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L25 111114 11.6 











WEBSTER, N.Y. 14580 








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1 2 3 






















. To the Count Jules de BHhixy. 

A Bachelor's Monody— Appearance of the Country— 
Bladensburgh— Battle of Bladensburgh— A Lawyer for 
a General— City of Washington— Plan of the City- 
Its Site— Description of the City-Its Population—Dis- 
trict of Columbia— Government of the United States- 
Navy Yard— A Monument— Manner of its Mutilation 
—Bad Taste— Appearance of the Vicinity of Washing- 
ton— The Capitol— Its Defects— Its Beauties -Build- 
ings—Streets have the Air of a Town, &c Presi- 
dent's House— Public Offices 

• • • 


To the Abbate Giromachi. 

MannerofLiving-TheCongress-Nature of the Repre- 
sentation-Reasons for its present Character— Facility 
for Change-The Congress-Interior of the Capitol- 
Ornaments of the Great Hall-Hall of the House of 
Representatives-Arrangement of the Seats-Age, &c. 
of the Members-A Message from the President-! 
European Construction of an American Custom— Ex- 
planation of the Message-Members of Congress . 
VOL. n. ^ 







To the Same. 

Executive of the United States— The Cabinet— Usages 
of Congress, &c. &c.. . . . . 


To the Count Jules de BHhizy. 

Etiquette of Washington — Etiquette of the Country 
—Etiquette of the Government — Society of the Cin- 
cinnati — A territorial Title — An Essay on Etiquette 
— Visits of Ceremony— A Visit to the President— A 
Dinner with the President — Service of the Dinner — 
A Bachelor's Exultation — Thti Drawing Room—Ap- 
pearance of the Company — Etiquette of the Drawing 
Room— Character of the Company — ^Explanation of 
the Drawing ' ''m . . , . , 

To the Baron Von Kemperfelt. 

The Navy— Privateers— The War of 1745— The War 
of 1776— The Peace of 1783- War with Algiers- 
War with France — Creation of a Navy Department- 
Reduction of 1801 — War with Tripoli — Romantic 
Enterprise — Unexpectedly Defeated — The System of 
Gun Boats — The Navy of 1812— American Frigates 
—Mistaken Policy— Effects of the War of 1812— 
The Last War with Algiers — Laws for the Increase of 
the Navy — The Actual Force of the Americans — 
Probable Force in Time of War — Number of Seamen 
— Attachment to their own Country— The War of 
1798 — Method of Manning their Ships — Seamen in 
the War of 1812 — Increasing Force of the Country — 

• Country filling up — Emigration beginning to cease 
— Present Method of Manning Ships-*-Motives to 



. 58-79 



Serve — Great Number of Minors — Amtrica as a 
Maritime Power — Cost of Huilding Ships — Rating of 
Ships — Uncertainty of Rating — Singularity in the 
American Marine ..... 


To the Abhate Giromachi. 

Earliest Publications — Colleges, or Universities— Man- 
ner of Education — Nunibfir of Graduates — Peculiar 
Education — Effects of Education — Quality of the In- 
struction — Learned Professions — Literature — The 
Newspapers — An Abusive Practice — Effects of a 
Bad Practice — Liberty of the Press — Periodical 
Works — Obstacle to Literary Success — The Taste of 
the Public— Poverty of Literary Materials — American 
Poets — American Prose Writers — Difficulties of 
Fictitious Writings — The American Stage — Dramatic 
Taste — Dramatic Writers — Increase of Original 
Works , 


To the Same. 
Excellence of useful Implements — Patent Office — Ar- 
chitecture — American Co'intry Houses — American 
Painters — Landscape Painters — Historical and Cabinet 
Pieces — ^Prices paid to Authors— The English Lan- 
guage—Fashion in Language — Influence of the Aris- 
tocracy—Standard for Language in America — No 
Patois in America — ^American Provincialisms — Influ- 
ences of Language — Probable Fate of the Language — 
The present Language of the United States— Pronun- 
ciation of New England — New England Provincial- 
isms — langut^e of the Middle States — Vulgarities of 
Speech — English Pronimciation — Corruptions of Lan- 
guage ..... 








To the Count Jules de B6thixy. 

La Fayette — Charity in Religion — Movements of La 
Fayette — Received by the Senate — Mr. Clay— Re- 
ception of La Fayette by the House of Representa- 
tives — Address of Mr. Clay — Reply of La Fayette — 
House adjourns— Anecdotes of the Revolution 




To the Professor Christian Jansen. 

A Pedigree — Supreme Court of the United States — Ap- 
pearance of the Court — Simplicity — System of Juris- 
prudence — Nature of the Confederacy— Constitution 
of the United States — Stability of the Government — 
Jurisprudence of the Country — Reformation in Law 
— State Courts of Justice — District Courts — Supreme 
Court of the United States — An important Decision — 
Concurrent Jurisdiction — The Law of Reason — Influ- 
ence of the United States* Courts 



To Sir Edward Waller, Bart. 

Election of President— Choice of Electors — Forms of 
Election — Democrats and Federalists — Choice of 
Congress — Obstinate voting — Mr. Quincy Adams^ 
Candidates for the Presidency — Mr. Crawford — Mr. 
Calhoun— Mr. Clay — General Jackson — Election of 
President — Forms of the Election — An Interruption — 
Immediate Quiet — Air of the Unsuccessful Candidate 
— Effect of the Elections- State of the Country— Two 
Sides to a Question — Drawing- Room again — ^The 
Evening of the Election— The Successful Man 





To the Same. 


Mount Vernon— House of Mount Vernon— -A Fire- 
Bucket— A Relic— Recollection of Mr. George La 
Fayetle-TheVault!— Washington, &c. &c. . . 244 — 261 


To the Professor Jansen, 

The Congress -Mr. Jefferson— Appointments to Office 
—Salaries— Expense of Government— Expense of the 
Navy— Emoluments of the Officers, &c.— Revenue and 
Economy — Amount of Litigation — Reasons of Liti- 
gation—Gratitude to La Fayette, &c. &c. . . 261—285 


To the Count Jules de Bethizy. 

Inauguration of the President— Mr. Monroe and Mr. 
Adams— Inaugural Address — The New Cabinet — 
The President 285—304 


To the Abbate Giromachi. 

Religion of the United States — Different Sects — Useless- 
ness of an Establishment — Religious Establishments — 
Religion in a New Settlement— Land for the Support 
of Religion — Division of the Land — Indifference to 
Sects— Habits of Sects — Effects of Liberality— Laws 
concerning Religion — The Puritans — Protestant Reli- 
gion—Ministers of the Gospel — Numbers of the 
Churches— Religious Charity— A Jew Sheriff! — 
Shaking Quakers— Their Manner of Dancing 





To the Professor Cliristinti Jansen. 

The Law— i Punishment of Crime— A False Humanity 
—A False mode of Reasoning — A False Policy — 
Law of Real Property— Power to Devise >- Law of 
Marriage, &c. &c. . . • . 




To Sir Edward Waller , Bart. 

Numbers of the Slaves, &c. — Proportion of Blacks to 
Whites — Views of Slavery — Condition of the Slaves 
— Melioration of the Condition of the Blacks — Gradual 
Change of Sentiment — ^The Shame of the Slave 
Trade — Emancipation — ^The Northern and Southern 
Man — Theory and Practice — Future Condition of the 
Blacks — Emancipation — Gradual Disappearance of 
Prejudice — Impediments to Mingling the Races — 
A Mistaken Opinion — Excess of Black Population — 
Extension of Slave Regions — Missouri — ^Maryland — 
Prospects of Emancipation — Summary View of the 
Subject— The Future— A Moral Wrong . 340—367 


To the Same. 

The Indians — A Sachem — A Wigwam — Indian Reser- 
vations — Treatment of the Indians — Treaties, 
Purchases of Land, &c. — Indian Department — Policy 
of the Government — Intercourse between the Whites 
and Indians — A plan for the Civilization of the 

Savages— A Pawnee Chief 





To the Same. 


Southern States—Rate of Population to the Square 
Mile— Cities of the Southern Statef^Uplands— Rate 
of Increase of Population— Character of the '^jople 
— Gentlemen of the South— Future Condition— A 
Dilemma— Exaggeration— Duels— Hospitality . . 383—406 


To the Count Jules de Bethixy. 

La Fayette_A Fire in New York-Fire Engines _ 
Bunker's Hill— General Warren_A Monument — 
The Ceremony— Yale College— Influence of Wealth 
in America— Influence of Money . 


To the Same. 
A Summary— Influence of Money, &c. &c. 


To Sir Edward Waller^ Bart. 
Perpetuity of the Institutions, &c. &c. 




Lately Published, 

1. THE RED ROVER. By the Author of " The Spy," 
" The Pilot," &c. 2d Edition, 3 vols., Post 8vo., 28*. Gd. 

2. THE PRAIRIE. By the same Author, 3 vols., 24*. 










I WRITE you from the little capital of this great 
republic. After lingering' at Baltimore until rea- 
sons for all further delay were exhausted, we 
reluctantly turned our faces westward. Cadwal- 
lader had pointed out to me sundry busy-looking 
travellers, who were strolling through the streets 
of the town, with more gravity of mien (assumed 
or natural) than is common to meet in a city, and 
whispered in my ears that they were members of 
congress, on their way to the seat of government. 
This was a hint not to be disregarded. Tearing 

VOL. ir. 




ourselves from the attractions of bright eyes and 
soft voices, we gallantly entered a coach, and 
broke the chain of attraction which, like the fabled 
magnet of Mahomet's coffin, had so long kept me 
suspended between heaven and earth. Heigho ! 
dear Jules, I confess to twenty-four hours, when 
a treacherous intention of resigning, to some less 
inexorable successor, the stall which I so un- 
worthily fill in our self-denying chapter, was 
insidiously floating before my imagination. But 
a resolution which has borne me through so many 
similar dangers in triumph, (aided by the members 
of congress,) was victorious. By the by, I am 
grieved to the heart to hear of the sad accident that 
has befallen the professor, and most sincerely do I 
pray that the time may be long averted when it 
shall become necessary to supply a vacancy in our 
numbers, from a cause so fatal as a marriage. The 
grave might be wept over, and time would soften 
grief for the death of even a bosom friend, but 
what could time do towards mitigating a penance 
performed at the confessmial of Hymen ? The more 
sincere, and the more frequent the acknowledge- 
ments, the more keen and helpless would the bit- 
terness of a spirit so thoroughly bruised become. 
If you pass through the queen of cities this 
winter, order a new cushion to my chair ; I intend 
that the sittings of 1827 shall wear well into the 

The road between Baltimore and Washington 







t me 



5 less 

> un- 



I am 

it that 


hen it 


d, but 
le bit- 
is this 
to the 


is neither particularly bad nor particularly good.* 
It passes through a comparatively barren, and a 
little inhabited country. It was here that I first 
observed the great difference between the aspect 
of the slave-holding and the non-slave-holding 
states. In Pennsylvania, at the distance of sixty 
miles north of our present route, we should have 
seen a landscape, over which farm-houses, barns, 
and all the ordinary objects of a prosperous hus- 
bandry, were profusely sprinkled, while here the 
houses began to be distant from each other, or 
were grouped in little clusters apart from the 
highways. This portion of America bears a greater 
resemblance to continental Europe, than the 
states we have quitted. The dwelling of the 
planter is the chateau ; and the huts of the slaves 
form the contiguous village. A difference in the 

* It may be well to state, once for all, the following facts concern- 
ing the American roads. In all the northern and eastern states, for 
nine months in the year, they are, as a rule, tolerably good in those 
parts of the country where the establishments are old enough to ad- 
roit of it. In the spring, and in the autumn, there are periods 
when most of the roads are bad. There are many roads, however, 
as good as the ordinary turnpike roads of England, and which vary 
very little in quality throughout the year. A traveller in an American 
stage-coach cannot well compare the roads of the United States 
with those of England, for the coaches of the former are not sus- 
pended on springs, though the seats are sometimes supplied with 
them. As one quits the older parts of the country, the roads 
gradually grow worse until, in the very newest settlements, they are 
often no more than trees that are marked, or blazedy to indicate the 
courses of the route. ' . 

B 2 



moral condition of the ages in which the two have 
been constructed, has induced some very sensible 
alterations in the plans of the buildings ; but, still 
the outline is the same. 

I was surprised at the sterility and nakedness 
of the country through which we journied, though 
I was given to understand that a great deal of the 
state of Maryland is land of the richest quality. 
There were one or two small villages on the route, 
but which, after those we had seen further north, 
wore a miserable air. I am not certain, however, 
that they are not quite as good in every particular 
as the ordinary villages of Europe. Here I first saw 
fields for the tobacco plant. It grows in hills, not 
unlike the maize, and is rarely, or never, fenced, 
no animal but man having a relish for the un- 
savoury weed. 

At the distance of six or seven miles from 
Washington, we stopped at the village of Bladens- 
burgh, a place notorious for two circumstances. 
It lies just '>>Hhout the territory of the district of 
Columbia, and is the spot usually chosea for the 
decision of private combats ; and it is the place 
where the affair between the English and the 
Americans was fought a few hours before the 
former entered the city. 

I confess I had thought it surprising that so small 
a force (about 5000 men) could have taken pos- 
session of the capital of so powerful a nation ; but 
a nearer view has entirely dissipated the wonder. 














It was a point where the Americans, having nothing 
of military importance to defend, had assembled 
no force, and there is not probably on the whole 
line of their coast, a more deserted and tenantless 
region than the country traversed by the invaders. 
The troops rallied to resist the English, as their 
intention became known, were merely the citizens 
of the adjoining country, who assembled in a very 
imperfect state of preparation, and who were 
very little, if at all, superior in numbers to their 
antagonists. They had not even the ordinary in- 
ducements to risk their lives agamst those of 
hireling troops ; for, eve:, to this hour, it is difficult 
to find what object General Ross could have had 
in hazarding his army in an expedition that 
might have been attended with destruction. A 
man like Jackson to oppose him would have in- 
sured it. 

I alighted at Bladensburgh, and, accompanied 
by my friend, walked in advance of the carriage 
over the ground, attended by a sufficiently intelli- 
gent man who had witnessed the whole affair. 
As it is a little in your way, the details I gleaned 
shall be rendered as an offering to your military 
gout. Should they fail of the interest which has 
so often been thrown over the entrances of 
Moscow and Paris, you know how to make allow- 
ances for an inferiority in dramatic effect, v.hich 
is no more than a natural consequence of the differ- 
ence betvi^een the conquest of a city of half a mil- 



lion of inhabitants, and of a town of eight or nine 

The country around Bladensburgh is gently un- 
dulating and moderately wooded. A small stream 
lies near the village, and between it and the 
capital. It is crossed by a wooden bridge. So 
much hurry and indecision appear to have 
existed among the defenders, that even this 
bridge was not destroyed, though it might have 
been rendered impassable in ten minutes. It 
would seem, however, that many of their troops, 
such as they were, only reached the ground at 
the critical moment when they were wanted in 
the combat. The dispositions for resistance were 
made along the crest of a gentle acclivity, at the 
distance of rather more than a mile from this 
bridge. The centre of their position was on the 
highway, and its defence was entrusted to a few 
seamen and two or three hundred marines, the 
only disciplined forces on the ground. A few light 
troops (all militia) were pushed in front to the 
banks of the stream, and two piecesof artillery were 
placed at a point to command the passage of the 
bridge. There was a little skirmishing here ; and it 
seems, by the English accounts, that they suffered 
severely from the artillery in crossing the bridge. 
The ground in front of the seamen and marines 
was a gentle acclivity, and perfectly open. Here 
there was some sharp fighting. The British 
.-^ulumns were obliged to open, and General 



Ross began to manoeuvre. But the militia did 
not wait to be turned, for they retired to a man 
(the skirmishers excepted), without firing a gun. 
The seamen and marines stood well, and were 
necessarily brought off to prevent capture. The 
artillery was all, or nearly all, taken. This is, in 
substance, what is called the Battle of Bladens- 
burgh. The American loss was trifling, less than 
two hundred, and that of the English perhaps 
three or four hundred. ' 

It is easy to criticise the disposition of the Ame- 
rican commander. This gentleman was an able 
lawyer of the adjoining state of Maryland, who 
had listened to the whisperings of that uneasy am- 
bition which sometimes makes men heroes. He 
had quitted the gown for the sword a short time 
before, and probably knew as little about his new 
profession as you know of the one he had deserted. 
Lawyer or not, had this gentleman placed his 
fellow citizens (for soldiers they cannot be called) 
in and about the capitol, and had they only fought 
as well as they did, he taking care not to give 
them any particularly favourable opportunity of 
dispersing, I think General Ross would have 
been spared the very equivocal glory of burning 
all that then existed of that edifice ; viz. the two 
wings. He listened to other counsels. 

As we approached the capital, we saw before 
us an extent of open country that did not appear 
to be used for any agricultural purposes. It 



lay, without fences, neglected, and waste. This 
appearan'^e is common just here, and is owing to 
the circumstance that tobacco exhausts the soil 
so much, that, in a country where land and its 
products are still so cheap, it is not worth the 
cost of restoring it. We soon got a view of 
the dome of the capitol, and the whole of the 
fai^ade of that noble edifice came into view, as we 
mounted a slight eminence which had partly con- 
cealed it. As my eye first wandered eagerly 
around, at this point, to j;ather together the scat- 
tered particles of the city, I will take the present 
occasion to convey a general impression of its 

The seat of government was removed from 
Philadelphia to this place, in order that it might 
be more central. So far as a line drawn north 
and south is in question, this object is sufificiently 
answered. But Washington stands so very far east 
of a central meridian as to render it probable that 
other considerations influenced the change. I have 
never heard it so said, but nothing is more pro- 
bable than that the slave-holding states required 
some such concession to their physical inferiority. 
At all events, every body appears perfectly sa- 
tisfied with the present position of the capital. 
Perhaps, notwithstanding the difference on the 
map, the place is practically nearer the centre 
than if it stood farther west. The member from 
Alabama, or Louisiana, or Missouri, arrives by sea. 



or by means of the great rivers of the west, with 
about the same expense of money and of labour as 
the member from Vermont, Maine, or New Hamp- 
shire. Some one must always have the benefit 
of being nearest the political centre, and it is of 
no great moment whether he be a Virginian or 
an Ohiese. As the capital is now placed, it is 
more convenient for quick communication with 
Euro e than if farther inland, and it is certainly 
nearer the centre of interests where it stands, than 
it would be in almost any other spot in the confe- 

Had the plan of the city been as well conceived 
as its locality, there would be less ground of com- 
plaint. The perspective of American character 
was certainly exhibited to great advantage in the 
conceptions of the individual who laid out the 
site of this town. It is scarcely possible to ima- 
gine a more unfortunate theory than the one he 
assumed for the occasion. He appears to have 
egregiously mistaken the relative connection 
between streets and houses, since it is fair to infer 
he would not have been so lavish of the one with- 
out the aid of the other, did he not believe the 
latter to be made use of as accessories to the 
former, instead of the reverse, as is every where 
else found to be the case. And, yet I think, both 
nature and art had united to point out the true 
plan for this city, as I shall endeavour to convince 
you without delay. 


THE .'ni<; ok WASIIINCiTON. 

The ground occupied by the city of Washing- 
ton, may be described as forming a tolerably 
regular triangle. Two of its sides are washed by 
the two branches o^ ' '^e Potomac, which diverge 
towards the nort. ^t and north-west, while on 
it? third, there are no limits to its extent, the land 
being a somewhat gentle acclivity, gradual on the 
whole, though undulating, and often broken in its 
minute parts. The river below the point is a noble 
stream, stretching for many miles to the southward, 
in full view of the town. Both of its branches are 
navigable for near a league. At the distance of 
about two miles from the point, the main river (west 
branch), which had hitherto washed a champaign 
country, enters a range of low mountains, and 
makes a still more decided inclination to the west. 
Here is the head of tide and of navigation. The 
latter circumstance had early pointed out the 
place for the site of a town, and accordingly a 
little city grew on the spot, whence tobacco and 
lumber were shipped for other ports, long before 
the neighbourhood was thought of, as the capital 
of a great nation. This place is called George- 
town. It is rather well built than otherwise, and the 
heights, in its rear, for it lies against an acclivity, 
are not only beautiful in themselves, but they 
are occupied by many pretty villas. It contains 
in itself, perhaps 9000 inhabitants. It has a 
college and five churches, two of which are 

D KSC l< I PTI O N' () F W A S II I NGTO \. 


Georgetown is divided, from what is termed 
Washington City, by a rapid little stream called 
Rock Creek.* The land, for a considerable dis- 
tance after the creek is crossed, is well adapted for 
a town. It is sufficiently unequal to carry off the 
water, and yet sufficiently level for convenient 
streets. Here is the spot, I think, where the 
buildings should have been collected for the new 
city. But at the dista^^ce of about a mile 
and a quarter from the bridge, a vast square is 
laid out. On one of its sides is the President's 
House,i' flanked by the public offices. A few 
houses and a church are on two more of its 
sides, though the one opposite to the * White 
House' is as yet entirely naked. From this square, 
sundry great avenues Mverge, as do others from 
another centre, distant a mile and a half still 
further east. The latter square is adorned by the 
capitol. Across all these avenues, which are 
parallel to nothing, there is a sort of net-work of 
streets, running at right angles with each other. 
Such is Washington on the map. , ■ • > 

In point of fact, but few of the avenues or 

* The Americans often call a small river a creek, and brooks of a 
large size are oftener called creeks than any thing else. Schoharie 
Creek is as large as the Seine, at Paris. It is, io all intents, a rapid 
river ; but the size of many of their rivers is so great as to produce 
a sort of impression that the smaller streams should be of a dif- 
ferent class. 

f The Americans familiarly call the exceedingly pretty little 
palace in which theii chief me^istrate resides, the "White House," 
but the true appellation is the President's House. 





streets arc opened, and fewer still are built on. 
There is one of the former running from the 
bridge at Georgetown to the first square, and 
another leads from the President's House to the 
capitol. There are two or three more which con- 
nect important points, though only the two named 
are sufficiently built on to have the least of the 
character of a town. There are rather more streets 
open, though not one of them all is absolutely 
built up from one end to the other. 

In consequence of the gigantic scale on which 
Washington is planned, and the different interests 
which influence the population, its inhabitants (in- 
cluding Georgetown) are separated into four distinct 
little towns, distant from each other about a mile. 
Thus we have Georgetown in the west, contain- 
ing 9000 souls ; the town immediately around 
the President's House, (extending towards the 
capitol,) with perhaps 10,000; that around the 
capitol, of some two or three thousand souls; and 
the buildings at the navy yard, which lies on the 
east branch, still a mile further. The whole 
citi/,* including its three divisions, with here and 
there a few scattered buildings, may now contain 
about 16,000 souls. 

When the people of the United States deter- 


• Georgetown, it will be remembered, is not properly a part of 
the city of Washington, though in the district of Columbia ; but, in 
point of fact, it is as nigh the President's House, as is the capitol. 
There is also a little groupe of houses at the junction of the two 
branches of the Potomac. 



mined to have a more central capital, it was 
thought best to give the general government 
absolute jurisdiction over it. In order to effect 
this object, it was necessary to extinguish the 
state rights. This was done by Virginia and 
Maryland ceding sufficient territory to make a 
district of ten miles square at the point I have 
described. In this little territory the president 
exercises the authority which a governor com- 
monly exercises in a state, or rather, there is no 
intermediate or concurrent executive authority 
between him and the people, as in the several 
states ; and congress, though in fact elected by ♦he 
citizens of the states, does all the legislation. 
Thus the inhabitants of this territory have no 
representation whatever ; neither voting for mem- 
bers of congress, nor for members of any state 
legislature. But their voices are often heard in 
the way of petitions and demands. It is probable 
that when they shall become as numerous as the 
smallest state, they will receive the right of elect- 
ing representatives.* 

* The writer will take this opportunity of inlroducing a short ac- 
count of the formation of the government of the United States, since 
it will assist to explain a good deal of that which is to follow. 

The executive power is in the president. He nominates to office ; 
pardons all offences, except convictions under impeachments ; con- 
ducts negociations ; sees that the laws are administered, and is the 
military chief of the army and navy, subject to the laws. He makes 
treaties with the consent of the senate, and gives his assent to all 
laws, though a law can be passed without him, if two-thirds of 



I think you must be enabled to understand the 
anomaly of the district of Columbia. It has been 
necessarily fostered by the nation, for as it has 
been entirely called into existence, as a separate 

both houses vote in its favour. The senate is the representation of 
the sovereignty of the states, each state sending two members, who 
are chosen by their respective legislatures. They serve for six 
years, one-third vacating their seats every new congress. They 
have a concurrent power with the lower house in enacting laws ; 
they ratify treaties; they approve of nominations to office, and they 
constitute a High Court of Impeachment. The representatives are 
elected directly by the people, one member being sent from a re- 
gulated number of electors. They serve for one congress, which 
exists two years, commencing on the 4th of March of one year, 
and ending* on the 3d of March of the year but one that follows. 
The official term of the president is for two of these congresses, 
Jind that of a senator for three. The representatives, or members 
of the lower house, have concurrent power in the enactment of 
the laws, and being the grand inquest of the nation, they can im- 
peach any officer of the government. 

Every citizen of the United States, who is twenty-one years of age, 
and who possesses certain trifling qualifications, can vote for a mem- 
ber of the house of representatives, provided he himself be a resi- 
dent of a state. The confederation is only of the states ; but there 
are vast regions belonging to them as common prop :!rty, which 
do not lie within the boundaries of any state. This country is sub- 
divided for the purposes of convenience, and is governed entirely 
by the authority of the president and congress, or according to 
laws enacted for that purpose. With the exception of one fflie 
District of Columbia) they are called territories. Thus, besides 
the twenty-four states, there are the North-western, Michigan, 
Arkansas, and Florida territories. Certain legislative rights are 
granted to all the territories that have a sufficient population, but 
none is yet gmnted to the District of Columbia, Some of the 



community, for their use, it owes most of all it 
possesses to the public grants and to the presence 
of the ministers of the government. With a view 
to force a town, establishments have been formed 




territories even send delegates to congress. These delegates can 
speak, but they cannot vote. As the territories reach an established 
rate of population, they are uniformly admitted into the confedera- 
tion, as states. It is probable that Michigan, Florida, and Arkansas 
will be admitted as states soon after the next census, after which a 
long period will be likely to elapse without any farther increase of 
the number of the states. The great difficulty in making a foreigner 
comprehend the institutions of the United States, exists in the 
double form of its government. Neither the president, nor con- 
gress, nor both, have authority to interfere with government beyond 
the power which has been conceded to them by the statos. They can 
make war, raise armies, lay taxes, send fleets to sea, and do many other 
things, but they cannot punish a theft, unless committed on the high 
seas, to which their jurisdiction of course extends, or in some other 
place where they have the exclusive or a concurrent power. Thus, the 
president of the United States may pardon a man convicted of robbing 
the United States' mail, though the act should have been done in the 
most crowded street of the city of New York, because the regula- 
tion of the mail, being a matter of public convenience, is vested iu 
the government of the confederation, with all power necessary to its 
safety and dispatch ; but, if the same coach should be robbed in a 
forest, and it did not contain a mail, or something else over which 
the United States have jurisdiction, the robber would be punished 
by the laws of the state where the oifence was committed. In 
order that these laws may be executed, each government has its own 
agents. Thus, there are judges of the state courts, and judges of 
the courts of the United States. The former have jurisdiction in 
cases that are strictly municipal, or rather which are confined to 
their respective states, and the latter in cases which arise under the 
laws of the United States, or in cases in which the citizens oidif- 



which will probably linger in a doubtful state of ex- 
istence for a long time to come, if, indeed, they ever 
prosper. Among others is that of the Navy Yard. 
The villaofe around the Navv Yard is the least 
important of the three which properly constitute 
the community assembled at Washington Proper. 
You will remember that I now exclude George- 
town from this enumeration. It possesses a difFer- 

ferent states are parties. This latter power of the couils of the 
general government is one of the most important features of the 
confederation. It has a tendency to equalize the state laws, by 
rendering them all subject to the great principles of the constitu- 
tion, as well as to those of natural justice. It will be seen at once, 
that this confederation differs from all that we have hitherto known 
by the complicated nature of the action and re-action between the 
people and their general government. It is much the same, in fact, 
as if charters were given to certain towns, in a constitutional 
government, whether monarchical or not, under favour of which 
the inhabitants of those towns were authorized to enact certain laws 
for their own private convenience, while they continued subject at 
the same time to the general laws of the empire. The theory is 
certainly different ; for here the power which belongs to the general 
government, is a concession from the particular states, whereas, in the 
other case, the power exercised by the corporations would be a con- 
cession from the principal government. Still the cases bear so strong 
a resemblance, that one can readily understand the nature of the 
two authorities which exist in this country. But we in Europe, 
while we are accustomed to see cities and universities, and even 
parts of empires, exercising this species of divided sovereignty, have 
not been accustomed to see them exercising it to the extent that is 
practised in America. The difference arises from the common cir- 
cumstance, that the conceding party has, in both cases, seen fit to 
retain the most of the po,ver in its own hands. 



lat is 

ent city government, though it is, in point of fact, 
quite as near the centre, or the President's House, 
as the capital. Alexandria, a little city, also, of 
about 9000 inhabitants, is equally within the 
limits of the District, but it lies on the opposite 
side of the Potomac, and at a distance of six miles. 
There are not many good houses in the quarter of 
the Navy Yard, and I should think that a great 
portion of its inhabitants are people dependant on 
the establishment for support. Notwithstanding 
there is a long river to navigate before a ship can 
get into the bays below, a very considerable num- 
ber of the public vessels are built and repaired at 
this spot. Seamen, there are none at Washing- 
ton, for the simple reason that there is no com- 
merce. A few ships are, indeed, seen at the 
wharfs of Georgetown and Alexandria, but the 
navigation of the two places united is far less than 
that of most of the fourth rate commercial towns 
of the Union. 

As the department of the navy, with the board 
of naval commissioners, are both established at 
Washington, this yard may be of some service in 
the way of modelling, and for the superintendence 
of inventions. A ship built here is said to cost 
more than one built in any of the more northern 
ports, and it is therefore plain, that when the size 
of their marine shall compel the Americans to 
observe a rigid economy in its construction, the 
relative importance of this yard must cease. It 

VOL. II. c 




may long continue a school for experiments, but 
it can never become what was once anticipated 
for it, a large and flourishing building establish- 

I saw, in the Navy Yard at Washington, the only 
public monument in commemoration of the dead 
that I could find in the city, unless a few simple 
stones, erected around the graves of members of 
congress, who have died while here in the dis- 
charge of their official duties, can be so termed. 
This little monument was erected to commemo- 
rate the deaths of the officers who fell in the 
war with Tripoli; a war to which the United 
States' marine owes its present high and me- 
rited character. It is a simple column, wrought 
in Italy at the expense of the survivors, and 
erected on this spot under the impulse of that 
stubborn feeling of independence which distin- 
guishes this people. The high spirited contribu- 
tors to the little work, thought the congress did 
not pay a suitable respect to their petition for a 
site in a more public situation. They were 
masters of the Navy Yard, and in disgust they 
caused their modest memorial to be put up in the 
centre of its area. It may be doubted, after all, if 
any other situation so appropriate, or so touching, 
could have been found. This monument has re- 
ceived some injury, by having one or two of its 
ornamental figures broken. On one of its sides I 
read the following inscription : ** Mutilated by 





Britons, August 1814." This was the date of the 
inroad of the English. 

Now it struck me that this inscription 
was in singularly bad taste. The incursion 
of General Ross was not an affair in which 
either party should exult. It was no extra- 
ordinary military achievement for four or five 
thousand highly discipliaed troops, to land 
under the protection of an overwhelming naval 
force,* and to make a forced march, for a few 
days, through a perfectly defenceless, and nearly 
uninhabited country ; to attack and disperse a 
hastily assembled body of armed citizens, v ho 
were but little, if any, superior to them in num- 
bers ; to enter a line of straggling villages ; to re- 
main one night, and then to retreat at a rate that 
was quite as precipitate as their advance. Per_ 
haps it was not bad policy, in the abstract, for a 
people who possessed the advantages of the Bri- 
tish, to take this means of harassing their enemy. 
But I doubt the policy, in a nation situated pre- 
cisely as England was and is, of proying so prac- 
tically to a nation with the spirit, the resources, 
maritime character, and prospects of this, that a 
powerful navy is so absolutely necessary to de- 
fend their coast. The use that was made of the 
success, too, might admit of some cavilling. But, 
on the other hand, the Americans fell so far short 
in their defence of what even the case admitted, 

• The frigates ascended the river to Alexandria. 

C 2 




and so very far short of what, even under less 
propitious circumstances, they themselves effected 
at New Orleans, that wisdom would prescribe 
silence as the better course. It is permitted for 
the defenders of Bunker's-hill to allude to their 
defeat, but the chisel of the Americans should 
have been industriously employed to erase every 
vestige of, and not to commemorate, even thus 
indirectly, the occupation of their capital by an 
enemy. But, even admitting that the defence of 
the town had been quite equal to the means at 
hand, what was the immediate offence that called 
for this particular punishment ? The English occu- 
pied the Navy Yard, and, although a little hurried, 
they cretainly had time to h^\Q destroyed this small 
monument, instead oi mutilating it, by knocking the 
heads off one or two small marble angels. The 
very nature of the injury proves it was the act of 
an individual, and not of the authority, which alone 
should be considered responsible for any grave 
national accusation. Cadwallader is of my opi- 
nion, as, indeed, were half a dozen naval officers 
who showed us through the yard. The latter said 
that the inscription was by order of an officer of 
rank, who had reasons for a special degree of 
antipathy against their late enemy. No man, 
especially in a country like this, should be per- 
mitted, however, thus to interpose his personal 
resentments between a nation and its dignity. 
It is more than a mile from the quarter of the 









Navy Yard to that of the capitol. I have read 
accounts of this place, which convey an idea that 
it was lately a forest, and that the wood had been 
felled in order to make a space to receive the 
town. There is some error in this impression. 
Most of the country, for miles around Washington, 
was early devoted to the growth of tobacco. It is 
a baneful consequence of the cultivation of this 
weed, that, for a long time, it destroys the 
fertility of the soil. Thus, one sees vast fields 
here which wear the appearance of neglected 
heaths. A growth r>f low, stunted, dwarfish trees 
succeeds in time, and bushes must, of course, first 
make their appearance. I could see no traces of 
wood in any part of this city, nor for some dis- 
tance around it, though it is not improbable that 
some copses of a second growth did exist at the 
time the plan was formed. All I mean to say is, 
that the vicinity of the capitol has rather the ap- 
pearance of an old and an exhausted, than of what 
is here called a new country. A great deal of the 
land in and about the town is not fenced, and the 
whole appearance of the place is that produced 
by the separate villages I have described, lying on 
a great heath which is beginning to be culti- 
vated, and whose surface is irregularly waving. 
The avenues in those parts which are not built, 
consequently, cross these open fields, and the 
view is perfectly unobstructed on every side. 
. The quarter of the capitol stands on elevated 



ground, and is certainly the most picturesque 
portion of the city proper. The capitol itself is 
placed on the brow of a considerable declivity, 
and commands a noble view. There is something 
exceedingly imposing in the aspect of this 
building, with its powerful accessories of scenery 
and of moral association. I shall beg your pa- 
tience while I attempt an imperfect description. 

The edifice is of a light greyish free-stone. It 
has been found necessary to paint it white, in 
order to conceal the marks of the smoke left by 
the conflagration of 1814. This is in better taste 
than the inscription on the monument. The 
effect of a clear, brilliant white, under so fine a 
sun, is in itself exceedingly striking. The anti- 
quarian may riot in the rust, but every plain 
viewing man sees that the com is never so beau- 
tiful as when it is new from the mint. This 
freshness of air is rather a peculiarity throughout 
most of the United States, and it is exactly the 
appearance the country should wear in order to 
be in keeping with its recollections. 

The capitol is composed of a centre and two wings. 
The former is something more than 1 50 feet square, 
or nearly square, and the latter are each just 100. 
The several parts are in a line on the eastern front, 
and consequently the wings are thrown back on the 
western. This irregularity of the western facade 
is a great defect : it impairs the unity, and con- 
sequently the majesty of the edifice. There are 






too many angles, those fatal blots on the beauty of 
architecture. There is another serious defect in 
the building as seen from the west : the centre is 
not only a story higher, but it is also a story lower 
than the wings. On this side the edifice stands 
on the brow of the hill. In order to profit by the 
formation of the ground, a basement, which is 
below the level of the earth to the east, but not to 
the west, has been constructed beneath the centre. 
But this basement necessarily comes into the 
view ; and the fact of its being painted white, 
coupled with its airy situation, gives the whole 
construction the air of a mighty ostrich which is 
just extending its little wings from the centre of 
a clumsy body, not to fly, but to scud across the 
plain beneath. The effect of a fine colonnade is 
much weakened by this substructure of the edifice. 
But you, who have so often seen the Louvre, 
can understand how easy it is to give the base- 
ment too much importance in a building ; and you, 
too, who know the Garde Meuble so well, must 
be sensible of the fine effect of a judicious obser- 
vance of the proper proportions. Some plan is in 
agitation to conceal this superabundance of founda- 
tion; but it is rare indeed that a capital defect in 
a building is successfully repaired by any second- 
hand expedients. 

The eastern front of the capitol promises to be 
beautiful: it possesses unity of design, perfect 




.11 ■ 

simplicity uf outline, and a noble colonnade. As 
it is not, however, yet completed, it would be 
premature to pronounce with confidence on its 
final appearance. The building stands in a spa- 
cious inclosure, which is itself nearly surrounded 
by houses. These dwellings are of bricks, three 
stories high, and decent, without being in the 
least elegant. Much the greater part of them are 
occupied as lodging-houses for the members 
during the session. There are also a few short 
streets built about the capitol. 

You will have understood that the plan of the 
city is that of an infinite number of wide streets 
intersecting each other at right angles, and which, 
in their turn, are obliquely intersected by sundry 
great avenues, which are intended to shorten the 
distances between the more important points, and, 
I presume, to beautify the city. Several of these 
avenues diverge from the capitol square, like 
radii from a common centre. They are called 
after the different states. One, the Pennsylvania 
Avenue, is the principal street of Washington. 
Standing at the capitol, the view along this avenue 
is somewhat striking. It is built on more than one 
half of its whole length, and it is terminated by an 
oblique view of the President's House. You will 
bear in mind, that as very few of the dwellings 
on this avenue approach the capitol, they form 
part of another quarter. Still, paved walks and a 




l\riM)IN<iS, A IK 01 TOWN, KK 


lew scattered buildings, serve to ^ave them some- 
thing of the air of" be^'mmnij^ to belong to the same 
town. > 

The quarter of the President's House is less 
compact and more populous than either of the 
lour. It forms properly the heart of the city. It 
approaches towards Georgetown on one side, and 
the capitol on the other, without absolutely joining 
either. A few of the streets have the air of a 
town, though there is in every part of this place a 
striking disproportion in magnitude between the 
streets and the houses. In order to produce 
the effect intended, the buildings on the Pennsyl- 
vania Avenue, for example, should be of six or 
seven stories, whereas in fact they are some such 
houses as one sees in an English country town. 
Another striking defect in the plan is also made 
manifest by the waste of room on this avenue. 
As the avenues cross the streets obliquely, it is 
plain the points of intersection must make a vast 
number of acute angles. There is always on one 
side of each street, between that street and the 
avenue, a gore of land that is so narrow that it 
will never be built on until real estate shall get 
to be far more valuable than it is likely soon to 
become here. Consequently the distances are 
unnecessarily increased, and by this means, audits 
four different quarters, Washington has all the 
inconvenience of an immense town, without any. 




1 :l 

or scarcely any, of its counterbalancing con- 

It is unnecessary to say any thing more of 
Georgetown, which is a well built, clean, and 
rather pretty town. The avenues between this 
place and the Navy Yard, a distance of near five 
miles, are like so much great route which runs 
through a little cultivated, but open country, on 
which stands one straggling town, and a village, 
and which terminates in a cluster of houses. The 
buildings of the towns, or villages, on the route, 
are much like those of other small towns, with the 
exception of the public edifices, which are like 
those one sees in a city. If you can reconcile all 
these contradictions, you may get a tolerably ac- 
curate notion of the capital of the United States 
of America. You will recollect that the whole 
population of the place, or places, (Georgetown 
included,) is about 25,000 souls. The whole 
district, Alexandria included, contains 40,000. 

The President's House is a neat, chaste building, 
of the Ionic order, built of the same material, and 
painted like the capitol. It stands on a public 
square, and in a considerable garden, and is one 
hundred and seventy feet in length, by eighty-five 
in breadth. In a parallel line with one of its 
fronts, though a little in advance, stand the offices 
of the four great departments. They are large 
buildings of brick, and are placed in pairs, on each' 







side of the '• white house," one in front of the other, 
having open courts between them. The two most 
in advance have plain colonnades, but the other 
two are as naked as can be. Besides these build- 
ings there are one or two more in a distant part of 
this strdp:p[ling quarter, which merit no particular 




My attention, after our arrival at this place, was 
early called to the great body, which was about 
to assemble. We had taken a little suite of rooms 
in a lodging house, or rather tavern, which soon 
began to fill with members of congress from all 
quarters of the country. Perhaps of the whole 
legislative corps of the country, there is not a 
single individual who is the proprietorof a dwelling 
at the seat of government. Those who are of 
sufficient estate to maintain two houses, have their 
town residences in the capitals of their own parti- 
cular states, though a very large majority of the 
members are far from being men of large fortunes 
at all.* There are a few individuals who appear 

* Does not this fact go to confirm the opinion of Cadwallader, 





at the capital with their wives and families, but by 
far the jrreater part of those who have them, leave 
them at home. The common practice is, for a 
certain number of the members who are acquainted 
with each other, to make what is called a " mess,'* 
at some chosen boarding-house. Here they reside 
together, during the session, like the members of 
one large family. Even ladies are often included 
in these arrangements. Others again choose to 
live entirely secluded : and, in some few instances, 
families keep their regular winter establishments, 
in such narrow accommodations as the place 
afforas. The fact that a member is so completely 
dependant on the public will, for his election, is 
enough in itself to prevent any one but a man of 
very large estate from incurring the expense of 
building on so uncertain a tenure. 

