Columbus was always asking for gold. He gave strict
What Are The Chances In Favor Of The Duration Of The American Union, And What Dangers Threaten It *y
[Footnote y: [This chapter is one of the most curious and interesting portions of the work, because it embraces almost all the constitutional and social questions which were raised by the great secession of the South and decided by the results of the Civil War. But it must be confessed that the sagacity of the author is sometimes at fault in these speculations, and did not save him from considerable errors, which the course of events has since made apparent. He held that "the legislators of the Constitution of 1789 were not appointed to constitute the government of a single people, but to regulate the association of several States; that the Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the States, and in uniting together they have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people." Whence he inferred that "if one of the States chose to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so; and that the Federal Government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly, either by force or by right." This is the Southern theory of the Constitution, and the whole case of the South in favor of secession. To many Europeans, and to some American (Northern) jurists, this view appeared to be sound; but it was vigorously resisted by the North, and crushed by force of arms.
The author of this book was mistaken in supposing that the "Union was a vast body which presents no definite object to patriotic feeling." When the day of trial came, millions of men were ready to lay down their lives for it. He was also mistaken in supposing that the Federal Executive is so weak that it requires the free consent of the governed to enable it to subsist, and that it would be defeated in a struggle to maintain the Union against one or more separate States. In 1861 nine States, with a population of 8,753,000, seceded, and maintained for four years a resolute but unequal contest for independence, but they were defeated.
Lastly, the author was mistaken in supposing that a community of interests would always prevail between North and South sufficiently powerful to bind them together. He overlooked the influence which the question of slavery must have on the Union the moment that the majority of the people of the North declared against it. In 1831, when the author visited America, the anti-slavery agitation had scarcely begun; and the fact of Southern slavery was accepted by men of all parties, even in the States where there were no slaves: and that was unquestionably the view taken by all the States and by all American statesmen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, in 1789. But in the course of thirty years a great change took place, and the North refused to perpetuate what had become the "peculiar institution" of the South, especially as it gave the South a species of aristocratic preponderance. The result was the ratification, in December, 1865, of the celebrated 13th article or amendment of the Constitution, which declared that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude - except as a punishment for crime - shall exist within the United States." To which was soon afterwards added the 15th article, "The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous servitude." The emancipation of several millions of negro slaves without compensation, and the transfer to them of political preponderance in the States in which they outnumber the white population, were acts of the North totally opposed to the interests of the South, and which could only have been carried into effect by conquest. - Translator's Note.]]
Reason for which the preponderating force lies in the States rather than in the Union - The Union will only last as long as all the States choose to belong to it - Causes which tend to keep them united - Utility of the Union to resist foreign enemies, and to prevent the existence of foreigners in America - No natural barriers between the several States - No conflicting interests to divide them - Reciprocal interests of the Northern, Southern, and Western States - Intellectual ties of union - Uniformity of opinions - Dangers of the Union resulting from the different characters and the passions of its citizens - Character of the citizens in the South and in the North - The rapid growth of the Union one of its greatest dangers - Progress of the population to the Northwest - Power gravitates in the same direction - Passions originating from sudden turns of fortune - Whether the existing Government of the Union tends to gain strength, or to lose it - Various signs of its decrease - Internal improvements - Waste lands - Indians - The Bank - The Tariff - General Jackson.
The maintenance of the existing institutions of the several States depends in some measure upon the maintenance of the Union itself. It is therefore important in the first instance to inquire into the probable fate of the Union. One point may indeed be assumed at once: if the present confederation were dissolved, it appears to me to be incontestable that the States of which it is now composed would not return to their original isolated condition, but that several unions would then be formed in the place of one. It is not my intention to inquire into the principles upon which these new unions would probably be established, but merely to show what the causes are which may effect the dismemberment of the existing confederation.
With this object I shall be obliged to retrace some of the steps which I have already taken, and to revert to topics which I have before discussed. I am aware that the reader may accuse me of repetition, but the importance of the matter which still remains to be treated is my excuse; I had rather say too much, than say too little to be thoroughly understood, and I prefer injuring the author to slighting the subject.
The legislators who formed the Constitution of 1789 endeavored to confer a distinct and preponderating authority upon the federal power. But they were confined by the conditions of the task which they had undertaken to perform. They were not appointed to constitute the government of a single people, but to regulate the association of several States; and, whatever their inclinations might be, they could not but divide the exercise of sovereignty in the end.