers. They mean to abide by the Constitution. They believe that reforms should in all cases grow from, and be limited by, necessity; and that the State, like any natural organization, should gradually shape itself, by a healthy and spontaneous growth.
They believe that the designers and supporters of schemes of conquest, to be carried on by this government, are engaged in treason to our Constitution and Declaration of Rights, giving "aid and comfort" to the enemies of republicanism, in that they are advocating and preaching the doctrine of "the right of conquest." These traitors to all humanity, and to God, must be met and vanquished, or the principle which sustains us, as a nation, will be sub
In meeting and discussing new phases of opinion, they will favor with their whole heart and mind, all plans for the amelioration of society, and all such new ideas of social and physical science, as seem to have their foundation in nature and experience. Yet they can never forget that truth is old, and the principles of human nature, like the moral law, by no means a discovery of yesterday.
In questions of political economy, they
will not suffer themselves to be led by the example of any other nation, into advocating measures suitable, perhaps, to that nation, but unsuitable and injurious to our own; believing that a judicious regard to the circumstances of a people, should govern its legislation.
In a choice of rulers and legislators, they mean to sustain such men as seem fitted to represent, not the will only, but the virtue and common sense of their constituents.
That the power of the Executive be restricted within its just limits, they will strenuously urge.
That the rights and power of the States be preserved inviolate, as the sole defence of the individual against Executive usurpation, they will also advocate; but no less, that individual States be not suffered to impair the high privileges of the citizen, in his relation to the nation as a whole.
That every means be employed to prevent the converting of offices into political agencies, for corrupting and subverting the popular will.
In brief, the conductors of this journal are Whigs, in principle and practice, and mean to use it, as far as in them lies, for the promotion of that cause.
As a vehicle of opinion to reach all classes of intelligent persons, it has been found necessary to regard the interests of general literature in the REVIEW, equally with those of politics-the two being necessary to each other.
In regard to sectional questions, a journal professing to be purely national must either avoid them, or discuss them in the light of general policy and morality:* indifference to the decision of such questions would betray either an immoral, or an imbecile spirit.
Enough, perhaps, has been said on former occasions, of the importance of a truly national organ of opinion, whose purpose should be to promote union and singleness of principle in the Whig party. The sole desire of the conductors of this journal is, that it may in some measure satisfy the want that is felt for such an organ,
THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE-THE WAR.
As often as the President comes before the nation with a new manifesto in regard to the unhappy war, in which, by his own deliberate, unauthorized and criminal act, he has involved the country, no choice is left us, as the faithful conductors of a journal of American politics, but to follow him to this well-trodden field-to set up there, again and again, in the face of the American people and of the world, the lofty standard of historic truth, of international law, of real justice and honor, and of true national renown and glory, against the wretched perversions, the false glosses and miserable plausibilities in which this high functionary of the government habitually indulges, whenever he comes before the country to justify himself for the great Measure of Blood and Conquest by which he has undertaken to signalize his administration. If truth, as affecting the highest question of national concern, have not lost all value, it must be defended even against the mistakes or perversions of a President of the United States. Nay, this duty becomes doubly important and imperative in such a case, on account of the authority which attaches to his lofty position. And he must not be allowed to use his eminent station to indoctrinate the people of this country in any false principles, whether of the law of nations or the law of national justice and honor. He must not be allowed to seduce the American people from the allegiance which they owe to a higher law than any which the kings or rulers of this earth can impose or teach-the law of right and of duty-the law which has its sanction in the co sciences of men, and its seat in the bosom of God.
Of course, we are not weak enough to expect anything less than that the President should continue, at every opportunity, to put forth all his own energies, and all the energies he can buy or borrow for the purpose, in defence of his original crime in plunging this country into an unnecessary
war. It is his fate also, in order to render his attempts at justification any way plausible, that he must take care to make all his subsequent conduct and acts as consistent as possible, in error and criminality, with his original offences. Beginning wrong, which he is resolved never to acknowledge, he must continue to go wrong, sinking deeper and deeper at every step, until he becomes involved in difficulties from which he is obliged to confess he sees no certain way of escape. Precisely as, on the one hand, the path of the just shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day, so, on the other, does that path in which the President has chosen to walk, darken, at every remove, into thicker and more palpable gloom. On this point, his recent Annual Message to Congress, when rightly understood, exhibits the most melancholy proof. Of course, it is passably ingenious, adroit and plausible. But it is not difficult to unravel and expose its plausibilities. And it is a bold document, because no other tone would suit, at all, the condition of desperate hazard to which he has been brought in the legitimate progress of the game he undertook to play. The most timid are known to become brave, when all retreat from danger is found to be cut off. In this instance, however, the bold tone of the Message is not sufficient to hide altogether that terrible conflict of secret emotions which, we doubt not, has been going on all the while in the heart and conscience of its author. The President undertook to make a little ar. He has found it a great and terrible
He ordered an army to invade the Mexican State of Tamaulipas, then in the undisputed and undisturbed occupation of its Mexican inhabitants; and he did this with the expectation and belief, that a military demonstration of this sort, perhaps with a single collision of arms, just sufficient to manifest our undoubted superiority in war, would be enough to bring Mexico to such compliance and concessions, as would
enable him to illustrate his political rule by the acquisition of some portion of the coveted lands of that unhappy country. In this he was disappointed. Mr. Slidell, his envoy to that republic, writing from its capital, in the first month of his visit there, and mistaking in like manner the character of that people, strongly recommended to the President the virtue of "hostile demonstrations," as necessary to quicken them to the proper labors of negotiation. To his surprise, no doubt, Mr. Polk found that Mexicans would fight when their homes and country were invaded. Still he believed they would be overawed by "hostile demonstrations" on a more formidable scale. As soon as it was known at Washington that a collision of arms had taken place, with disastrous results to a small body of our gallant dragoons, he recommended to Congress "the immediate appearance in arms of a large and overpowering force, as the most certain and efficient means of bringing the existing collision with Mexico to a speedy and successful termination." He was promptly authorized to call fifty thousand volunteers into the field, and to employ the whole army and navy of the United States in the war.
world. And so our victorious arms were
Thus the country was precipitated into the war so recklessly provoked and begun by the Executive. Battles were fought and victories won in unbroken succession, but peace was not obtained. And at the end of every ensuing engagement, successful in all things, except in bringing submission and peace, the President promised himself that the next battle and victory, and the next, and the next, would certainly issue in the wished-for triumph. They brought nothing but disappointment. More men were called for; blood was poured out like water; more battles and more glorious victories were achieved; half a dozen States and Territories were overrun; still we had not "conquered a peace." With every new success, which was only a new disap-ience, and formed the only original subpointment, the cry was raised-" The war jec's of complaint or demand we had to must be more vigorously prosecuted." It make against Mexico. They were now was prosecuted just so vigorously as to ena- yielled as they would have been yielded ble our gallant soldiers always to win des- by aegotiation, without any war at all, if perate battles, against fearful odds, by the only a little forbearance and a little wisdom most incredible efforts, and the most awful had been exercised in regard to them. The sacrifice of life. Our army performed pro-whole country is aware of this, and can digies of valor, challenging, by their gallant never be convinced to the contrary. And deeds, the amazement and admiration of the hence it was, that after having prosecuted