A member of the congress of the United States 
is, in fact, what the office professes to be, a repre- 
sentative of the peC|ile. It is not pretended that 
he should be, as a matter of course, a gentleman, 
in the ordinary acceptation of the term. On the 
contrary, he is very commonly a plain, though 
always a respectable yeoman, and not unfre- 
quently a mechanic. I remember to have passed 
a night, in one of the northern states, in a very 
good, cleanly, cheap and comfortable inn, whose 

that frugality in the public expenditure of a country, is by no means 
a necessary consequence of power resting in the hands of the com- 
paratively poor ? , 



master was a member of the lower house. In the 
southern states, where the white men of smaller 
fortunes are by no means of so elev?.ted a charac- 
ter as their brethren of the north, a choice from 
the middling classes rarely happens ; but from the 
more northern, eastern, and north-western states, 
such selections are by no means uncommon. 

When Cadwallader first directed my attention 
to this fact, I confess a little surprise entered into 
my view of the composition of the American 
legislature. Perhaps the circumstance of so 
material a difference between the congress and 
the British parliament was at the bottom of my 
wonder ; for we in Europe are perhaps a little too 
apt to try all experiments in liberty by those 
which England has so long practised with such 
comparative success. I alluded, a little freely, 
to the circumstance of their having so far departed 
from the practice of the mother country, with a 
view of extracting an opinion on the subject from 
my companion. The plan was successful. 

'* If departure from the policy of our ancestors 
is to create your wonder, the feeling should be 
neither new nor trifling. "What we do now, in this 
particular, we have practised, not only without 
inconvenience, but with signal success, for near 
seven generations. The representation under the 
crown differed but little from that of the present 
day. It is, in truth, a representation; and the 
surprise should be, not that the people choose so 





many men of a situation in life closely resembling 
that of the majority, but rather that they choose 
so few. There is a practical good sense in the 
mass of ihe community, here, that tells them a 
certain degree of intelligence and of respectability 
of character is needed in a representative of the 
nation. No one will deny that they sometimes 
deceive themselves, but, on the whole, they are 
sufficiently critical. For native talent, practical 
intelligence, moral character, and political honesty, 
the congress of the United States need not dread 
a comparison with the legislature of any other 
country. I do not mean to say that they are 
perfect, but I am quite certain, from tolerably 
close observation, that they do as much good and 
as little harm as any other similar body in the 

" He who enters the halls of congress, expect- 
ing to find the same conventional finish of per- 
sonal deportment, or the same degree of education, 
as he will find in the British parliament, or in the 
French chambers, enters it under a gross mis- 
conception of the nature of its organization. But 
he who enters either of the two foreign legis- 
lative bodies I have named, expecting to meet 
with the same useful and practical knowledge of 
life, in those details on which a legislator is called 
every hour to act, the same degree of native 
capacity, or even the same aptitude of applying 
the great principles of government to their direct 




and desirable uses, will fall into an error quite as 
gross. We have men, and very many men, in our 
legislature, that may be safely placed at the side 
of the most eminent politicians of Europe ; and 
perhaps no people in the world could more easily 
fill every chair on the iloors of the two houses 
with representatives who, by their intelligence, 
practical knowledge, independence, and honesty> 
would do high credit to a nation, than ourselves. 
But there are many reasons why we do not. 
The first, and the most important of all, is, that 
we have happily got the country into that onward 
movement, that there is little or no occasion for 
legislative impulses. As a rule, besides the ordi* 
nary grants of money, and the usual watchfulness 
over the proceedings of the executive, the less 
they do the better. We find it useful to place the 
check of plain men, with moderated views of life> 
on the speculations of educated theorists. Be- 
sides, every class of society has its interests, and 
it is proper that they should have their represen- 
tation. It is certainly true, that many members 
of congress sometimes believe it necessary to 
yield to the mistaken prejudices of a majority of 
their constituents ; but it may be well questioned, 
whether as much evil to the community results 
from this pliancy, as from that which obeys the 
beck of a minister. In America we have some of 
the former and none of the latter ; in Europe you 
have a great deal of the latter, and none of the 





former. Now, in the United States, if the mistake 
of the people entails inconvenience on themselves, 
they are sure to get rid of it ; but I am yet to 
learn in what manner you dispose of a blunder, or 
of an intentional innovation, of a minister. You 
must always remember that we claim no perfec- 
tion ; it is not a quality of earth. All we wish to 
maintain is, that our system is the best known, 
and perhaps the best practicable ; but if you will 
shew us a better, we will adopt it. Nothing- 
can be more absurd than to accuse almost the 
only nation on the earth that is con&tantly endea- 
vouring to amend its institutions, of a besotted 
opinion of its own immaculate wisdom. I know 
you will say, that changes are frequently danger- 
ous, and that they too often lead to evil. Now, I 
am not at all disposed to deny that you are par- 
tially light as respects yourselves ; but we know 
that we can improve, or even afford to deteriorate 
a little, without much danger ; and therein we 
think we have no small advantage over all the 
rest of the world. If you doubt the fact, compare 
our actual situation, the past, and what we have 
done and are doing, with what other governments 
have done and are about, and let the result speak 
for itself. 

** You will see on the floors of congress men 
belonging to every condition of society known to 
our community, with the exception of that which 
necessarily infers great ignorance and vulgarity. 



All the members are respectable, and very many of 
them are gentlemen. There are some who are scho- 
lars, and not a few have been improved by travel 
and by observation of other countries. A remote 
frontier district, however, must send such men as 
it possesses, or trust its peculiar interests to those 
who have but little concern in its welfare. The 
senate is, in some respects, rather more select than 
the lower house, because their constituents have 
a state instead of a district to choose from, and 
because that body is expected to temper the pro- 
ceedings of legislation with a peculiar degree of 
moderation and dignity. 

" In the British parliament there is some sliow 
of this universality of representation. Certain 
corporations send men of their own stamp ; but in 
England every thing has a tendency to aristo- 
cracy, while, in this country, every thing which 
pertains to the government must seek its support 
in the democracy. The " worthy alderman," who 
may have commenced life behind a counter, 
endeavours to forget his apron when he takes his 
seat on the opposition benches. Instead of 
returning to his shop when the session is ended, 
he becomes a deserter to aristocracy, the moment 
he has received the sec»l of office from the people. 
How far he may contribute to the boasted refine- 
ment of the higher classes, I cannot pretend to 
say ; but it is certain that he does not, like his 
American prototype, assist to give respectability 





and elevation to that of which he was originally a 
member. It is this elevation of character among 
the middling, and even among the more inferior 
classes of our community, which chiefly distin- 
guishes us from all other nations. Europe must 
shew a population as much accustomed to political 
power, as modeiate in its exercise, as practised in 
all that controls the general interests of life, and 
as shrewd in their estimate of character, as this of 
ours, before she should pretend to infer the results 
of democratic institutions by any facts drawn 
from her own experience. We do not deny the 
universality of human impulses, we only insist 
that governments have not the habit of giving 
them fair play. The two houses of congress 
are, and ever have been, living proofs that the 
majority of men are not disposed to abuse power 
when it is once fairly entrusted to them. There 
is not a doubt that the comparatively poor and 
ignorant might fill all our legislative chairs with 
men of their own class, and yet they rather take 
pride in seeing the representation respectable for 
information. Some part of this seeming gene- 
rosity is, no doubt, owing to the superior influence 
of intelligence ; but you must allow there is a 
prospect of quiet and durability under a system 
in which the majority find no reason to complain, 
and in which the minority must see the folly of 
usurpation. But as the two houses are by this 
time organized, we will go to the capitol, and 

I ' j 

iNTEUiou or riir. capitoi,. 


hear the message. When on the spot, I will 
endeavour to direct your attention to such indi- 
viduals as may serve to elucidate what you have 
just heard." 

We proceeded to the capitoi in a coach. 
Alighting at the foot of the hill, we mounted it to 
a door on the western facade, and entered the 
edifice through its substi'atum. Passing among a 
multitude of eating-rooms, &c. &c., we ascended, 
by a noble flight of massive steps, to the true 
basement, or to that story which runs through 
the whole building. Directly under the dome is 
a gloomy vaulted hall, that I have heard called 
the " caucus ;" more, I believe, from its fancied 
fitness for the political meetings that are thus 
termed, than from the fact that it has ever actually 
been appropriated to such an use. It has the air, 
however, of being admirably adapted to the pur- 
poses of a secret conclave, though, in truth, it is a 
common thoroughfare of the building. Imme- 
diately above the " caucus" is the principal hall. 
It is circular, large, high, and covered with a fine 
dome. There is not much richness in the orna- 
ments of this hall, though it is sufficiently wrought 
to prevent the appearance of nakedness. It con- 
tains, among other things, four bas-reliefs in 
stone, which are intended to illustrate as many of 
the most striking incidents in the original settle- 
ment of the country.* I have no disposition to 

* The writer is himself but a traveller, and he should, therefore, 

J) 2 



criticise their execution. Historical pictures are 
to be placed in the pannels beneath. 

From the great hall we passed into that of 
the house of representatives. My friend was for- 
merly a member, and by an usage he is permitted 
to enter the body of the chamber, or rather to 
occupy a seat that is only separated from those of 
the actual members by a slight division. Under 
his auspices, and by the aid of a little interest, I 
was permitted to be his companion, 
i The hall of the house of representatives, with- 



speak reverently of the craft. But he will seize this occasion to ex- 
press his surprise at the very different view which he has taken of 
visible objects from those of some others of the class, who, like him- 
self, have been pleased to put their observations before the world. 
In the " Personal Narrative of Lieutenant the Honourable Frederic 
de Roos, p. 15, is the following sentence, while speaking of the 
apartment just named : " The walls are destitute of ornament, if 
we except some pieces of sculpture, representing various wars and 
treaties with the Indians. The artist might have selected subjects 
more creditable to his country." Now, if the writer has not been 
greatly deceived, these four bas-reliefs are on the following subjects : 
the landing of the pilgrims on the Rock of Plymouth ; the Treaty 
of William Penn with the natives for the possession of their soil ; 
the beautiful and touching "tory of Pocahontas saving the life of 
Captain Smith, and a personal rencontre of Colonel Boon, the 
patriarch of Kentucky, with the s^/ages. These are four distinct 
historical events, which are connected with the settlement of the 
fovir principal parts of the Union. More illustrious incidents might 
have Iteen chosen, beyond a doubt : but there is certainly nothing 
discreditable to the American character in those they have selected 
for this purpose. 


res are 

that of 
v^s for- 
ther to 
hose of 
erest, I 

5, with- 

ion to ex- 
s taken of 
like him- 
;he world. 
; Frederic 
ng of the 
lament, if 
wars and 
1 subjects 
; not been 
subjects : 
he Treaty 
heir soil ; 
le life of 
Soon, the 
r distinct 
nt of the 
nts might 
y nothing 
e selected 

out being particularly rich, c-r highly wrought, is 
one of the most beautiful apartments I have ever 
entered. The form is sem'circular. It is lighted 
from above, and from windows on its stiaight 
side. Between these windows and the body of 
the hall, is a sort of lobby or gallery, which is 
separated from the other parts by a colonnade. 
Here the members and privileged persons prome- 
nade, converse, stand, listen, or repose, without, 
in fact, quitting the room. It is sufficiently with- 
drawn to prevent the appearance of disorder, and 
yet near enough to render the debates audible. 

In the centre of the diameter which cuts the 
circle is the speaker's chair. It is, in fact, a 
little sofa, sufficiently large to hold, on occasion, 
the president of the United States, '.he president 
of the senate, and the speaker. Ir.imediately in 
front, and four or five feet lower, is a chair for the 
presiding member, when the house acts as a 
committee. On a line with the speaker the 
clerks have their places. In front of the chair 
there is a vacant semicircular space of perhaps 
five-and-twenty feet in diameter. Then the seats 
of the members commence. They are arranged 
in semicircular rows, preserving the form of the 
exterior walls, and are separated by a great 
number of little openings, to admit of a passage 
between them. Each member has an arm-chair 
and a low desk, in mahoganj'-. In the first row, 
they sit in pairs, or there is a vacant space bs- 



tween every two, and each successive row in- 
creases its number by one member. Thus, in the , 
last row, some six or seven are placed side by 
side, as on a bench (though actually on chairs), 
while those in front are in pairs. The practice is 
for those who arrive first to choose their seats, and 
the choice is invariably respected. 

There is no such thing known as a political 
division of seats. Members of the same politics 
certainly often choose to be placed near to each 
other, and sometimes the entire representation of 
a particular state is to be seen as near together as 
possible. But there is no rule in the matter. 

The seats of the members are separated from 
the semicircular passage in which Cadwallader 
and myself were placed, by no other division than 
a low railing. Sofas hned the whole of the exte- 
rior wall : and as the floor rises a little from the 
centre, or the area in front of the speaker, we 
had the best possible opportunity for seeing and 
hearing. A spacious and commodious gallery, of 
the same form as the hall, completed the outline of 
the apartment. It was raised several feet above 
the level of the chamber, and is intended for the 
use of spectators. 

The house was organized when we entered, 
and was engaged in some business of form. 
Nearly all the seats were occupied ; and, as the 
message was expected, the gallery was crowded 
with ladies and well-dressed men. The privileged 



■ '''51 

places around the floor of the hall were nearly all 
filled. The speaker was uncovered, but most of 
the members wore their hats. No one appeared 
in costume, nor is there any official dress pre- 
scribed to the members of congress for any cere- 
mony whatever. 

After what Cadwallader had told me of the 
true character of the representation of his country, 
I confess I was rather surprised with the appear- 
ance of the individuals who composed this assem- 
bly. It was to be expected that they should all 
be well attired, but, on the whole, with some very 
few exceptions, they had quite as much the air of 
the world about them as those who compose the 
chambers of the two first nations of Europe. 
iVo one is allowed to sit in the lower house who 
has not attained the age of five-and-twenty ; but, 
in point of fact, there is not, probably, a single 
member of congress who has seen less than thirty 
years. The greater number seemed to be men 
between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. 
There were but very few who could be termed 
old. All, or very nearly all, were natives of the 

I was struck with the simple but imposing aspect 
of this assembly. Though so totally destitute of 
any personal decorations, the beauty of the hall, 
with its magnificent row of massive columns/ the 

* The roof of the hall of the house of representatives is sup- 
ported by a noble semicircle of columns of pudding stone. They 








great neatness of the fauteuil and desks, the beauti- 
fully carpeted floors, and the long range of sofas, 
serve to relieve a scene that might otherwise have 
been too naked. It appeared as if the members had 
said, thus much may you do for the benefit of com- 
fort, for the encouragement of the arts, and, perhaps, 
as a testimonial of the respect due to the sacred uses 
of the place, but man must be left in the fullest 
force of his simplicity. JNone of the attendants even 
wore any badges of their offices. There were 
neither swords, chains, collars, stars, bayonets, 
nor maces, seen about the place, though a quiet, 
and order, and decency reigned in the hall that 
bespoke the despotic dominion of that mighty, 
though invisible, monarch — the Law. 

A discussion on some question of order was 
getting to be a little general, and one member 
was addressing the chair [they speak from their 
places, as in the British Parliament] with some 
earnestness, when the principal door was thrown 
open, and an officer proclaimed aloud, " A mes- 
sage from the president." The members all rose in 
their places, the speaker included, when a young 
gentleman entered, and passed through the body 
of the house to the chair. He was attired in a 
neat morning dress, and having placed his docu^ 
ment in the hand of the speaker, he bowed and 
withdrew. It was then decided that the commu- 

are highly polished, and have a pleasing no less than a striking 


f sofas, 
se have 
ers had 
of com- 
ed uses 

ts even 
J were 

ill that 

5r was 
1 their 


3se in 

in a 



nication should be read.* There was much in- 
terest to hear this document, which always con- 
tains a great outline of the state of the republic. 
It was a clear, succinct narrative of what had 

* The instinces of a propensity in Europeans to misconstrue the 
political and moral condition of the United States are numberl'^ss. 
One may be quoted here with propriety. Since the return of the 
writer to Europe, he has, on more than one occasion, heard the 
fact that the president of the United States sends a message to con- 
gress, commented on in a significant manner, as if the circum- 
stance were portentous of some great political change I *' Parlia- 
ment would scarcely brook a message^'* said an Englishman, with 
einj)hasis, when the subject was alluded to. The writer saw nothing, 
at the time, in the thing itself, but the most perfect simplicity; but, 
determined tc sifl the matter to the bottom, he mentioned the sub- 
ject a letter to his American friend, and extracts a part of his 
reply : " I am not at all surprised," said Cadwallader, «* that 
thousands in Europe should easily pervert every possible circum- 
stance into an evidence of a state of things which they rather desire 
than seriously expect. There has not been a single change, how- 
ever, in all our usages, which goes less to prove the justness of 
their anticipations, than the fact you have mentioned. When the 
government, as it now exists, was first organized, Washington met 
the two houses and made his annual communication in a speech. The 
practice had prevailed in the colonial legislatures. We have never 
been in a hurry to make unnecessary innovations. Reform marches 
with a dignified pace — it is revolution that is violent. The states 
continued the practice of the colonies. It was quite natural that the 
first presidents should conform to existing usages for a time. We have 
never been great sticklers for shadows, though no principle is ever 
listened to that is likely to entail a disadvantage. In the course of 
a few years, men began to ask themselves, w^hy does the president 
make a speech at the opening of a session? He sends messages at 
all other times, and why not on this occasion ? The substance of 



been done in the course of the past year, of the 
condition of the finances, of the several negocia- 
tions, and concluded with a statement of what the 
people had a right to anticipate for the future. 

When the message was ended, Cadwallader 
introduced me to several of the members to whom 
he was personally known. Most of them were 
men of good manners, and of education, though 
one or two were certainly individuals who had 

what he has to communicate, can be told by a message quite as 
well as by a speech. The amount of it all then is, that the parade 
of a speech is a mere matter of state and show, and although some 
little ceremony is, perhaps, necessary, we ought o have as little as 
possible, since common sense, which is our palladium, is always a 
sufferer in ceremonies. You will understand me ; a state of society 
may exist, in which it is good sense to adopt ceremony, but such is 
not the case in the year 1827, in the United States of America. 
Every sage physician adapts his remedy to the disease. Mr. Jefferson 
dispensed with speeches, because they did no good, and might do 
harm by drawing us nearer to the usages of Europe, when it is so 
often our business to recede from them. For my own part, I think 
it rather better as it is, though it cannot be a matter of much mo- 
ment. It is, however, odd enough, that the very usage which has 
been adopted for its simplicity and republicanism, should be tor- 
tured into a proof of a directly contrary tendency. It may be a 
sufficient answer to the remark of your English friend, ' that the 
British parliament would be apt to grumble at receiving a message 
from the king,' to say that should congress not receive one from the 
president at a pretty early day in the session, they would be very 
apt to appoint a committee to inquire why he had forgotten to lay 
the state of the nation before them. I am no quarreller about 
terms, and I leave you to decide where the substance of things is to 
be found." 





paid far more attention to the substance of things 
than to forms. The former were of course of that 
class of society which, in Europe, would be 
termed the gentry, and the others were probably 
farmers, if not mechanics. There was an air of 
great self-possession and decorum in the latter, 
nor could the slightest visible difference be traced 
between the respect which they received, and 
that which their more pohshed confederates be- 
stowed on each other. A simple, quiet courtesy 
is certainly the tone of manners in congress. 
While we stood together in the lobby, a grave- 
looking, middle-aged man, of a slightly rustic air, 
approached, and addressed my companion. His 
manner was manly and independent, but at the 
same time decent, and I think it was to be dis- 
tinguished by a shade of respect. They shook 
hands, and conversed a little concerning some 
questions of local politics. Promises were made 
of exchanging visits. ** This is my friend, the 

," said Cadwallader; ** a gentleman who is 

travelling in our country." The stranger sa- 
luted me, offering his hand with the utmost sim- 
plicity. ** If this gentleman comes into our part 
of the country, I hope to see him," he said, and 
soon after took his leave. When he was gone, T 
learned that this individual was a member of con- 
gress from the county in which the paternal estates 
of my friend lie ; that he was a farmer of moderate 
rneansand good character, whom his fellow citizens 





had sent to represent them. His constituents 
might very possibly have made a better choice, 
and yet this man was not useless, since he served 
as a check on the schemes of those who would be 
legislating for effect. A gentleman-like man of 
sixty came next, and he and my friend met as 
equals in all respects, except that the latter paid 
a slight deference to the years of his acquaintance. 
I was introduced. We touched our hats, and ex- 
changed a few words. The next day, I received 
this gentleman's card, and as soon as his visit was 
returned, an invitation to dine in his private 

lodgings followed. This was Mr. , a man of 

immense hereditary landed estate. His alliances, 
fortune, and habits, (though tempered by the in- 
stitutions of his country,) are, to all intents and 
purposes, the same as those of a gentleman or 
nobleman in Europe. His character is excellent, 
and, in consequence, he is now, and may be to 
the day of his death, the representative of his 
native district. Here you have the two extremes 
of the representation of this country — a yeoman, 
and a great proprietor whose income would put 
him on a level with most of the great men of our 
hemisphere. They represent no particular in- 
terests, for all interests unite to send them here. 
They happen to please their constituents, and the 
fact that the one is a yeoman, and the other a 
species of lord of the manor, produces no_ effect 
whatever. These men meet in congress on terms 







)uld be 


nan of 


met as 

jr paid 




nd ex- 



.it was 


nan of 



:he in- 


s and 


an or 



be to 


[)f his 





i put 


>f our 

■" W 

T in- 



■ ■^« 

d the 


ler a 




of perfect equality. It often happens that a 
yeoman, possessed of a vigorous native mind, has 
vast influence. 

While quitting the capitol, two more members 
of congress spoke to Cadwallader. They walked 
with us the whole length of the avenue. One of 
them was a man of afashioT>able air, and of exceed- 
ingly good manners. He spoke French, and we 
conversed together for some time m that tongue. 
I found him agreeable and intelligent, and was 
glad to perceive he was disposed to renew the 
interview. But the other individual puzzled me 
not a little. In dress and externals he differed 
but little from his more agreeable companion. 
His air, however, was not that of a man of the 
world, and his language was sufficiently provin- 
cial to be remarked. I should not have taken 
him for one of a station in life to be found in 
such company, did I not know his official rank, 
and were I not prepared for the great admixture 
of ordinary American society. But if 1 was a 
little perplexed by the provincialisms of this indi- 
vidual, I was not less surprised at his shrewdness 
and intelligence. He used his words with great 
discrimination, and with perfect grammatical 
accuracy; and he spoke not only with good 
sense, but frequently with power, and always with 
prodigious clearness. "When we parted, I again 
expressed surprise at the manifest difference in 
manners that existed between the two members. 


Ml' :,Mm us oi ('<)N(;ui.;ss. 

"You will begin to know lis in time,'' rctuinrd 
Cadw!\ll;\(lcr. *• Those men are both lawyers. 
lie whose air and lanu^nage are so unexception- 
able, is u member of a family lon^;; known in 
this country for its importance. You sec he has 
not lost, nor will he be likely to let his pos- 
terity lose, the manners of the world. He is far 
from being rich, nor is he remarkable for talent, 
though rather clever. You find he has a seat in 
congress. The other is the child of an aiiiucnt 
tradesman, who has given his son an education 
for the bar, but who could not give him what Ik^ 
had not himself, — a j)olished exterior. Hut he is 
gleaning, and, before he dies, he will be in the 
way of imparting a better air to his descendants. 
In this manner is the whole of our community 
slowly rising in the scale of mere manners. As 
to talent, this provincial lawyer, for he is provin- 
cial in practice as well as by birth, has, as you 
must have observed, enough of it. He is a good 
man in congress, whatever he may be in the 
saloons. He has got the intelligence, and no 
small part of the feelings of a gentleman ; he 
may never get the air, for he began too late for 
that, and, like most men, he probably affects to 
despise an unattainable advantage. But as it is 
in nature to wish for distinction, rely on it, he is 
secretly determined to amend. Perhaps one of 
these parties loses a little by the intimate associa- 
tion which is a necessary consequei 2e of their 



common Hituation; but tlic gTadual approxima- 
tion is, on the whole, produced by the improve- 
ment of the other. In the great essentials of 
soundness of feeling, morals, and common sense, 
they are quite on an equality.' 




I HAVK been a daily visiter at the capitol. The 
proceedings of the two houses are never without 
interest, since they control the entire foreign 
policy of this growing republic, which is daily 
becoming of more importance in the eyes of 
Christendom. Some of the peculiar practice of 
American legislation may be of interest, and 
before I write of individuals, I will attempt a 
brief outline of their forms. 

You probably know already that the president 
of the United States is assisted by a cabinet. It 
is composed of four secretaries, (state, treasury, 
war, and navy,) and of the attorney-general. As 
the president is alone answerable for his proper 
acts, these ministers have no further responsibility 
than as their own individual agency is concerned. 
They have no seats in congress, since the consti- 




tution forbids that any officer of the general 
government should be a representative either of a 
state (a senator), or of the people (a member of 
the house of representatives). Thus, the judges 
and generals, and colonels, of which one reads in 
congress, are not officers of the United States, 
but of the states themselves. The difference is 
material, since the authorities by whom they are 
commissioned have no power over the measures 
on which they are called to legislate. You will 
understand me better if I go a little into detail. 

The president of the United States has no 
voice in the appointment of any officer whatever, 
under the government of a state. The govern- 
ment of a state has no voice whataver in the 
enactment of the laws, or in the appointment of 
the officers of the United States. There may be, 
and unquestionably there sometimes is, a recipro- 
cal influence exerted between them ; but the 
instances are rare, and liable to a good deal of 
explanation. It is not probable that the govern- 
ment of the United States ever interests itself at 
all in the appointments of a state ; but, \s the 
appointments of the United States are often of a 
nature to produce a direct effect on the interests 
of a particular state, it is not uncommon for the 
members of its government to lend their influence 
to such applicants as they believe the most likely 
to be of benefit to its community. Still, it is no 
more than influence ; no two governments in *.he 







world being more perfectly distinct from each 
other, than that of the United States and that of 
an individual member of the confederation, if we 
make the single exception, that both are bound to 
respect the great principles of the constitution. 

It is an unsettled point whether congress has a 
right to admit the ministers to possess consulta- 
tive voices in the two houses. I think the better 
opinion is, that they have ; but the practice has 
never yet been adopted. Indeed, there is a sort 
of fastidious delicacy observed on this subject, 
which, in effect, prevents the secretaries from 
attending the debates even as auditors. I have 
never yet seen any member of the cabinet in the 
chamber of either body. On the last day of the 
session, it is the practice of the president to come 
to the capitol, and to occupy an apartment which 
is fitted expressly for his use. The object of this 
visit is to be near the legislative bodies, in order 
that he may give his assent to, or rejection of, the 
bills that always accumulate at that time He is, 
of course, attended by his cabinet, the members 
of which, I am told, are then in the habit of some- 
times entering the halls. This is the only occa- 
sion on which the president appears in the capitol, 
unless it be at his inauguration, or at some cere- 
mony not at all connected with government. 

The exclusion of the ministers from the debates 
is thought, by many people, to be a defect, since, 
instead of the verbal explanations which they 


ip ; 



might give, if present, it is now necessary to make 
formal demands on the different departments for 
information. On the other hand, it is contended 
that the existing practice compels members to 
make themselves familiar with details, and that 
they are none the worse legislators for their 
labour. In no case could the minister be allowed 
to vote, or even to propose a law, directly. 

For the introduction of the laws there are two 
courses in practice, though only one in theory. 
Each secretary makes a formal report of the state 
of his particular department at the commencement 
of every session. In this report, he takes care to 
recommend those measures that he deems needful 
for his immediate branch of the public service. 
The substance of these reports is embodied in the 
message of the president ; and it is the duty of that 
high officer to invite the attention of the legisla- 
ture to such subjects as he may consider of na- 
tional importance. The matter of the message is 
necessarily divided into a certain number of lead- 
ing topics. Regular, or, as they are here called, 
standing committees, are appointed at the com- 
mencement of every congress.* To tnese com- 
mittees all the usual matter of the message is 
referred. Thus, whatever relates to the finances is 
referred to " the committee of ways and means ;'' 
to the army, to " the military committee," &c. 8cc. 
If the message should include any extraordinary 

* Once in two years. 




to make 

nents for 


obers to 

iiid that 

or their 



are two 



,he state 



i care to 



d in the 

^ of that 



r of na- 

ssage is 

of lead- 


e com- 


e com- 

sage is 

nces is 

eans ;'' 

kc. 8cc. 




matter, as is usually the case, a special com- 
mittee is appointed to attend to it. At the head 
of each committee, (they exist in both houses,) 
there is placed some member who is supposed to 
be more than commonly acquainted with its busi- 
ness. As congress is so completely composed 
of practical men, these duties are generally dis- 
charged with a good deal of dexterity, and often 
with rare ability. These committees have rooms 
of their own, wliere they assemble and get through 
with all the drudgery of their duties. They com- 
municate with the departments; and when tht e 
is an agreement of opinion, the necessary bills are 
framed between them. The chairman is the usual 
organ of communication with the house. We will, 
however, assume a case, and follow it through its 
legislative forms, in order to render the usage as 
clear as possible. 

The president and his cabinet believe the public 
good requires that a dozen regiments should be 
added to the army. The fact is communicated 
to congress, in the annual message, accompanied 
by a statement of the political events which have 
induced the necessity. Then comes the report of 
the secretary, with a detailed view of the present 
force, and a general comparative statement of that 
which it is thought will be needed. The military 
committees enter into a minute examination of the 
circumstances and estimates, and make such 
reports to the two houses as they deem prudent. 

E 2 








If it be in favour of an increase, they recommend 
a bill. In order to get rid of certain forms, and 
with a view to render legislation deliberate, the 
whole house sit as a committee. This, you know, 
is a practice derived from the English parliament. 
The bill, amended or not, is first passed by the 
committee of the whole house ; but its opponents 
have still a chance to dispute its passage in the 
house itself. When it has passed one of the 
houses, it is sent to the other, where it goes 
through the same forms. It is hardly necessary 
to say that the committees of the two houses 
commonly consult together, and make their re- 
ports as nearly alike as possible. In general they 
are the same, though the fate of a bill is by no 
means sure because it has been approved by the 
committees. • All these forms do not prevent indi- 
vidual members from offering bills of their own ; 
it is merely a practice adopted to favour examina- 
tion, and to expedite business. 

When a bill has passed the two houses, it is 
signed by the speaker of the house of represen- 
tatives and the president of the senate, and sent 
to the president for his approbation. That officer 
submits it to his cabinet, as a matter of prudence 
and of courtesy, though not of right. Should he 
choose it, however, he can demand the written 
opinion of any of his ministers, and then the indi- 
vidual who gives it may be supposed to become 
responsible for the honesty of his views. The 




>rms, and 
irate, the 
ou know, 
^d by the 
je in the 
e of the 
it goes 
o houses 
their re- 
eral they 
is by no 
d by the 
ent indi- 
sir own; 

5es, it is 
and sent 
at officer 
hould he 

the indi- 

s. The 

president decides as he sees fit ; there remaining 
no alternative to the minister but submission, or 
separation from an administration of whose policy 
he disapproves. If tlie president sign the bill, 
it is a law ; but if he does not sign it, he is 
obliged to send it back to congress with his rea- 
sons. Should he neglect to do either, for ten 
days, it becomes a law without his agency; and 
should he then refuse to sign it, he may be im- 
peached and punished, as, probably, might such 
of his ministers who, it could be proved, had been 
accessary to his obstinacy. If congress be not 
satisfied with the objections of the president, they 
put the bill to the question again ; and should 
two-thirds of both houses support it, it becomes a 
law, without his agency. 

The congress of the United States is not re- 
markable for the dispatch of public business, nor 
is it desirable that it should be. One of the 
greatest merits of the peculiar government of the 
country is to be found in the fact, that the people 
are left, as much as possible, to be the agents of 
their own prosperity. The object of the laws is 
protection rather than patronage. Haste is rarely 
necessary where such a state of society exists ; 
and though there may be, and, undoubtedly, fre- 
quently is, inconvenience in the delays that some- 
times occur, more good than evil is thought to 
follow the practice. The cause of delay most 




complained of, is the habit of making set speeches, 
which is, perhaps, too common. 

You are not, however, to suppose that a mem- 
ber actually talks seventy-two hours without 
stopping, because he is said to have occupied the 
house three days. Though iEolus himself does 
not seem to be longer winded than some of the 
American legislators, none of them are quite equal 
to such a blast. If we- say nine hours, perhaps, 
we get the maximum of their breath ; and even 
this period is to be divided into three several and 
distinct divisions. The houses meet at twelve 
o'clock. They are commonly occupied in the order 
of the day until two, when they go into committees 
of the whole, or take up the deferred business. 
This leaves the Demosthenes of the occasion but 
three hours each day for the exercise of his ora- 
tory. But bottom enough for three days, on the 
same subject, is not the fortunate quality of many 
men : so, after all, very few members ever occupy 
the house more than an hour or two. The evil does 
not so much exist in the extraordinary length of 
the speeches, as in the number of those who can 
arrange words enough to fill an hour of time. 

The Americans are fond of argument. They 
discuss in society, a thing which is done no where 
else, I believe. The habit is often disagreeable, 
since their opinions are not uiifrequently coarsely 
urged ; but the truth is profusely shaken from its 
husks, in these sharp, intellectual encounters. It 

I') - i >. 




a niem- 
pied the 
elf does 
3 of the 

is not surprising, that men, who have been accus- 
tomed all their lives to have a word in what is pass- 
ing, should carry the desire to speak into a body 
which is professedly deliberative. Still, if the 
trifling mconvenience of these delays shall be put 
in contrast with the cold and uncalculating injury, 
the prodigal expenditure, and the quiet corruption 
with which legislation so often flows on in its 
silent course, elsewhere, the advantage will be 
found immensely on the side of these talkers. 

In point of manner, the debates in both houses 
of congress are conducted with decorum. Those 
in the senate are particularly dignified ; that body 
maintaining, at all times, rather more of gravity 
than the other. In the senate, the members are 
all uncovered ; in the lower house they wear their 
hats, if they please. The arrangements of the 
two halls are very much the same ; but the senate 
chamber is, of course, much the smallest. The 
members of the senate may be, on the whole, 
rather older than the representatives ; though 
there are several between the ages of thirty and 
five-and-forty. It is necessary to be thirty, in 
order to sit. 

The forms of the two houses are the same. 
They meet at a stated hour (12 o'clock), and, after 
listening to prayers, the regular business of the 
day is commenced. You would probably suppose 
that, in a country where there is no estabhshed 
religion, it might be difficult for an indiscrimi- 





!; 1 , 






nately collected assembly to agree on the form 
ill which these petitions should be offered up to 
the Deity. Nothing is, however, more untrue. 
Each house chooses its own chaplain, or chap- 
lains, who are sometimes of one denomination, 
and sometimes of another. Prayers are vastly 
better attended than in England, on such occa- 
sions. I remember once to have asked the mem- 
ber from Cadwallader's county, how he reconciled 
it to his conscience, to listen to the petitions 
offered up by a clergyman of a sect entirely dif- 
ferent from his own. The simple answer was 
that he believed the Almighty understood all lan- 

Although instances of want of temper and of 
violent expressions have certainly occurred in con- 
gress, they aie rare, and always strongly con- 
demned. Each new speaker is patiently heard, 
and there is no other manner of manifesting indif- 
ference to his logic practised, than those of writing 
letters, reading newspapers, and sometimes of 
quitting the hall. There is far greater silence 
than in the French chambers, though more moving 

* The writer was afterwards present when a Roman Catholic 
preached to both houses of congress in the hall of the house of 
representatives, although it is not probable that more than one 
or two of the members were of his religious persuasion, if, in- 
deed, there was one. Nearly all of the higher officers of govern- 
ment were present, though they were protestants to a man. Nor 
was there any show of liberality in the affair at all, but every thing 
H|:peared natural, and quite as a matter of course. 



about than in the house of commons, for the 
simple reason that there is more room to do it in. 
There is sometimes a low laugh ; but systematic 
coughing is nevei heard. Cries of approbation 
or of disapprobation, interruptions, unless to de- 
mand order, or any other similar indecencies, are 
unknown. These people appear to me to have no 
fear of themselves, or of any body else, in matters 
that relate to government. They go on boldly, 
systematically, and orderly, without any visible 
restraint. It appears as if they knew that use 
and education had implanted such general prin- 
ciples in every man, that they know where to find 
him, on all grave occasions. If they scatter fire- 
brands freely in debate, and in their journals, it is 
because they are sure there are no combustibles 
into which they can fall. The gallery of congress 
is very capacious, and any one may enter it, who 
pleases. If there could be a hazardous experi- 
ment tried on the government, I think it would 
be in attempting to browbeat congress. It would 
be quite as safe to attempt to assassinate a sove- 
reign, in the midst of his guards. The members, 
the army, the navy, the community, and even the 
women, would rise in support of its privileges. 
The perfect security of its rights might render 
the effort of an individual too ridiculous for re- 
sentment ; but any serious plot of the sort would 
be sure to draw down the indignation of the whole 
republic. — Adieu. 

( 58 ) 


To you, who so stoutly maintain that the regu- 
lations of etiquette are necessary to order, it may 
be surprising to learn with how little of prepa- 
ration the functionaries of this government get 
through the ceremonials of their offices. Just so 
far as etiquette is of use in facilitating intercourse, 
is it rational ; but these people very rightly beheve, 
that their institutions enable them to move on 
with far less than is practised in Europe. We 
will seize a moment to discuss the matter in some 
of its general bearings. 

In point of style there is none whatever practised 
in addressing any one officer of the government. 
The naked appellation of the office is used in con- 
versation sometimes, and commonly, though not 
always, in notes and letters. The tone can be 
taken best from the incumbents themselves. An 
invitation to dine at the " White House," always 
runs, " The president requests the pleasure," &;c. 
A secretary commonly says, "Mr. re- 
quests, &c." Now, the best style, and that which is 
expected, is to reply in the same form. I'hus a note 
should be addressed " To Mr. ," to " the pre- 
sident," ** To Mr. Adams, (the secretary of state,)'* 
or '* to Mr. Southard (the secretary of the navy)." 

k r-U 



The use of honourable to either, or indeed to any 
one else, is not deemed bon ton. It is done, how- 
ever, quite frequently by those who are ignorant 
of the tone of the place. The use of the terms 
"excellency" and "honourable," came in with 
the colonial practices. I have more than once 
had occasion to say that these people have never 
been violent in their innovations. The changes in 
things not deemed material, have always been 
gradual, and the work of time. Washington, at 
the head of the army, was called " his excel- 
lency," as a matter of course, and he carried the 
title with him to the chair of stpte. The colonial 
governors had the same title, and one of the states 
(Massachusetts) continued it in its constitution. 
But, though often observed, even now, it is a 
practice gradually falling into disuse. It is not 
seriously pretended there is any thing anti-re- 
publican in giving a title to a public officer ; in- 
deed many contend it should be done, as a way of 
imparting more consideration to the rank ; but, as 
near as I can learn, the taste of the nation is silently 
receding from the custom. Cadwallader tells me 
that, twenty years ago, it would have been thought 
rather a breach of politeness to address a letter to 
a member of congress, without prefixing * honour- 
able' to the name, though the better practice now 
is to omit it. When I asked him if he saw any 
reason for the change, he answered, none, but the 
fact that the thing grew contemptible from its 


I • ■ ' 


h ' ! 

'- 1 ' 



'* Twenty years ago," he continued, " an officer 
of the militia, above the rank of captain, was sure 
of bearing his title ; but now, among men of a 
certain class, it is getting into disuse, unless one 
has reached the rank perhaps of general. There 
is no general rule, however, as the people of the 
country ar'i fond of calling a man by the title of 
an office which they may have had an agency in 
conferring. I think there is a quiet waggery in 
the nation, that takes pleasure in giving quaint 
names. Thus, dwarfs are often called * major'* — 
heaven knows why ! but I have met three who 
all bore this title. I have a gardener, who is 
universally stiled judge, and an old black family 
servant is never known by any other name than 
that of governor. Nicknames are rather too much 
in use with us. The liberty is not often taken, 
of course, with men of the better orders. They 
are much disposed to dispense with all sorts of 
titles. We call a gentleman an esquire, by cour- 
tesy, according to a practice imported from Eng- 
land; though some one-sided masters of ceremonies 

* The writer has just seen an American play-bill, in which 
Major Stevens, a dwarf, is advertised to enact the part of Tom 
Thumb. There is also a strange effect, in the way of names, pro- 
duced by reading. The writer met several men, who were called 
Don Sebastian, Don Alonzo, &c. &c. In one instance, he knew 
a person who was called Lord George Gordon. The latter pro- 
ceeded from waggery, but the mothers of the former had] found 
names in books that captivated their fancy. Women of a similar 
rank of life in Europe, would know but little of titles beyond the 
mits of their own parishes. 




deny that any but magistr-.tes, counsellors, 8cc. 
have a right to the title ; just as if even they could 
find better authority for their claims than any 
body else. The truth is, the courts continue a 
few of the colonial forms, which may be well 
enougii, and their officers sometimes think that 
use has grown into a law. In New England the 
custom goes so far as to call a deacon of a church 
by his title ; and I have even seen * serjeant* 
placed before the name of a respectable yeoman. 
The practice, as it confines the appellation to the 
office, is rather republican than otherwise ; but, 
as I have just said, it is getting into disuse, be- 
cause it is no longer a distinction." 

In conversation, the actual president, I find, is 
called Colonel Monroe. I am told his predecessors 
were addressed as Mr. Madison, Mr. Jf Terson, 
Mr. Adams, and General Washington.* The secre- 
taries and the members of congress are addressed 
as other gentlemen. In the two houses, the eti- 
quette is to speak of another member as ** the 
gentleman from Virginia," ** the gentleman from 
Connecticut, who spoke last," and, sometimes, as 
" the honourable gentleman," &c. The president 
is commonly alluded to, in debate, as *' the execu- 
tive." Other indirect means of indicating the mem- 
bers meant, are sometimes adopted ; but, as in the 
British parliament, names are always avoided. 

* The present president (1828) is called Mr. Adams. The 
writer never heard the term ♦« excellency" used, in speaking to him 
or to his predecessor. 



No civil officer of the government has a cos- 
tume, except the judges of the supreme court. 
The latter wear, in court, plain black silk gowns. 
They commenced with wigs and scarlet robes, 
but soon discarded them as inconvenient. The 
president might, on occasion, appear attired either 
as a general or an admiral ; and, in some in- 
stances, Washington did as the former ; but it is 
the usage for the president to dress like any other 
gentleman, consulting his own taste and appear- 
ance. The same is true of the vice-president, of 
the speaker of the house of representatives, and of 
all other officers and members. You know there is 
no order of knighthood in the country. At the 
close of the war of the revolution, the officers of 
the army formed themselves into a society called 
the Society of Cincinnati. They adopted a little 
enamelled badge, which bears some resemblance 
to a simple European cross. Even this immate- 
rial distinction gave offence, and some of the state 
societies were abolished many years ago. The 
plan was to perpetuate the feeling which had 
united them as a corps, through their descend- 
ants, it being intended that the eldest male heir 
should succeed to the father. You may trace, in 
this little circumstance, the lingering of ancient 
prejudices. Still, had not Washington been at 
the head of this society, and had not the services 
of its members been so undeniable, and so piti- 
fully rewarded, this trifling consolation to their 
pride would not have been endured even at that 



time. The society is daily getting of less import- 
ance, though possibly of more interest, and there 
is no doubt but it will disappear entirely, with the 
individuals who were personal actors in the scenes 
which called it into existence. It is probable 
there will be no more members of the Cincinnati 
a dozen years hence. 

The constitution has shown a marked jealousy of 
the introduction of any distinctions that are not 
solely attached to office, which, as you know, are 
fluctuating, and entirely dependant on popular fa- 
vour. Thus, no American can receive a title, or a 
decoration, from a foreign court, without losing his 
citizenship ; nor can any officer of the government 
receive even a trifling present from another power. 
There are a good many people here whose fathers 
bcre titles. In all cases, where use had not be- 
come too strong, they were dropped. In short, 
I think the tone in all such matters in America, 
is to follow the natural course of things. It is not 
natural for a community, like this, to cherish here- 
ditary titles, and yet it would be doing violence 
to usage by attemptmg to change the appellation 
of an individual, who had been known by a title 
for perhaps half a century. The Dutch in New 
York had a sort of lords of the manor, who 
were known by the title of patroons (paterons). 
Cadwallader tells me that, in his youth, hg knew 
several of these patroons. But they have all dis- 
appeared, except one. The exception is a gen- 
tleman resident at Albany, who is perhaps the 

fli; rJ 





greatest landed proprietor in the United States. 
Every body, who is familiar with the habits of 
that part of the country, calls this gentleman 
** the patroon." His father, and several of his 
ancestors, bore the same appellation. There is 
not the slightest jealousy or feeling on the sub- 
ject. He is a member of congress ; and though 
persons from other parts of the Union address 
iiTi by his real name, my friend always calls 
h .{J •* patroon." The immense estate of this gen- 
tlem ... was entailed, and he came into posses- 
sion about the time of the revolution. But there 
are no more entails in any of the states; and 
although the possessions of the patroon will un- 
doubtedly go to his children, it is more than pro- 
bable that the appellation will cease with his own 

The etiquette of the American government is 
as simple as possible. Some attention to forms 
is found convenient, and as so many foreign 
ministers reside here, perhaps it is necessary. 
The practice of all American society, in respect 
to precedency, is very much like your own, always 
excepting the great officers of the two govern- 
ments. Age, talent, and character, exercise a 
great and a natural influence, and there, I think, 
the matter is permitted to rest. A governor of a 
state, or even a senator of the UniteJ States, 
would be expected to lead the mistress of the 
house to the table, perhaps, just as a stranger, or 
a man of particular personal claims, would be per- 






mitted to do the same thing. But the deference 
paid to official rank would be very apt to end 
there. A mere member of the lower house may 
receive certain distinctions in public ceremonies^^ , 
but scarcely in society. It would be intolerable 
for a son of the president to presume en his 
birth in any situation. He might, and certainly 
would be more caressed, on account of the cir- 
cumstance ; but he must always content him- 
self with precisely the degree of attention that is 
offered. The son of any oth». ■ f ntleman is, in 
every respect, his equal in "^it<,, and the son 
of any other man his equal '.»o-b.e the world. You 
will understand me to spe'\k now with direct re- 
ference to practice, for in i. jvtiy there is no dif- 
ference at all.* 

* The writer, since his return to Europe, has had an opportunity 
of ascertaining how far the question of precedency is sometimes 
pushed in England. At an entertainment given not long since in 
London, there were present, besides many Englishmen of rank, a 
Russian and a Roman Prince. The high-bred English peers could 
not hesitate to give the pas to the strangers ; but these gentlemen 
were delicate in respect of each other. The question was one far 
too awful for the mistress of the house to attempt to decide. After 
the whole party had stood in reverential silence for a sufficiently 
awkward minute, the ladies moved to the banquet in a body, fol- 
lowed by the gentlemen in the same solitary order. Within a fort- 
night of that memorable coup d'itiquette, the writer was present at 
a similar entertainment at Paris. Here there were also men of dis- 
tmction from different countries, without any graduated scale to 
determine their co-relative rank. There was, however, one gentle- 
man whose claims, though a countryman oi the hostess, might in 









The present secretary of state* undertook, in 
great simplicity, to give his opinions lately on 
some questions of etiquette connected with the 
subject of official intercourse. Tliere was pro- 
bably a great deal of good sense in what he pub- 
lished, and no doubtthe practices he recommended 
were not without convenience. But it is generally 
thought he committed an error in writing about 
them at all. Now, it is just in this fact that I 
think the common sense of the Americans is to be 
traced. Whatever is convenient, in the way of 
ceremony, they are very apt to adopt; but they 
are not disposed to make trifles matters of serious 
discussion. The secretary was a good deal quizzed 
for his essay, though 1 dare say most people prac- 
tised the very thing thej'^ laughed at. 

At Washington official rank is certainly more 
attended to than elsewhere. I cannot give you 
an insight into the whole table of precedency, but 
some of its secrets have been practically divulged 
in my presence. The day after our arrival, Cad- 
wallader and myself left cards at the President's 
House; at the houses of the heads of depart- 



all fairness, be considered to be pre-eminent, since, to personal 
rank, he united the highest talents, and the utmost private merit. 
The lady of the house, in order to anticipate any doubts, took his 
arm, and then, with exquisite grace and tact, she saw each of the 
other claimants accommodated with a proper companion, and every 
one advanced towards the salle d manger in less than a minute. 

* The actual president. 

I Mi;' 

II ' 



took, in 
ately on 
kvith the 
vas pro- 
he pub- 
ig about 
2t that I 
s is to be 
3 way of 
but they 
)f serious 
1 quizzed 
pie prac- 

nly more 
give you 
ncy, but 
vq\, Cad- 
to personal 
ivate merit. 
ts, took his 
;ach of the 
J, and every 

ments ; at those of the foreign ministers ; and at the 
lodgings of a dozen senators. We met sundry 
members of congress, but my friend did not 
appear to think it necessary to treat them as per- 
sonages entitled to particular deference. Their 
claims form a disputed point, I find ; but Cad- 
wallader knows his own foothold in society too 
well to trouble himself with a disputed point. 
We called on a few, as ** good fellows," but on 
none officially. 

Our cards were all returned, except by the 
president. During the session this functionary 
never visits, though he receives twice a-week. 
Between the sessions, when the society of Wash- 
ington is reduced to a very few families, I under- 
stand he consults his own pleasure. In the course 
of the week we received notes to attend the 
** evenings" of those who opened their houses; 
and invitations to dine with the secretaries soon 
followed. The dinner of the president came last; 
but as it contains the essence of all the etiquette 
of this simple court, I shall select it for a short 

Cadwallader was personally known to Mr.Monroe 
(the president), and we took an opportunity to re- 
peat our call between the time of leaving our 
card« and the day of the dinner. The principal en- 
trance of the '* White House" communicates with a 
spacious vestibule, or rather a hall. From this we 
passed into an apartment, where those who visit 





1 W' 

M iC : ' 





Lf'i , . 




A V I S I T TO 1" 1 1 K 1» II ES I D E N T. 

the president, in the mornings, are to wait their 
turns for the interview. Our names had been 
given in at the door, and after two or three, who 
preceded us, had been admitted, we were desired 
to follow the domestic. Our reception was in a 
cabinet, and the visit of course quite short. 
Colonel Monroe received us politely, but with an 
American gravity, which perhaps was not mis- 
placed in such an officer. He offered his hand 
to me, though an entire stranger, and asked the 
common-place questions concerning my visit to 
the country. We took our leave in less than ten 

I found the president a man of a gentlemanlike, 
but of a grave and simple deportment. He ex- 
pressed his hope of seeing us soon again, in a way 
to make me suspect we had rather been invited 
to his dinner, as a matter of course, than by any 
express commands. Let that be as it might, we 
went on the appointed day, with as much confi- 
dence as if the banquet were expressly spread in 
our behalf. 

On this occasion we were honoured with the 
presence of Mrs. Monroe , and of two or three of 
her female relatives. Crossing the hall, we were 
admitted to a drawing room, in which most of the 
company was already assembled. The hour was 
six. By far the greater part of the guests were 
men, and perhaps two-thirds were members of 
congress. It is unnecessary to describe a com- 



pany that was composed of a very fair represen- 
tation of congress, which, as you already know, 
is composed of a very fair representation of the 
whole country, the very lowest classes always 
excepted. There was great gravity of mien in 
most of the company, and neither any very 
marked exhibition, nor any positively strikinjc 
want, of grace of manner. The conversation was 
common-place, and a little sombre, though two or 
three men of the world got around the ladies, 
where the battle of words was maintained with 
sufficient spirit. I do not know that it differed 
materially from a reunion any where else. To 
me the entertainment had rather a cold than » 
formal air. When dinner was announced, tht^ 
oldest senator present (there were two, and senio- 
rity of service is meant) took Mrs. Monroe and 
Jed her to the table.* The rest of the party 
followed without much order. The president took 
a lady, as usual, and preceded the rest of the 

The drawing room was an apartment of a good 
size, and of just proportions. It might have been 
about as large as a better sort of Paris salotiy in a 
private hotel. It was furnished in a mixed style, 
partly English, and partly French, a custom that 
prevails a good deal in all the fashions o^ this 
country. It was neat, sufficiently rich, without 

* The wife of the president is always sty -fd the same any 
other lady. 



being at all magnificent, and, on the whole, was 
very much like a similar apartment in the house 
of a man of rank and fortune in Europe. The 
dining room was in a better taste than is common 
here, being quite simple, and but little furnished. 
The table was large and rather handsome. The 
service was in china, as is uniformly the case, 
plate being exceedingly rare, if at all used. There 
was, however, a rich plateau, and a great abun- 
dance of the smaller articles of table plate. The 
cloth, napkins, &c. &c., were fine and beautiful. 

The dinner was served in the French style, a 
little Americanized. The dishes were handed 
round, though some of the guests, appearing to 
prefer their own customs, very coolly helped 
themselves, to what they found at hand. Of 
attendants there were a good many. They were 
neatly dressed, out of livery, and sufficient. To 
conclude, the whole entertainment might have 
passed for a better sort of European dinner party, 
at which the guests were too numerous for 
general, or very agreeable discourse, and some of 
them too new to be entirely at their ease. Mrs. 
Monroe arose at the end of the dessert, and with- 
drew, attended by two or three of the most gal- 
lant of the company. Being a stranger, Jules, I 
forgot the credit of the club, and remained to see 
it out. No sooner was his wife's back turned, 
than the president of the United States reseated 
himself, inviting his guests to imitate the action, 



with a wave of the hand, that seemed to say, " Now 
have we a matrimonial fourth of July." Has it never 
struck you, Comte de Bethizy, that these domestic 
subjects feel a species of momentary triumph, as 
they figure at the head of their tables without 
any rival in authority near? Your Englishman, 
and his cis-atlantic kinsman, are the only real 
slaves in their own households. Most other hus- 
bands consider matrimony, more or less, a con- 
venience; but these downright moralists talk of its 
obligations and duties. Obligations! There is 
our triumph. It is when they feel the man within 
them waxing bold, as they imbibe courage with 
their wine, that the wife prudently retires, rather 
than remain to dispute a sway that she knows is 
about to weaken itself, by libations to victory. 
I never feel so thoroughly independent as when I 
see one of your immoderately hen-pecked heroes, 
bristling up and chuckling with glee as he looks 
around on the domestic throne which has just 
been momentarily abandoned by her who is 
seated there all the rest of the twenty-four hours. 
No one need seek deeper into the history of cus- 
toms, than the date of this triumph, to find the 
origin of drunkenness after dinner. 

I cannot say that Colonel Monroe abused his 
opportunity. After allowing all his guests suffi- 
cient time to renew, in a few glasses, the recol- 
lections of similar enjoyments of their own, he 
arose himself, giving the hint to his company, 







that it was time to join the ladies. In the draw- 
ing-room coffee was served, and every body left 
the house before nine. 

On the succeeding Wednesday, Mrs. Monroe 
opened her doors to all the world. No invitation 
was necessary, it being the usage for the wife of 
the president to receive once a-fortnight during 
the session, without distinction of persons. I 
waited for this evening with more curiosity than 
any that I remember ever to have sighed for. I 
could not imagine what would be the result. To 
my fancy, a more hazardous experiment could not 
be attempted. *' How dare she risk the chance of 
insult — of degradation ? or how can she tolerate 
the vulgarity and coarseness to which she must 
be exposed ?" was the question I put to Cad- 
wallader. '* Nous veiTonSy' was the phlegmatic 

We reached the White House at nine. The 
court (or rather the grounds,) was filled with 
carriages, and the company was arriving in great 
numbers. On this occasion two or three addi- 
tional drawing-rooms were opened, though the 
frugality of congress has prevented them from 
finishing the principal reception-room of the 
building.* I will acknowledge the same sort of 
surprise that I felt at the Castle Garden f^te, at 

♦ The people furnish the entire house. It is the practice to 
make a moderate appropriation for that purpose, at the accession of 
each new president. 

'. !f 



3 draw- 
)dy left 

wife of 
3ns. I 
ty than 
for. I 
It. To 
uld not 
ance of 
i must 





h the 



ort of 

te, at 

tice to 
>siun of 

finding the assemblage so respectable, in air, 
dress, and deportment. Determined to know 
exactly in what view to consider this ceremony, 
I gave my companion no peace until every thing 
was explained. 

The *' evening" at the White House, or the 
drawing-room, as it is sometimes pleasantly called, 
is in fact a collection of all classes of people who 
choose to go to the trouble and expense of ap- 
pearing in dresses suited to an ordinary evening 
party. I am not sure that even dress is much 
regarded ; for I certainly saw a good many men 
there in boots. The females were all neatly and 
properly attired, though few were ornamented 
with jewelry. Of course the poorer and lab'juring 
classes of the community would find little or no 
pleasure in such a scene. They consequently 
stay away. The infamous, if known, would not 
be admitted ; for it is a peculiar consequence of 
the high tone of morals in this country, that grave 
and notorious offenders rarely presume to violate 
the public feeling by invading society. Perhaps 
if Washington were a large town, the "evenings" 
could not exist ; but as it is, no inconvenience is 

Squeezing through the crowd, we achieved a 
passage to a part of the room where Mrs. Monroe 
was standing, surrounded by a bevy of female 
friends. After making our bows here, wc sought 
the president. The latter had posted himself at 







'• !■ 


;> I 



the top of the room, wht: hv i^.ma'ned mooi, of 
the evening, shaking ! ands T^'ith lU who ap- 
proached.* Near him stood till tha secretaries, 
and a great number of the most distinguished 
men of the nation. Cadwallader pointed out the 
different judges, and several members of both 
houses of congress, whose reputations were quite 
familiar to me. Individuals of importance from 
all parts of the Union were also here, and were 
employed in the manner usual to such scenes. 
Thus far the '* evening" would have been like any 
other excessively crowded assembly ; but while 
my eyes were roving over the different faces, they 
accidentally fell on one they kmnv. It was the 
master of an inn, in one of the larger towns. 
My friend and myself had passed a fortnight in 
his house. I pointed him out to Cadwallader, 
and I am afraid there was something like an 
European sneer in my manner as I did so. 




* It is a mis*Tk..u u;"*inion, however, that shaking hands is a custom 
not tobedispe i!!!^ ^) thin America. Most people practise it certainly, 
for it is thought to be a frank, manly, and, if you will, a republican 
usage. But, in a certain class, it is not considered a mark of breed- 
ing to be too free with the hand, in casual introductions. Two 
gentlemen meeting would be apt to touch their hats (unless inti- 
mates) just as in Europe, though either of them would otfer his 
hand to any one who he thought expected it. When an European, 
therefore, offers to shake hands with an American of breeding, un- 
less on familiar terms, he mistakes the manners of the country. The 
natural feeling of gentlemanly reserve is the guide there, as it is 
with us. 




mooi, of 
^ho ap- 
out the 
of both 
e quite 
;e from 
id were 
ike any 
t while 
;s, they 
k^as the 
ight in 
ike an 

a custom 
is. Two 
less inti- 
otter his 
Jing, un- 
try. The 
as it is 

** Y' s, I have just shaken hands with him," 
returned my friend, coolly. " He keeps an excel- 
lent tavern, you must allow; and, what is mor^:, 
had not that circumstance been the meant of 
your making his acquaintance, you might have 
mistaken him for one of the magnates of the land. 

I understand your look, Count de , better 

than you understand the subject at which you are 
smiling. Fancy, for a moment, that this assembly 
were confined to a hundred or two, like those 
eminent men vou see collected in that corner, and 
to these beautiful and remarkably delicate women 
you see standing near us ; in what, except name, 
would it be inferior to the best collections of 
your side of the ocean ? You need not apologize, 
for we understand one another perfectly. I know 
Europe rather better than you know America, for 
the simple reason, that one part of Europe is so 
much like another, that it is by no ^iie^ns a^i 
abstruse study, so far as mere manners ^r.; con- 
cerned ; whereas, in America, there exisvi a state 
of things that is entirely new. We will make the 
comparison, not in the way y a are at this mouiciit 
employed in doing, but in the way common sense 

** It is very true that you meet here '\ great 
variety of people of very many conditions of life. 
This person you see on my left is a shopkeeper 
from New York : no— not the one in black, bi«t 
the genteel-looking man in blue — I dare say you 



!■,. j'-' 1 
J* •','■ '■■J 




took him for an attach^ of one of the legations. 
And this lovely creature, who demeans herself 
with so much elegance and propriety, is the 
daughter of a mechanic of Baltimore. In this 
manner we might dissect half the company, per- 
haps ; some being of better, and some of worse, 
exteriors. But what does it all prove ? Not that 
the president of the United States is obliged to 
throw open his doors to the rabble, as you might 
be tempted to call it, for he is under no sort of 
obligation to open his doors to any body. But he 
chooses to see the world, and he must do one of 
two things. He must make invidious and difficult 
selections, which, in a public man, would excite 
just remarks in a government like ours, or he 
must run the hazard of remaining three or four 
hours in a room filled with a promiscuous assem- 
bly. He has wisely chosen the latter. 

" What is the consequence ? Your ears are not 
offended by improper discourse. Your individu- 
ality is not wounded by impertinence, nor even 
your taste annoyed by any very striking coarseness 
of miinner. Now it appears to me, that every 
American should exult in this very exhibition. 
Not for the vulgar reason that it is a proof of the 
equality of our rights, for it is a mistake to think 
that society is a necessary dependant of govern- 
ment. In this respect the * evenings' are some 
such deception as that ceremony one hears of in 
liluroue, in which sovereigns wash the feet of 


beggars. But he should exult that the house of 
his first magistrate can be thrown oppn to the 
world, and an assembly so well behaved, so de- 
cent, so reasonable, so free alike from sheepishness 
and presumption, in short so completely credit- 
able, in every point of view, is collected by the 
liberty. Open the doors of one of your palaces 
in this manner, and let us see what would be the 
character of the company. 

**Thereisa good sense in our community, which 
removes all dangers of unpleasant consequences 
from too much familiarity. It imposes the neces- 
sity on him who would be thought a gentleman, 
of being circumspect and reasonable, but it leaves 
him sufficiently the master of all his movements 
and associations. The seeming scarcity of high 
bred men in this country, compared with the 
number one sees in Europe, is much less owing to 
our form of government, than the fact that they 
are so widely scattered. Quite half, too, of what is 
called fastidious breeding, is purely conventional, 
and, to make conventions, men must meet. 

** I have known a cartman leave his horse in the 
street, and go into a reception room to shake 
hands with the president. He offended the good 
sense of all present, because it was not thought 
decent that a labourer should come in a dirty dress 
on such an occasion ; but while he made a trifling- 
mistake in this particular, he proved how well he 
understood the difference between government 







and society. He knew the levee was a sort of 
homage paid to political equality in the person of 
the first magistrate, but he would not have pre- 
sumed to enter the house of the same person as a 
private individual without being invited, or without 
a reasonable excuse in the way of business. 

" There are, no doubt, individuals who mistake 
the character of these assemblies, but the great ma- 
jority do not. They are simply a periodical ac- 
knowledgment that there is no legal barrier to the 
advancement of any one to the first association in 
the Union. You perceive there are no masters of 
ceremonies, no ushers, no announcing, nor indeed 
any let or hindrance to the ingress of all who 
please to come ; and yet how few, in comparison 
to the whole number who might enter, do actually 
appear. If there is any man, in Washington, so dull 
as to suppose equality means a right to thrust him- 
self into any company he pleases, it is probable he 
satisfies his vanity by boasting that he can go to the 
White House once a fortnight as well as a governor 
or any body else. You will confess his pride is ap- 
peased at a cheap rate. Any prince can collect a 
well dressed and well behaved crowd by calling 
his nobles around him ; but I fancy the president 
of the United States is the only head of a nation 
who need feel no apprehension of throwing open 
his doors to every body. Until you can show an 
assembly composed of similar materials, which 
shall equal this, not only in decency, but in ease 





and in general manners, you ought in reason to 
be content to confess your inferiority.'* 

You will perceive the utter impossibility of 
having an opinion of your own, dear Jules, when 
a man is obstinately bent on considering things 
always in reference to common sense, instead of 
consulting the reverend usages which have been 
established by the world, whether founded on 
prejudice or not. So far as mere appearance goes, 
I must confess, however, my friend was not very 
wrong, since the company at the White House, 
on this occasion, was certainly as well behaved, 
all things considered, as could be wished. 


Sfc. Sj-c. 



Washington, as it contains all the public 
offices, is the best place to ascertain the general 
statistical facts connected with the condition of 
this country. I have hitherto purposely avoided 
touching on the marine of the United States, until 
I should have an opportunity of getting the infor- 
mation necessary to do it justice. On no occasion, 
however, have I neglected to examine the ships 
and the navy yards as 1 passed through the sea- 

' '■''I 












ports, though I have reserved all my remarks until 
I had something material to communicate. It is 
my intention to dispose of the subject altogether 
in this letter. 

Until the period of the war which separated 
the two countries, the American mariners per- 
formed most of their military service in the navy 
of Great Britain. The history of the colonies, 
however, is not altogether destitute of nautical in- 
cidents, that were rather remarkable for skill and 
enterprise. The privateers of this hemisphere 
were always conspicuous in the colonial contests ; 
and they were then, as they have always been 
since, of a character for order and chivalry that 
ought not to be too confidently expected from 
a class of adventurers who professedly take up 
arms for an object so little justifiable, and per- 
haps so ignoble, as gain. But men of a stamp 
altogether superior to the privateersmen of 
Europe were induced, by the peculiar situation 
of their country, to embark in these doubtful 
military enterprises in America. There was no 
regular service in which to show their martial 
qualities ; and those among them who felt a 
longing for the hazards and adventures of naval 
warfare, were obliged to hoist these semi-chival- 
rous flags, or to stay at home. Still, unless very 
wrongly informed, it was much the fashion for 
the gentry of the colonies to place their sons in 
the navy of the mother country ; and many dis- 









JIIK WAK Ol 1745. 


linguished names, in the liigher ranks of the 
British marine at this day, have been pointed out 
to me in corroboration of the circumstance. It is 
generally believed that Washington himself was 
destined to such a life, and that nothing but the 
unconquerable reluctance of a tendjr mother pre- 
vented him from figuring in a very different 
character from that which he was afterwards 
enabled to enact with so much usefulness and 
true glory. 

The first evidences of a nautical enterprise, on 
an extended scale, that 1 can discover in the 
history of these people, are contained in the ac- 
counts of the expedition against Louisbourg. The 
states of New England, or rather Mu&sachusetts 
alone, undertook to reduce that important fortress 
during the war of 1745. A considerable naval 
armament accompanied the expedition, which 
was successful, though it contained no ship of a 
force sufficient to combat with the heavier vessels 
of their enemy. Still it manifested a disposition 
to the sort of warfare of which I am writing, more 
especially as the mother country not only pos- 
sessed a squadron near, but actually employed it 
in the service. A people whose maritime propen- 
sities were less strong might have been content to 
have thrown the whole of this branch of the un- 
dertaking on an ally that was so well qualified to 
discharge the duty with credit. 

At the commencement of the struggle for inde- 

VOL. 11. 


'■ m 

t- 1 












U 11.6 










(716) •73-4S03 



! M 



\ ■ '■'■ 

> !' 


pendence, notwithstanding the overwhelming 
force of their enemy, the Americans early shewed 
the new flag on the ocean. Almost any other 
people of the world, under similar circumstances, 
would have retired into their valleys and fast- 
nesses ; but the privateers and public cruisers 
of America, while the divided and feeble po- 
pulation at home were struggling daily for their 
political existence, continued, during the whole 
of that war, to carry hostilities even to the shores 
of Great Britain. Had the government of the 
country even wished to husband its resources for 
domestic defence, it is more than probable it 
would have been found that it did not possess 
sufficient authority to repress the nautical temper 
of the country. It acted a wiser part. Although • 
a more hopeless adventure could not apparently be 
conceived, than for these infant states to contend 
against the overwhelming power of England on the 
ocean, yet the new government early directed a 
considerable portion of its scanty means tc that 
object. Nor was the desperate adventure without 
its benefits. It served to make the nations of 
Europe more familiarly acquainted with the power 
that was struggling into existence, and it afforded 
an additional pledge of its final success, by 
furnishing visible evidence of the possession of an 
enterprise that merited confidence and support. 
Though the marine of the United States, in the 
war of the revolution, was imperfectly organized. 

\i Ml 


THE PEACF. OF 1783. 


and exceedingly weak, the spirit of their seamen 
was often exhibited in a manner to show that the 
nation possessed an extraordinary aptitude to 
that particular species of service. Their discipline 
was not, nor could not well be, better than that 
ordinarily observed on board of private vessels of 
war, since the ships were of necessity officered by 
men taken from the trading vessels of the country; 
still the battles of that period were often bloody 
and severe, and were frequently attended with a 
signal and brilliant success. 

At the peace of '83, the half formed and imperfect 
marine of the country disappeared. The confedera- 
tion, as it then existed, did not admit, without an 
important object, of the exercise of a power that in- 
volved so serious an expense as its maintenance. 
Each state, at that time, collected its own imposts, 
and imposed its own taxes. A few schooners, for 
the security of the revenue, were kept in some of 
the larger sea-ports ; but of a navy, either in 
officers or ships, there was positively none. 

Whien the constitution of the country, as it now 
exists, was adopted (in 1789), Washington was 
placed at the head of the country, filling, for the 
first time, its highest civil station. He recom- 
mended the construction of a few frigates, in 
order to protect its commerce against the depre- 
dations of the Barbary powers, who were then 
in the fullest practice of those lawless robberies 
which were so long the scourge and disgrace of 

(; 'J 

'ii!' ■' 

I ! 




the civilized world. This recommendation was 
the foundation of the present navy of the United 
States. Though, so far as the Algerines them- 
selves were concerned, a war actually existed, no 
cruiser of this country took part in its operations. 
According to the fashion of that day, peace was 
soon purchased. But the capture of a few of their 
unarmed merchantmen had served to apprise the 
Americans of the absolute necessity of a marine 
to protect their rights as a commercial com- 

This little affair was scarcely adjusted before a mis- 
understanding occurred between the French and 
American republics. A sort of armed neutrality was 
attempted by the latter ; but, though no declaration 
of war was ever actually made, it soon terminated 
in open hostilities. It was now thought prudent to 
extend a still greater protection to the commerce 
of the country, and a sudden and considerable in- 
crease to the navy was made. In order to effect 
this purpose, it became necessary to build or to 
purchase ships, and to procure officers. Vessels 
were both bought and constructed, and seamen of 
various degrees of character were induced to 
abandon the peaceful for the more warlike pur- 
suits of their profession. A small corps of officers 
had been chosen to command the first half dozen 
frigates from among the veterans who still sur- 
vived the great struggle for independence ; but 
this was a body soon exhausted, especially as it 

MA II U rill I UANCF. 


was found necessary that a rigid selection should 
be observed. To supply the deficiencies, spirited 
and skilful young men were sought among the 
masters and the mates of the merchantmen. A 
mixed marine was by these means created, 
though it is scarcely possible not to believe that 
in ships and commanders thero must have existed 
the utmost inequality of merit and of fitness for 
the duty required of both. Still, as the propensity 
of the nation is so decidedly maritime, the war 
proved creditable. Many battles were fought, 
and with a success that was invariable. 

This maritime war occurred during the presi- 
dency of Mr. Adams. The creation of a navy 
was thought to be a favourite measure of his 
policy ; and as opposition grew warm, the wis- 
dom of so early and so considerable an expendi- 
ture of the public money was mucli disputed. 
Men who admitted that nature and reason both 
pointed to the ocean as the place where the rights 
of the nation were to be maintained, still affirmed 
that the measure was premature. The country 
was involved in a heavy debt, and the very means 
that were resorted to, in order to protect the 
wealth of the country, might induce quarrels 
which would inevitably involve its loss. But this 
reasoning did not immediately prevail, as the ad- 
ministration contrived to keep its majorities in 
the two houses until near the close of its constitu- 
tional period of service. 

\i ;"' 

. i ; i 





m I 



In the midst of these disputes, the grave deter- 
mination of the country is to be traced in its per- 
manent legislative enactments. In 1798, a navy 
department w^as created, and its secretary was 
admitted to a seat in the cabinet. Notwithstand- 
ing the clamour which had been raised by the 
opposition against the marine, when the power 
passed into their hands no very serious blow was 
meditated or practised against its positive exist- 
ence. So much had been said on the subject of 
economy, that some reduction became necessary. 
Perhaps in the peculiar circumstances under which 
the officers and ships had been collected, it was 
prudent. The vessels, which had been purchased 
to meet the emergency, were therefore sold, and by 
far the greater part of the officers were discharged. 

At one time, during the disturbance with 
France, near sixty public cruisers were em- 
ployed on the American coast, or in the West 
Indies, under the flag of the republic. Most of 
them were merchantmen that had been purchased 
and altered to suit their new destination, and 
many that were expressly built, had been con- 
structed in a hurry, and of course imperfectly. 
Of the officers it is unnecessary to say more than 
that they embraced, perhaps, the very best and 
the very worst men of their class. Most of these 
vessels were small, the largest only rating 44, and 
actually mounting 54 guns. The majority were 
clumsy sloops, carrying between 16 and 24 guns. 



i h 


UKDIK rU)\ OK 1801. 


Now that the heat of opposition has passed 
away, the best informed men candidly admit that 
there was but little inducement to retain officers 
or ships so promiscuously and so hurriedly as- 
sembled. Notwithstanding its apparent hostihty, 
the new government, while reducing the service, 
was rather disposed to cherish a good and efficient 
marine than to destroy it. 

In 1801 an act was passed, creating a naval 
peace establishment. This was the law which 
gave form and permanent existence to the present 
marine of the country. 

By the act of 1801, the number of the ships 
was reduced to nine frigates, of various sizes, with 
a few smaller vessels. A sufficient number of 
officers was retained for their command. From 
that hour to this, the corps has never been re- 
duced in the slightest manner, though the army 
has been the subject of repeated increases and 
of as frequent reductions. The boy who now 
enters the navy a midshipman, enters it with 
a conviction that, should he behave with pru- 
dence and spirit, he has a highly creditable em- 
ployment for life. 

The partial reduction of 1801, gave the marine 
department an opportunity of making a selection 
among the officers, as well as among the ships. 
Personal interest, apart from personal merit, could 
have no great influence on the movements of this 
government, especially in a case of so great noto- 



: .ft f] 




riety as that of a choice between officers of any 
rank. The captains retained were men of charac- 
ter and experience ; and it is probable that a finer 
corps of inferior naval officers, than those who 
were retained on this occasion, never had an 
existence. ^ 

In 1803, the bashaw of Tripoli commenced 
hostilities against the republic. Different squad- 
rons were sent into the Mediterranean to oppose 
his depredations. His corsairs were driven from 
the sea, and his town was blockaded. From 
watchfulness, the Americans soon proceeded to 
attacks, until the slumbers of the Africans were 
almost nightly broken by the assaults of their 
weak but spirited foes. The history of this war, 
in miniature, is remarkable for ' omantic inci- 
dents, and for the high daring c. cne actors. A 
few light cruisers, with a dozen gun-boats, and 
a couple of ketches, backed by a single frigate, 
would often lie for hours under the batteries arid 
shipping of the town, throwing their shot even 
into the palace of the barbarian. On several 
occasions the conflicts were still more serious. 
Battles were fought in closest personal collision ; 
officers and men. Christian and Turk, struggling 
fiercely for the victory, hand to hand. It was to 
commemorate the names of the brave youths who 
fell in these sanguniary struggles, that the little 
monument, already named, was erected in the 
Navy Yard at Washington. 

!V * 

II :^,j 

ROM A N T I (' K N T K H I' K I S V. . 


The war with Tripoli was also distinguished 
by an enterprise that was as remarkable for its 
conception, as for the spirit and skill with which 
it was conducted. The reigning bashaw of 
Tripoli was an usurper, having, some years 
before, expelled his brother from the throne. The 
banished prince had sought a refuge among the 
Arabs of the desert in Upper Egypt. The Ameri- 
can consul to the Regency of Algiers, was a 
person of the name of Eaton. This gentleman had 
once been a captain in the army of the Union. He 
was a man distinguished for his reckless courage 
and for a restless enterprise. During the time the 
squadron of his country was employed in harass- 
ing the town of their enemy, Mr. Eaton, accom- 
panied by two or three officers of the navy, 
sought out the exiled bashaw in the desert, and 
induced him to lend himself to an attempt to re- 
cover his throne. A force, consisting of Arabs, 
Turks, Christians, and of adventurers from all 
countries, was soon assembled. It entered the 
territories of Tripoli by its eastern frontier, and 
advanced rapidly upon Derne, the second town of 
the principality. Here it was met and sustained 
by a few light cruisers from the American 
squadron. A sharp skirmish was fought in the 
vicinity of the town, and the place was carried. 
A crisis was evidently at hand. There was every 
prospect of complete success to this chivalrous 
undertaking, when the whole enterprise was 





defeated by an event as mortifying as it was un- 
expected. A negfociatior had just before arrived 
from America; conceiving it to be his duty to 
terminate the war, he profited by the terror 
excited in the bosom of the reigning bashaw, by 
the success of his brother, and signed a treaty of 
peace. But for this premature occurrence, the 
world would probably have witnessed the singular 
spectacle of a power of the western hemisphere 
commencing thus early the work of retaliation, 
by setting up and pulling down dynasties of the 

The navy of the United States owes most of 
its discipline, and of its high reputation for spirit 
and enterprise, aided by the ambitious natural 
character of the people, to the experience it ob- 
tained in the war with Tripoli. The young men 
(chiefly of the best families of the country), who 
had commenced their military career in the affair 
with France, received their commissions during, 
or at the close of this war ; and they brought 
with them into the higher ranks of the service, 
the feelings and habits so necessary to their class. 
Officers were now first seen in the command of 
vessels, who had regularly risen from the lowest 
ranks of the service. 

From the time of the peace with Tripoli to that 
of the war of England, the navy was employed in 
guarding the coast, and in aiding to enforce the 
restrictive laws of the country. A few light ves- 




sels were built, iind a plan ot* defending the sea- 
ports, in the event of need, by gun-boats, grew 
into favour. The American naval otficers say, 
that the latter scheme had nearly proved fatal to 
the tone and discipline of their service. It was, 
however, of short duration, and the subsequent 
hostilities completely proved its fallacy.* 

* Many absurd statements, concerning the organization of the 
American navy, have been circulated in Europe. There is none 
more false or more foolish than the story that young mates of mer- 
chantmen are, or ever have been, taken for the first steps in the 
service. Boys, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, receive 
the appointments of midshipmen, and after having served a certain 
number of years, they are examined for lieutenants. These exami« 
nations are very rigid, and they are conducteri with the greatest im- 
partiality. While the writer was in America, he formed an intimacy 
with the commander of a frigate. One day, at Washington, he 
entered the room of the captain, just as a naval officer of high rank 
was quitting it. " You met one of the commissioners at the door," 
said the writer's acquaintance ; ♦* he has been to beg I would make 
his son, who is just ordered to my ship, mind his books. They 
tell me the young fellow is clever enough, and a very good sailor, 
but he has been twice defeated in trying to get through with his 
mathematics, because he will not study." In what other navy 
would the son of a lord of the admiralty lose his commission, in 
two examinations, for want of a little mathematics ! 

The most severe system of examination, not only into profes- 
sional qualifications, but into moral character, is now rigidly ob- 
served in the American army and navy. The lower ranks of both 
branches of their service, are admirably filled. Midshipmen, in- 
stead of being taken from the merchant service, have been often 
taken from the service, under furloughs, to command merchant 
ships. No man in the world is more jealous of his rank, than the 
American navy, or army ofticer. It would far exceed the power of 


nil, VAVV OK 1812. 



In 1HJ2, the marine of the United States ex- 
isted rather as the ;///(7<7/.v of a future service, than 
aa a force to be directed to any of the more im- 
portant objects of warfare. It was sufficient to 
keep alive the spirit, and to gratify the pride of 
the nation, but not to produce any serious result 
on the great objects of the struggle. So far as 1 
can discover, the whole navy of the country, at 
that time, consisted of the following ships : three 
frigates, rating forty-four guns each, and fighting 
fifty-four; three, rating thirty-six, and fighting 

the president, to push his own son an inch beyond the steps he is 
entitled to by his age and service. The senate would refuse to 
approve of such a nomination. The same impartiality is ob- 
served in respect to commands. A captain, or commander, is not 
only sure of getting a rhip, when his turn comes, but he must have 
an excellent excuse, or he will be made to take one. Both esta- 
blishments are kept within reasonable bounds, and promotions are 
slow and wary. There is not a single officer necessarily on half-pay, 
either in the land or sea service. There is not now, nor has there 
been for twenty years, an officer in the American navy, in com- 
mand of a ship, the four or five oldest excepted, who did not regu- 
larly enter the marine as a midshipman. Even the oldest entered 
as low as a lieutenant, quite thirty years ago. A secretary of the 
navy, during the war of 1812, is said to have wished to introduce a 
brother from the merchant service, by giving him the command of 
a cartel, but entirely without success. Some six or eight clever 
men, who entered as sailing masters, a class generally taken fr ra 
the merchant service, have been so successful as to get commis- 
sions, a favour a little out of course, though sometimes practised to 
reward merit. Several of these, even, were midshipmen who had 
resigned, and had re-entered as masters, in the war, because they 
thought theinselvcii too old to begin anew as midshipmen. 



fifty ; OMC, rating tliirty-two, and fighting forty- 
two, or forty.four ; two, rating twenty-four, and 
fighting twenty-four or twenty-six ; and eight or 
ten sloops and schooners carrying from ten to 
twenty guns. There were three or four more 
frigates of no great force : but they were rotten, 
and never employed. Perhaps the whole marine 
might have included twenty cruisers of all sizes. 
The events of that period are so recent as to be 
sufficiently known. The war has, however, given 
a new impulse to the marine of this country, and 
one which will probably lead to the introduction 
of its fleets into the future contests of Christen- 

The English are said to have employed more 
than a hundred sail of cruisers on the coast of 
the United States, between the years 1813 and 
1815. Whatever might have been the intentions 
of the British government, it is very certain that 
much useless annoyance was given to peaceful 
people by the depredations of some of these ves- 
sels. Even the expeditions which were attempted 
on a larger scale, argued a great ignorance of the 
character of this nation, since they exhibited a 
very mistaken application of force to attain what 
the world has every reason to believe was the 
object of the assailants. 

It is fair to presume that the English com- 
manders had determined to harass the country, 
with a view to bring the war as near as possible 


: ;-'l 

II 'i !::, 

i : Ii : 









r it' 

If n 



to each man's door. Now, it so happens, that, 
notwithstanding the large bajs and deep rivers of 
this continent enabled those who had command 
of the water, to do a great deal of injury, their 
attacks did not, nor could not produce the least 
effect on the mass of the nation. Harassing ex- 
peditions, and burnings, and alarms, might serve 
to exasperate, but in no degree did they serve to 
subdue. They often wounded the pride, and 
excited the indignation of the Americans, without 
in the slightest degree enfeebling their power. A 
government like this is weak, or strong, for all 
offensive purposes, exactly in the proportion that 
its efforts are popular. It is well known that a 
serious opposition to the war with England ex- 
isted in the country from its commencement 
to its close. But it is just as well known that 
these very acts of exasperating hostility had be- 
gun to shut the mouths of the friends of England, 
while they permitted hei enemies to declaim the 
louder. Had the contest continued another year, 
it is probable it would have afforded a very different 
scene. The American government, strengthened 
by the blunder, and excited by the inroads of its 
enemy, was seriously turning its attention to the 
work of retaliation. When peace was unex- 
pectedly announced, two squadrons of fast sailing 
schooners, bought for the purpose, were about to 
sail with orders to burn, ravage and destroy. The 
fire-brand would have gleamed on the island of 




: -A' 

Great Britain itself; and God only knows what 
horrid character the war would have next as- 
sumed. All experience shows that this is a 
nation, however patient and enduring it may seem 
under contumely and aggression, which knows 
how to rise in its anger, and to make itself 
dreaded even by the strongest. 

But the chief and the most lasting effect of the 
British policy, during the war of 1814, has been to 
bring a respectable American marine into a sud- 
den existence. This truth is proved by the fact, 
that the congress, which, in these matters, takes 
most of its impulses from the people, exhibited 
the extraordinary policy of increasing, instead of 
reducing, its armaments with the peace. The 
whole nation saw and felt the necessity of pro- 
tecting their coast, and the friends of the navy 
have seized the happy moment to interweave the 
policy with their institutions, in such a manner 
as to render them henceforth inseparable. That 
they ought to be inseparable, every man, in the 
least familiar with the interests of this country, 
can see ; but it was a great point gained to induce 
a people so wary of expenditure, to incur the cost 
of a marine without an immediate demand for its 
use. You need not be told, that without a service 
in peace a service in war is next to useless, since 
experience, method, and even the high spirit 
necessary to continued military success, are ail 
the fruits of time. But economical legislators^ 


I it ' 





|i-' I 



who count nothing but the present cost, are not 
always so sagacious. 

While passing rapidly over this subject, it may be 
well to mention the little incident of the last war 
with Algiers, since it serves to show the spirit 
with which these people will enter on all similar 
enterprises, when a little more age shall give 
maturity and strength to their efforts. The bar- 
barians had seized the opportunity of the British 
war to commit depredations on the American 
commerce. No sooner was the peace of 1815 
ratified, than congress issued a solemn declara- 
tion of war against the regency. A squadron 
immediately sailed for the Mediterranean. It 
crossed the Atlantic ; passed the Straits ; routed 
and destroyed the marine of their foe ; carried 
the war to the mouth of his harbour ; and, in six 
weeks from the day of sailing, it dictated an ho- 
nourable and lasting peace, under the cannon of 
the city. Ten years before it had sued for dis- 
graceful terms from an inferior power of Barbary. 
This was the first treaty, I believe, in which the 
right to lead prisoners into slavery was formally 
disavowed by any of the African states. 

During the war with England, several laws 
were passed, empowering the president to add to 
the marine. In 1813, four vessels of a force not less 
than seventy-four guns, and six frigates of a force 
not less than forty-four guns, were authorized. 
Squadrons were constructed on the lakes, and 


■' :t 


sloops of war, of various sizes, were built, from 
time to time. In 1816 the act " For the gradual 
increase of the navy of the United States" was 
passed. By the provisions of this law, eight 
additional ships of the line of not less than seventy- 
four guns, and nine additional frigates of not less* 
than forty-four guns, were commanded. The 
president was instructed to procure the timber 
of three more steam batteries, which were to be 
put in such a state as to admit of their soonest 
possible construction in time of need. As the ob- 
ject of this force was to anticipate the emergency 
of any future war, a sum of one million of dollars 
was appropriated annually, in order to procure the 
timber, and to ensure the best and most desirable 
construction. In 1822 this law was altered, so 
as to extend the time, and to reduce the annual 
appropriation one half. 

Various other laws were passed affecting the 
interests of the navy. Some were for the im- 
provement of the officers ; others for the preser- 
vation of the live oak, the inestimable material 
always employed in the construction of a valuable 
American ship. So minute and cautious was the 
interest taken in the service, that a law was even 

* Congress often gives discretionary DOwer to the president, limit- 
ing its exercise in this manner. From this practice has arisen the 
mistake that the Americans mean to call three deckers seventy- 





h . ' 

lE t' f 


|;.. . :l 


passed to regulate the manner in which the ves- 
sels were to be named. A ship of the line was 
to be called after a state ; the frigates after 
rivers ; and the sloops after the larger towns. 
The vessels authorized by the last law are now 
all on the stocks, or they have been already 

The actual naval force of this country afloat, or 
which might be put afloat in the course of a few 
weeks, is nearly as follows : one first rate ; eight 
second ditto, first class, and three ditto of second 
class ; nine third rates, first class, and three ditto 
of second class ; and sixteen corvettes and sloops 
of war. To these must be added a few schooners 
and light vessels, whose number is constantly 
varying. The materials of one forty- four are also 
prepared, but, in consequence of the purchase 

* While the writer was in the country, a law was passed to build 
ten additional sloops of war, and a frigate was bought that had 
been constructed for the Greeks. Since he has left America, ano- 
ther law has been passed, appropriating half a million of dollars 
annually, for six years, for the purpore of purchasing the materials 
for vessels of the different classes already kncvn in the service. By 
the report of the commissioners, it seems that contracts have 
actually been made for the frames^ of five sail of the line, five 
frij^'ates, and five sloops, all of the first class. Two dry docks are, also, 
now in the course of construction, and a third is much urged in 
congress. A new navy yard has also been established in the Gulf 
of Mexico. A naval academy is pressed by the government. He 
believes these aie the principal measures taken since the year 




3 ves- 
5 was 
5 now 

)at, or 
a few 
e ditto 
re also 

to build 
that had 
ica, ano- 
' dollars 
vice. By 
lets have 
ine, five 
are, also, 
urged in 
the Gulf 
lent. He 
the year 

of a frigate, her construction is temporarily de- 
layed. There appears to be no use in urging 
the building of these vestels, which are all the 
better for delay, and which are only launched as 
they are wanted for experiments, or for actual 
service. Perhaps we iaay call the force at instant 
command, or which might be fitted before the 
crews could be assembled, at fifty sail, of all sizes.* 
This excludes the vessels on the lakes, the whole 
of which were sold by a law of 1825, except two 
ships of the line (on the stocks) on Lake Ontario. 
I exclude all vessels that are not actually intended 
to go to sea. If there is any error, it is in the 
very smallest vessels, whose number, as I have 
already said, is constantly varying, by shipwrecks, 
sales, and re-constructions. 

With what force the Americans would abso- 
lutely put to sea, in the event of an immediate 
war, that should call for all their energy, might 
be difficult to anticipate. This government is at 
once both the strongest and the weakest in the 
world. It is weak compared to its wealth and 
physical means, in all cases of ordinary offensive 

♦ To these must shortly be added, the vessels whose frames and 
materials are now in the course of collection. The rapid manner in 
which the Americans run up a ship at need, ij well known. It is 
clear, that when the materials shall be in readiness, their force 
could easily be increased to near or quite seventy sail, small vessels 
included. * 

H 2 



1 '^'1 ' 

1 * 

(, ■ 

' ' 1 





operations, precisely as other governments are 
weak or strong in proportion to the absolute na- 
ture of the power they wield. But in a popular 
war, when power shall be conceded freely to the 
executive, it is so much the stronger as the govern- 
ment is assured of a cordial and enthusiastic 
support. I think the power of the United States, 
in actual warfare, will always be found to be ex- 
actly in proportion to the greater or less degree of 
cordiality with which the mass of the people shall 
enter into the views of the administration. The 
present navy of the United States would be for- 
midable under any circumstances, to all second 
rate maritime powers, since the skill and enter- 
prise of its officers, aided by such legal support 
as a majority could always command, would at 
all times enable them to act with sufficient energy 
out of the country. I think also, in the event of 
a war, clearly defensive, with any of the greater 
powers, it would be unwise to calculate on having 
less than the whole of the marine to oppose, and 
that instantly. But we may form a better opinion 
of these matters by going a little into detail. 

It would require about 20,000 men,to man the 
whole of the present marine of this country. This 
may sound large to your ears, but it is necessary 
to remember how very large a proportion of the 
estimated fifty sail are vessels of great size. Of 
this number more than one thousand would be 





those officers, who are always retained as a 
regular and durable part of the service. The fifty- 
sail will carry, as near as I can discover, about 
2,500 guns. It is a rule to put one marine to each 
gun. This proportion, including officers, non- 
commissioned officers, music, &c., would make a 
corps of troops of, we will say, 2,500. For petty 
officers and seamen 10,000 would be a very liberal 
allowance, leaving a deficiency of 6,500 to be 
composed of ordinary seamen, landsmen and boys. 
These calculations may not be critically exact, 
but I think that they are near enough to the truth 
to answer the present object. 

I think it can scarcely be doubted that the 
United States possess 30,000 men, sufficiently 
skilful to be rated as seamen, on board a vessel of 
war. If this be admitted, the question is reduced 
to the inquiry, nf whether she can induce one- 
third of her seamen to serve in her navy. 

The plenty, or scarcity of mariners in the United 
States, is altogether a matter of demand and sup- 
ply. There is clearly no surplus population to beg 
employment ; and there is- also a general aptitude 
among the natives, that enables them to gain their 
living in more ways than one. A seaman is a sort 
of artizan ; and he requires rather higher wages 
than the labourer on shore, as a reward for his pecu- 
liar skill, and a compensation for his greater priva- 
tion. It is a peculiarity of this country, that sailors, 
especially in New York, and in all the Eastern 

I M 




States, are often found on land ; not begging their 
bread, or sweeping the streets, but engaged in 
some creditable employment that gives them sup- 
port. To meet any extraordinary demand these 
men commonly return to the sea. Such of them 
as are impatient of a monotonous life, and who are 
unwilling to serve for reduced wages, as is at 
present the case, seek employment elsewhere. 
The public and private cruisers of the South 
American States, abound with such adventurers. 
No^y it is rather a striking feature in the cha- 
racter of the lower orders of the Americans, that 
they rarely lose their native attachments. They 
have a great and fixed contempt for all monarchies. 
It is necessary to overcome a principle that has 
settled into a prejudice, in order to make them 
respect any sort of government but a republic. 
Money will buy them, no doubt, but they require 
to be bought. They are not accidents on the 
surface of society that are willing to float, like 
most other mariners, whither the current shall 
carry them, but they are men who can only find 
the opinions which lie at the root of all their 
habits, in their native land. Unlike the subject 
of any other system on earth, the American, who 
is unfortunate, can lay no part of his calamity to 
his country. He was not born in a region where 
climate, or monopoly, or excessive population, or 
any other adverse cause presses him of necessity 
to the earth. He retains in all situations a respect. 

THE WAR OK 1798. 


a love, and frequently a longing for the place 
of his birth. With money and opportunity, Ame- 
rica might procure thousands of every nation in 
Europe to serve in any cause ; but it may be 
questioned if this whole country furnishes one 
hundred men base enough to enlist in positive 
warfare against its institutions or rights. It is 
a consequence of this feeling, that the United 
States are more sure than otl ?r powers of retain- 
ing to themselves that portion of their population, 
which has taken to the sea for a livelihood. 

These feelings would recall, and have recalled, 
the American sailor home, in the moment of hosti- 
lities ; a time when the mariners of other nations 
seek opportunities of going abroad. He is not 
afraid to stand, at any time, on his native soil, for 
he knows that there is a law for him as well as for 
other men. Though he may be the perfect master 
of his own movements, a sailor is eminently a 
social creature. He is ever inclined, as you know 
by experience, to follow a general impulse. I am 
of opinion that in a popular war, the naval rendez- 
vous of this country would be thronged ; though 
it is certainly easy to conceive circumstances in 
which it would be difficult to procure men. 

In the war of 1798-9 crews were often got for 
frigates in a single day. There were two reasons 
for this abundance of men. Privateers were not 
profitable against the trade of France, and the 

\i ■ 


t "■ 


\V L. 


ii' ' 



conflict was particularly in unison with the feel- 
ings of all nautical men. In the war with Eng- 
land, there was sometimes a momentary difficulty 
in filling a crew ; but then privateers ab'^mded. 
There was also another reason why s* .n were 
reluctant to enter the national cruisers during the 
war with England : crews were often transferred 
in gross, from the sea- board to the lakes. The 
latter was a service in bad odour. There was no 
prize money, nor did it at all accord with the pre- 
judices of a tar, to be running in and out of a port 
on a great fresh water pond. Still, near the close 
of that war, though the services of a great number 
of men were lost to the country, by being cap- 
tured in privateers, I am told, that such crews 
were rarely known in the marine of any nation as 
then began freely to offer themselves. 

These are familiar reasons that must have a 
greater or less bearing on the facility of procuring 
seamen for the public service in the United States. 
The influence of a popular impulse can scarcely 
be estimated ; though it is quite within the reach 
of probability that it should be exceedingly great. 
There are also other influences which might be 
very powerful in producing a ready supply of men. 
A war would be declared, either when many mer- 
chant ships were at sea, or when they were not. 
In the former case the whole mercantile commu- 
nity would feel a direct and powerful interest in 

i^ :' 

ft 1 

J? .t 




manning their fleets ; and in the latter, seamen 
would be out of employ. Then, the government 
could at all times create a monopoly in its own 
favour, by refusing to grant private commissions, 
or even by imposing an embargo. The former 
has never yet yet been done, because it was the 
policy of the country to encourage privateers, 
since, heretofore, they have had no other very 
efficient means of annoying their enemy. 

On the whole, I incline to the opinion, that 
the fifty sail, which this country now possesses, 
could be manned, in a reasonable time, without re- 
sorting to any extraordinary means of inducing the 
men to enter. Still, in a country like this, so much 
depends on the particular impulses of the day, 
that it is a question which will admit of dip jute. 
A situation of things might be imagined in which 
a ship of the line would readily get a crew in a 
day, and then, again, circumstances might easily 
occur that would render enlistments tardy and 
reluctant. This is always supposing the supply 
to be left to the ordinary operations of trade or 
to the influences of popular excitement. For the 
purpose of any long-continued and serious naval 
service, the government has in reserve most of 
the ordinary resources of other nations. 

Although impressment is not, ought not to be, 
nor probably ever will be tolerated in the United 
States, a naval draft would be perfectly just ; and 





r n 





if it be not now, it might easily be made constitu- 
tional. As the law stands, a seaman is exempted 
from all military duty, because it is the policy of 
the country to encourage its commerce. But there 
is clearly no reason in natural justice why a sailor 
should not risk his life in defence of the rights 
of his fellow citizens as well as a landsman. This 
point being admitted, it is both more politic ard 
more humane that he should perform the duty 
on an element to which he is accustomed, md in 
a service that he understands, than by doing vio- 
lence to his habits by becoming a soldier. There 
are a variety of ways in which the government of 
the United States might even now, with perfect 
legality, place most of the seamen, which actually 
exist in the country, more or less at its own dis- 
posal. I have already mentioned an embargo as 
one powerful means of manning a fleet. 

It is not an exaggerated estimate to suppose that, 
shortly after the commencement of the war with 
England, 10,000 men were serving in the American 
privateers. This number alone, added to the crews 
in the regular service at the same period, would 
more than man the whole of the present force of 
the country. There can be no doubt that what the 
nation did with a population of 8,000,000, and a 
tonnage of 1,200,000, it could now do, with far 
greater facility, with a population of 12,000,000, 
and a tonnage of near 1 ,600,000. 

iS %• 


In almost every war into which the United 
States can enter, their operations must, of neces- 
sity, be conducted on the water. Canada and 
Mexico excepted, they have no immediate neigh- 
bours on the land. But a war with Canada would 
be a war with England, and the experience of 
the contest of 1^1 2, has taught the Americans, 
that neither their commerce nor their shores are 
safe in such a war without a marine. Their grow- 
ing fleet owes its existence solely to this convic- 
tion. The present naval force of the country, 
compared to that which it possessed in 1812, is 
already as twenty to one : not in the actual num- 
ber of the vessels, certainly, but in their size, and 
in their consequent ability to resist, or to attack. 
In 1812, the Americans could show but seven 
frigates, only three of which were of any magni- 
tude, while now they might show a line of twenty- 
seven sail, the smallest vessel in which should 
be the largest vessel they possessed in 1812, and 
the largest a ship of six times the force of the lat- 
ter. This change denotes, to say the least, a 
serious intention to protect themselves. 

The situation of the United States calls for no 
very hasty, or over jealous vigour, in military 
preparation. The people of the country know 
their unrivalled advantages. A war like that 
which England lately waged with France, a war 
of twenty years, would, if America were a party. 





n ' 

'ir r 


be commenced with a nation of 12,000,000, and 
be ended with one of 20,000,000 of souls ! In 
the security of their remote position, and of their 
rapidly increasing strength, the people of this 
country are in no hurry to spend their money. 
Their actual fleet, instead of being a forced and 
premature establishment, is rather the result of 
inevitable circumstances. What nation before 
this was ever known to have 1,200,000 tons of 
shipping, with seven frigates and eight or ten 
small cruisers tor its protection ? It appears to 
me, that so far from considering the present ma- 
ritime force of the United States as the utmost 
they can do, it ought to be considered rather 
as the result of what they cannot help doing. 
Money, skill, iiiaterials, pride, interest, and 
even necessity, unite to give birth to their fleets. 
The surprise should not be that they are now 
creating a marine, but that they have so long neg- 
lected the duty. I am of opinion, that the past 
will be a guide for the future, in this respect. The 
United States may be driven to an exercise of 
their energies ; but, if left to themselves, it will 
be found that all their military establishments will 
rather follow than lead the country. The natural 
order of things will accumulate the power of the 
republic quite fast enough for its own happiness, 
or for the peace of the world. 

Until now the Americans have been tracing the 



outline of their great national picture. The work 
of filling up has just seriously commenced. The 
Gulph of Mexico, the Lakes of Canada, the Prai- 
ries, and the Atlantic, form the setting. They 
are now, in substance, a vast island, and the tide of 
emigration, which has so long been flowing west- 
ward, must have its reflux. Adventurers in the arts, 
in manufactures, in commerce, and in short, in every 
thing else, are already beginning to return from the 
western to the eastern borders. It is true that the 
force of the current is still toward the newer coun- 
tries, but the time is near for those regions to give 
back some of their increase. Thousands of single 
men already find their way from Vermont, from 
the western counties of New York and Pennsyl- 
vania, and from even Ohio, to the sea-shores, as 
labourers and traders. Population is becoming 
dense, and as it accumulates it will acquire the 
energy of a concentrated force. 

Although ages must elapse before necessity 
shall drive man to beggary, or to abject depend- 
ence, in the United States, the time for a more 
regular increase of the people over the whole sur- 
face has commenced. It is true, that large dis- 
tricts still remain empty ; but a variety of causes 
has, in the first place, a tendency to retard their 
settlement, and, in the second place, it must be 
remembered how much sooner 12,000,000 can fill 
a vacuum than 4,000,000, 

, mi 

'' ' •i'fi^; 




' 11'' 1 


• ■-■' 


■: < ■ 

1 (■ 

I ' 


; i 

1 ■ 



I I 


The people of the older states are getting a 
taste for the arts and comforts of life, that dis- 
inclines vast numbers to encounter the privations 
of the forest. New England, the great hive of 
emigrants, was a comparatively sterile and un- 
favoured region ; and, twenty years ago, it pos- 
sessed few other employments than those of hus- 
bandry. But climate, richness of soil, and moral 
considerations included, the more eligible parts 
of the country are now occupied. The emigrant 
(of 1790, and of 1800) to New York or to Ohio, 
returned with accounts of advantages to which 
the inhabitant of Massachusetts or Connecticut 
was a stranger ; but the emigrant to Illinois, to 
Indiana, to Kentucky, or to Missouri, is apt to 
pine for things that he has left behind him. Manu- 
factures, and the thousand additional pursuits of 
a growing wealth, are beginning to chain men to 
their birth-places. The effects are already to be 
traced in the returns of the population. 

New York has been what is termed an emi- 
grating state these twenty years, and yet her 
population has increased near 18 per cent, within 
the last five.* 

Although the supply of seamen must, for many 
years, be limited to the demand, since men can 

♦ The births exceeded the deaths, in New York, (1825) 38,840 
souls ; or at a rate, that, notwithstanding the emigration, would 
double its population once in forty years. 



find support in other employments, the govern- 
ment can at any time create a demand of its own, 
in order to keep up the number necessary for the 
two services — viz. the navy and that of commerce. 
Hitherto no artificial means of creating seamen have 
been adopted. The government has as yet had no 
motive for such extraordinary care. They employ, 
in point of fact, only about twenty sail.* These 
vessels are manned by a very simple system, and 
with little or no difficulty. Rendezvous are opened 
in the different ports when men are needed ; and, 
as they enter, they are placed on board of re- 
ceiving vessels, where they continue until a draft 
is made for a crew. They pay no bounty, nor do 
the wages ever vary to meet the fluctuations in 
the price of seamen's wages in the merchantmen. 
The wages of a seaman are, however, something 
higher than those paid by any other nation to 
men in the public service.^ When the ships are 

. \ 

* The actual force of cruisers in commission (1828) is one ship 
of the line, six frigates, two corvettes, ten sloops, and four schooners. 
These vessels, including the ordinary, are manned by five thousand 
three hundred and eighteen men. 

f A captain, commanding a ship of any force, receives 100 dol- 
ars a month, and eight rations a day ; if he command a small ship, 
his pay is 76 dollars, and six rations. The pay of the other 
classes is as follows : — master commandant, 60 dollars, five rations; 
lieutenant commandant, 50 dollars and four rations ; lieutenant, 40 
dollars and three rations ; master, 40 dollars and two rations ; past- 

'■■ It 



!. n 


I; '• 
I' I 

manned, orders are given to stop the enlistments. 
The supply varies, of course, a crew being some? 
times obtained in a few days, and sometimes not 
in many weeks. 

As the Americans add to the number of vessels 
employed in their service, they will, certainly, 
facilitate the means of a supply by increasing 
the demand. The great outlet to the rest of the 
world, the path of adventure, and the only, at least 
the principal, theatre for military achievements 
open to the people of this country, is on the ocean. 
It is only necessary to invite adventurers, to at- 
tract to their flag all, whom restlessness, ambition, 
misfortune, enterprise, or necessity, shall induce 
to wander. 

The progress of the physical force of this coun- 
try is not to be calculated by that of other nations. 

midshipman, 25 dollars and two rations; midshipman, 19 dollars 
and one ration ; boatswain, gunner, sail-maker, and carpenter, 20 
dollars and two rations ; petty officers, 19 dollars and one ration ; 
seaman, 12 dollars and one ration ; ordinary ditto, 10 dol- 
lars and one ration ; boys, 6 dollars and one ration ; chaplain 
and purser, 40 dollars and two rations; surgeon, 50 dollars 
and two rations ; surgeon's mate, 30 dollars. and two rations ; cap- 
tain of marines, 40 dollars and two rations; first lieutenant dittj, 
30 dollars and two rations ; second ditto, 25 dollars and three ra- 
tions, &c. &c. The rations of all the officers are paid in money, 
if required, at the rate of 25 cents a day for each, the 
marines, who receive army pay and allowances. An army ration 
is worth 20 cents a day. It is, however, intended to increase the 
pay of most of the officers. See note B, at the end of the volume. 

N ill 



Independently of the gross amount of numbers, 
and the rate at which the population increases, 
there is another important fact to be considered 
in making all our estimates of the future power of 
this nation. When we say that America, with so 
many millions of people, has don'^ this or that 
much, has furnished so many soldiers, or so many 
seamen, it is necessary to remark how very 
large a proportion of the population are of an 
age to be dependants, instead of actors. In 1820 
17*11 of jthe whole population were boys under 
ten years of age. Including girls, rather more 
than one-third of the population had not yet 
reached that tender period of life. So far, there- 
fore, from being assistants, they had been clogs 
to the exertions of their parents. Of 7,856,269 
whites in the country at the census of 1820, 
3,840,899 were under sixteen years of age. It is a 
natural fact that the commerce of the country should 
grow with its population ; but it is evident that 
the ability to furnish a supply of men, for all 
purposes, must increase in an augmenting ratio. 
The proportion between whole numbers and active 
agents has not yet reached the level of Europe, 
and the American is, therefore, entitled to so 
much greater credit for what his country has done, 
since, even supposing other things equal, it has 
certainly been done, in consequence of this pecu- 
liarity, with a comparatively diminished force. 
The United States would certainly take a new 


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position in the event of another general war. So 
far from being again the prey of the belligerents, 
she would (unless an actor) be a neutral, whose 
weight, thrown into either scale, might make her a 
power to be dreaded on the ocean. England 
herself would find the fifty, or a hundred sail, 
which these people could, and, no doubt, would 
employ, highly embarrassing. The country, with- 
out precocious, or unnatural efforts, has reached 
the point when it has become an important ally. 
The West India seas would even now lie greatly 
at her mercy, especially if England, or France, 
had enemies nearer home. In a very few years 
this republic will not be very wary as to its choice 
of a foe, and in yet a few more, it will be able to 
meet fearlessly the greatest power of the earth in 
any way that man can elect for the gratification of 
his lawless propensities. 

Still I thkik that the government of the United 
States will not be very dangerous by its ambition. 
That it will sweep its coasts of every hostile hold ; 
that Bermuda, and all such places, will come into 
the possession of the Americans in the course of the 
next half century , no man can doubt, who has seen 
how sagaciously they have already arranged their 
frontiers, and who knows how to estimate their 
growing strength. In fifty years it is physically 
certain that these states will contain fifty millions 
of souls. This number, supposing that the pre- 
sent marine should increase only in a numerical 




proportion, would '^ive them a navy of rather more 
than two hundred sail, of which one hundred and 
twenty would carry more than fifty-four guns. 
With an empire, compact, natural, and so consti- 
tuted as to require no artificial defence, this alone 
would be a more available force than three times 
the number employed in protecting distant colo- 
nies and divided interests. The game which 
England has played with America, in their two 
wars, by striking at the weak and most exposed 
points, America will be able to play with England, 
in the course of the next twenty years. It would 
be too dangerous an experiment to lie in her 
rivers and bays, even now, with the advanced im- 
provements in steam ; and as to their ports, they 
will, shortly, be beyond aggression. The Ameri- 
can citizen, a little drilled, is as good a soldier, in a 
fort, as any man in the world. The last war abun- 
dantly proved that no numbers can expel active 
and skilful seamen from the ocean ; and any one 
can calculate what an efficient fleet of twenty sail 
might do against a divided empire. I know no 
more unsafe calculation than to rely on the inac- 
tivity of an American sailor. 

But it is a well known fact that the force and 
wealth of nations are not so much in proportion 
to their numbers as to their advancement in the 
arts of life, and to their moral superiority. In every 
thing that constitutes general moral superiority people are already in the foremost rank. 

I 2 



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Their population is getting compact ; and as 
manufactures increase, and the usual divisions of 
employments follow, they will become rich in a 
geometrical progression. Should there be a neces- 
sity for such a force, there is far more probability 
that their marine will contain one thousand than 
two hundred sail in the year 1875. 

Nor do I find a single plausible reason for dis- 
believing this result. Should a separation of the 
states occur, an event quite as improbable as any 
other act of suicide, and just as possible as all 
suicides, the commercial and manufacturing states 
would still keep together. I think, if any thing, 
their marine would be larger than if the confedera- 
tion should exist as it now stands, since there 
would be but one opinion on its policy, and its 
size would clearly be a matter of greater neces- 

I know but one other material point to be con- 
sidered in examining the American marine. With 
reference to its immediate growth, the finances of 
the country and the costs of ships are important. 
The debt of the United States is about 60,000,000 
of dollars,* the revenue rather more than 
21,000,000, without taxes. Including compara- 
tively heavy sums paid to build fortifications, and 
a half million, each year, to the , increase (not to 

* It is actually 66,000,000, but the balance was created for the 
purchase of bank stock, which pays an interest, and which can be 
sold without difficulty. 

b V 



the repairs) of the marine,* the whole expendi- 
ture is about 13,000,000 of dollars. This leaves an 
excess by which the debt will be entirely extin- 
guished in a few more years of peace. A fair 
proportion of the monies that shall then remain 
will, beyond a doubt, be used in fostering so in- 
teresting an arm of the public defence as the 

The American ships, considering their quality, 
are about as cheap as those of England. Some 
articles are less costly, others more expensive. I 
find that the Columbus, a ship on two decks, 
pierced for one hundred, and mounting about 
ninety-two or ninety-four guns, stands charged, 
nearly ready for sea, at 426,931 dollars ; the 
North Carolina, launched, but not finished, at 
343,251; Delaware ditto, at 375,735; and the 
Ohiot 308,000. The Potomac frigate was 
launched for 157,320 dollars, and the Brandy- 
wine, nearly ccrupleted for sea, for 261,876. The 
two latter are pierced for sixty guns, and actually 
mount fifty-six.J 

Before closing this long, but, I trust, to you, 
not tiresome, letter, I will allude to another 



V i^iS 

* This appropriation has been lately extended It ^,ix more years. 
— See note A at the end of the volume. 

t In the state in which she was seen by Mr. De Roos, or 
nearly so. 

X No American frigate, or ship of the line, with the exception of 
a 64 built for the Greeks, and recently purcAcwed into the ser- 
vice, mounts, or has mounted, during the last five-and-twenty 


ti Si- 
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.' 1 



topic. The Americans have been ignoranily and 
coarsely charged with deception on the subject 
of their navy. It has been said that they con- 
structed vessels of extraordinary magnitude, and 
gave to them the appellations and rates of frigates. 
What is the fact ? Frigates, as you very well know, 
were originially ships of one gun deck, with a 
regular quarter deck and forecastle, on both of 
which guns can be mounted. At first, the two 
latter decks were smaller than was necessary, and 
the frigates were rated at the precise number of 
guns that they carried. Thus a ship that formerly 
carried twenty-eight guns on her gun deck, and 
ten guns on her quarter deck and forecastle, was 
called, in the English navy, a thirty- eight. In 
course of time fourteen guns were placed on the 
quarter deck of the same sort of ship (a little en- 
larged), anr- eight ports were cut in the forecastle, 
so that she could, and did, mount fifty guns. Some 
of them were even pierced for more. Between the 
frigates and the ships of the line was a sort of 
mongrel class that properly belonged to neither. 
They had the construction of the latter, though 
their force was but little superior to the former. 
These vessels were called fifties and forty-fours. 
When the Americans first formed their marine 
there was little method in its arrangement or clas- 

years, guns in the waist. The waists (since the last war) have 
been pierced for guns, in order that they may be shifted over to 
batter a town, or to defend a vessel at anchor, &c. &c. but ham- 
mocks are always stowed there as in other vessels of war. 


I' I ' ■ 

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sification. Ships like the English thirty-eights 
were commonly called thirty-sixes. But experi- 
ence had shewn that a larger sized frigate might 
be built to advantage ; and they were not disposed 
to perpetuate the mistaken notions of others. They 
constructed ships, on one deck, to carry thirty 
guns below (twenty-four pounders), and twenty- 
four guns on the quarter deck and forecastle. But 
so far from attempting any deception in the man- 
ner of rating, they called them after the interme- 
diate class already named, viz., forty-fours. Even 
the Chesapeake, the smallest thirty-eight (accord- 
ing to the English method of rating) ever known 
in their service, was, for a long time, through 
carelessness, or ignorance, termed a forty-four ; 
because, at first, she actually mounted forty four 
guns ; while the New York, a larger ship, though 
of fewer guns, was called a thirty-six. The Essex, 
a proper English thirty-two, was called a thirty- 
two ; while the John Adams, and the Adams, both 
much inferior vessels, in size and in guns, were 
rated the same. 

Now all these vessels were sent openly to sea, 
were visited freely, and were approved of or con- 
demned by the officers of all the navies in the 
world. Some nations sneered at what the Ame- 
ricans deemed an improvement, and some imitated 
it. Time has shewn that the latter were the 

Deception is a word more unjustly applied to 

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this nation than to any on earth. There is scarcely 
a secret even pretended to be kept in its whole 
government or police. Every year the fullest and 
most satisfactory documents, concerning its army, 
its ti nances, and every thing else, are published 
to all who choose to read them. Their navy 
yards and arsenals are open to every applicant. 
It is a singular fact that foreign officers have 
accused these people of a wish to practise decep- 
tion, because they have discovered improvements 
in their navy yards, while unreservedly enjoying, 
themselves, privileges that would, in their own 
countries, be denied to an American seaman. The 
officers of this country say that they are satisfied 
with the manner in which their own marine is con- 
ducted. If other people have a reason for changing 
their system of classification, let them do it, it is 
altogether an affair of their own. The object of 
rating at all is to understand the relative size and 
force of ships in the same service. It is not a 
matter of convention between nations. When an 
officer captures an enemy, or is captiired by one, 
he is a fool if he does not state the actual force of 
his antagonist ; he is only a knave when he con- 
ceals, or misrepresents it. Besides, they say, and 
justly enough, that the number of guns is no good 
criterion of the force of a vessel. An English 
thirty-two (old rate) and a thirty-six might, and 
often did, carry nearly the same number of guns 
(from forty to forty-four guns), but the latter 

l; 'i ■ 


is oiie-fourth lar^'er, stronger, and heavier, and, of 
course, more formidable, than the former.* 

That there was great inaccuracy in the rating of 
the American ships before and during the last war, 
is certain ; but it is just as certain it was oftener 
against their reputation than in their favour. They 
had three large frigates, and these they honestly 
called by the rates of vessels which fifty years 
since fought in the line. It must be remembered 
these three vessels have been built thirty years. 
They oftener over than under-rated their other 
frigates. The same was true of their sloops of 
war. The Argus, (brig,) for instance, a vessel a 
third lighter every way than the regular eighteen, 
was rated in that class. The Nautilus, Vixen, 
Ferret, &c., were also over-rated. 

No nautical man, fit to command a vessel, 
would trust to any rate but that of his own judg- 
ment. If any people have got into difficulty by 
undervaluing their enemies, it is far more manful 
to confess their mistake, than to call improve- 
ments, which they are eager to imitate, by so 

* A ship carrying eighteen twenty-four pound carronades, and a 
ship of eighteen thirty-two pound carronades, would be rated the 
same, if the number of guns were to be the only guide ; whereas, 
if one should be called a sixteen, and tho other an eighteen, the 
mind would conceive a sufficiently just idea of the difference in 
force which actually existed. There are so many considerations 
that properly enter into the estimate of force in a vessel, that no 
one of them all can be safely taken as a rule. 






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coarse a term as deception. In this manner, 
clever men are, without bounds or moderation, 
deceiving the rest of mankind daily. 


Sfc. Sfc. 



You ask me to write freely on the subject of the 
literature and the arts of the United States. The 
subjects are so meagre as to render it a task that 
would require no small portion of the talents neces- 
sary to figure in either, in order to render them of 
interest. Still, as the request has come in so urgent 
a form, I shall endeavour to oblige you. 

The Americans have been placed, as respects 
moral and intellectual advancement, different 
from all other infant nations. They have never 
been without the wants of civilization, nor have 
they ever been entirely without the means of a 
supply. Thus pictures, and books, and statuary, 
and every thing else which appertains to elegant 
lue, have always been known to them in an 
abundance, and of a quality exactly proportioned 
to their cost. Books, being the cheapest, and 



the nation having great leisure and prodigious 
zest for information, are not onlv the most com- 
mon, as you will readily suppose, but they are 
probably more common than among any other 
people. I scarcely remember ever to have en- 
tered an American dwelling, however humble, 
without finding fewer or more books. As they 
form the most essential division of the subject, not 
only on account of their greater frequency, but 
on account of their far greater importance, I shall 
give them the first notice in this letter. 

Unlike the progress of the two professions in 
the countries of our hemisphere, in America the 
printer came into existence before the author. 
Reprints of English works gave the first employ- 
ment to the press. Then came almanacks, psalm- 
books, religious tracts, sermons, journals, politi- 
cal essays, and even rude attempts at poetry. All 
these preceded the revolution. The first journal 
was established in Boston at the commencement 
of the last century. There are several original 
polemical works of great originality and power 
that belong to the same period. I do not know that 
more learning and talents existed at that early 
day in the states of New England than in Virginia, 
Maryland and the Carolinas, but there was cer- 
tainly a stronger desire to exhibit them. 

The colleges or universities, as they were 
somewhat prematurely called, date very far back 

'W : 



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in the brief history of the country. There is no 
stronger evidence of the intellectual character, or 
of the judicious ambition of these people, than 
what this simple fact furnishes. Harvard College, 
now the university of Cambridge — (it better de- 
serves the title at this day) — was founded in 1638 ; 
within less than twenty years after the landing of 
the first settlers in New England ! Yale (in Con- 
necticut) was founded in 1701. Columbia (in the 
city of New York) was founded in 1754. Nassau 
Hall (in New Jersey) in 1738; and William and 
Mary (in Virginia) as far back as 1691. These 
are the oldest literary institutions in the United 
States, and all but the last are in flourishing con- 
ditions to the present hour. The first has given 
degrees to about five thousand graduates, and 
rarely has less than three hundred and fifty or 
four hundred students. Yale is about as well 
attended. The others contain from a hundred 
and fifty to two hundred under-graduates. But 
these are not a moiety of the present colleges, or 
universities, (as they all aspire to be called,) 
existing in the country. There is no state, except 
a few of the newest, without at least one, and 
several have two or three. 

Less attention is paid to classical learning here 
than in Europe ; and, as the term of residence 
rarely exceeds four years, profound scholars are 
by no means common. This country possesses 



neither the population nor the endowments to 
maintain a large class of learned idlers, in order 
that one man in a hundred may contribute a mite 
to the growing stock of general knowledge. There 
is a luxury in this expenditure of animal force, to 
which the Americans have not yet attained. The 
good is far too problematical and remote, and the 
expense of man too certain, to be prematurely 
sought. I have heard, I will confess, an American 
legislator quote Horace and Cicero; but it is far 
from being the humour of the country. I thought 
the taste of the orator questionable. A learned 
quotation is rarely of any use in an argument, 
since few men are fools enough not to see that the 
application of any maxim to politics is liable to a 
thousand practical objections, and, nine times in 
ten, they are evidences of the want of a direct, na- 
tural, and vigorous train of thought. They are the 
affectations, but rarely the ebullitions of true talent. 
When a man feels strongly, or thinks strongly, or 
speaks strongly, he is just as apt to do it in kis 
native tongue as he is to laugh when he is tickled, 
or to weep when in sorrow. The Americans are 
strong speakers and acute thinkers, but no great 
quoters of the morals and axioms of a heathen 
age, because they happen to be recorded in 

The higher branches of learning are certainly 
on the advance in this country. The gentlemen 
of the middle and southern states, before the revo- 



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lution, were very generally educated in Europe, 
and they were consequently, in this particular, 
like our own people. Those who came into life 
during the struggle, and shortly after, fared worse. 
Even the next generation had little to boast of in 
the way of instruction. I find that boys entered 
the colleges so late as the commencement of the 
present century, who had read a part of the Greek 
Testament, and a few books of Cicero and Virgil, 
with perhaps a little of Horace. But great changes 
have been made, and are still making, in the de- 
gree of previous qualification. 

Still, it would be premature to say that there is 
any one of the American universities where clas- 
sical knowledge, or even science is profoundly 
attained, even ai the present day. Some of the 
professors push their studies, for a life, certainly ; 
and you well know, after all, that little short of a 
life, and a long one too, will make any man a good 
general scholar. In 1820, near eight thousand 
graduates of the twelve oldest colleges of this 
country (according to their catalogues) were then 
living. Of this number, 1,406 were clergymen. 
As some of the catalogues consulted were several 
years old, this number was, of necessity, greatly 
within the truth. Between the years 1800 and 
1810, it is found that of 2,792 graduates, four 
hundred and fifty-three became clergymen. Here 
is pretty good evidence that religion is not neg- 
lected in America, and that its ministers are not, 
as a matter of course, absolutely ignorant. 



But the effects of the literary institutions of 
the United States are somewhat peculiar. Few 
men devote their lives to scholarship. The 
knowledge that is actually acquired, is perhaps 
quite sufficient for the more practical and useful 
pursuits. Thousands of young men, who have 
read the more familiar classics, who have gone 
through enough of mathematics to obtain a sense 
of their own tastes, and of the value of p. :^cision, 
who have cultivated beius lettres to a reasonable 
extent, and who have been moderately instructed 
in the arts of composition, and in the rules of taste, 
are given forth to the country to mingle in its 
active employments. I am inclined to believe 
that a class of American graduates carries away 
with it quite as much general and diversified 
knowledge, as a class from one of our own uni- 
versities. The excellence in particular branches 
is commonly wanting ; but the deficiency is more 
than supplied by variety of information. The youth 
who has passed four years within the walls of a 
college, goes into the office of a lawyer for a few 
more. The profession of the law is not subdi- 
vided in America. The same man is counsellor, 
attorney, and conveyancer. Here the student 
gets a general insight into the principles, and a 
familiarity with the practice of the law, rather 
than an acquaintance with the study as a science. 
With this instruction he enters the world as a 
practitioner. Instead of existing in a state of 

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dreaming retrospection, lost in a maze of theories, 
he is at once turned loose into the jostlings 
of the world. If perchance he encounters an 
antagonist a little more erudite than himself, he 
seizes the natural truth for his sheet anchor, and 
leaves precedent and quaint follies to him who 
has made them his study and delight. No doubt 
he often blunders, and is frequently, of necessity, 
defeated. But in the course of this irreverent 
treatment, usages and opinions, which are bot- 
tomed in no better foundation than antiquity, and 
which are as inapplicable to the present state of 
the world, as the present state of the world 
is, or ought to be, unfavourable to all feudal 
absurdities, come to receive their death warrants. 
In the mean time, by dint of sheer experience, 
and by the collision of intellects, the practitioner 
gets a stock cf learning, that is acquired in the 
best possible school ; and, what is of far more im- 
portance, the laws themselves get a dress which 
brings them within the fashions of the day. 
This same man becomes a legislator perhaps, and, 
if particularly clever, he is made to take an active 
part in the framing of laws that are not to harmo- 
nize with the other parts of an elaborate theory, 
but which are intended to make men comfortable 
and happy. Now, taken with more or less quali- 
fication, this is the history of thousands in this 
country, and it is also an important part of the 
history of the country itself. 




In considering the course of instruction in the 
United States, you are always to commence at 
the foundation. The common schools, which so 
generally exist, have certainly elevated the popu- 
lation above that of any other country, and are 
still elevating it higher, as they improve and in- 
crease in numbers. Law is getting every day to 
be more of a science, but it is a science that is 
forming rules better adapted to the spirit of the 
age. Medicine is improving, and in the cities it 
is, perhaps now, in point of practice, quite on a 
level with that of Europe. Indeed, the well- 
educated American physician very commonly 
enjoys an advantage that is little known in 
Europe. After obtaining a degree in his own 
country, he passes a few years in London, Edin- 
burgh, Paris, and frequently in Germany, and 
returns with his gleanings from their several 
schools. This is not the case with one individual, 
but with many, annually. Indeed, there is so 
much of a fashion in it, and the custom is 
attended by so many positive advantages, that 
its neglect would be a serious obstacle to any 
very eminent success. Good operators are by no 
means scarce, and as si gery and medicine are 
united in the same person, there is great judgment 
in their practice. Human life is something more 
valuable in America than in Europe, and I think 
a critical attention to patients more common here 
than with us, especially when the sufferer belongs 



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to an inferior condition in life. The profession is 
highly respectable ; and in all parts of the country 
the better sort of its practitioners mingle, on terms 
of perfect equality, with the highest classes of 
society. There are several physicians in congress, 
and a great many in the different state legis- 

Of the ministry it is unnecessary to speak. 
The clergy are of all denominations, and they are 
educated, or not, precisely as they belong to 
sects which consider the gift of human know- 
ledge of any importance. You have already seen 
how large a proportion of the graduates of some 
of the colleges enter the desk. 

As respects authorship, there is not much to be 
said. Compared to the books that are printed 
and read, those of native origin are few indeed. 
The principal reason of this poverty of original 
writers, is owing to the circumstance that men 
are not yet driven to their wits for bread. The 
United States are the first nation that possessed 
institutions, and, of course, distinctive opinions of 
its own, that was ever dependant on a foreign 
people for its literature. Speaking the same lan- 
guage as the English., and long in the habit of 
importing their books from the mother country, 
the revolution effected ho immediate change in 
the nature of their studies, or mental amuse- 
ments. The works were reprinted, it is true, for 
the purposes of economy, but they still continued 



English. Had the latter nation used this powerful 
engine with tolerable address, I think they woulc' 
have secured such an ally in this country as 
would have rendered their own decline not only 
more secure, but as illustrious as had been their 
rise. There are many theories entertained as to the 
effect produced in this country by the falsehoods 
and jealous calumnies which have been undeni- 
ably uttered in the mother country, by means of 
the press, concerning her republican descendant. 
It is my own opinion that, like all other ridiculous 
absurdities, they have defeated themselves, and 
that they are now more laughed at and derided, 
even here, than resented. By all that I can learn, 
twenty years ago, the Americans were, perhaps, 
far too much disposed to receive the opinions 
and to adopt the prejudices of their relatives ; 
whereas, I think it is very apparent that they are 
now beginning to receive then* with singular dis- 
trust. It is not worth our while to enter further 
into this subject, except as it has had, or is like!}- 
to have, an influence on the national literature.* 
It is quite obvious, that, so far as taste and 




* The writer might give, in proof cf this opinion, one fact. He is 
led to believe that, so lately as within ten years, several Eng- 
lish periodical works were re-printed, and much read in the United 
States, and that now they patronize their own, while the former are 
far less sought, though the demand, by means of the increased po- 
pulation, should have been nearly doubled. Some of the works are 
no longer even re-printed. 

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forms alone are concerned, the literature of Eng- 
land and that of America must be fashioned after 
the same models. The authors, previously to the 
revolution, are common property, and it is quite 
idle to say that the American has not just as good a 
right to claim Milton, and Shakspeare, and all the 
old masters of the language, for his countrymen, as 
an Englishman. The Americans having continued 
to cultivate, and to cultivate extensively, an ac- 
quaintance with the writers of the mother country, 
since the separation, it is evident they must have 
kept pace with the trifling changes of the day. The 
only peculiarity that can, or ought to be expected 
in their literature, is that which is connected with 
the promulgation of their distinctive political opi- 
nions. They have not been remiss in this duty, 
as any one may see, who chooses to examine their 
books. But we will devote a few minutes to a 
more minute account of the actual condition of 
American literature. 

The first, and the most important, though cer- 
tainly the most familiar branch of this subject, is 
connected with the public journals. It is net 
easy to say how many newspapers are printed in 
the United States. The estimated number varies 
from six hundred to a thousand. In the State of 
New York there are more than fifty counties. 
Now, it is rare that a county, in a state as old as 
that of New York (especially in the more northern 
parts of the country), does not possess one paper at 

pSf i! 

Tin; N'KWSl'APKllS. 


least. The cities have many. The smaller towns 
sometimes have three or four, and very many of 
the counties four or five. There cannot be many 
less than one hundred and fifty journals in the 
state of New York alone. Pennsylvania is said 
to possess eighty. But we will suppose that these 
two states publish two hundred journals. They 
contain about 3,000,000 of inhabitants. As the 
former is an enlightened state, and the latter 
rather below the scale of the general intelligence 
of the nation, it may not be a very bad average of 
the whole population. This rate would give eight 
hundred journals for the United States, which 
is probably something within the truth. I con- 
fess, however, this manner of equalizing estimates 
in America, is very uncertain in general, since a 
great deal, in such a question, must depend on the 
progress of society in each particular section of 
the country. 

As might be expected, there is nearly every 
degree of merit to be found in these journals. No 
one of them has the benefit of that collected talent 
which is so often enlisted in the support of the 
more important journals of Europe. There is 
not often more than one editor to the best ; but he 
is usually some man who has seen, in his own 
person, enough of men and things to enable him 
to speak with tolerable discretion on passing 
events. The usefulness of the American journals, 
however, does not consist in their giving the tone 

I «• 


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II ' . i: 




to the public mind, in politics and morals, but in 
imparting facts. It is certain that, could the 
journals agree, they might, by their united efforts, 
give a powerful inclination to the common will. 
But, in point of fact, they do not agree on any 
one subject or set of subjects, except, perhaps, on 
those which directly affect their own interests. 
They, consequently, counteract, instead of aiding 
each other, on all points of disputed policy; and 
it is in the bold and sturdy discussions that follow, 
that men arrive at the truth. The occasional 
union in their own favour, is a thing too easily 
seen through to do either good or harm. So far, 
then, from the journals succeeding in leading the 
public opinion astray, they are invariably obliged 
to submit to it. They serve to keep it alive, 
by furnishing the means for its expression, but 
they rarely do more. Of course, the influence 
of each particular press is in proportion to the 
constancy and the ability with which it is found 
to support what is thought to be sound principles ; 
but those principles must be in accordance with 
the private opinions of men, or most of their labour 
is lost. 

The public press in America is rather more 
decent than that of England, and less decorous 
than that of France. The tone of the nation, and 
the respect for private feelings, which are, per- 
haps, in some measure, the consequence of a less 
artificial state of society, produce the former; 



and the liberty, which is a necessary attendant of 
fearless discussion, is, 1 think, the cause of the 
latter. The affairs of an individual are rarely 
touched upon in the journals of this country ; 
never, unless it is thought they have a direct con- 
nection with the public interests, or from a wish 
to do him good. Still there is a habit, getting 
into use in America, no less than in France, that 
is borrowed from the English, which proves that 
the more unworthy feelings of our nature are 
common to men under all systems, and only need 
opportunity to find encouragement. I allude to 
the practice of repeating the proceedings of the 
courts of justice, in order to cuter to a vicious 
appetite for amusement in he public. 

It is pretended that, as a court of justice is 
open to the world, there can be no harm in giving 
the utmost publicity to its proceedings. It is 
strange the courts should act so rigialy on the 
principle, that it is better a dozen guilty men 
should go free, than that one innocent man should 
suffer, and yet permit the gross injustice that is 
daily done by means of this practice. One would 
think, that if a court of justice is so open to the 
world, that it should be the business of the 
people of the world to enter it, in order that they 
might be certain that the information they crave 
should be without colouring or exaggeration. It 
is idle to say that the reports are accurate, and 
that he who reads is enabled to do justice to the 





! i 

accused, by comparing the facts that are laid be- 
fore him. A reporter may give the expression of 
the tongue ; but can he convey that of the eye, 
of the countenance, or of the form? — without re- 
garding all of which no man is perfectly master 
of the degree of credibility that is due to any wit- 
ness of whose character he is necessarily ignorant. 
But every man has an infallible means of assuring 
himself of the value of these reports. Who has 
ever read a dozen of them without meeting with 
one (or perhaps more), in which the decision of the 
court and jury is to him a matter of surprise ? It is 
true he assumes, that those who were present knew 
best, and as he has no great interest in the matter, 
he is commonly satisfied. But how is it with the 
unfortunate man who is wrongfully brought out of 
his retirement to repel an unjust attack against his 
person, his property, or his character ? If he be 
a man of 'irtue, he is a man of sensibility ; and 
not only he, but, what is far worse, those tender 
beings, whose existence is wrapped up in his own, 
are to be wounded daily and hourly, for weeks at 
a time, in order that a depraved appetite should be 
glutted. It is enough for justice that her pro- 
ceedings should be so public as to prevent the 
danger of corruption ; but we pervert a blessing to 
a curse, in making that which was intended for our 
protection, the means of so much individual misery. 
It is an unavoidable evil of the law that it neces- 
sarily works some wrong, in order to do much 

:■■ t 





good ; but it is cruel that even the acquittal of a 
man should be unnecessarily circulated, in a man- 
ner to make all men remember that he had been 
accused. We have proof of the consequences of 
this practice in England. Men daily shrink from 
resistance to base frauds, rather than expose 
themselves to the observations and comments of 
those who enliven their breakfasts by sporting 
with these exhibitions of their fellow creatures. 
There are, undoubtedly cases of that magnitude 
which require some sacrifice of private feelings, 
in order that the community should reap the 
advantage ; but the regular books are sufficient 
for authorities — the decisions of the courts are 
sufficient for justice — and the utmost possible 
oblivion should prove as nearly sufficient as may 
be to serve the ends of a prudent and a righteous 

Nothing can be more free than the press of this 
country, on all subjects connected with politics. 
Treason cannot be written, unless by communi- 
cating with an open enemy. There is no other 
protection to a public man than that which is 
given by an independent jury, which punishes, of 
course, in proportion to the dignity and import- 
ance of the injured party. But the utmost lenity 
is always used in construing the right of the press 
to canvasr the public acts of public men. Mere 
common plaoe charges defeat themselves, and get 
into discredit so soon as to be lost, while graver 



!■ 5, 






accusations are met by grave replies. There is 
no doubt that the complacency of individuals is 
sometimes disturbed by these liberties ; but they 
serve to keep the officers of the government to 
their work, while they rarely do any lasting, or 
even temporary injury. Serious and criminal 
accusations against a public man, if groundless, 
are, by the law of reason, a crime against the 
community, and, as such, they are punished. 
The general principle observed in these matiers 
is very simple. If A. accuse B. of an act that is 
an offence against law, he may be called on for 
his proof, and if he fail he must take the conse- 
quences. But an editor of a paper, or any one 
else, who should bring a criminal charge, no matter 
how grave, against the president, and who could 
prove it, is just as certain of doing it with impu- 
nity, as if he held the whole power in his own 
hands. He would be protected by the invincible 
shield of public opinion, which is not only in con- 
sonance with the law, but which, in this country, 
makes law. 

Actions for injuries done by the press, consi- 
dering the number of journals, are astonishingly 
rare in America. When one remembers the 
usual difficulty of obtaining legal proof, which 
is a constant temptation, even to the guilty, to 
appeal to the courts; ^nd, on the other hand, 
the great freedom of the press, which is a constant 
temptation to abuse the trust, this fact, in itself, 

Kl: K 





furnishes irresistible evidence of the general tone 
of decency which predominates in this nation. 
The truth is, that public opinion, among its other 
laws, has imperiously prescribed that, amidst 
the utmost latitude of discussion, certain limits 
shall not be passed ; and public opinion, which 
is so completely the offspring of a free press, 
must be obeyed in this, as well as in other 

Leaving the journals, we come to those publi- 
cations which make their appearance periodically. 
Of these there are a good many, some few of 
which are well supported. There are several 
scientific works, that are printed monthly, or 
quarterly, of respectable merit, and four or five 
reviews. Magazines of a more general character 
are not much encouraged. England, which is 
teeming with educated men, who are glad to make 
their bread by writing for these works, still affords 
too strong a competition for the success of any 
American attempts^ in this species of literature. 
Though few, perhaps no English magazine is ac- 
tually republished in America, a vast number are 
imported and read in the towns, where the sup- 
port for any similar original production must first 
be found. 

The literature of the United States has, indeed, 
too powerful obstacles to conquer before (to use 
a mercantile expression) it can ever enter the 






1! ' 

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markets of its own country on terms of perfect 
equality with that of England. Solitary and indi- 
vidual works of genius may, indeed, be occa- 
sionally brought to light, under the impulses of 
the high feeling which has conceived them ; but, 
I fear, a good, wholesome, profitable, and con- 
tinued pecuniary support is the applause that 
talent most craves. The fact, that an American 
publisher can get an English work without money, 
must, for a few years longer (unless legislative 
protection shall be extended to their own authors), 
have a tendency to repress a national literature. 
No man will pay a writer for an epic, a tragedy, a 
sonnet, a hic'ory, or a romance, when he can get 
a work of equal merit for nothing. I have con- 
versed with those who are conversant on the 
subject, and, I confess, I have been astonished 
at the information they imparted. 

A capital American publisher has assured me 
that there are not a dozen writers in this country, 
whose works he should feel confidence in publish- 
ing at all, vbile he reprints hundreds of English 
books without the least hesitation. This prefer- 
ence is by no means so much owing to any dif- 
ference in merit, as to the fact that, when the 
price of the original author is to be added to the 
uniform hazard which accompanies all literary 
speculations, the risk becomes too great.* The 
general taste of the reading world in this country 



is better than that of England.* The fact is both 
proved and explained by the circumstance that 
thousands of works that are printed and read in 
the mother country, are not printed and read 
here. The publisher on this side of the Atlantic 
has the advantage of seeing the reviews of every 
book he wishes to print, end, what is of far more 
importance, he knows, with the exception of 
books that he is sure of selling, by means of a 
name, the decision of tho English critics before 
he makes his choice. Nine tir-jies in ten, popula- 
rity, which is all he looks for, is a sufficient test 
of general merit. Thus, while you find every 
English work of cliaracter, or notoriety, on the 
shelves of an American book-store, you may ask 
in vain for most of the trash that is so greedily 
devoured in the circulating libraries of the mother 
country, and which would be just as eagerly de- 
voured here, had not a better taste been created 
by a compelled abstinence. That taste must 
now be overcome before such works could be 
sold at all. 

When I say that books are not rejected here, 
from any want of talent in the writers, perhaps I 
ought to explain. I wish to express something 
a little different. Talent is sure of too many 

* The writer does not mean that the best taste of America is 
better than that of England ; perhaps it is not quite so good ; but, as 
a whole, the American reading world requires better books than the 
whole of the English reading world. 




;. ;* 




H i 

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'■ ■'- '4 ■' 





avenues to wealth and honours, in America, to 
seek, unnecessarily, an unknown and hazardous 
path. It is better paid in the ordinary pursuits 
of life, than it would be likely to be paid by an 
adventure in which an excraordinary and skilful, 
because practised, foreign competition is certain. 
Perhaps high talent does not often make the trial 
with the American bookseller ; but it is precisely 
for the reason I have named. 

The second obstacle against which American 
literature has to contend is in the poverty of mate- 
rials. There is scarcely an ore which contributes to 
the wealth of the author, that is found, here, in veins 
as rich as in Europe. There are no annals for the 
historian ; no follies (beyond the most vulgar and 
common place) for the satirist ; no manners for 
the dramatist ; no obscure fictions for the writer 
of romance ; no gross and hardy offences against 
decorum for the moralist ; nor any of the rich 
artificial auxiliaries of poetry. The weakest hand 
can extract a spark from the flint, but it would 
baffle the strength of a giant to attempt kindling 
a flame with a pudding stone. I very well know 
there are theorists who assume that the society 
and institutions of this country are, or ought to 
be, particularly favourable to novelties and va- 
riety. But the experience of one month, in these 
states, is sufficient to show any observant man 
the falsity of their position. The effect of a 
promiscuous assemblage any where, is to ere- 



ate a standard of deportment ; and great liberty 
permits every one to aim at its rttainment. I 
have never seen a natioli so Much alike in my 
life, as the people of the United States, and what 
is more, they are not only like each other, but 
they are remarkably like that which common 
sense tellb them they ought to resemble. No 
doubt, traits of character that are a little peculiar, 
witi.out, however, being either very poetical, or 
very rich, are to be found in remote districts ; but 
they are rare, and not always happy exceptions. 
In short, it is not possible to conceive a state of 
society in which more of the attributes of plain 
good sense, or fewer of the artificial absurdities 
of life, are to be found, than here. There is no 
costume for the peasant, (there is scarcely a 
peasant at all,) no wig for the judge, no baton for 
the general, no diadem for the chief magistrate. 
The darkest ages of their history are illuminated 
by the light of truth ; the utmost efforts of their 
chivalry are limited by the laws of God ; and 
even the deeds of their sages and heroes are to 
be sung in a language that would differ but little 
from a version of the ten commandments. How- 
ever useful and respectable all this may be in 
actual life, it indicates but one direction to the 
man of genius. 

It is very true there are a few young poets now 
living in this country, who have known how to 
extract sweets from even these wholesome, but 


■■!■ M 

'■ ■mill 



II • 



m ^ 

scentless native plants. They have, however, 
been compelled to seek their inspiration in the 
universal laws of nature, and they have suc- 
ceeded, precisely in proportion as they have been 
most general in their application. Among these 
gifted young men, there is one (Halleck) who is 
remarkable for an exquisite vein of ironical wit, 
rningled with a fine, poetical, and, frequently, a 
lofty expression. This gentleman commenced 
his career as a satirist in one of the journals of 
New York. Heaven knows, his materials were 
none of the richest ; and yet the melody of his 
verse, the quaintness and force of his compari- 
sons, and the exceeding humour of his strong 
points, brought him instantly into notice. He 
then attempted a general satire, by giving the 
history of the early days of a belle. He was 
again successful, though every body, at least 
every body of any talent, felt that he wrote in 
leading-strings. But he happened, shortly after 
the appearance of the little volume just named 
(Fanny), to visit England. Here his spirit was 
properly excited, and, probably on a rainy day, 
he was induced to try his hand at a jeu d'esprit, 
in the mother country. The result was one of 
the finest semi-heroic ironical descriptions to be 
found in the English language.* This simple 
fact, in itself, proves the truth of a great deal of 

* This little morceau of pleasant irony is called Alnwick 

A mi; HI (AX POKTS. 


what I have just been writing, since it shews 
the effect u superiority of material can produce 
on the efforts of a man of true genius. 

Notwithstanding the difficulties of the subject, 
talent has even done more than in the instance 
of Mr. Halleck. I could mention several other 
young poets of this country of rare merit. By 
mentioning Bryant, Percival, and Sprague, I 
shall direct your attention to the names of those 
whose works would be most likely to give you 
pleasure. Unfortunately they are not yet known 
in Italian, but I think even you would not turn 
in distaste from the task of translation which the 
best of their effusions will invite. • * * 

The next, though certainly an inferior branch 
of imaginative writing, is fictitious composition. 
From the facts just named, you cannot expect 
that the novelists, or romance writers of the 
United States, should be very successful. The 
same reason will be likely, for a long time to 
come, to repress the ardour of dramatic genius. 
Still, tales and plays are no novelties in the litera- 
ture of this country. Of the former, there are 
many as old as soon after the revolution ; and a 
vast number have been published within the last 
five years. One of their authors of romance, 
who curbed his talents by as few allusions as pos- 
sible to actual society, is distinguished for power 
and comprehensiveness of thought. 1 remember 
to have read one of his books (Wieland) when a 

VOL. n. L 

i i: 




111' : 

boy, and I take it to be a never-failing evidence 
of genius, that, amid a thousand similar pictures 
whioh have succeeded, the images it has left still 
stand distinct and prominent in my recollection. 
This author (Mr. Brockden Brown) enjoys a 
high reputation among his countrymen, whose 
opinions are sufficiently impartial, since he flat- 
tered no particular prejudice of the nation in any 
of his works. 

The reputation of Irving is well known to you. 
He is an author distinguished for a quality (hu- 
mour) that has been denied his countrymen ; 
and his meiit is the more rare, that it has been 
shewn in a >tate of society so cold and so re- 
strained. Besides these writers, there are many 
others of a similar character, who enjoy a greater 
or less degree of favour in their own country. The 
works of two or three have even been trans- 
lated (into French) in Europe, and a great many 
are reprinted in England. Though every writer 
of fiction in America has to contend against the 
difficulties I have named, there is a certain inte- 
rest in the novelty of the subject, which is not 
without its charm. I think, however, it will be 
found that they have all been successful, or the 
reverse, just as they have drawn warily, or freely, 
on the distinctive habits of their own country. I 
now speak of their success purely as writers of 
romance. It certainly would be possible for an 
American to give a description of the manners of 


his own country, in a book that he might choose 
to call a romance, which should be read, because 
the world is curious on the subject, but which 
would certainly never be read for that nearly in- 
definable poetical interest which attaches itself 
to a description of manners less bald and uniform. 
All the attempts to blend history with romance 
in America, have been comparative failures, (and 
perhaps fortunately,) since the subjects are too 
familiar to be treated with the freedom that the 
imagination absolutely requires. Some of the 
descriptions of the progress of society on the 
borders, have had a rather better success, since 
there is a positive, though no very poetical, 
novelty in the subject ; but, on the whole, the 
books which have been best received, are those 
in which the authors have trusted most to their 
own conceptions of character, and to qualities 
that are common to the rest of the world and to 
human nature. This fact, if its truth be admitted, 
will serve to prove that the American writer must 
seek his renown in the exhibition of qualities 
that are general, while he is confessedly compelled 
to limit his observations to a state of society that 
has a wonderful tendency not only to repress pas- 
sion, but to equalize humours. 

The Americans have always been prolific 
writers on polemics and politics. Their sermons 
and fourth of July orations are numberless. Their 
historians, without being very classical or very 

1 2 

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profound, are remarkable for truth and good 
sense. There is not, perhaps, in the language a 
closer reasoner in metaphysics than Edwards ; and 
their theological writers find great favour among 
the sectarians of their respective schools. 

The stage of the United States is decidedly 
English. Both plays and players, with few ex- 
ceptions, are imported. Theatres are numerous, 
and they are to be found in places where a tra- 
veller would little expect to meet them. Of 
course they arc of all sizes and of every degree of 
decoration and architectural beauty known in 
Europe, below the very highest. The facade of 
the principal theatre in Philadelphia is a chaste 
specimen in marble, of the Ionic, if my memory 
is correct. In New York, there are two theatres 
about as large as the Theatre Fran^ais (in the 
interior), and not much inferior in embellish- 
ments. Besides these, there is a very pretty little 
theatre, where lighter pieces are performed, and 
another with a vast stage for melo-dramas. There 
are also one or two other places of dramatic repre- 
sentation in this city, in which horses and men 
contend for the bays. 

The Americans pay well for dramatic talent. 
Cooke, the greatest English tragedian of our age, 
died on this side of the Atlantic ; and there are 
few players of eminence in the mother country 
who are not tempted, at some time or other, to 
cross the ocean. Shakspeare, is of course, the 



great author of America, as he is of England, unci 
I think he is quite as well relished here as there. 
In point of taste, if all the rest of the world be 
any thing against England, that of America is the 
best, since it unqi cstionably approaclcs nearest 
to that of the continent of Europe. Nearly one 
half of the theatrical taste of the English is con- 
demned by their own judgments, since the stage 
is not much supported by those who have had an 
opportunity of seeing any other. You will be 
apt to ask me how it happens, then, that the 
American taste is better ? Because the people, 
being less exaggerated in their habits, are less 
disposed to tolerate caricatures, and because the 
theatres are not yet su^ciently numerous (though 
that hour is near) to admit of a representation 
that shall not be subject to the control of a certain 
degree of intelligence. I have heard an English 
player complain that he never saw such a dull 
audience as the one before which he had just 
been exhibiting ; and I heard the same audience 
complain that they never listened to such dull 
jokes. Now, there was talent enough in both 
parties ; but the one had formed his taste in a 
coarse school, and the others had formed theirs 
under the dominion of common sense. Indepen- 
dently of this peculiarity, there is a vast deal of 
acquired, travelled taste in this country. English 
tragedy, and high English comedy, both of 
which, you know, are excellent, never fail here, if 
well played j that is, they never fail under the 








usual limits of all amusement. One will cloy of 
sweets. But the fact of the taste and judgment 
of these people, in theatrical exhibitions, is proved 
by the number of their good theatres, compared to 
their population. ^, ■ ..... 5 fi 

Of dramatic writers there are none, or next to 
none. The remarks I have made in respect to 
novels apply with double force to this "jpecies of 
composition. A witty and successful American 
comedy could only proceed from extraordinary 
talent. There would be less difficulty, certainly, 
with a tragedy ; but still, there is rather too much 
foreign competition, and too much domestic em- 
ployment in other pursuits, to invite genius to so 
doubtful an enterprise. The very baldness of 
ordinary American life is in deadly hostility to 
scenic representation. The character must be 
supported solely by its intrinsic power. The 
judge, the footman, the clown, the lawyer, the 
belle, or the beau, can receive no great assistance 
from dress. Melo-dramas, except the scene 
should be laid in the woods, are out of the ques- 
tion. It would be necessary to seek the great 
clock, which is to strike the portentous twelve 
blows, in the nearest church ; a vaulted passage 
would degenerate into a cellar; and, as for ghosts, 
the country was discovered, since their visitations 
have ceased. The smallest departure from the in- 
cidents of ordinary life would do violence to every 
man's experience ; and, as already mentioned, the 
passions which belong to human nature must be 




delineated, in America, subject to the influence of 
that despot — common sense. 

Notwithstanding the overwhelming influence of 
British publications, and all the difficulties I have 
named, original books are getting to be numerous 
in the United States. The impulses of talent and 
intelligence are bearing down a thousand obsta- 
cles. I think the new works will increase rapidly, 
and that they are destined to produce a power- 
ful influence on the world. We will pursue this 
subject another time. — Adieu. 


Sfc. Sj'c. 



— You will be satisfied with these reasons for the 
abrupt conclusion of my last. I shall now tax your 
patience for a short continuation of the subject. 

Although there are so many reasons why an 
imaginative literature should not be speedily 
created in this country, there is none, but that 
general activity of employment which is not 
favourable to study, why science and all the use- 
ful arts should not be cultivated here, perhaps, 
more than any where else. Great attention is 
already paid to the, latter. Though there is 
scarce such a thing as a capital picture in this whole 




f 1, if ' 


.-1' 1 .f 

' 1! J . 



'.^ I 


7 Mil' -1 



country, I have seen more beautiful, graceful, and 
convenient ploughs in positive use here, than are 
probably to be found in the whole of Europe united. 
In this single fact may be traced the history of the 
character of the people, and the germ of their fu- 
ture greatness. Their axe is admirable for form, 
for neatness, and precision of weight, and it 
is wielded with a skill that is next to incredible. 
Reapers are nearly unknown ; but I have seen 
single individuals enter a field of grain in the 
morning, and clear acres of its golden burthen, by 
means of the cradle* with a rapidity that has 
amazed me. The vast multitude of their inven- 
tions, as they arc exhibited in the patent office in 
this city, ought to furnish food for grave reflection 
to every stranger. Several large rooms are filled 
with the models, manj of which give evidence 
of the most acute ingenuity. When one recol- 
lects the average proportion of adults to which the 
population must have been confined during the last 
thirty-five years,! the number of their inventions 
is marvellous. A great many of these models con- 
tain no new principle, nor any new application 
of an old principle ; but, as in such cases, money 
has been paid by those who deposit them there 
without an object, it is fair to presume that they 
were inventions so far as the claimants were con- 
cerned. There are so few means by which men, in 

* The writer does not know whether this implement is an Ameri- 
can invention or not. 
t The whole period that the Patent Office has been in existence. 

1:^ ; p^ 



remote districts of this country, can profit by the 
ideas of other people in these matters, that it is 
probable there is not a dozen machines lodged in 
the office, of which the parties concerned did not 
honestly believe themselves the inventors. You 
may estimate the activity of thought, which dis- 
tinguishes the mass of this nation from all other 
people, by this fact. It is in itself a prodigious 
triumph to a young people to have given form 
and useful existence to the greatest improvement 
of our age ; but the steam-boats are not the only 
gift of this nature, by many, that Europe has al- 
ready received from the western hemisphere. 

The general accumulation of science in this 
country is exceedingly great, though it is quite 
likely that few men have yet attained to a very 
eminent degree of knowledge in any one parti- 
cular branch. Still it is probable, that the amount 
of science in the United States, at this day, com- 
pared to what it was even fifteen years ago, and 
without reference to the increase of the popula- 
tion, is as five to one, or even in a still much 
greater proportion. Like all other learning, it is 
greatly on the advance. 

In architecture the Americans have certainly 
no great reason to exult. They appear to have 
inherited the peculiarity of their ancestors, in all 
matters of mere taste. Their houses are mostly 
built of wood in the country and in the villages, 
and of bricks in the towns. There are, however, 
exceptions, in all cases, which reverse the rule. 


-r 1 

i i 





V i 

r f -■ i*: 


There are many farm-houses, seats, ch urches, court- 
houses, ^c. in the country and smaller towns, 
which are oi stone. Marble and granite are getting 
a good deal into use, too, in the more northern 
cities. The principal motive which controls their 
taste is economy. It is commonly cheapest to 
build of wood in the country, but vrhere stone is 
at hand, and of a good quality, it begins to be 
preferred, in what may be called the second and 
third stages of the settlements . As the m aterial s are 
cheap, the buildings are in common much larger 
than would be occupied by men of the same wealth 
in Europe. A house of forty or of forty-five feet 
front, and of thirty or thirty-five feet in depth, of 
two stories, with cellars, and garret, and with offices 
attached, is a usual dwelling for the owner of one 
or of two hundred acres of land, in a part of the 
country that has been under cultivation thirty or 
forty years. Such a man may be worth from five 
to ten thousand dollars. He has his growing 
orchard ; fifty sheep ; some eight or ten cows ; 
a stock of young cattle ; three or four horses ; one 
or two yoke of oxen ; hogs, poultry, and all the 
other provisions of a small farm. He grows his 
own maize ; fattens his own pork ; makes his own 
cider; kills his own beef; raises his own wheat, 
rye, and flax; and, in short, lives as much as 
possible on the articles of his own production. 
There are thousands and tens of thousands of these 
sturdy, independent yeomen in the eastern, middle 
and north-western states. 



The villas and country-seats are commonly 
pretty, without ever attaining much elegance or 
size. A better sort of American country-house 
will cover perhaps sixty or seventy feet of ground 
in length, and from fifty to sixty in depth. There 
are some of twice this size , but I should say the 
first was a fair average. There are a great many a 
size smaller. The expense of building is, of 
course, in proportion to the general cost of every 
article in the particular place where the house is 
erected. I am told the best buildings in New 
York cost from thirty to forty thousand dollars. A 
few are even much more expensive. But the 
town houses, occupied by a majority of their gen- 
tlemen (those who own their own dwellings), cost 
probably something under twenty thousand.* 
These are the habitations of the rich, exclusively. 
They are every where exceedingly neat, prettily 
furnished, frequently with great elegance, and 
are always comfortable. >" r ■•> . * -^^ 

As some general idea of the state of the useful 
arts must have been obtained, in the course of my 
previous letters to th^ fraternity, I shall now pass 

* The writer afterwards saw a row of buildings in New York of 
the following cost and dimensions ; twenty-five feet front, (in mar- 
ble) fifty-five feet deep, and of three stories, besides the basement. 
The lots were two-hundred feet in depth. The buildings were 
about as well finished as a third-rate London town house. The 
cost of the whole was ten thousand dollars, and the rent six hundred 
dollars a-year. These houses were in the dearest city of America, 
but not in the dearest part of the town. . .' 










! ■! 

to those which are intended exclusively to embel- 
lish life. * V : ' ' : 

The United States, considered with reference 
to their means and opportunities, have been ex- 
ceedingly prolific in painters. It is rather re- 
markable, that, in a country where active and less 
hazardous employments are so open to talent, 
men should take an inclination to a pursuit 
that is rarely profitable, and in which mediocrity 
is as annoying as success is triumphant. I cannot 
say that the majority of these gentlemen acknow- 
ledge that the fine arts are greatly encouraged in 
America, nor has it yet been my happy lot to 
enter a country in which artists and autliors were 
very generally of opinion that the pen and the 
pencil received the rewards and honours which 
no one will deny they merit. A very great ma- 
jority of the American artists are portrait painters. 
Some of them are highly esteemed by their own 
countrymen, and certainly there are a few of a 
good deal of merit. They are generally more 
distinguished for spirit and character than for 
finish or grace ; but it is quite evident that, as a 
class, they are rapidly improving. Drawing is 
the point in which they chiefly fail ; and this, too, 
is probably an inherited defect, since most of them 
are disciples of the Englisn school. ' 

There are some highly respectable professional 
landscape painters. One of them (a Mr. Cole) 
possesses the rare faculty of giving to his pictures 
the impression of nature, to a degree so extraor- 



dinary, that he promises to become eminent. You 
know my eye is only for nature. I have heard 
both high eulogiums and sneering critiques on 
the powers of this young man, as an artist, some 
declaring that he has reached a point far beyond 
that attained by any of his competitors, and others 
denying that he knows how to make a sky look 
blue, secundum artem. To me his scenery is like 
the scenery from which he drew ; and as he has 
taste and skill enough to reject what is disagree- 
able, and to arrange the attractive parts of his 
pictures, I oniy hope he will continue to study the 
great master from whom he has drawn his first in- 
spirations. America has produced several histori- 
cal rainters. West, though a native of this country, 
and, perhaps with a pardonable vanity, claimed 
as such bv these people, was, to all intents and 
purposes, an English artist. There are one 
or two of his pupils who practise their skill here, 
and a few others have aspired to the highest 
branch of their art. One of them (Mr. Alston) 
is said to be employed on a great and elaborate 
picture (the hand- writing on the wall); and as his 
taste and merit are universally admitted, a good 
deal is expected from his pencil. It may serve to 
give you a better idea of the taste for pictures in 
this country, or rather of the desire which exists 
to encourage talent, if I mention the price he is 
to receive for this work. A company of gentle- 
men are said to have bought the picture, in ad- 
vance, by agreeing to pay ten thousand dollars. 




■ •I 

I believe it is their intention to remunerate them- 
selves by exhibiting it, and then to deposit the 
work in some public place. Cabinet pieces, by 
this artist, are readily sold for prices of between 
three hundred and a thousand dollars, and the 
pencil of Cole is employed as much as he pleases. 
There are many other artists that paint portraits 
and landscapes, who seld« n want orders. The 
government of the I ♦^ •= States has paid Trum- 
bull thirty-two thousa^ I uo/ars for the four his- 
torical paintings that are destiiie 1 to fill as many 
compartments in the rotunda, or the great hall of 
the capitol. 

It is plain that the system of elementary edu- 
cation pursued by this country, must bring an 
extraordinary quantity of talent, within the influ- 
ence of those causes which lead to renown. If 
we suppose one hundred men in America to 
possess the same amount of native talent as one 
hundred men in any other part of the world, more 
of it will, of necessity, be excited to action, since 
more individuals are placed in situations to feel 
and to improve their infant powers. Although a 
certain degree of excellence in the higher 
branches of learning and of art, may yet be neces- 
sary to create a standard, and even for the estab- 
lishments of higher schools or real universities, 
still the tiuth of this position is proved by the 
fact, that there already exists, among this people, 
a far more advanced state of improvement in all 
th?it relates to the familiar interests of life than 



among any other. It is true that a division of 
labour, and vast competition may create a degree 
of minute perfection in many articles of Euro- 
pean manufacture that is not known in the same 
articles manufactured here ; but I think it will be 
conimonly found in all such cases, that these wary 
people have counted the profit and the cost with 
sufficient accuracy. As circumstances vary, they 
instantly improve, and once induced to persevere 
they soon fearlessly challenge competition. 

The purely intellectual day of America is yet 
in its dawn. But its sun will not arise from dark 
ness, like those of nations with whose experier ^ 
we are familiar; nor is the approach of lis 
meridian to be calculated by the known progress 
of any other people. The learned profest. ^j s 
are now full to overflowing, not so much with 
learning as with incumbents, certainly, but so 
much so, as to begin to give a new direction to 
education and talents. Writers are already get- 
ting to be numerous, for literature is beginning 
to be profitable. Those authors who are suc- 
cessful receive prices for their labours, which ex- 
ceed those paid to the authors of any country, 
England alone excepted ; and which exceed 
even the prices paid to the most distinguished 
authors of the mother country, if the difference 
in the relative value of money in the two coun- 
tries, and in the luxury of the press, be computed. 
The same work which is sold in England for six 
dollars, is sold in the United States for two. The 

!h1 " 



.': t.. 


i-i '■ 

profit to the publisher is obtained out of a com- 
mon rate of per centage. Now, as thirty-three 
and a third per cent, on six thousand dollars, is 
two thousand,* and on two thousand dollars, only 
six hundred and sixty-six, it is quite evident, that 
if both parties sell one thousand copies of a work, 
the English publisher pockets three times the 
most profit. And yet, with one or two excep- 
tions, and notwithstanding the great difference in 
the population of the two countries, the English 
bookseller rarely sells more, if he does as many, 
copies of a book, than the American. It is the ex- 
traordinary demand which enables the American 
publisher to pay so well, and which, provided there 
was no English competition, would enable him to 
pay still better, or rather still more generally, 
than he does at present. 

The literature of the United States is a subject 
of the highest interest to the civilized world ; for 
when it does begin to be felt, it will be felt with a 
force, a directness, and a common sense in its 
application, that has never yet been known. If 
there were no other points of difference between 
this country and other nations, those of its politi- 
cal and religious freedom, alone, would give a co- 
lour of the highest importance to the writings of a 
people so thoroughly imbued with their distinctive 
principles, and so keenly alive to their advantages. 

* This calculation supposes one-third of the price to go to the 
trade in discount, one-third to the expenses, and the other third to 
constitute the joint profit of the author and publisher. 


rilK I- .\(ir,ISII I AN(.l A(iK. 


The example of America has been silently operat- 
ing on Europe for half a century, but its doctrines 
and its experience, exhibited with the understand- 
ing of those familiar with both, have never yet 
been pressed on our attention. I think the time 
for the experiment is getting near. 

A curious inquiry might be raised as to the 
probable fate of the English language among so 
many people having equal claims to its posses- 
sion. I put this question to my friend, who has 
kindly permitted me to give you the substance of 
his reply. You will at once understand that this 
is a subject which requires a greater knowledge 
of the matter in dispute, than what I, as a 
foreigner, can claim. — 

** In order to decide which nation speaks the 
English language best, it becomes necessary to 
refer to some standard. If it be assumed that 
the higher classes in London are always to set the 
fashion in pronunciation, and the best living 
writers in England are to fix the meaning of 
words, the point is clearly decided in their favour, 
since one cannot see on what principle they are 
to be put in the wrong. That the better com- 
pany of London must set the fashion for the pro- 
nunciation of words in England, and indeed for 
the whole English empire, is quite plain ; for, 
as this very company, comprises all those whose 
manners, birth, fortune, and political distinction, 
make them the objects of admiration, it becomes 

J^^^^B ^^^^H 






il^^^K -it'' 







::•: s 


necessary to imitate their affectations, whether of 
speech or air^ in order to create the impression 
tliat one belongs to tlieir society. It is absurd to 
tliink that either parliament, or the stage, or the 
universities, or the church, can produce any vi;ry 
serious effect on the slighter forms of utterance 
adopted by this powerful caste. The player may 
hint at the laws of prosody for ever, unless his 
rule happens to suit the public ear, it becomes no 
more than the pronunciation of the stage. The 
fellow, when he gets beyond his cloisters, is glad 
to conceal the habits of retirement in the lan- 
guage of the world ; and as for the member of 
parliament, if he happen to be of the caste, he 
speaks like the rest of them ; and if not, he is 
no better than a vulgar fellow who is very glad to 
conceal his provincialisms by having as little 
said about them as possible. In short, the bishop 
might just as well expect to induce the exquisite 
to wear a copy of his wig, or the representative of 
Othello, to set the fashion of smooty faces, as 
either of them to think of giving the tone to pro- 
nunciation, or even to the meaning of words. A 
secret and lasting influence is no doubt produced 
by education ; but fashion is far more imperious 
than even the laws of the schools. It is, I think, 
a capital mistake, to believe that either of the 
professions named, produce any great impres- 
sion on the spoken language of England. They 
receive more from fashion than they give to it ; 

iNMUKNfi; OK nil: auisiochacy. 


and they each have their particular phrases, but 
they rarely go no farther than their own limits. 
This is more or less the case in all other Kuropean 
nations. The rule is more absolute, however, in 
England than in France, for instance, because the 
former has no academy, and because men of let- 
ters have far less circulation, and, of course, far 
less influence in society there, than in the neigh- 
bouring kingdom. The tendency of every thing 
in England is to aristocracy. I can conceive that 
the King of England might very well set a fashion 
in the pronunciation of a word, because being the 
greatest aristocrat of the nation, the smaller ones 
might be ambitious of showing that they kept 
enough of his company to catch his imperfections 
of speech ; but, as for the King of France, he 
sits too much on a pinnacle for men to presume to 
imitate his blunders. A powerful, wealthy, 
hereditary, but subsidizing aristocracy, rules all 
things in England ; but, while wit gives up to 
the king and la charte, the control of politics in 
France, it asserts its own prerogative over every 
other interest of the empire, religion, perhaps, a 
little excepted. 

" There exists a very different state of things in 
America. If we Ijad a great capital, like London, 
where men of leisure, and fortune, and education 
periodically assembled to amuse themselves, I 
think we should establish a fashionable aristocracy, 
too, which should give the mode to the forms of 

M 2 

■ •i _ 

■V ■ V 



5 ;f . " 


speech as well as to that of dress and deportment. 
Perhaps the influence of talent and wit wo^ Id be 
as much felt in such a town as in Paris ; for it is 
the great peculiarity of our institutions to give more 
influence to talents than to any one other thing. 
But we have no such capital, nor are we likely, 
for a long time to come, to have one of sufficient 
magnitude to produce any great effect on the 
language. In those states where many men of 
leisure and education are to be found, there are 
large towns, in which they pass their winters, and 
where, of course, they observe all those forms 
which are more or less peculiar to themselves. The 
habits of polite life, and even the pronunciation of 
Boston, of New York, of Baltimore, and of Phi- 
ladelphia, vary in many things, and a practised 
ear may tell a native of either of these places, from 
a native of any one of the others, by some little 
peculiarity of speech. 1 here is yet no predo- 
minating influence to induce the fashionables of 
these towns to wish to imitate the fashionables of 
any other. If any place is to possess this in- 
fluence, it will certainly be New York ; but I 
think, on an examination of the subject, that it 
can be made to appear that an entirely different 
standard for the language must be established in 
the United States, from that which governs so ab- 
solutely in England. 

*' If the people of this country were like the 
people of any other country on earth, we should 



be speaking at this moment a great variety of 
nearly unintelligible patois ; but, in point of fact, 
the people of the United States, with the exception 
of a few of German and French descent, speak, as 
a body, an incomparably better English than the 
people of the mother country. There is not, pro- 
bably, a man (of English descent) born in this 
country, who would not be perfectly intelligible to 
all whom he should meet in the streets of London, 
though a vast number of those he met in the 
streets of London would be nearly unintelligible 
to him. In fine, we speak our language, as a 
nation, better than any other people speak their 
language.* When one reflects on "\e immense 
surface of country that we occupy, the general 
accuracy, in pronunciation and in the use of 
words, is quite astonishing. This resemblance 
in speech can only be ascribed to the great dif- 
fusion of intelligence, and to the inexhaustible 
activity of the population, which, in a manner, 
destroys space. 

" It is another peculiarity of our institutions, 
that the language of the country, instead of be- 
coming more divided into provincial dialects, is 
becoming, not only more assimilated to itself as a 
whole, but more assimilated to a standard which 
sound general principles, and the best authorities 
among our old writers, would justify. The dis- 

* Of course the writer calls Italy one nation, and all Germany 
one nation, so far as language is concerned. 



.: --:*!- 



U M 




■^ t li ', 


I. r 

> il 



I ' 

tinctions in speech between New England and 
New York, or Pennsylvania, or any other state, 
were far greater twenty years ago than they are 
now. Emigration alone would produce a large 
portion of this change ; but emigration would often 
introduce provincialisms without correcting them, 
did it not also, by bringing acute men together, 
sharpen wits, provoke comparisons, challenge in- 
vestigatioi s, and, finally, fix a standard. 

** It has been a matter of hot dispute, for the last 
tweni:y years, in which of our large towns the best 
English is spoken. The result of this discussion 
has been to convince most people who know any 
thing of the matter, that a perfectly pure English 
is spoken no where, and to establish the su- 
periority, on one point, in favour of Boston, on 
another in favour of New York, and so on to the 
end of the chapter. The effect of all this contro- 
versy is, to make men t^^ink ceriously on the sub- 
ject, and thinking seriously is the first step in 
amendment. We do amend, and each year in- 
troduces a better and purer English into our 
country. We are obliged, as you may suppose, 
to have recourse to some standard to settle these 
contentions. What shall this standard be ? It 
is not society, for that itself is divided on the dis- 
puted points ; it cannot be the church, for there is 
none that will be acknowledged by all parties ; it 
cannot be the stage, for that is composed of fo- 
reigners, and possesses little influence on morals.. 

I ! 




politics, or any thing else ; nor the universities, 
for they are provincial, and parties to the dispute ; 
nor congress, for that does not represent the 
fashion and education of the nation ; nor the 
court, for there is none but the president, and he is 
often a hot partizan ; nor the fashions of speech in 
England, forwe often find as much fault vv^ith them 
as we do with our own. Thus, you see, we are 
reduced to the necessity of consulting reason, 
and authority, and analogy, and all the known 
laws of language, in order to arrive at our object. 
This we are daily doing, and I think the conse- 
quence will be, that, in another generation or 
two, far more reasonable English will be used in 
this country than exists here now. How far this 
melioration or purification of our language will 
affect the mother country, is another question. 

" It is, perhaps, twenty years too soon to expect 
that England will very complacently submit to 
receive opinions or fashions very directly from 
America." [What she will do twenty years 
later, is a question that little concerns us, dear 
Abbate, since I have not, and you ought not to 
have, any very direct interests in the fortunes of 
posterity.] " But the time has already arrived, 
when America is beginning to receive with great 
distrust fashions and opinions from England. 
Until within the last fifteen years, the influence of 
the mother country, in all things connected with 
mere usages, was predominant to an incredible 






'U (I 

■ it 
■ " * ■is" '*' 



extent; but ev jry day is making a greater 

' On a thousand subjects we have been rudely 
provoked into comparisons, an experiment that 
the most faultless generally find to be attended 
with hazard. We are a bold though a quiet 
people, and names and fashions go for but little 
when set in opposition to the unaccommodating 
and downright good sense of this nation. It may be 
enough for an Englishman that an innovation on 
language is supported by the pretty lips of such 
or such a belle of quality and high degree ; but 
the American sees too many pretty lips at home 
to be very submissive to any foreign dictation of 
this sort. I think it plain, therefore, that the 
language must be reduced to known general rules, 
and rules, too, that shall be respected as such 
rules should be, or else we shall have a dialect 
distinct from that of the mother country. I have 
not, however, the slightest apprehensJoiis of any 
thing of the kind arriving, since ai^y cr; who un 
derstands the use of figures can estimate the pro- 
bable influence of the two nations half a century 
hence. I think it will be just as much the desire 
of England then to be in our fashion, as it was 
our desire twenty years ago to be in hers, and for 
precisely the same reason. The influence of 
fifiV millions of people, living under one go- 
vernment, h'AoLed by enormous wealth, extended 
ioteliigen- . , a powerful lit'^iature, and unrivalled 

■ .JJ,.l 




freedom, cannot be very problematicalj in the 
eyes of any man who is capable of regarding the 
subject free from prejudice or passion. 1 very 
well know there is a fashion of predicting the 
separation of our states, and a consequent disor- 
ganization of society, which would certainly 
weaken that influence. These predictions were 
made fifty years ago with rather more confidence 
thar they cire made now, and those who know 
most in tht matter, treat them with very little 
deference. But, admittin"^ that thev should be 
realized, in what particular will the result ma- 
terially affect the question before us ? A division 
of this republic into two or three republics is the 
utmost that can be expected. There would still 
exist those intimate relations between the parts 
of our present empire which find their support in 
a conformity of principles, and our intercourse 
and literature would necessarily be essentially the 
same. I cannot see that the impression on the 
language vv'ould in any degree be weakened, 
except that, by dividing our power, we might re- 
tard a little the period when the weight of thai 
power should obtain its natural and necessary 
preponderance. You may be assured, that, in 
thinking on this subject, I have not forgotten 
that history supplies sufficient evidence that small 
communities may exercise a vast influence over 
larger; but I do not know where to find a prece- 
dent for a large community, possessing equal 

- ■.■■ i^-C* ^■'*.\ :.'■ 

¥^^f ■•:.:, 

■ -m 


-,- '^'J '■' 



f' i 




■I. I 


I i 


I" Hnk • 

uctivity and intelligence, submitting to be con- 
trolled, either morally or politically, by one phy- 
sically much weaker. Our own history already 
furnishes a striking example of the very reverse ; 
and as we are bent on perpetuating all the means 
of our present independence, it is fair to presume 
that we shall gain a moral ascendancy in the 
world, in proportion as we gain physical force. 
If a pretty duchess can now set a fashion in 
speech, what will not a combination of two 
hundred millions of persons do, (the number is 
not at all exaggerated if we cany the time forward 
a century and a half,) more especially if all of 
them shall happen to possess a reasonable know- 
ledge of the use of letters. 

** You may have a curiosity to know something 
of the present £ ate of the language i,. America. 
1 have already said tliat there is no patois 
throughout the whole of this country. There is 
broken English among the Germans, French, and 
other foreigners, but nothing that is very widely 
distinct from the language of London. Still there 
are words of perfectly provinc^ial use, most of 
which were brought from certain parts of the 
mother country, an'* ;vhich have been preserved 
here, and a few which have been introduced 
from wantonness or necessity. There is much 
more difference in intonation and in the pronun- 
ciation of paiiicular words than in the use of 
terms unknrv/n to England. The best English is 

i .,,.(, 


spoken by the natives of the middle states, who 
are purely the descendants of English parents, 
without being the descendants of emigrants from 
New England. The educated men of all the 
southern Atlantic states, especially the members 
of those families which have long been accus- 
tomed to the better society of their towns, also 
speak an English but Httle to be distinguished 
from that of the best circles of the mother country. 
Still there are shades of difference between these 
very persons that a nice and practised ear can 
detect, and which, as they denote the parts of the 
Union to which they belong, must be called 
provincialisms. These little irregularities of lan- 
guage solely arise from the want of a capital. 

" Throughout all New England, and among most 
of the descendants of the people of New Eng- 
land, the English language is spoken with more 
or less of an intonation derived, I believe, from the 
western counties of England, and with a pronun- 
ciation that is often peculiar to themselves. They 
form so large a proportion of the entire population 
of the country, that some of their provincialisms 
are getting to form a part of our ordinary language. 
The peculiarity of the New England dialect (the 
term is almost too strong) is most discernible in 
the manner in which they dwell on the last word 
of a sentence, or the last syllable of a word. It 
is not properly drawling, for they speak very 
quick in common, much quicker than the English ; 


i4•^ , H 







SO quick, indeed, as to render syllables frequently 
indistinct : but, in consequence of the peculiar 
pause they make on the last word, I question 
if they utier a sentence in less time than those 
who dwell more equally on its separate parts.* 
Among men of the world and of education this 
peculiarity is, of course, often lost ; but education 
is so common, and the state of society so simple 
in New England, as to produce less apparent dis- 
tinction in speech and manners than it is usual to 
find elsewhere. 

" Another marked peculiarity of New England 
is in the pronunciation of a great many words. The 
fact that a vast improvement -has occurred in this 
respect within the last thirty years, however, goes 
to prove the truth of what I have just told you, 
no less than of the increasing intelligence of the 

** When I was a boy, I was sent from a 
middle state, for my education, to Connecticut. 
I took with me, of course, the language of my 
father's house. In the first year I was laughed 
out of a great many correct sounds, and into a 
great many vulgar and disagreeable substitutes. 
At my return home to pass a vacation, I almost 

* The phrase of " I wonder if he did," is very common in New 
England. It is usually uttered " I wonder if he de-e-e-e-ed," with 
a falling of the voice at the last word, to nearly an octave below 
the rest of the sentence. Sometimes there is more than one rest- 
ing point in a sentence of any length. 



.4. « 

threw a sister into fits by calling one of her female 
friends a ' virtoous an-ge\/ pronouncing the first 
syllable of the last word like the article. It was 
in vain that I supported my new reading by the 
authorities of the u?iiver.siti/. The whole six weeks 
were passed in hot discussions between my sister 
and myself, amidst the laughter and merriment of 
a facetious father, who had the habit of trotting 
me through my Connecticut prosody by inducing 
me to recite Pope's Temple of Fame, to the infinite 
delight of two or three waggish elder brothers, 
who had got their English longs and shorts in a 
more southern school. It was at a time of life when 
shaving was a delight instead of a torment. I re- 
member they were always sure of drawing me out 
by introducing the subject of my beard, which I 
pedantically called be7^d; or, for which, if pushed 
a little harder than common, I gave them a choice 
between herd and hah'd. Even to this hour, 
it is rare to find a native of New England who 
does not possess some of these marked provin- 
cialisms of speech. By a singular corruption, the 
word sto?}e is often pronounced stiitiy while tione is 
pronounced mane, or nearly like knoivn. The 
latter is almost a shibboleth, as is nothing, pro- 
nounced according to the natural power of the 
letters, instead of nuth'mg. I think, however, a 
great deal of the peculiarity of New England pro- 
nunciation is to be ascribed to the intelligeiice of 
its inhabitants. This may appear a paradox ; but 





ii '-^ f 


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1 ■'; 







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it can easily be explained. They all read and write ; 
but the New Englandman, at home, is a man of 
exceedingly domestic habits. He has a theoretical 
knowledge of the language, without its practice. 
Those who migrate lose many of their pecu- 
liarities in the mixed multitudes they encounter ; 
but ifito New England the current of emigration, 
with the exception of that which originally came 
from the mother country, has never set. It is 
vain to tell a man who has his book before him, 
that cham spells chame, as in cliamber ; or an^ a fie, 
as in angd ; or daily da/iey as in danger. He re- 
plies by asking what sound is produced by an, 
daUy and cham. I believe it would be found, on 
pursuing the inquiry, that a great number of their 
peculiar sounds are introduced through their spel- 
ling-books, and yet there are some, certainly, that 
cannot be thus explained. It is not too much to say 
that nine people in ten, in N«w England, pronounce 
doesy doozey when the mere power of the letters 
would make it nearer doze. There is one more 
singular corruption, which I shall mention before 
I go farther south, and which often comes from 
the mouths of men, even in Boston, who, in other 
respects, would not be much criticised for their 
language : the verb to show was formerly, and is 
even now, spelt sheiv, and shewed in its participle ; 
I have heard men of education and manners, in Bos- 
ton, say, " he shew me that," for, he showed me that. 
" With these exceptions, which are suflSciently 



numerous, and the hard sound they almost always 
give the letter u, the peo})le of New England speak 
the language more like the people of Old Eng- 
land than any other parts of our country. They 
speak with a closer mouth, both physically and 
morally, than those who live further south and 
west. There is also a little of a nasal sound 
among some of them, but it is far from being as 
general as the other peculiarities I have named. 

** The middle states certainly speak a softer 
English than their brethren of the east. I should 
say that when you get as far south as Maryland, 
the softest, and perhaps as pure an English is 
spoken as is any where heard. No rule on such a 
subject, however, is without many exceptions in 
the United States. The emigration alone would, 
as yet, prevent perfect uniformity. The voices of 
the American females are particularly soft and 
silvery ; and I think the language, a harsh one at 
the best, is made softer by our women, especially 
of the middle and southern states, than you often 
hear it in Europe. 

** New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, have 
each their peculiar phrases. Some of the women 
have a habit of dwelling a little too long on the 
final syllables, but I think it is rare among the 
higher classes of society. I don't know that it 
exists at all as far south as Baltimore. As you 
go further south, it is true, you get a slower utter- 
ance, and other slight varieties if provincialism. 
In Georgia you find a positive drawl, among what 

I"* . 







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WIBSTM.N.Y. 14580 

( 71* ) •72-4503 












are called the " crackers," More or less of this 
drawl, and of all the peculiar sounds, are found 
in the south-western and western states; but they 
are all too new to have any fixed habits of speech 
of their own. 

" The usual vulgar phrases which are put into 
the mouths of Americans, are commonly carica- 
tured, though always founded in truth. ' I guess,' 
is a phrase of New England. It is used a great 
deal, though not as often, as * you know,' by a 
cockney. It proceeds, I think, from the cautious 
and subdued habit of speaking which is charac- 
teristic of these people. The gentlemen rarely 
use it, though I confess I have heard it, interlard- 
ing the conversation of pretty lips that derived 
none of their beauty from the Puritans. You see^ 
therefore, that it has been partially introduced by 
the emigrants into the middle states. Criticism 
is here so active, just now, that it is rapidly get- 
ting into disuse. The New Yorker frequently 
says, * I suspect,' and the Virginian, * I reckon.' 
But the two last are often used in the best 
society in the mother country.* 

** The difference in pronunciation and in the use 
of words, between the really good society of this 
country and that of England, is not very great. 
In America we can always tell an Englishman by 

* The negroes liave a habit of saying, " you sabber dat," for, 
you know that ; can this be one of their African terms, or is it a cor- 
ruption of " saber," or of "savoir," tliat has found its way to the 
continent from the neighbouring islands ? 



what we are ple.ised to call his provincialisms 
(and quite half the time the term is correct), 
I was struck at the close resemblance between 
the language of the higher classes in the mother 
country, and the higher classes of my own, 
especially if the latter belong to the middle states. 
There are certainly points of difference, but they 
as often proceed from affectation in individuals, 
as from the general habits of the two countries. 
Cockneyisms are quite as frequent in the language 
of an English gentleman, as provincialisms in the 
mouth of an American gentleman of the middle 
states. I now use the word gentleman in its 
strict meaning. I have heard many people of high 
rank in England, for instance, pronounce "yours" 
as if it were ?pelt " yers." If affectations are to 
become laws, because they are conceived in the 
smoke of London, then they are right ; but, if 
old usage, the rules of the language, and the 
voices of even educated men nre to prevail, then 
are they wrong. This is but one among a hundred 
similar affectations that are detected every day by 
an attentive and critical ear. But mere rank, after 
all, is not always a criterion of correct pronuncia- 
tion in an Englishman or in an Englishwoman. I 
have met with people of rank who have spoken in 
very perceptible provincial dialects. Parliament is 
very far from being faultless in its English, putting 
the Irish, Scotch, and aldermen out of the ques- 
tion. I have heard a minister of state speak of 









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the * o-casion,' with a heavy emphasis; and just , 
before we sailed, I remember to have burst into 
involuntary laughter at hearing a distinguished 
orator denounce a man for having been the - 
* recipient of a bribe of ten guineas.'. The lan- 
guage of parliament is undeniably far more correct 
than that of congress ; but when it is recollected 
that the one body is a representation of the 
aristocracy of a condensed community, and the 
other a representation of the various classes of a 
widely spread people, the rational odds is im- 
mensely in our favour. I am not sure that one, 
who took pleasure in finding fault, might not detect . 
quite as many corruptions of the English language . 
in the good society of the mother country, as in 
the good society of our own. The latter, strictly 
considered, bears a less proportion to our numbers, 
however, than the same class bears to the popula- 
tion of England. The amount of the whole sub- , 
ject I take to be simply this : allowing for all the 
difference in numbers, there is vastly more bad . 
English, and a thousand times more bad grammar 
spoken in England than in America ; and there . 
is much more good English (also allowing for the , 
difference in numbers) spoken there than here. 
Among the higher and better educated classes, 
there are purists in both countries, who may write, 
and talk to the end of time ; innovations have- 
been made, are made, and will be made in both 
countries; but as two nations now sit in judg- 

If 3ll:» ■? 



ment on them, I think when words once get 
fairly into use, their triumph affords a sufficient 
evidence of merit to entitle them to patron- 



Washington, — 

If I have said nothing for a long time, concern- 
ing your distinguished countryman, it has not 
been for want of materials. The eclat which 
attends his passage through the country, is as 
brilliant as it was the day he landed ; but were I 
to attempt to give you a continuous history of the 
ceremonies and pageants that grow out of his 
visit, my letters would be filled with nothing 
else. One of the former has, however, just oc- 
curred here, which may have a particular interest. 
I shall, therefore, attempt to describe a few of its 
outlines. Before proceeding to this task, permit 
me to mention one circumstance, th-^t has struck 
me with peculiar force, and which I beg you will 
communicate to our friend the Abbate, when next 
you write to him. 

At Philadelphia, after a triumphal entry in 
which something like twenty thousand of the 

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militia were under arms, the citizens of all classes, 
according to custom, paid visits of congratula- 
tion to their guest, who received them in that 
famous hall, which has become celebrated for 
being the place whe**e the separation of a portion 
of this continent from Europe was first solemnly 
declared. Among the thousands who crowded 
around the venerable Frenchman, were all the 
clergy of the city. They were more than sixty in 
number, and at their head appeared the Bishop 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, with the 
Bisliop of the Roman Catholic Church at his side. 
The former, who is a native of the country, and 
one of its oldest divines, delivered the sentiments 
of his brethren ; but had the latter, who is a 
foreigner, been of a greater age, and of longer 
service, he would, undoubtedly, have been se- 
lected to have performed the same ceremony. It 
is much the fashion, in Europe, to say there is no 
religion in the United States, for no better reason 
than that there is no church establishment, and, 
consequently, no exaltation of one particular sect, 
and a consequent depression of all others. But 
you will allow there is one evidence of a Christian 
spirit, that is not always found elsewhere, viz. 
charity. Although, in theory, all denominations 
in the United States are equal before the law, 
there is, in point of fact, no country in the world 
that is more decidedly Protestant than this, and 
yet, I do believe, it would give scandal to the 



whole nation, to learn that a slight, or an offence 
of any nature, were given to a priest, merely be- 
cause he happened to belong to the Roman 
Catholic communion. 

La Fayette arrived in Washington some time 
before Ihe meeting of congress. He had an ap- 
propriate reception from the inhabitants of the 
district, and was received into the house of the 
president. But his time v/as too precious to be 
unnecessarily lost. All were anxious to see him, 
and he was, apparently, just as anxious to see all. 
Leaving Washington, after a short residence, he 
paid a visit to Virginia, where he found Jefferson 
and Madison, the two last presidents, living in 
retirement, and where he must also have spent 
several delightful days on the theatre of that 
brilliant campaign, where, though but a boy, he 
foiled all the sagacity and activity of an expe- 
rienced and enterprising general (Cornwallis), and 
prepared the way for the final and glorious success 
with which the war of 1776 was terminated. 

On his return to this place, it was announced 
that the house of representatives intended to 
give him a public and solemn reception. He was 
received by the senate in a simple, and more 
private, but in an affectionate manner. I was in 
their hall, on this occasion, and was greatly struck 
•with the quiet dignity of the ceremony. There 
was a short address, and a simple reply, after 
which La Fayette was invited to take his seat on 



j \, :■! 




,1 ! 



f ' 




the sofa, by the side of the president of the 
senate.* He afterwards, frequently visited the 
senate chamber, to hear the debates, and, on all 
these occasions, he was seated in the same place* 
There was something noble, as well as touching, 
in the sight of a veteran returning to the scene of 
his services, after a life like that of La Fayette, 
and of being thus received so familiarly and affec- 
tionately into the bosom of the highest legislative 
body of a nation, that was enjoying a prosperity 
and ease far exceeding that known to any other 
people. ' , 

On the day of the more public ceremony in the 
hall of the representatives, every one was seen 
mountir le capitol hill at an early hour. We 
got placs , as usual, on the floor of the house, 
where we could both hear and see. The gal- 
leries were crowded to overflowing, benig filled 
with fine women and well dressed men. The 
body of the house was, of course, occupied by 
none but the members, while the inner lobbies, or 
the circular space along the walls, and behind the 
speaker's chair, were occupied by those who, of 
right, or by virtue of sufficient influence, were 
allowed to enter. ; 

The speaker of the house of representatives is 

* The vice-president of that day, being often indisposed, rarely 
presided, and a president pro tem. according to a custom, per- 
formed his duties. The vice-president (Mr. Tompkins) died soon 
after. ' • . 



a man of singular talents, and of great native elo- 
quence. In person he is tall and spare, and lie 
is far from being graceful in his ordinary air and 
attitudes. His countenance is one of those in 
which a pleasing whole is produced by parts that 
are far from being particularly attractive. In face 
and form, Mr. Clay (the speaker) is not unlike 
the pictures of the last Pitt, nor is he unlike him in 
the power of addressing public bodies. Notwith- 
standing these defects of the physique, few men 
are capable of producing as great an effect as Mr. 
Clay, when he is placed in situations to exhibit 
his talents. His gesticulation is graceful, and ex- 
ceedingly dignified, his utterance, slow, distinct, 
and gentlemanly, and his voice one of the sweetest 

At the appointed hour, the doors of the hall 
were thrown open, and a simple little procession 
advanced with dignity into the body of the house. 
It was composed of the senators of the United 
States, preceded by a delegation of the lower 
house, who had been sent to invite them to attend 
at the approaching ceremony. They were in 
pairs ; the senators of each state walking together. 
Forty-eight chairs were placed near the speaker 
for their reception, and, after exchanging bows 

* The attorney-general of the United States (Mr. Wirt) has the 
sweetest voice the writer ever heard in a public speaker. It is 
something in the style of that of Mr. Peel, though nothing can be 
more difierent than their usual manner of speaking. 


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ll'li. ■ 



with the members of the lower house, who were 
standing, the whole were seated together. As 
the senators never wear their hats, the represen- 
tatives, on this occasion, took their seats unco- 
vered. A few minutes after, M. George La Fayette 
and the secretary of the general, were shewn into 
the hall and provided with places. 

The doors now opened again, and a deputation 
of twenty- four members of congress (one from each 
state) slowly entered the hall. In their front was 
La Fayette, supported by their chairman and a 
representative from Louisiana. The whole assem- 
bly rose ; the guest was led into the centre of the 
hall, and then the chairman of the deputation said, 
in an audible voice, 

" Mr. Speaker, your committee have the honour 
to introduce General La Fayette to the house of 

A sofa had been placed for La Fayette, and he 
was now invited to be seated. Both houses resumed 
their chairs, and the guest occupied his sofa. A 
short pause succeeded, when the speaker rose 
with deliberation and dignity. The instant the 
tones of his sweet voice were heard in the hall, 
a silence reigned among the auditors that equalled 
the stilness of death. La Fayette stood to listen. 
The address was evidently extempore, but it was 
delivered with the ease of a man long accustomed 
to rely on himself, in scenes of high excitement. 
He was evidently moved, though the grace of 



manner and the command of words were rather 
heightened than suppressed, by his emotions. I 
shall endeavour to give ycu the substance of what 
he said : 

** General, — The house of represent .ives of 
the United States, impelled alike by its own feel- 
ings, and by those of the whole American people, 
could not have assigned to me a more gratifying 
duty, than that of presenting to you cordial con- 
gratulations on the occasion of your recent arrival 
in this country. In compliance with the wishes 
of congress, I assure you of the very high satisfac- 
tion which your presence aftbrds on this early 
theatre of your glory. Although but few of the 
members who compose this body, shared with 
you in the war of our revolution, all have learned 
from impartial history, or from faithful tradition, 
a knowledge of the perils, the sufFerings, and the 
sacrifices which you voluntarily encountered, and 
of the signal services which you performed in Ame- 
rica, and in Europe, for an infant, a distant, and 
an alien people. All feel and own the very great 
extent of the obligation under which you have 
placed the nation. But tHe relations in which 
you have ever stood to the United States, interest- 
ing and important as they have been, do not con- 
stitutp the only motive for the respect and admi- 
ration of this house. Your consistency of charac- 
ter, your uniform devotion to regulated liberty, 
through all the vicissitudes of a long and arduous 
life, command its profound admiration. During 


ADDUKSS or MK. fl.AV. 


the recent convulsions of Euro})e, amidst, no less 
than after the dispersion of, every political storm, 
the people of the United States have beheld you, 
true to your principles, erect in every danger, and 
cheering, with your well known voice, the vota- 
ries of liberty ; a faithful and fearless champion, 
ready to shed the last drop of that blood which 
here you had already so freely and so nobly spilt 
in the same holy cause. 

" The vain wish has been sometimes indulged 
that Providence would allow the patriot to return 
to his country after death, and to contemplate 
the changes to which time had given birth. To 
the American this would have been to view the 
forest felled, cities built, mountains levelled, ca- 
nals cut, highways constructed, the progress of 
the arts, the advancement of learning, and the 
increase of population. . 

** General, — Your present visit is a realization 
of the consoling object of that wish. You stand 
in the midst of posterity. Every where you 
must have been struck with the physical and 
moral changes which have occurred since you 
left us. This very city, bearing a name dear to 
you and to us, has since emerged from the forest 
which then covered its site. In one thing you be- 
hold us unaltered ; the sentiment of continued de- 
votion to liberty, and of ardent and profound grati- 
tude to your departed friend, the father of his 
country, and to you and to your illustrious asso- 
ciates in the field and in the cabinet, for the multi- 



plied blessings which surround us, and for tho vf»ry 
privilege which I now exercise of addressing you. 
This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more 
than ten millions of people, will be transmitted, 
with imabated vigour, down the tide of lime to 
the latest posterity, through the countless mil- 
lions who are destined to inhabit this continent.*' 

During this discourse. La Fayette was visibly 
affected. Instead of answering immediately, he 
took his scat, which he retained for a minute, 
struggling to conquer his feelings ; then rising, he 
replied in English, and with powerful feeling, 
nearly as follows. I think the slight evidence of 
a foreign idiom, which his reply contains, adds to 
its interest. 

** Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of 
Representatives — While the people of the United 
States, and their honourable representatives in 
congress, have deigned to make choice of me, one 
of the American veterans, to signify in his 
person their esteem for our joint services and 
their attachment to the principles for which we 
have had the honour to fight and bleed, I am 
proud and happy to share those extraordinary 
favours with my dear revolutionary companions. 
Yet, it would be, on my part, uncandid and un- 
grateful not to acknowledge my personal share in 
those testimonies of kindness, as they excite iii 
my breast emotions which no words are adequate 
to express. 




;: ,'4. 



m: r 


** My obligations to the United States, Sir, far 
exceed any merit I might claim. They date from 
the time when I have had the happiness to be 
adopted as a young soldier, a favoured son of 
America ; they have been continued to me during 
almost half a century of constant affection and 
confidence ; and now, Sir, thanks to your most 
gratifying invitation, I find myself greeted by a 
series of welcomes, one hour of which would more 
than compensate for the public exertions and suf- 
ferings of a whole life. 

" The approbation of the American people, and 
of their representatives, for my conduct during 
the vicissitudes of the European revolution, is 
the highest reward I could receive. Well may 
I stand firm and erect, when in their names, and 
by you, Mr. Speaker, 1 am declared to have, in 
every instance, been faithful to those American 
principles of liberty, equality, and true social 
order, the devotion to which, as it has been from 
my earliest youth, so it shall continue to be a 
solemn duty to my latest breath. 

** You have been pleased, Mr. Speaker, to 
allude to the peculiar felicity of my situation, 
when, after so long an absence, I am called to 
witness the immense improvements, the admirable 
communications, of the prodigious creation of 
which we find an example in this city, whose 
name itself is a venerated palladium ; in a word, 
all the grandeur and prosperity of those happy 

'J ,''< 



United States, who, at the same time they nobly 
secure the complete assertion of American inde- 
pendence, reflect on every part of the world the 
light of a far superior political civilization. 

** What better pledge can be given of a perse- 
vering national love of liberty, when those bless- 
ings are evidently the result of a virtuous re- 
sistance to oppression, and of institutions founded 
on the rights of man and the republican principle 
of self-government. 

" No, Mr. Speaker, posterity has not begun for 
me, since, in the sons of my companions and 
friends, I find the same public feelings, and, per- 
mit me to add, the same feelings in my behalf, 
which I have had the happiness to experience in 
their fathers. 

" Sir, I have been allowed, forty years ago, 
before a committee of a congress of thirteen states, 
to express the fond wishes of an American heart. 
On this day, I have the honour, and enjoy the 
delight, to congratulate the representatives of the 
Union, so vastly enlarged, on the realization of 
those wishes, even beyond every human expecta- 
tion, and upon the almost infinite prospects 
we can with certainty anticipate. Permit me, 
Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Re- 
presentatives, to join to the expression of those 
sentiments, a tribute of my lively gratitude, affec- 
tionate devotion, and profound respect." 

A deeper silence never pervaded any assembly 


' At 





than that with which the audience listened to this 
answer. There was so much of nature, of sin- 
cerity, and of affection in the manner of the 
speaker, and quite evidently so little of prepara- 
tion in the language of liis reply, that it produced 
a vastly greater effect than any studied discourse, 
however elegant in phraseology and thought. 

After a short pause of a few minutes, during 
which many of the members were manifestly 
stilling their awakened feelings, the gentleman 
who had announced La Fayette arose, and im- 
pressively moved that the house should now 
adjourn. The question was put and carried, 
and then all present, members and spectators, 
crowded about their guest, to renew welcomes 
and felicitations which were reiterated for the 
thousandth time. 

I do not know that the Americans have any 
particular tact in their manner of conducting 
ceremonies, perhaps, on the contrary, they are 
not much practised in their mysteries ; but, as 
natural feelings are as little disturbed as possible, 
I have ever found in the receptions, greetings, 
and fetes they have given to La Fayette, a sim- 
plicity and touching affection that has gone 
directly to the heart. The veteran himself has 
manifested, on all occasions, a wonderful tact and 
readiness. Notwithstanding the gravity and 
earnest air he has so often been compelled to 
encounter, he has, in every instance, managed to 



strip the ceremony of the stiffness of preparation, 
and to give to the interview's the warmth and 
interest that should distinguish a meeting between 
a parent and his children. 

After the business of the morning was ended, 
Cadwallader and myself joined a small party 
which continued about the person of La Fayette, 
whom we accompanied to his lodgings. The 
heart of the old man was full, and he took an 
evident delight in recurring to those events of the 
revolution which redounded to the credit of a 
people, in whose history and character he seems 
to take the same pride that a fond father would 
feel in witnessing the advance of a promising son. 
During our ride, he mentioned several little cir- 
cumstances that are worthy of repetition ; but 
the limits of this letter must confine me to two. 

In the year 1779 and 1780, La Fayette com- 
manded the light infantry of the American army. 
Most of the soldiers were natives of New Eng- 
land, or of the middle states. With these troops 
he was sent from the north to act against Corn- 
wallis, in that memorable campaign in which he 
did himself so much honour by his prudence and 
spirit, and which terminated in the capture of the 
latter. On reaching Baltimore, the effects of 
chmate, and of a removal from home, became 
quite apparent on the spirits of his men. They 
conversed among themselves of the dangers of a 
summer passed in the low counties of Virginia, 





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and for a few nights there were repeated deser- 
tions. It was of the last importance to put a stop 
to a feeling that threatened destruction to the 
service. The young Frenchman took counsel of 
his own heart, and acted accordingly. He issued 
a general order, in which he set forth the dangers 
of the climate, and the hazards and hardships of 
the contemplated service in the plainest language, 
concluding by calling on those who felt unequal 
to the trial to present tliemselves, in order that 
they might be embodied and sent back to the 
main army, since it was absolutely necessary 
that he should know the precise force on which he 
might depend. Not a man came forward to claim 
the promised favour; and, what is far more re- 
markable, not another desertion occurred. The 
second anecdote is still more worthy of relation. 

Throughout the whole of the war of 1776, the 
American army was rarely exempted from severe 
suffering. They had to contend with disease and 
hunger ; were often without shoes, even in winter, 
and frequently without ammunition.* On one 

* The writer mad^ an acquaintance with two veterans of that 
war, while in America. One of them assured him he marched 
into the Battle of Trenton (he was a lieutenant, and it was ii' the 
depth of winter) without a shirt ; and the other, who was in the 
cavalry, assured him, that by charging at the battle of Eutaw into a 
thicket of black-jacks, (a sort of thorny bush,) where the Eng- 
lish infantry had thrown themselves, after the principal rencontre, 
he lost a far more important vestment, which he was not able to 
replace, until he luckily found a piece of tow-cloth in the highway. 

A \ EC DOT K. 


occasion, it is known that famine actually per- 
vaded the grand army while it lay at no great 
distance in front of general Howe, who was at 
th^ head of a powerful and an admirably ap- 
pointed force. During the campaign of 1780, 
La Fayette, who, you will remember, was an 
American general, was joined by a small French 
force. He continued to command as the senior 
officer. There was a scarcity in the camp, and it 
became necessary to resort to severe measures in 
order to provide for the allies. He boldly issued 
an order that no American should receive a 
mouthful until the French soldiers were furnished 
with full rations ; ^.nd for several days his camp 
exhibited the singular spectacle of one portion of 
its inmates being full fed, while the other was on 
an exceedingly limited allowance. What renders, 
the forbearance of the native troops still more 
worthy of praise, is the fact, that the officer who 
commanded the dangerous distinction, was a 
countryman of those who were well fed : yet no 
man heard a murmur ! To me it seems, that the. 
mutual confidence exhibited in this fact, is ,.j 
creditable to him who dared to issue the order, 
as to those who knew how to submit to it without 





' 1 





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— It was a week before I recovered from the 
shock of such an alarm. But on more mature 
thought, (especially when I came coolly to reflect 
on some recent dangers through which I had 
myself passed in triumph, as well as on the num- 
berless instances in which I had felt symptoms of 
the same disorder,) I began to consider your case 
as far from hopeless. We become more liable to 
these attacks as we advance in life, and I warn 
you of being constantly on your guard against 
them. I also beg leave to recommend exercise 
and change of scene as the most effectual cure 
T am fully persuaded that had not fortune made 
us all travellers, we should long since have ceased 
to be the independent beings we are. Waller spoke, 
in his last letter, of a Venetian beauty, in lan- 
guage that seemed ominous ; but I know too well 
that deep inward eccentricity of the man, which 
he so prettily calls mauvaise honte, to dread 2iuy 
thing serious from the affair. I think his emi- 
nently impartial manner of viewing things, will 
for ever save him from the sin of matrimony. 




Besides, the girl is only descended from two 
doges of the fifteenth century, and four or five old 
admirals of the thirteenth and fourteenth, a 
genealogy that surely cannot pretend to compete 
with the descent of a Somersetshire baronet, 
whose great grandfather was an alderman of 
Lincoln, and whose great grandmother was the 
youngest daughter of a British officer. If you 
doubt the truth of the last circumstance, I refer 
you to the half-pay list of lieutenants of dragoons, 
in the reign of George the Second. 

You have made a much more formidable re- 
quest than you appear to think, when you desire 
that I will give you a detailed account of the system 
of jurisprudence, of the laws, and of the different 
courts of this country. The subject, properly 
and ably considered, would require a year of time, 
and infinitely more legal science than I can lay 
claim to possess. Still, as I may tell you some 
things of which you are as yet a stranger, I shall 
not shrink from the task of communicating the 
little I do know, under the stale plea of in- 

About a week after our arrival in this place, 
Cadwallader and myself had descended from the 
hall of the house of representatives to the caucus, 
and we were about to leave the capitol, when my 
friend made a sudden inclination to the left, 
motioning for me to follow. He passed into the 

o 2 

basement of the northern wing of the edifice. 



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had seen but a few minutes before, by the naked 
flag staff, that the senate had adjourned,* and, 
was about to say as much, when I observed, that 
in place of ascending the stairs which led to their 
chamber, he proceeded deeper into the lower 
apartments of the wing. Opening a simple door, we 
entered a spacious, but low and far from brilliant 
apartment. It was lighted only from one of its 
sides. Directly in front of the windows, and a 
little elevated above the rest of the floor, sat seven 
grave looking men, most of whom had passed the 
meridian of life. They were clad in simple black 
silk robes, not unlike those worn by the students 
of universities, and most of them were busily 
occupied in taking notes. Immediately in their 
front some ten or twelve respectable men were 
seated, who had nothing in attire to distinguish 
them from the ordinary gentlemen of the country. 
There were two or three others who had the air 
of being inferior employh of some grave and im- 
portant body ; though, with the exception of the 
black silk robes, I saw no other badges of oflice. 
On the right, and on the left, there were benches 
in rows, and perhaps thirty or forty more gentle- 
men were seated on them, listening to what was 
said. Among these auditors there might have 

* A flag is kept flying over the wings in which the two houses 
meet, when they are in session, and they are struck as either body 
adjourns. These are signals that enable people at a distance to learn 
whether the senate, ct lower house, are still together or not. 




been a dozen genteel looking women. This as- 
semblage was composed of the judges, the advo- 
cates, the officers, and the suitors of the supreme 
court of the United States. All present who did 
not come within one or the other of the above 
mentioned denominations, were, like ourselves, 
merely curious witnesses of the proceedings. 

"We staid an hour listening to the argument of 
a distinguished advocate. He was a member of 
congress from one of the eastern states, and by 
the simplicity of his language, and the acuteness 
and force of his thoughts, he was clearly a man 
who would have done credit to any tribunal in the 
Wofld. The manner of the speaker was rather 
cold, but it was dignified, and he paid the highest 
compliment to his auditors by addressing all he 
said to their reasons. The judges listened with grave 
attention, and indeed the whole scene wore the air 
of a calm and a highly reasonable investigation. 

My attention was given more to the severe 
simplicity which marked the aspect and proceed- 
ings of this p'^werful tribunal, than to the particu- 
lar subject before it. I found high authority again 
reposing with confidence on the most naked cere- 
monials, and I again found it surrounded by 
an air of deep reverence, which proves how 
little the vulgar auxiliaries of our eastern inven- 
tions are necessary to insure it respect and obedi- 
ence. On no other occasion was I ever so 
completely sensible of the feebleness of an 





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artificial, or of the majesty of a true, because a 
natural dignity, as on this. I have heard the 
wigs, and robes, and badges of office of half the 
tribunals of F ne laughed at, even by those who 
become fau har with their absurdities ; but I do 
not know on what the most satirical wit could 
seize, in a body like this, to turn into ridicule. It 
is no small proof of the superiority that is ob- 
tained by the habit of considering things in their 
direct and natural aspects, that wigs, and other 
similar incumbrances, which are heaped upon the 
human form, with us, in order to heighten respect, 
in this country are avoided, in order to protect 
those, who should be venerated, from undeserved 

Considered in reference to its functions, and to 
the importance of the trusts which it discharges, 
the supreme court of the United States is the most 
august tribunal of the world. It may not yet be 
called upon to decide on causes which involve as 
great an amount of property, perhaps, as some of 
the courts of England ; but, as the wealth and 
power of this country shall increase with its 
growth, the matters it decides will become still 
greater ; and it now produces a mighty influence 
on the interests of the whole Union. You will 
better understand the subject, if we take a rapid 
view of the judicial system of the confedera- 
tion, as it is connected with those of the several 





You already know that the theory of the Ame- 
rican government assumes that all power is the 
natural and necessary right of the people. The 
accidental circumstances of colonization had 
thrown the settlers into a certain number of body 
politics, before the era of their revolution. Until 
that event arrived, each province was entirely 
distinct and independent of all tiie others, except 
as they had common relations through their alle- 
giance to the crown of England, and through 
those commercial and general interests which 
united them as the subjects of the same empire. , 

For the purpose of achieving their indepen- 
dence, the different provinces entered into a com- 
pact which partook of the nature of an intimate 
and indissolul 'e alliance. The articles of the 
confederation were a sort of treaty, that was not, 
however, limited to definite, but which embraced 
general objects, and which was to know no limits 
to its duration, but such as necessity must put to 
all things. Still it was little more than an intimate 
alliance between thirteen separate and indepen- 
dent governments. Money was to be raised for 
avowed and general purposes ; but it was done in 
the way of subsidies rather than of taxation. Each 
state collected its own resources in its own man- 
ner, and it had fulfilled most of its obligations to 
the confederation when it had paid its quota, and 
when it permitted the few public agents appointed 






by the congress to dischar<,'c the particular trusts 
that were delegated to the Union. ' * ' ^ 

Notwithstanding this imperfect and clumsy or- 
ganization of their general government, the inha- 
bitants of the United States were, even at that 
early day, essentially the same people. They 
had the same views of policy, the same general 
spirit, substantially the same origin,* and a com- 
munity of interests that constantly invited a more 
intimate assojiation. The country was scarcely 
relieved from the pressure and struggle of the war 
of the revolution, before its wisest citizens began 
to consider the means of effecting so desirable an 
object. Peace was concluded in 1783 ; and, in 
1787, a convention was called to frame a consti- 
tution for the United States. The very word 
constitution implies the control of all those interests 
which distinguish an identified community. If 
we speak with technical accuracy, the conventicii 
of 1787 was assembled for the purpose of im- 
proving an existing compact, rather than for the 
purpose of creating one entirely new. But it will 
simplify our theory, and answer all the desirable 
purposes of the present object, if we assume that 
the states entered into the bargain perfectly un- 
incumbered by any pre-existing engagements. 

* A gross error exists in Europe, on the subject of the mixed 
character of this people. The whole population of Louisiana, for 
instance, but a little exceeded 75,000 souls {blacks incUidsd), in 
1 81 0. It was ceded to the Union in 1 804. 


lender this view of the case, each state pos- 
sessed all the rights of a distinct sovereignty, 
when it sent its delegates to the convention. 
There was no power which of necessity belongs to 
any other government of the world, that each of 
these states could not of itself exercise, subject 
always to the restrictions of its own institutions 
and laws. But then, each state possessed the 
power of altering its own institutions as it saw 
fit ; it had its own laws, its own tribunals, and it 
preserved its policy in all things, except that, in 
point of fact, by the ancient confederation, it was 
bound not to enter into wars, and certain other 
engagements, with foreign nations, without the rest 
of the states being parties to the transaction. ' 

The constitution of 1787 wrought a vital change 
in this system. The Americans now became one 
people in their institutions, as well as in their 
origin and in their feelings. It is important to 
remember that the two latter induced the former 
circumstance, and not the former the latter. 

You can readily imagine that the principal point 
to be decided in a body which had professedly 
assembled with -ijuch intentions, was that of the 
the continuation or annihilation of the state govern- 
ments. There were not a few in favour of the first 
policy, though the influence of those who sup- 
ported the authority of the states happily pre- 
vailed. I say happily, since, I think, it can be 
made plain that the existence of the Union at the 

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present hour, no less than its future continuance, 
is entirely dependent on the existence of the go- 
vernments of the several states. 

In consequence of the policy that prevailed, a 
species of mixed and complicated government was 
established, which was before unknown to the 
world, but which promises to prove that territory 
may be extended ad libitum without materially im- 
pairing the strength of a country by its extent. It 
strikes me, that as the confederation of the United 
States is the most natural government known, 
that it is consequently the only empire on whose 
stability the fullest confidence can be placed. It is 
a superstructure regularly reared on a solid foun- 
dation, and not a tower from which a number of 
heavy and ill-balanced dependants are suspended. 
As to the prognostics of its dissolution, they are 
founded on theories that are getting to be a little 
obsolete ; and the best argument that is urged to 
prove their truth, after all, is merely the fact 
that the confederation of the United States has 
not existed more than the full term of fifty years 
during the last half century. Perhaps it may con- 
sole these impatient reasoners to know, that, 
while the records of the country are certainly 
limited to the brief period named, so far as 
improvement, wealth, power, and a general 
advancement are concerned, it has every appear- 
ance of having been in existence two or three 

\ t 



In order lo effect the material objects of the 
new confederation, it became necessary that the 
states should part freely with their power. The 
principle was adopted that every thing which was 
necessary to the general welfare should be yielded 
to the general government, while the states, 
should, of course, retain all the rest of their 
authority. But, with a view to give the utmost 
efficiency to the new system, an executive, courts,, 
and subordinate functionaries were created, who- 
were to act on the people sometimes through, but 
oftener without, the intermediate agency of the 
state authorities. As our present business is 
with the courts, we will confine ourselves to that 
branch of the subject. 

Although the several states preserve the outlines 
of the judicial institutions which they inherited 
from their ancestors, there are not, probably, two 
in the whole confederation whose forms of juris- 
prudence are precisely the same. There is neces- 
sarily a difference in the policy of a large state 
and the policy of a small one ; in that of a large, 
9ieiv state and that of a large old one ; in that of a 
state without and in that of a state with slaves ; 
in a commercial and in a purely agricultural 
state ; and, in short, in a society which exists 
under the direct influence of certain interests, 
and in a society which exists under the influence 
of certain others. You may trace in this power 
of accommodating their minute policy to their own 
particular condition, and, what is probably quite as 


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important, to their own pleasure, one of the great 
reasons for the durability of the Union. v 

Had I the necessary knowledge to impart it, 
you would not possess the patience to read a de- 
tailed account of the shades of difference which 
exist in the jurisprudence of twenty-four separate 
communities. I shall therefore take the outline 
of that of New York, the most populous of the 
states, and point out its connection with that of 
the Union. It will be sufficiently exact to give 
you an idea of the whole. 

The foundation of the laws of New York, is 
the common law of England. Some of the 
provisions of this law, and a few of its principles, 
have been destroyed by the constitution of the 
state, which, of course, has substituted the maxims 
of a republic for those of a monarchy. Statute law 
has changed, and is daily changing certain other 
decrees of the common law, which are found to 
be inapplicable to the peculiar state of this society. 
I know no better evidence of the boldness and use- 
fulness of reform, as it exists in this country, than 
is to be found in the early changes they made in 
the common law. It is now near half a century 
since they destroyed the right of entail, the trial 
by battle, the detestable and unnatural law of the 
half-blood, and a variety of other similar usages 
that are just beginning to become obnoxious to 
European censure. The Americans themselves 
say that New York has still a great deal to do, 
and daily complaints are heard against impedi- 



ments to justice, which are to be traced to the 
usages of a comparatively dark age.* 

The lowest tribunal known to the laws, is what 
is called a justices' court, or the suits before a jus- 
tice of the peace. In each county there is also a 
regular court for the trial of criminal causes, and 
for the commoii pleas of that county. The pre- 
siding officers of these courts are termed judges; 
they are commonly five in number, and are some- 
times aided by what are called assistant justices. 
In the older counties these judges are usually 
men of education, and always men of character. 
They are frequently lawyers, who continue to 
practise in the higher courts, and they are often 
men of landed estate, yeomen of good characters 
and influence, and sometimes merchants. Their 
criminal duties are not unlike those of the Quarter 
sessions in England. Executions in civil actions 
issued out of this court, take effect on all pro- 
perty found within the limits of the county, and 
judgments are liens on real estate, according to 
priority of date, without reference to the courts 
where any other similar claims may be recorded. 

* There are people who may find it curious to know, that the ad- 
vancement of pubhc opinion, and the consequent security of liberty, 
is making bold inroads on those practices which are known to have 
given birth to political rights. In the state of Louisiana, and, the 
writer believes, in one or two others, the use of a jury is dispensed 
with, in all civil cases, in which it is not demanded by one of the 
parties. It is said that more than five-sixths of the civil actions are 
tried by the court. Still the right of a trial by jury is guaranteed 
by the constitution of the United States. 












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The state is next subdivided into judicial 
<;ircuits. For each of these circuits there is one 
judge. This officer presides at the circuit courts, 
assisted by the judges of the county ; and as the 
judgments obtained under verdicts in this court 
are perfected before the supreme court of the 
state, they have a lien on all property belonging 
to the party concerned w^ithin the bounds of the 
state. Both of these courts take cognizance of 

The supreme court (of the State of New York) 
is composed of three judges. They constitute a 
court of law, to which appeals are made from the 
inferior tribunals. The judges do not regularly 
preside at any of the circuits, though it is within 
the scope of their powers to do so if they please.* 
They settle all causes, and the reports of their 
proceedings form the ordinary books of prece- 

There is a chancellor who hears and decides in 
all cases where equity is claimed, and who exer- 

* There has been a recent change in the courts of New York. A 
few years since there were five judges of the supreme court, and 
they tried all causes at Nisi Prius, holding the circuits in person. 
It was found that the business accumulated, and, in oider to repair 
the evil, the circuit judgpc were appointed ; those of the supreme court 
were reduced in number, and the common duties of the latter were 
limited to the terms. The better opinion in the state is, that this 
departure from a practice which has been sanctioned by so many 
centuries is not successful. A return to the former system is already 
contemplated, with an increase of the judges, that shall make their 
whole number equal to the 'abour they have to undergo. 



cises the usual authority in granting injunctions 
against the consummation of proceedings at law. 
In many of the states the equitable power is 
lodged in the same courts as the legal, the judges 
hearing causes on what is termed the equity side. 
Thx, chancellor of the state is purely a law officer, 
exercising no other functions, and holding his 
commission by the same tenures as the judges. 
In one or two of the states, however, the governor 
acts as chancellor. 

The senate of the state, (of New York,) assisted 
by the chancellor and judges of the supreme court 
fc-m a tribunal for appeals, and for tb*" correction 
of errors in the last resort. Their decision is 
final, unless the defendant should happen to be 
a foreigner or a citizen of another state, in which 
case the cause can be carried into the courts of 
the United States* under certain circumstances. 
This court is not known to many of the states. 

The jurisdiction of the courts of a state, em- 
braces most of the ordinary interests of life. 
Nearly all offences against persons and things, 
whether considered in reference to the protection 
of the individual, or in reference to the dignity 
and security of society, can be tried before some 
one of the tribunals mentioned. In many cases 

* The plaintiff, being an alien, or a citizen of another state, can 
<Jo the same thing in the first stages of the suit. But it is impossible 
to be minute in a work like this ; the writer merely aims at giving 
a general idea of the system of the jurisprudence of the United 












the tribunals have concurrent power, those of the 
United States always being supreme, when they 
have a right to interfere at all. 

The lowest tribunal established by the United 
States is that of the district courts. The rule is 
to make each state a d,istri<;t for, the trial of causes 
under the laws of the Union, though some of, the 
larger states are divided into two. Each of these 
courts has its particular judge, its recording, and 
its executive officers. The latter are called mar-, 
shals ; they exercise all the ordinary duties of an 
English sheriff.* Original causes are tried before 
the district judge. If A. should fail in the con- 
ditions of an ordinary contract made with B., the 
latter would bring his suit in the county in which 
the former resided, or in the supreme court of the 
state, as he might please ; but if the contract had 
direct reference to matter which is exclusively con- 
trolled by the laws of the United States, he would 
probably bring his action in the circuit court of 
the state in which the defendant lived. Jn 
niatters that arise from seizures under the cus- 
toms, or that affect any other of the direct in- 
terests of the United States, the District Court 
is always competent to proceed. If process 
issues on execution from the courts of the state, 
it is to the sheriff; but from the United States* 
courts it is directed to the marshal. The same 
distinction is observed for the execution of sen- 
tences under the respective criminal laws of the 

. * Each county has a sheriff under the laws of the state. . .j, 



two authorities. Thus, it would be possible, as 
in the cases of an ordinary murder and of piracy, 
for two convicts to issue from the same gaol, and 
to go to the same gallows, though the one should 
be hanged under the orders of a sheriff, and the 
other under the orders of a marshal. Though 
there are no points of collision, in matters of 
mere dignity, the marshal is a man of more im- 
portance than a sheriff, inasmuch as his bailiwick 
embraces a whole state instead of a county ; and 
he executes the supreme law of the land, though, 
in fact, his functions are often limited to a course 
of concurrent, or rather to a division of familiar 

Each state also forms a district for the circuit 
courts of the United States. At the circuit, a 
judge of the supreme court of the United States 
presides, assisted by the judge of the district. 
They hear original cases, and such appeals as, by 
law, can be brought from the tribunals of the state. 
It frequently happens that actions affecting parties 
residing in different states are brought in the 

* The United Slates have, as yet, no gaols. There is such perfect 
understanding between the two authorities, that the states lend their 
gaols, and court-rooms, &c. to the officers of the United States, 
though it is probable that, ere long, provision will be made tor 
both. A convict, sentenced to hard labour by a court of the 
United States, is sent to the Penitentfary of the state where he is 
convicted, the former defraying any excess of expense over the 
fruits of his earnings. 



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courts of a particular state, because the property 
in dispute lies there, and the defendant then car- 
ries his appeal to one of the circuit courts of the 
United States. You will see that, of necessity, 
the laws of the several states must be known to 
the judges of these circuits, as a great deal of 
their power goes no further than to take care that 
these laws shall not infringe on the rights which 
are guaranteed by the confederation. 

The judges of the supreme court of the United 
States sit once a year, to hear appeals and ques- 
tions of law. They have all the equity powers 
which are necessarily incident to justice, there 
being no chancellor of the United States. Their 
decisions are final, no appeal lying to any other 
body of the land. This dignified and powerful 
tribunal not only decides on the interests of indi- 
viduals, but on the interests of states. Commu- 
nities that are, even now, larger than the smallest 
kingdoms of Europe, can come before them, iii 
their corporate capacity as suitors and defen- 
dants. . s . :, ! . ... 

The affairs of this immensely important tribu- 
nal have ever been conducted with surprising 
dignity and moderation. The judges are amena- 
ble to public opinion, the severest punishment 
and the tightest check in a free commutiity, and 
their corruption can be punished by impeachment. 
An instance of the latter occurred during high 




party times, and while the doctrines of Europe 
were more in fashion than they are at present, 
but the accused was not found guilty. 

The duties of the supreme court are often of a 
highly delicate nature, but the judges have con- 
trived to create a great degree of reverence for, 
and of confidence in, their decisions. As the po- 
pulation of the country increases, the number of 
the judges will be increased to meet its wants.* 

You know that steam was first successfully ap- 
plied to boats in America. The celebrated Ful- 
ton obtained a law (in the State of New York) 
creating a monopoly of its use in his favour for a 
term of years. At first, the experiment was 
deemed so hazardous, that he enjoyed this exclu- 
sive right without molestation. But, when the 
immense profits of the speculation became ap- 
parent, men began to question the legality of the 
monopoly. Boats were built, without the consent 
of the assignees of Fulton. The chancellor of the 
State of New York, regarding the act of his own 
legislature, granted an injunction, prohibiting 
their use. The parties then joined issue, and the 
case was carried through the courts of the state, 
until it reached the Court of Errors, where it was 
decided in favour of the law of the state. New 
parties appealed to the circuit court of the 
United States, as citizens of another state, and 
as citizens claiming the protection of the laws of 

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the confederacy. It was contended that the law 
of New York was unconstitutional, inasmuch as 
the states had conceded the right to protect in- 
ventions, &c. &c. to the ffeneral government, and 
that no state had a right to grant a monopoly on 
waters, that might interfere with the commerce of 
the whole country. So the supreme court de- 
cided, and, since that decision, there has been an 
end of the monopoly. Many of the states have 
enacted laws, of different natures, that have al- 
ways been treated with great reflection and can- 
dour, but which have been as effectually destroyed 
by this court. 

In respect of mere dignity, the judges of the 
supreme court of the United States stand fore- 
most over all others. A judge of the district court 
is, as a rule, perhaps, about equal to a judge of 
the supreme court of a state, though these paral- 
lels are entirely arbitrary. In point of variety of 
power, the judges of the states have much the 
most ; but in point of importance, those of the 
United States are the greatest, since appeals can 
be made to, but not from, them. 

You can easily imagine that numberless ques- 
tions of jurisdiction between the courts of the 
confederation and those of the states still re- 
main to be decided. Although the laws of the 
United States, when constitutional, are called 
supreme, yet there are points where the two 
authorities must of necessity meet. To take a 

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strong case, the life of the citizen is, in most in- 
stances, to be protected by the laws of the state ; 
but it is possible to conceive a case in which some 
of the rights that are fairly enough incidental to 
the discharge of the powers ceded to the United 
States, might impair the force of a state law for 
the protection of the life of its citizen. In such a 
case reason must decide the limits of the two 
authorities, as it has had to decide the limits of 
concurrent authorities elsewhere. It would be 
folly to say always that the United States law 
being paramount, should prevail. In fact, in such 
questions, it is not supreme, even in theory ; for 
the states, having reserved to themselves all the 
power they have not expressly yielded to the 
United States, have clearly the same claim to the 
rights incidental to the powers reserved, as the 
United States possess to the rights incidental 
to the powers which have been conceded. 
The courts of the states (which are bound to 
know and respect the authority of the United 
States) might have a natural leaning to extend 
these incidental powers, and it is in fixing their 
limits that the supreme court of the United 
States, which is placed above all petty and local 
interests, exhibits most of its usefulness and 
majesty. . 

A species of natural law is growing up under 
this system, that promises to be eminently use- 
ful, inasmuch as it is adapted to actual necessity 








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I am ft great venerator of those laws which are 
enacted by custom, since I entertain the opinion 
that the stamp of usage is worth a dozen legisla- 
tive seals, especially in a community where men, 
being as free as possible, have every opportunity 
of consulting the useful. 

The states have conceded all power to congress 
to regulate commerce. Now congress has juris- 
diction over more than twenty degrees of latitude. 
It has not, however, yet seen fit to establish 
quarantine regulations for the numerous ports 
within its jurisdiction, though it is scarcely pos- 
sible to imagine any measure which more inti- 
mately affects commerce than these laws. But 
the states do continue to pass quarantine laws, 
under their natural right to protect the lives of 
their citizens. Should any state, under this plea, 
attempt to pass such laws, however, as would 
operate unjustly towards another state, the court 
of the United States might then pronounce a deci- 
sion affectmg the question. There is as yet a 
divided opinion, in theory, on the subject of this 
right, while the practice is just what it ought to 
be ; that is to say, those who are most familiar 
with the subject provide for its wants, and should 
any abuses arise, there is a power in the country 
competent to put them down. 

As its institutions get matured by time, the power 
of the confederation is every day receiving strength. 
A vast deal of constitutional law, however, remains 



to be decided ; but as new cases arise, the ability to 
make discreet decisions, grows with experience. 
Laws are enacted to meet the regulations necessary 
to the common good, and as the legislators are 
themselves citizens of the states to be governed, 
and one body of them (the senate) are the legal pro- 
tectors of their corporate rights, there is little fear 
that the general government will ever reach that 
point of authority that shall make it weak by setting 
it up in opposition to a force that it would vainly 
strive to subdue. It may appear paradoxical, but 
the secret of the actual durability of this confe- 
deration consists in its apparent weakness. So 
long as the influence of the several states shall be 
of sufficient importance to satisfy their jealousy, I 
think it will endure ; and so long as the present 
representative system shall prevail, there is every 
motive to believe the states will possess, with a 
reasonable portion of the power, a share in all the 
honour, and the profit, and the security of being 
members of an Union that must shortly stand 
foremost among the nations of the earth. 

The true balance of power, which elsewhere is 
found to exist in the hands of individuals, exists 
here in the hands of legislative bodies, who are 
the direct representatives of those whose interests 
are controlled by the government. 


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( 216 ) 

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Sfc. Sfc. 


A GREAT event has just been decided in this 
city. The ceremony of the election of a president 
of the United States, for the four years which shall 
commence on the fourth day of March next, took 
'iilace yesterday. The circumstances which led 
to the peculiar forms of this choice, the characters 
of the candidates, and the probable result that it 
will have on the policy of the country, may not be 
without interest to one who studies mankind as 
generally as yourself. 

The first president, you know, was Washing- 
ton. He was succeeded by the vice-prr sident, 
the elder Adams.* At the end of four years, a 
hot contest occurred between Mr. Adams and 
Mr. Jefferson, the president and vice-president 

♦ An absurd story is told by a recent traveller, or a pretended 
traveller, in the United States, concerning the wish of Mr. Adams, 
when vice-preridentf to have the title of ** Highness, and Protector 
of our Liberties," given to the president of the United States. It is 
said he introduced a resolution to that effect in the senate. Now, 
it happens, independently of the gross folly of the title, that the 
vtce-presidentt who is merely a presiding officer, has no right to 
introduce any law or resolution intb the senaie at ail. 




'of the day, for the chair. In order to give you 
a proper understanding of the case, it will be 
necessary to explain the law for the election to 
this high office. ' '■ 

You know that the sovereignty of the states is 
represented by the senate. Thus, Rhode Island, 
with 70,000 inhabitants, has two members in the 
senate, as well as New York with 1,700,000. But 
the members of the lower house, which is the 
connecting link between the states, are appor- 
tioned according to the population. The state of 
Rhode Island has, therefore, two representatives, 
and the state of New York thirtv-seven. In all ordi- 
nary cases of legislation, each individual, whether 
a senator or a representative, gives one vote. While 
New York has, consequently, eighteen times more 
influence in the lower house than Rhode Island, in 
the uppex" house they are equal. It is in this 
division of power that another system of the checks 
and balances of this government are to be traced. 

For the election of the president, bodies are 
especially convened that are at other times un- 
known to the constitution. They are called 
electoral colleges, of which there are as many as 
there are states. These colleges are composed 
of citizens chosen in each state, in such a manner 
as its own laws may prescribe. They are some- 
times elected by the legislatures, sometimes in 
districts by the people, and sometimes again by 
the people in what is called a general ticket ; that 








„ 1 

?!l! ■': ' , 

is to say, every citizen votes for the whole of the 
electors that his state is entitled to choose. The 
number is determined by the population of the 
state. The number of representatives is added to 
the two senators, and the amount forms the 
.body of the electors. Thus New York, having 
thirty-seven representatives and two senators, 
chooses thirty-nine electors ; while Rhode Island, 
having but two of each class, is limited to four 
electors. ; ; > . ; 

Within a certain number of days after their 
own election, the electors of each state meet at 
some indicated place, and form the several col- 
Jeges. The time is fixed at so short a period as 
to prevent, as much' as possible, the danger of 
corruption. There is undoubtedly a preconcert 
between parties, and an understanding in the way 
. of pledges ; but there cannot well be any direct 
bribery on the part of powerful individuals. Each 
. elector gives one vote for president, and another 
for vice-president. As the constitution formerly 
-stood, the citizen who received the greatest num- 
ber of votes, provided they made more than half 
of the whole number, was chosen for the former 
office, and the citizen who received the next 
greatest number, under the same provision, was 
chosen for the latter office. The constitution has, 
however, been changed, so as to make it necessary 
that each vote should express for which officer it 
is given. These vi>tes are counted in the presence 






of the college, and of any body else who may 
choose to attend, and the result is properly authen- 
ticated and sent to the department of state ; the 
president of the senate opens and compares the 
returns in the presence of both houses of congress, 
after which the result is officially announced to 
the country. But as the votes of each state are 
known the day they are actually given, the public 
press uniformly anticipates the public documents 
by several weeks. If there should be no election, 
the final choice is referred to congress. 

In 1801, the contest between Mr. Adams and 
Mr. Jefferson had a singular termination. Mr. 
Pinckney, of South Carolina, was the candidate for 
the vice-presidency, supported by the friends of 
the former; and Mr. Burr, of New York, the 
candidate supported by the friends of the latter. 
Adams was the head of what was called the 
federal party, and Jefferson the head of the de- 
mocrats.* The election of 1801 was the first 

* A singular mistake is prevalent in Europe, concerning the 
origin and objects of the two great political parties, which, for 
twenty years, nearly equally divided thu people of the United States. 
It is often asserted, and sometimes believed, that the federalists 
were the secret friends of a monarchy, and that the democrats were, 
what their name would imply, tlie only friends of the people. The 
gross absurdity of this belief is completely exposed, by the fact, 
that a great majority of the people of New England, and of New 
York were, for a long time, federalists, and it is difficult to conceive 
that the mass of communities, so completely republican in practice, 
should entertain a secret wish to overthrow institutions which they 



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\ "< 

triumph of the democrats. Mr. Adams and Mr. 
Pinckney were both handsomely defeated ; but, 
by an oversight of the electors, Jefferson and Burr 
received the same number of votes in the colleges. 

had been the first to form, and which were so completely con- 
firmed by long habit. Washington was, undoubtedly a federalist, 
as, indeed, were a very large proportion of the ancient ofllicers and 
patriots of the revoluiion. But this party was more lukewarm in 
the cause of the I'Vench revolution, than the other, and its members 
were the advocates of a rather stronger government than the demo- 
crats. It is also true that, as some of its leaders acknowledged 
more of the maxims of the ancient monarchy than their opponents, 
all those who had a bias m favour of the mother country joined 
their ranks, and served to keep alive an impression which their 
enemies, of course, industriously circulated, that the party leaned 
to aristocracy. It was easy to raise this cry, both for the reasons 
named, and because a large proportion of tlie men of wealth in the 
middle and eastern slates, were enrolled in its' ranks. But there 
can be no greater absurdity than to suppose that any party has 
existed in Amer'ca, since the revolution, with an intention of 
destroying, or, indeed, with the intention of seriously modifying, 
the present form of government. When the constitution was 
formed, and before all its principles were settled by practice, it was 
to be expected that men should differ on the subject of the degree 
of change that was prudent; but, as early as the year 1800, the 
federalists and the democrats were, essentially, nothing more than 
two great parties, struggling for place, and who adopted different 
politics about as much for the purpose of opposition as for any other 
reason. This got to be eminently the case a few years later, when 
the federal party grew desperate in the minority, and lost sight of 
character altogether in the conduct i^ pursued on the subject of the 
war with England. Some of the eastern politicians during that 
war, believing the moment favourable to a final effort, concerted a 
plan, by which the whulc of tlic cast'^rn, and some of the m ddle 



This left the question of the presidency to be still 
decided, as the constitution then prescribed that 
the choice should be in favour of the candidate 
who had the greatest number of votes, provided 

states were to unite in an attack on the policy of the general govern- 
ment, the result of which was to be the expulsion of the adminis- 
tration. This plan gave rise to the famous Hartford Convention. 
The opponents of the Hartford Convention accused its founders of a 
design to divide the Union. It is difficult to say what crude pro- 
jects may have floated in the hetted brains of individuals of that 
body, but this is a country in which individuals do less than else- 
where, especially in matters of great moment. The New England 
states themselves would never have encouraged a scheme so de- 
structive to their own interests; but, had they entertained the wish, 
it would have been a mad policy without the connivance of New 
York, a state that was then, and has been since, daily draining 
them of their population, and which already numbers nearly, i f not 
quite, as many souls as all New England united. It is well known 
that the great body of the federalists of New York refused to join 
the convention, even with a view to remonstrate, at the time when 
the country was engaged single-handed against England. The best 
evidence of what would have been the fate of an attempt to separate 
the Union, is to be found in the fact that the people of New Eng- 
land themselves treat with great coldness, the principal members of 
the Hartford Convention, although most men acquit them of enter- 
taining so mad a scheme. But the federal party was destroyed by 
the policy it pursued in the war. The Hartford Convention was its 
dying effort, and its last moments were as impotent as those of any 
other worn out nature. The older members >f the party sometimes 
act together, now, from habit and intimacy, but the generation that 
is just appearing on the stage, already read of the party struggles in 
which their fathers were engaged as matters of history. There is no 
such party known in the United States, as a party unfriendly to 
their institutions, though, doubtless, there are still a few men living 








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always that he had a majority of the whole 

The choice of a president, by the provisions of 
the constitution, now devolved on congress. In the 
event of a referred election, the senators have no 
voices, the representatives of each state in the 
lower house giving but one vote ; so that the final 
decision is made by the states, and not by the 
people. In 1810, there were sixteen states in the 
confederation. By a singular coincidence, two 
of these states had a tie in themselves ; so that 
they defeated their own votes ; and of the re- 
mainder, eight gave their votes for Mr. Jefferson 
and six for Mr. Burr. You should be told that the 
same law which referred this question to congress 
requires that the successful candidate should 
have a majority of all the states. Mr. Jefferson, 
therefore, required nine votes for success, which 
was the number necessary to make a majority of 

The members of congress voted thirty-five 

who retain some of their ancient attachments tor the sort of govern- 
ment under which they were born. It is worthy of remark, that 
the children of these men are almost always decided democrats, and 
in many instances, the complete success of the confederative system 
has overcome the prejudices of old and bigoted tories. It must be 
remembered, also, that though a majority of the people of Massachu- 
setts and Connecticut, &c. were wilUng to try the experiment of the 
Hartford Convention, there were powerful minorities in every state 
concerned, without counting the influence of all the rest of th^ 
Union. ' 



times on this interesting question, and always 
with the same result. At length, a member or 
two belonging to the states which had lost their 
votes by a tie, changed their minds, and gave their 
voices for Jefferson. This decided the matter, and 
placed that distinguished statesman in the chair 
for the next four years. At the expiration of the 
regular period of service, he was re-elected ; but, 
imitating the example of Washington, he retired 
at the end of his second term. 

Until now the vice-president had been the suc- 
cessor of the president : but although Mr. Burr, 
having the next greatest number of votes, was 
necessarily vice-president for the first of Mr. Jef- 
ferson's terms of office, he was superseded at the 
second election. The constitution had been altered 
so as to stand as at present, making it necessary 
to indicate the situation it is intended the candi- 
date shall fill. A veteran of the revolution, but 
a man past the expectation of further preferment, 
had been selected to supply the place of Mr* 
Burr. The friends of the administration now 
turned their eyes on the secretary of state, as a 
successor to the president of the day. This 
gentleman (Mr. Madison) was elected, and a sort 
of change in the descent of power was effected. 
After a service of two terms, Mr. Madison also 
retired, and the secretary of the time being 
(Mr. Monroe) became the successful candidate. 
The second term of this gentleman's service is 









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now near its close, and he retires too, as a matter 
of course. You are not to suppose that the consti- 
tution prescribes any other limits to the presi- 
dency of an individual, but that of a new election 
every four years ; but the example of Washington, 
and, perhaps, the period of life to which all the 
presidents have attained, after filling the chair for 
two terms, have induced them, in succession, to 
decline elections for a third. 

On the present occasion, an entirely new state 
of politics presents itself. The old party dis- 
tinctions of federalists and democrats are broken 
down, and the country is no longer divided into 
two great political factions. Mr. Adams, the 
secretary of state (and a son of the second presi- 
dent), is considered by a great number of people 
as the natural and the best successor to Colonel 
Monroe. When I say natural, you must confine 
the meaning of the word to a natural expediency, 
and not to any natural right. His claims consist 
of a long experience in the politics of the coun- 
try, great familiarity with foreign diplomacy, and 
the intimate connection that he has so long had 
with the particular measures of the existing ad- 
ministration. He is a man of extensive acquire- 
ments, great honesty, and unquestionable patriot- 
ism. He is also a northern, or, as it would be 
expressed here, an eastern man (coming from New 
England); and hitherto Virginia has given four 
out of the five presidents. But the circumstance 




f -^ 



of birth-place has far less influence than you would 
suppose in a govc-nment like this. It is worthy 
of remark, that vhile Europeans are constantly 
predicting sectional divisions in this country, that 
the people of the country themselves appear to 
think very little about them. Mr. Adams has 
both a warm support and a warm opposition in 
the northern states, it being evident that men 
follow the bent of their humours or judgments, 
without thinking much on the question of north 
and south. It is an important ^ ircumstance, 
which always should be remembered in consideriug 
this subject, that though the south has, in conse- 
quence of its physical inferiority and peculiar 
situation, a jealous watchfulness of the north, that 
the north regards the south with no such feelings. 
It is clear that the sentimen , must be active enough 
in both to induce men to overlook their interests, 
before it can produce any important changes. 

Mr. Crawford, the secretary of the treasury, was 
another candidate for the presidency j Mr. Cal- 
houn, the secretary of war, was a third ; Mr. Clay, 
the speaker of the house of representatives, a 
fourth ; and General Jackson, a senator of Te- 
nesse, was a fifth. 

The two first of these gentlemen sit in the cabi- 
net with Mr. Adams, and present the singular 
spectacle of men united in administering tiie 
affairs of the nation, openly and honourably 


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1, ■ 1 

opposed to each other in a matter of the greatest 
personal interest. 

Mr. Crawford was for a long time thought to be 
the strongest candidate. He is said to have been 
a man admirably qualified to fill the high station 
to which he aspired ; but a paralytic attack had 
greatly weakened his claims, before the meeting of 
the colleges. His friends, too, had committed a 
vulgar blunder, which is more likely to be fatal 
here than in any country I know. They com- 
menced their electioneering campaign by bold 
assertions of their strength, and the most confi- 
dent predictions of success. I have heard a hun- 
dred men of independence and of influence say 
that disgust, at having themselves disposed of in 
this cavalier manner, disinclined them to a cause 
that they might otherwise have been induced to 
support. It is the opinion of Cadwallader that 
Mr. Crawford would not have succeeded had his 
health not so unhappily suffered. He was but 
little known to the northern states, and men of 
character and talents always choose to have at 
least the air of judginof for themselves. He suc- 
ceeded, however, in receiving enough votes to 
include his name among the three highest can- 
didates, and consequently he came before congress 
on the final question. 

Mr. Calhoun, who is still a young man, and 
who probably aimed as much as any thing at 

MR. CAMIOI'N'. MK.CIAV. (. IN. J AC KS()\. '1'27 

getting his name prominently before the nation, 
to be ready for a future struggle, prudently with- 
drew from the contest. As he is universally 
admitted to be a man of high talents, he was put 
up, in opposition to the celebrated Albert Gal- 
latin, for the vice-presidency ; and as that gen- 
tleman declined the election, Mr. Calhoun was 
chosen by the colleges nearly unanimously. 

Mr. Clay had many warm friends, and was 
supported by his own state (Kentucky) with great 
zeal ; but he failed in gettmg his name included 
on the list of the three highest. He is a self- 
created man, of unquestionable genius, and of 
a manner and eloquence that will always render 
him formidable to his opponents, and of immense 
value to his political friends. His direct interest 
in this election, however, ceased, of necessity, 
with the returns of the colleges. 

General Jackson is a gentleman who has long 
been employed in offices of high trust in his own 
state, but w ho only came prominently before the 
nation during the late war. He is a lawyer by 
education, and has filled the civil stations of a 
judge, a member of congress, and, lastly, of a sena- 
tor. In early life he served as a soldier, during the 
struggle for independence ; but he was much too 
young to be distinguished. As a military man 
his merit is unquestionable. He led two or 
three difficult expeditions against the Indians of 
the south with great decision and effect, and with 

Q 2 


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an uniformity of success that has been rare indeed 
against the savages of this continent. In conse- 
quence of the skill and energy he displayed on 
these occasions as a general of militia, he received 
a commission in the regular army, soon after the 
declaration of war against Great Britain. Fortu- 
nately, he was chosen to defend New Orleans 
against the formidable attack of that country. 
He was lying a short distance above the town, 
with a small body of men,* when it was unex- 
pectedly announced that the enemy had landed 
at a point, whence a forced march of two or three 
hours would put them in possession of the place. 
Mustering as many of his motley troops as he could 
spare from other points of defence, (something less 
than sixteen hundred men,) he led them to the 
attack against a regular and much superior force, 
whom he attacked with a spirit and effect which 
left an impression that he was far stronger than 
the truth would have shewn. By this bold mea- 
sure he gain ?;d time to throw up entrenchments 
and to receive reinforcements. Before his works 
were completed, or one half of the necessary 
troops had arrived, the British risked the cele- 
brated attack of the 8th of January. They were 
repulsed with horrible slaughter to themselves, 

* Less than three thousand men. As late as the 29th December, 
General Jackson, in an official letter, states his whole force at 3000 
effectives. In the report of the battle of the 8th January, he says, 
that though a detachment of Kentucky militia had arrived, they 
added but very little to his force, as most of them were unarmed. 




and with an impunity to the defendants that was 
next to a miracle. The works were entered at 
an incomplete point ; but all who presented 
themselves were either slain or captured. The 
great modesty of the account of his success given 
by General Jackson is as worthy of commen- 
dation as was his indomitable resolution. Con- 
trary to the usage of the times, he gave his 
opinion that the loss of the enemy was several 
hundreds less than what they acknowledged it to 
be themselves, and, indeed, nearly a thousand 
less than what further observation gave him reason 
to believe it actually was. If the decision of this 
extraordinary man was so brilliantly manifested 
in the moment of need, his subsequent prudence 
is worthy of the highest commendation. Although 
he had not hesitated an instant to attack nearly 
twice his force on the open plain, when nothing 
short of desperate courage could save the town, 
he did not allow success to lure him from a posi- 
tion which experience had shewn he could 
maintain. He suffered his beaten, but still 
greatly superior enemy to retire unmolested ; 
and it is probable that, had they asked for suc- 
cour, he would cheerfully have yielded them 
assistance to embark.* 




♦ The force with which General Jackson defended New Orleans, 
according to the official returns, was less than 6000 men, imperfectly 
armed and organized : and all of whom, with the exception of a 
few marines and sailors, and two battalions of new levies for the 
army, in all about one thousand men, were the citizens of the 

i 11 



General Jackson obtained immense popularity 
in the country by this brilliant success. His 
political honesty is unquestionable, and his patrio- 
tism without a blot. Still his want of experience 

53 i 

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country. It is believed that, sailors and marines included. General 
Packenham lr.nded nearly ten thousand men. It would be a curious 
study, to those who have any desire to sift the truth, to examine 
the documents of England and America in relation to the events of 
their two wars. The writer must say he has met many Americans who 
are familiar with the documents of England, but he never yet met 
one Englishman who was familiar with those of America. Nations 
lose nothing by looking a little closely into their own affairs, as 
well as into those of other people. One circumstance first drew 
the writer into a closer investi2;ation of these subjects, than he might 
otherwise have been induced to undertake. He will relate it. 

It is well known that, in 1814, a bloody battle was fought near 
the great cataract of Niagara. The American general says, that a 
brigade of his army met a portion of the British army, and en- 
gaged it. That he arrived with reinforcements, the enemy rein- 
forcing at the same time ; that he was much annoyed by certain pieces 
of artillery, stationed on an eminence that formed the key of the 
English position ; that he carried this hill at the point of the bayonet, 
and captured the artillery; that the enemy made three des- 
perate attempts to regain the position and their guns, in all of 
which they were defeated, and that they finally relinquished the at- 
tempt. He gives his enemy a small superiority of force, and he 
conveys an implied censure against the officer third in command 
(he and his second in command having been obliged to retire, from 
their wounds), for not securing the fruits of this victory on the 
morning succeeding the day of the battle. So much for the Ame- 
rican. On the other hand, the English general gives a sufficiently 
similar account of the commencement of the battle. He also admits 
the charge up the hill, that " our artillerymen were bayonetted by 
the enemy in the act of loading;" that "our troops having for a 
moment been pushed back, some of our guns remained for a few 

I I 



in matters of state, and even his military habits, 
were strongly urged against him. The former may 
be a solid objection, but, it is more than absurd, 
it is wicked to urge the military character of a 
citizen, who meritoriously leaves his retirement in 
the hour of danger to carry those qualities with 
which nature has endowed him, into the most 
perilous, and commonly the least requited service 
of his country, as an argument against his filling 
any station whatever. A thousand falsehoods have 
been circulated at the expense of General Jackson, 
and even some admitted inequality of temper has 
been grossly exaggerated. Notwithstanding the in- 

1' ' i '*% 


minutes in the enemy's hands ;" that they were, however, soon 
recovered ; and that, instead of his making attacks for the recovery 
of the lost position, the Americans were the assailants ; and that 
they were uniformly defeated in their attempts. He estimates the 
force of the Americans at nearly double what their official reports 
state it to have been. Both parties nearly double the (presumed) loss 
of their enemy; and the American, though something nearer to the 
admission of the Englishman than the Englishman was to the ad- 
mission of the American, estimated the force of his enemy consi- 
derably over the official account. 

The writer was struck with these official discrepancies. The 
documents were uttered to the world under the same forms, in the 
same language, and by people acknowledging the same moral influ- 
ences. He was induced to exclaim, Where is the truth of history ! 
The writer knows nothing more of the merits of this question thaa 
is contained in the documents he has examined, and which any one 
may also examine, who has a curiosity equal to his own. The cir- 
cumstance should, however, teach moderation to partizans, as it 
abundantly proves that the data on which they found their opinions 
cannot always be of the most unexceptionable nature. 


- ' ' 't 





dustry and affected contempt of the adversaries of 
this gentleman, he received more of the electoral 
votes than the highest of the three candidates in 
the returned list. 

The day of the final decision by congress was 
one of great interest here. All the candidates 
were on the spot, in the discharge of their official 
duties, and large bodies of their friends had as- 
sembled to witness, and if possible, to influence 
the result. Cadwallader obtained a convenient 
position where we both witnessed the whole man- 
ner of the election. 

Although three names were returned to con- 
gress for the choice, it was universally understood 
that the selection would be made between Messrs. 
Adams and Jackson. It would have been indecent 
in the representatives to prefer Mr. Crawford over 
two men, both of whom had received nearly double 
the number of the popular votes that had been 
given in his favour, though by the constitution 
they certainly had a right to elect which of the 
three they pleased. It was thought that the 
representatives of those states in which the 
electors had given their votes for this gentleman, 
would make a single demonstration in his favour, 
and then give their voices for one or the other of 
the two candidates, who, it was well known, must 
eventually succeed. 

The gallery of the hall of congress was crowded 
nearly to suffocation. The senators were present 
as a sort of legal witnesses of the election, and 







many men of high political consideration were in 
the lobbies and behind the desks. In short, every 
one was there who could gain admission by art or 
influence. The arrangements for this important pro- 
ceeding were exceedingly unpretending, though 
remarkably imposing by their simplicity, and 
that air of grave composure which usually reigns 
over all the legislative proceedings of this country. 

The members of the different states were now 
seated together, since they composed so many 
separate colleges which, on this momentous ques- 
tion, were to pronounce the voices of their parti- 
cular communities. Here, sat the numerous and 
grave-looking representation of the powerful state 
of New York, and by their side was a solitary in- 
dividual, who, in his own person, held all the 
authority that was to be exercised on that import- 
ant day, by the younger community of Indiana. 
This gentleman, and one or two others, were men 
of peculiar importance in an event like this, since 
accident had placed them individually on a level 
with large bodies of enlightened and discreet men. 
Still it is not probable that they dared to depart 
from the known wishes of the people they repre- 
sented, so direct and certain is the punishment 
which usually attends popular displeasure in this 

At ' the appointed hour, the states began to col- 
lect the voices among themselves. The members 
voted by ballot, having established for that pur- 


i 'M 

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pose, a set of simple forms by which the votes 
^» ere collected and reported to tellers appointed 
to receive them by the house. Fraud was im- 
possible, since each college knew the precise 
number of its votes, and each individual deposited 
his ballot with his own hand. The duty was 
soon performed by the smaller states, and a 
moment of breathless suspense succeeded while 
the representatives of New York were collecting 
their votes. The friends of Mr. Adams had 
counted on twelve states with great confidence, 
but the number and the peculiar policy of the 
members from New York had rendered their vote 
more doubtful. The result was, however, soon 
known on the floor of the house, as was quite 
apparent by the look of suppressed triumph that 
was playing about the eyes of certain partizans, 
and the air of forced composure that was assumed 
by their adversaries. 

The result was communicated to the speaker, 
(who had himself been a candidate before the 
elector?! colleges,) and then it was officially an- 
nounced " that thirteen states had given their votes 
for John Quincy Adams, for President of the 
United States during the four years, commencing 
on the fourth of March next, and that the said 
John Quincy Adams was duly elected."* 

While the sweet, clear, voice of Mr. Clay was 

* Thirteen states being a majority of the twenty-four vrhich 
now compose the Union, were necessary to a choice. 





announcing this important news, I never witnessed 
a more intense silence in any assembly. The still- 
ness continued a moment after his words had 
ceased, and then followed the low hum of whis- 
pers, and immediately after, a half involuntary 
and feeble clapping of hands was heard in the 
galleries. This little burst of exultation on the 
part of some indiscreet spectators, gave me an 
opportunity of witnessing the manner in which 
the American legislators maintain order and assert 
their dignity. " Serjeant at arms, clear the gal- 
leries i'' commanded the speaker, in a voice, that 
of itself hushed the slightest sound of approbation. 
The officers of the house instantly performed their 
duty, and in a few moments those spacious and 
commodious seats which were so lately teeming 
with conscious human countenances, presented 
nothing to the eye but its magnificent colonnade 
and long rows of empty benches. 

The house soon adjourned, and every body 
quitted the capitol, some filled with joy they could 
ill suppress, and others evidently struggling to coi 
ceal the defeat of expectations which had probably 
been more fed by hope than reason. The irapor- 
tant question was, however, irretrievably decided 
by a first vote, notwithstanding hundreds had anti- 
cipated that a struggle similar to that of 1801 was 
about to occur again. 

The election had been conducted with great 
heat, especially in the public prints, and so much 





mi- i 

seeming violence of denunciation had been used 
during the discussions, that I confess I was in- 
duced to look about me, as we quitted the edifice, 
in quest of the legions that were to tame so many 
unquiet spirits, and to teach them submission to an 
authority that exercised its functions in forms so 
simple as those I had just witnessed. I had heard so 
much of revolution, aad of the disorders of popu- 
lar governments, that it did not appear possible 
a question which, an hour before, had filled the 
minds and voices of mrn with so much bitterness, 
could peaceably subside in quiet, and in submission 
to a force that was invisible. 

During the preceding week, more than one 
foreign functionary had whispered in my ear 
something that implied a sneer on the folly of 
periodically throwing society so near the verge of 
dissolution by enlisting tie passions of the com- 
munity in a question that embraced so many 
important interests as these frequent elections, 
and one of them had intimated an expectation 
that, in the event of his failure, there would be a 
rising in favour of a military hero, - /ho was not 
accustomed to defeat. I remembered the reply of 
my quiet yeoman in the stage-coach, and did not 
certainly carry my expectations quite so far ; but 
still it was inconceivable that passions which had 
been so strongly excited, should subside without 
at least some of the usual indications of a disap- 
pointed resentment. 



While descending Capitol-hill, we met a warm 
partizan of the unsuccessful candidate, who was 

Known to us both. " Well, ," said Cad- 

wallader, " what do you intend to do now ? Your 
man has, beyond all hope, lost the day." " We 
shall change the face of things four years hence," 
was the answer. The reply was given in the tone 
of one who seemed conscious that he and his 
friends had been mistaken in their force, but 
who, at the same time, felt that legal means of 
obtaining a triumph were always before him. I 
must acknowledge when I found that one of the 
most violent partizans I had ever met, was for 
deferring his schemes of revenge to a day so 
distant as four years, and that he even tlen con- 
templated to effect his object by means of the 
ballot box, I began to despair of seeing a revo- 
lution in America during my visit. It is true that 
the defeated party have begun already to raise a 
clamour against corruptions and bargains, but it 
is very evident that they are doing it as mariners 
place an extra anchor to windward, to be in readi- 
ness for the tempest which is known to come 
on periodically.* 

* The writer had an rxcellent opportunity of witnessing the 
effect of the American Institutions, shortly after the event above 
described, while on a visit to the city of Philadelphia. A foreigner, 
who conducted a paper in that city, v/as so profoundly igno- 
rant of the people among whom he lived, as to invite a meeting of 
the citizens of Pennsylvania, in order to provide the means of 
marching to Washington to put down Mr. Adams, who, it was 

'i' »- * 


s !< 



The result of this election, and the sudden 
calm that succeeded to so much apparent warmth, 
have again led me to reflect on the vague and 
imperfect impressions which we get in Europe, 
of the actual political condition of America. 
During the war of 1812, one saw monthly ac- 
counts, in the journals of England, that this, 
or that, state of the confederation was on the 
verge of a separation from the Union, and that 
distress had driven men to madness and all sorts 
of political desperation. If these accounts were 
published in good faith, they imply an inconceiv- 
able ignorance of the actual state of the country ; 
for, unless the opinions of intelligent men of all 
parties grossly deceive me, there never has been 
one hour since the adoption of the present consti- 
tution, when probably one thousand natives of the 
whole United States have seriously contemplated 
any such event as likely to be near. If the para- 
graphs to which I allude, were published with a 
view to deceive the people of Europe, it has in- 
duced the inevitable consequences of a wilful 
ignorance, viz. disappointment. 1 am perfectly 

affirmed, had been elected by means of conuption. Curiosity 
drew thousands of spectators to the appointed spot, in order to see 
what would be done at such a meeting. No officers appeared to 
oppose it, and yet the affair ended in the utter disdain of the whole 
community. The miserable intruder on the peaceful habits and 
common sense of the Americans was too much despised to be 
punished for his impudence, though he could not escape contempt 
and ridicule. 

t 1 



satisfied that a vast majority of the citizens of 
this country have more confidence in their own 
institutions than in those of any other nation, nor 
can I find, on a reasonably close examination of 
the subject, that they are so very wrong. One 
thing is certain, that other nations have made 
much nearer approaches to their opinions during 
the last half century, than they have made to the 
opinions of other nations.* 

I have conversed freely on this matter with 
my friend Cadwallader. I cannot say that he 
discusses the subject with particul ^ gravity ; but 
one of his remarks struck me as possessing sin- 
gular force. " How is it," he said, " that you, or 
any stranger who enters our country, can and 

• What are all the changes that have occurred in so many king- 
doms on the continent of Europe, but approaches to the American 
system ? It is certainly the fashion, and for obvious reasons, to look 
to England as the model for the new constitutions, but what is 
England herself about ? The American would say, that the recent 
repeal or alteration of the Test Act, the state of the Catholic ques- 
tion, the disfranchisement of rotten boroughs, the improvement of 
the common law, and, in short, the whole plan of rational reform 
which now pervades England, rests on principles, that rather than 
abandon, his ancestor preferred to emigrate. When a man states this 
undeniable truth, with a view to exult in the superior penetration of 
his own people, he should be reminded how very far the most faultless 
are from perfection in any thing ; but when an European insolently 
and ignorantly assumes that the United States are existing in a state 
of political insecurity, every day and every hour, the citizen of the 
latter country has a natural right to throw these stubborn facts into 
the teeth of such supercilious commentators. 



* ?^5 


•!^. hli 



i|t I 

does freely discuss the danger of a dissolution of 
our confederacy, or the probability that we shall 
one day become a monarchy, and that, too, with- 
out giving offence or finding any difficulty in 
meeting with disputants ; or how is it that an 
American never goes into an European country, 
Switzerland, perhaps, excepted, without finding 
men, let their breeding be what it may, who very 
unequivocally let him know that they consider his 
government as a chimerical project, and the con- 
stitution of his empire exceedingly frail ; while, 
on the other hand, if the American attempt a com- 
parison between his own government and that of 
his assailant, he is generally silenced by cold 
looks and an averted eye ? It is odd*that all this 
sensitiveness, more especially as the parties ex- 
hibiting it rarely fail of being bold enough on the 
subject of American democracy, should abide in 
the midst of such conscious security. We all 
of us know that most Europeans so far identify 
themselves with their soil as to believe they have 
a moral superiority over the American that is 
exactly in proportion to the antiquity of their 
governments ; but ive also know a fact that com- 
moDly escapes their acuteness. The practices of 
Europe form part of our experience ; while Europe 
knows nothing of our practices. Answer me one 
thing. Why does America trouble herself so little 
about the governments of Europe, while all Eu- 
rope is demonstrating on paper that our republics 



I think, when 

find the 

cannot endure? 
motive of this marked difference, you will not be 
far from the secret consciousness which the two 
parties have in the strength and durability of their 
respective systems." 

The evening of the day of the election was one 
of those on which Mrs. Monroe opens the doors 
of the White-house to the motley assemblage I 
have already described. Great anxiety was felt 
by every one to be present, because it was known 
that the principal personages, who had been so 
recently exerting themselves in the question which 
was just decided, were in the habit of paying their 
respects, on these occasions, to the wife of the first 
magistrate. We went at ten. 

Perhaps the company on this evening was a 
little more numerous than on the preceding draw- 
ing-room. It was composed of the same sort of 
visitors, and it was characterized by the same 
decency of exterior and of deportment. We 
found the President and Mrs. Monroe in their 
usual places ; the former encircled by a knot of 
politicians, and the latter attended by a circle of 
women, of rather brilliant appearance. Most of 
the secretaries were near, conversing cheerfully, 
like men who had just got rid of an irksome and 
onerous toil ; and I thought, by the placid air of 
the venerable chief justice, that he was well con- 
tent that the harassing question was decided. The 
assistant justices of the supreme court were also 


1 i« 




: y 


: •■T( i 

!-- ■■>. 







present, near the person of the president ; and a 
group had collected in the same room ; in the 
midst of which I discovered the smiling features 
and playful eye of La Fayette. The speaker was 
known to have favoured the election of Mr. Adams, 
and I thought I could trace secret satisfaction at 
the result in a countenance that his height ele- 
vated above those of most of his companions. 
There was no coarse exultation on the part of the 
victors, nor any unmanly dejection on that of the 
defeated. Several of the latter spoke to us ; and, 
in reply to the laughing condolences of my friend, 
they made but one remark — ** We shall see what 
the next four years will do." 

" How do you do, General Jackson?" said 
Cadwallader, as we passed out of one drawing- 
room into another. The unsuccessful candidate 
returned the greeting with his usual mild and 
graceful mien. I watched his manly and marked 
features narrowly, during the courteous dialogue 
that followed ; but, with all my suspicions, it was 
impossible to trace the slightest symptoms of a 
lurking disappointment. He left us laughing 
and conversing cheerfully with some ladies, who 
induced him to join their party. A minute be- 
fore, he had been seen congratulating his success- 
ful rival with great dignity, and with perfect good 

"We now entered the last apartment of the suite^ 
with the hope of finding a cooler atmosphere. A 




group of men, among whom perhaps a dozen 
women were intermingled, had collected about 
some object of common interest. Drawing near, I 
caught a glimpse of the cold air which, in contrast 
to an u.icommonly fine and piercing eye, forms so 
remarkable an expression in the countenance of 
Mr. Adams. He was certainly in good spirits ; 
though, had we not known his recent victory, it 
is probable that his manner would not have been 
at all remarked. He soon extricated himself from 
the crowd, ant' spoke to two or three of us who 
stood together. ♦* Why have you not been to see 
us lately V he inquired of a member of congress, 
from Virginia: *' Mrs. Adams complains that you 
were not at her last evening." " I have been there 
so often this winter, that I began to think it neces- 
sary to be absent for the sake of form.'' ** Is that 
the etiquette ?" '*We must ask that question of 
you ;" returned the Virginian, laughing, in allu- 
sion to the secretary's well-known strictures on 
the subject ; *\you are our authority in all matters 
of etiquette." ** Well then," returned the presi- 
dent elect, with great good humour, and with the 
tact of a courtier ; " I pronounce it to be always 
etiquette for Mr. to visit Mrs. Adams."* 

* Mr. Adams and General Jackson are again candidates for the 
presidency. As the contest is as yet confined to these two, and it is 
so shortly to be decided (in December of 1828), it is probable thati 
one of them will be chosen. What the writer now states, he says 
understandingly. A good deal is certainly said concerning the in- 

R 2 

( 244 ) 


Sfc. ^c. 


Yesterday, while walking with Cadwallader 
on the banks of the Potomac, we saw a group of 
gentlemen, in the midst of whom we distinguished 
La Fayette, with his animated features, moving 
towards a steam-boat that was waiting their ar- 
rival. A moment of explanation induced us to 
join the party, which was about to visit the tomb 
of Washington. 

Mount Vernon, an estate which the hero Inhe- 
rited from an elder brother, lies on the river at 
the distance of about two hours' sailing towards 
the sea. The boat was rather more crowded than 

experience of General Jackson, and some press the circumstance of 
his chief merit being military, as a reason against him. There is 
not a man in the Union, however, who seriously apprehends any 
danger from his election. It is false that he is not supported by wary 
and prudent men. The writer can name a hundred gentlemen in 
the middle states, of education, of fortune, and of religion, too, who 
are his warm friends. The question is altogether one of men, there 
being scarcely a measure of policy that is likely to be much affected 
by the result. A great deal of the popularity of General Jackson is 
owing to an injudicious and presuming opposition, which has 
foolishly ascribed a danger to his success, that is as false, as his 
friends are determined to manifest it is ridiculous. But men may 
well hesitate about rejecting so tried a patriot, and so experienced a 
statesman as Mr. Adams. 



was desirable for such a visit ; but the circum- 
stances 1 .ft us no choice. We passed the little 
city of Alexandria on our route, and reached the 
point of destination vtrithin a reasonable time of 
our departure. 

The estate of Mount Vernon was left by the 
will of its late possessor to his nephew, Mr. Bush- 
rod Washington, who has long been one of the 
assistant justices of the supreme court of the 
United States. The country, immediately about 
the dwelling, is much wooded ; the land being 
neither particularly level, nor yet very uneven. 
The house stands on a rather sudden rise, which 
may be elevated more than a hundred feet above 
the level of the water. The ascent from the river 
is quite precipitous, though the ground falls away 
to the north and to the sout's with rather more 
regularity. The building is placed on the highest 
point ; a position which scarcely leaves room for 
a very narrow lawn between it and the brow of 
the declivity in front. In the rear, the formation 
of the ground is level, for some distance, and 
tolerably extensive gardens communicate with 
the inner or back court. 

The house of Mount Vernon is constructed of a 
framework, the interstices of which, I am informed, 
are filled with bricks. The exterior covering is of 
planks, concealed in such a manner as to give it, 
at a little distance, the appearance of being made 
of hewn stone. The interior finish is like that of 


I i 

V i'M 



any other better sort of mansion. The length of 
the whole edifice cannot greatly exceed one hun- 
dred feet ; and I should think that, in depth, it is 
something less than fifty. There are, however, 
two semicircular chains ot offices, which project 
from each of its ends towards the rear, something 
in the form of sweeping galleries. These additions 
serve to give the building much more of an air of 
size from the side of the gardens than from that 
of the river. Towards the east (the river front) 
there is a colonnade which supports a roof that is 
continued from the main edifice. Though the 
pillars are very simple, the effect of a colonnade, 
so lofty and so long, is rather striking ; and, on 
the whole, it leaves an impression that the house 
was one not altogether unworthy of its simple but 
illustrious possessor. 

The interior of the building is exceedingly irre- 
gular, though far from inconvenient. I had full 
leisure for its examination, while a solemn scene 
was taking place at the tomb. La Fayette had been 
permitted to go to this sacred spot, unattended 
by any except the immediate members of the two 
families. I was permitted, by an especial favour, 
to pass up the ascent by another path, and to 
examine the rest of the gro'mds and the mansion. 

There was but one considerable apartment in 
the dwelling. This was a drawing-room that 
occupied the whole width of the house, with 9, 
proper proportion of its length. The rest of th^ 



rooms were small, and of arrangements which 
proved that they were constructed before the master 
of the mansion was in the habit of receiving more 
guests than fell to the share of a private gentlemaL>, 
Most of the furniture was of the time of the hero. 
It was exceedingly simple, though I thought it quite 
good enough, in fashion and in form, for a country 
residence. The principal drawing-room had more 
the air of a reception-room than the others, which 
were altogether in a quiet, comfortable, and do- 
mestic taste. There was a library, that is rather 
large for America, but which, in Europe, would 
be thought very small for the habitation of a man 
of any eminence. 

I looked on all these things with a deep and in- 
creasing emotion. The house, at the moment, 
with the exception of Cadwallader and myself, 
and a domestic who shewed us through the rooms, 
was entirely empty. More than once, as my 
hand touched a lock to open some door, I felt the 
blood stealing up my arm, as the sudden convic- 
tion flashed on my mind that the member rested 
on a place where the hand of Washington had 
probably been laid a thousand times. That inde- 
scribable, but natural and deeply grateful, feeling 
beset me, which we all are made to know when 
the image of a fellow-mortal, vho has left a mighty 
name on earth, is conjured before us by tiie ima- 
gination in the nearest approaches to reality that 
death, and time, and place, and the whisperings of 





, ^jmiii 

t a]. 









*,f f jH 







ttLi k:± 

an excited fancy will allow. There was a sort of 
secret desire, rather than an expectation, of finding 
something more than what reason told me to 
expect ; and I passed from parlour to parlour, in 
my haste, until my companions were left behind, 
and I found myself alone in a sort of upper office 
of the mansion. I shall neve* forget the sensa- 
tion that 1 felt as my eye gazed on the first object 
it encountered. It was an article of no more 
dignity than a leathern fire-bucket ; but the words 
" Geo. Washington" v/ere legibly written on it 
in white paint. I know not how it was, but 
the organ never altered its look until the name 
stood before my vision distinct, insulated, and 
almost endowed with the attributes of the human 
form. The deception was aided by all the acces- 
sories which the house could furnish. Just at 
that instant, my friend, who is a man of tall 
stature and grave air, appeared in the adjoining 
door, without speaking. I felt the blood creeping 
nearer my heart with awe, nor did the illusion 
vanish until Cadwallader passed before me, and 
laid a hand, with a melancholy smile, on the 
words, and then retired towards the grounds, with 
a face that I thought he would gladly conceal. 

"We were shewn into the gardens and green- 
houses. In the latter, the domestic culled us a 
bouquet of hot-house flowers ; and, turning to a 
box which lay at hand, he took a sheet of paper, 
and, enveloping their stems, presented them to 



my friend. Cadwallader received them thought- 
fully; but his mind was too much occupied 
at the moment to attend to so trifling an occur- 
rence. We had returned to the citv, and were at 
our late dinner, when his eye seemed rivetted, by 
some charm, on the paper that encircled this little 
offering. Scattering the flowers on every side of 
him, he laid the paper on the table, and- read its 
contents with breathless eagerness. It proved to 
be a sheet torn from a farming journal of the 
modern Cincinnatus, which had been kept in his 
own hand. The writinir was distinct, thouo^h there 
were many technical abbreviations : the pages 
were without blot or erasure, and the precision of 
the language and the minuteness of the details 
were rigidly exact. The precious morsel was 
divided, and each of us took \m portion, like men 
who were well content with »,he possession of 
some sacred relic. 

When we left the green-house, we were joined 
by the party of the veteran Frenchman. We had 
parted at the margin of the water, and each of us 
had found subjects for reflection that were alike 
pleasing and painful. Just before we separated, 
there had been a little hesitation in the choice of 
the paths that led to the mansion. " Let me shew 
you the way," cried Mr. George La Fayette, 
eagerly, but with evident emotion : "I know all 
the paths of Mount Vernon." Twenty-five years 
before, during the exile of his natural parent, he 





had been entrusted to Washington, as to a second 
father, and he now rushed forward, full of his re- 
collections, to point out a route that time and 
momentous scenes in another hemisphere, had not 
blotted from his memory. I shall not attempt to 
describe what passed at the vault during the 
visit of La Fayette. He was powerfully affected, 
as the recess of the dead was opened to his 
admission. When he joined us, it was evident 
that his feelings had been wrought up to a high 
and painful point; and I thought his eye wan- 
dered over the familiar objects of the dwelling, as 
if every thing keenly reminded him that he who 
gave them life and interest, had passed away 
from the moving scenes of the earth into the 
solemn quiet of the place he had just quitted. 
We took the occasion of his absence fron the 
spot, to go ourselves to the tomb. As CadwaUader 
knew the way, I had no other companion. 

The family vault of Mount Vernon stands near 
the brow of the declivity, at a little distance from 
the mansion, and at the point where the ground 
begins to fall away to the south. It is as plain and 
simple as can be well imagined. The excavation 
in the earth is neither large nor deep, and the 
small portion of the work that is visible in front, 
is a dead wall of bricks. The door was low, 
humble, and unornamented — a more meek and 
fitting passage to the narrow house of the dead 
than thresholds and arches of mocking architec- 




ture. The earth is rounded over the summit of 
the vault, and a few stunted and sickly cedars 
have taken root on and about it. 

I have stood by the side of many a boasted and 
admired tomb ; but by none with the awe and 
reverence with which I gazed on this. The dark 
days of the revolution, the gloom and difficul- 
ties which threatened the first hours of the pre- 
sent government, the cheerful and prosperous 
scenes through which T had so recently passed, 
crowded on my memory, and produced a teeming 
picture in which the most prominent object was 
the form of the man whose ashes were mouldering 
beneath my feet. 

I have ever been an ardent, and were there not 
so much reason to support me, I might say an en- 
thusiastic admirer of Washington. His character, 
unlike that of the heroes of other days, is most 
illustrious when seen at the nearest approach. 
Those who lived the closest to his person, and 
who possessed the best opportunity of studying 
his moral qualities, are touched with the deepest 
reverence for his virtues. The narrative of his 
private deeds is the counterpart of the history of 
his public acts. They were alike founded on the 
immutable principles of justice and truth. Men 
already regard him with the admiration with 
which they gaze at a severe statue of antiquity. 
He stands, naked of meretricious ornament, but 
grand in the majesty of reason. 





»■ ' ■■•'X- 







Some, who know little of the history of the 
man, or of his nation, confound the images of his 
renown, by blending his merit with deeds that it 
was the fortune of no one to perform in America. 
This was not the country of Alexanders and 

The useful career of Washington commenced at 
%n age when men are occupied in fitting them- 
selves for the active scenes of life. Before he had 
attained his majority, he was employed by his 
J .tive province in situations of high trust. Even 
at that early period of life he had established a 
character for firmness, integrity, prudence, disin- 
terestedness and humanity, which attended him to 
the peaceful grave in which I found his venerated 
ashes. There was an unpretending, but imposing 
dignity thrown about the person and character of 
this extraordinary youth, that distinguished him 
in every future scene. As a soldier, his career 
had been circumscribed, as a politician he had 
enjoyed no opportunities to earn distinction, and 
yet, when the hour of trial came, the eyes of a 
nation sought him anxiously. The congress of the 
Union, composed of men from differently consti- 
tuted and distant provinces, summoned him by a 
common impulse to lead its armies. The influence 
of his character had been silently extending itself 
over the vast regions whose fortunes were entrusted 
to his care. His rise to power wa?:; degraded by 
no intrigue ; its exercise was stained' by no abuse. 

* i' 



The times required that a people, jealous beyond 
precedent of their rights, should trust a large por- 
tion of their destinies to the keeping of a single 
man They calmly, dispassionately, nd wisely 
made their election ; confidence w > nobly be- 
stowed, meekly received, and gloriously requited ! 
The sword of Washington did not leap from its 
scabbard with the eagerness of military pride, or 
with the unbridled haste of one willing to make 
human life the sacrifice of an unhallowed ambition. 
It was deliberatpl drawn at the call of his coun- 
try, but with a reluct \ce that came deep from the 
heart, and wit^ c diftidence that acknowledged 
the undisputed ^' *nr inion of his God. He went 
forth to battle vi*^h the meekness of a mortal, the 
humanity of a christian, the devotedness of a 
patriot, and the resolution of a victor. As his 
object was limited by a righteous moderation, 
so were his intentions to achieve it, bounded only 
by success. In the air, the declarations, and the 
pledges of such a man, we are not to look fop 
dramatic effect, or promises that were made to be 
forgotten. He took the trust his country offered, 
because it was the pleasure of that country he 
should do so ; and when its duties were excel- 
lently performed, he returned it to the hands from 
whence it had come, with a simplicity which 
spoke louder than a thousand protestations. The 
integrity of such a mind needed no stimulants 
from the pages of history. Its impulses were 

■ I f i 

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: >.rlHH 

■ hySm 

■ -oiiISS 

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drawn from a higher source. Its self-denial was 
not a victory over opportunity, and occasion, and 
power, and all the natural promptings of busy 
man, but it was a silent, endurirg, principled, and 
unconquerable will to refuse to admit temptation. 
So far as the human heart can be judged by 
outward symptoms, there never was a moment 
when this true hero suffered his thoughts to 
change their righteous and devoted direction ; 
there never was a moment when men, in the least 
competent to speak on the subject, suspected 
him of any other object than patriotism. It is 
impossible to look closely into the conduct and 
motives of this man, and not to feel that his simple 
rule of morals said, ** Self before dishonour, my 
country before self, and God before all !" 

It is the common fate of heroes to suffer by inti- 
macy ; but the private life of Washington was as 
beautiful, as his public was glorious. The latter 
was no more than an expansion of those principles 
which controlled the former. The same sternness 
of integrity, the same simplicity of purpose, could 
always be traced in that familiar conduct in which 
most men fail. It is a fact worthy of remark, 
that his most confidential correspondence is still 
in existence, inviting scrutiny, and challenging 
comment. There was a time when reverses 
and calumny, and weariness of suffering, had 
made a party of his countrymen impatient of 
his government. A few misguided individuals 



would have elevated a chief of untried abilities, 
to the post he filled. The machinations of his 
enemies were known to Washington. Accident, 
rather than merit, had placed his rival in a situa- 
tion to reap a glory far exceeding that which had 
then fallen to the share of any leader in the con- 
test. But the issue of events still rested on con- 
tingencies. Washington saw the crisis from a 
distance, and though unfortunate, and opposed to 
a victorious and powerful foe, he stripped him- 
self of force, in order to insure a good to his 
country, that would probably hasten his own 
downfall. But the nation saw the sacrifice, and 
too well knew the estimate of merit to be de- 
ceived. Still it required that a high reward 
should be bestowed on the successful general. 
He received another trust, and sank under an in- 
competency that no longer was supported by the 
extraordinary talent of subordinates. Then it 
was that the soul of Washington was exhi- 
bited in its native power. The bruised spirit 
of foiled ambition was solaced, and so solaced, 
that the disappointed rejoiced in the sympathy 
of success. 

The character of Washington was Doric, in all 
its proportions. Its beauty is the beauty of har- 
mony between purpose and means, and its gran- 
deur is owing to its chaste simplicity. Like the 
order of architecture to which I have ventured to 
ascribe a resemblance, it is not liable to the de- 




■'V "■i- 







iVit \ 

tails of criticism. You see it in its majesty of 
outline, in its durability, and in its admirable 
adaptation to usefulness ; but it rests on a foun- 
dation too firm, and it upholds a superstructure 
too severe to be familiarly dissected. His fame 
already resembles that which centuries have pro- 
duced for other men, while it owes no portion of 
its purity to the mist of time. Truth, bold, clear, 
and radiant, is the basis of his renown, and truth 
will bear his name to posterity in precisely the 
same simple and just attributes as it was known 
to those who lived in his immediate presence. 

The age has been prolific of character, and it 
should be prolific in the lessons it conveys. I 
think a mighty moral is taught by the careers of 
"Washington and Napoleon. A parallel between 
these eminent men is impossible ; but a compa- 
rison is easy indeed. To say that the former lived 
for others, and the latter solely for himself, is to 
say no more than what most men see, and feel, 
and acknowledge. To endeavour to magnify the 
exploits of the latter, by putting them in contrast 
with those of the former, would be unjust, since 
accident and not mer't was at the bottom of this 
distinction. It should, however, never be forgot- 
ten, that the first achieved all he aimed at, which 
was all that man should do; and that the last 
failed, from an incompetency of estimating his 
own powers. The error of the latter is the more 
unpardonable, since, to gross want of judgment. 




must be added unworthiness of purpose ; nor is 
it in any degree lessened by the circumstance 
that he sinned in the presence of so bright and so 
glorious an example. If there be any so weak as 
to believe the asseverations of Napoleon, that he 
fought for aught but self, let them try his patriotism 
by the same test as that of Washington. It is true 
that, in mere extent of achievement, the hero of 
France vastly outstripped the patriot of America ; 
but the latter not only wanted a theatre for his 
actions, but he was often deficient in means. 
Merit is of a nature too comparative to be rashly 
reduced to results ; but strip these men of their 
accidental and adventitious advantages, and 
regard them steadily. The military career of 
Napoleon was run in the current of prosperity, 
while that of Washington was a constant, but 
manly struggle, against a combination of the 
most adverse circumstances. In addition to this 
important fact, the one considered his troops as 
the devoted instruments of his own purposes, and 
he used them accordingly ; while the other looked 
on his followers not only as the sole guardians of 
a country to which they were devoted, but as an 
important portion of that community for whose 
happiness he was contending. Napoleon was 
greatest in prosperity ; but the fume of Washing- 
ton is as equal as his character. 
They who believe that America ' ould not have 

VOL. IT. s 

M' "I 

' '.1 *» 


I ";■ ■• Uli 



k' > 

l<v' ' 

been free without Washington, neither understand • 
the part he acted, nor the people who entrusted 
him with power. The war of 1776 was purely a 
war of principle. Remonstrance and petition 
had been exhausted, and no duty of forbearance 
was neglected. All that justice, and temper, 
and mercy required, had been done before the 
sword was drawn at all. When it was deter- 
mined to resist, it became necessary to choose a 
leader worthy of a cause so righteous ; one who 
would give dignity to the quarrel in the eyes of 
nations ; who would secure confidence at home, 
and who could command respect from those who 
were bent on submission to their will. These 
difficult duties did Washington perform, in a 
manner tc exceed the hopes of the most sanguine. 
His enemies never dare to assail his integrity. No 
man was ever sufficiently hardy to affect to dis- 
trust his motives. While he wielded a power 
little short of that of a dictator, and wielded it 
firmly and with steadiness, the governed never 
knew uneasiness. So far from aiming at an un- 
just purpose, he checked, not with Roman seve- 
rity, but with the directness and simplicity of an 
honest man, the least approach to that disorder 
or disaffection in his troops, which, if any 
thing could do it in a country like this, would 
have effected the views of a personal ambition. 
On all occasions he steadily regarded duty and 



disregarded self. Nor were opportunities want- 
ing of which a man less pure might be tempted 
to profit. The discontent of his unrequited army 
at the close of the contest, might have deluded a 
less-devoted patriot ; and ambition itself could 
not desire a better pretext for urging a stronger 
government on the nation than the resistance to 
the law, which occurred in the powerful state of 
Pennsylvania so soon after his election to the pre- 
sidency. Perhaps history does not record an 
instance of an insurrection which threatened to 
be more dangerous to infant institutions than this ; 
and it is certain that history does not record an 
instance in which resistance to the laws was more 
promptly, and at a less expense of blood, subdued. 
But the glory of Washington, is to be sought in 
the whole tenor of his life ; in the bright example, 
and in the stern lesson of virtue that he has exhi- 
bited to the age, and which he has bequeathed to 
posterity. He is the only public man, since the 
general use of letters has rendered commrnication 
easy and judgments critical, that has, by common 
consent, purchased an imperishable and, what is 
far more glorious, an unsullied name. 

It is cheering to virtue to know how lasting 
and more certain are its rewards than the tempo- 
rary and doubtful fame which attends the mere 
conqueror. In what but the accidental attributes 
of a more advanced state of civilization does Na- 






■ '^i 




poleon materially differ from Jenghis Khan ? His 
contemporaries are already treating him with se- 
verity ; and, before another age is passed, and 
passion and personal antipathies shall have ceased, 
his career will lose one-half of its lustre by the 
active agency of truth. How different has been 
the lot of Washington ! He has not yet been in 
his tomb for half the life of man, and the world 
have already placed him at the side of the bright- 
est names of antiquity. The young, and the rest- 
less, and the weak of mind, may still find matter 
of applause in the career of Napoleon ; but it is 
the thoughtful, the good, and the experienced, 
who see the most to admire in the deeds, and the 
most to reverence in the character of Washington. 
Until I stood by the side of the grave of 
this illustrious man, I had never ceased to re- 
proach his country with neglect in not having 
reared a monument of marble to his memory. 
But as I lingered, for near an hour, about the 
humble vault which holds his remains, it was 
impossible not to feel how much stronger is 
the impression left by character, in a place 
where no accessories of art exist to distract 
its musings. If I were an American it would 
be the wish nearest to my heart to see the 
estate of Mount Vernon pass into the keeping of 
the nation, in order that it might be preserved, 
as nearly as possible, in its present condition. 




The vault should be kept in the touching and 
peaceful quiet in which it is now seen ; and 
when foreigners ask for the monument of their 
hero, let them be referred, with honest pride, to 
that liberty, and to those institutions which grew 
on the confidence of the world, under his wise 
and patriotic guidance. If there be a name in 
the records of history that can afford to stand 
before the eyes of criticism devoid of artificial 
aid, it is that of the man who now sleeps be- 
neath a few stunted cedars, and within moulder- 
ing walls of brick, on the banks of the Potomac. 


^c. Sfc. 


^ Congress necessarily rose on the night of the 
4th of March. You must have learned from my 
previous letters, that a congress lasts but two 
years, commencing on the 4th of March of one 
year, and terminating on the 3rd of March of the 
year but one following. Of course it would be 
necessary to convene the new members, in order 
to proceed in legislation after the prescribed 
period. This can be, and has been, done, in times 


11 . 


TliJ^ COliORLbS. 


of need, but the usuu^ pra( lice is to let ine bodies 
separate, at the end o^ v.ha\ is called the " short 
session." The terms of short and long session are 
easily explained. The constitution requires that 
congress should assemble on the first Monday in 
December of each year, unless it has adjourned 
to a different period, or is expressly convened by 
a call from the president. On the first year of 
the service of the members, it is plain they may 
sit as long as they please ; but on the second, 
their term of service expires on the 3d of March. 
As one third of the senators, and perhaps about 
the same number of the representatives, usually 
retire every two years, it would be necessary to 
summon those who supply their places, should 
the public service require an immediate continua- 
tion of the legislative duties. The senate some- 
times sits a day or two after the lower house has 
adjourned, in order to attend to what is called 
exec'^vive business (the approval of nominations 
to mDi ). The practice is, I believe, uniform, at 
the end of a presidential term, in order to give 
the new incumbent an opportunity to name his 
cabinet. In all such cases the new senators are 
summoned in time to attend. Of course no legis- 
lative business can then be done. 

Late on the evening of the 3d of March, con- 
gress rose; but, in point of fact, the change of 
executive power was not made until the president 



elect took the oUh of office. Tiiisceicmui^v took 
place about noon of Ihe I'ollowing aay. ^ .i I'^'OK 
when Mr. i^dams, the elder, went o«ii of ^ fT;^!e, 
he made sundry nominations whirh. were ui>- 
firmed by the old senators on the evcnji;*^ of ihe 
3d of March. Mr. Jefferson, hi£. 'airrt, .or, 
refused to ratify these appointments. He took 
the ground that, as president, he had the power 
to appoint to office, the senate only possessing, in 
effect, a veto. Now, the new functionaries had 
not received their commissions, and no one could, 
constitutionallj . sign them but the actual presi- 
dent ; this, the actual president refused to do, and 
of course there were no appointments, since it is by 
no means incumbent on the president to appoint 
an officer, even after the senate has approved of 
his name, the power of the latter goin^^ no farther 
than their negative. It could be of no moment, 
except in the appointment of a judg \, whether 
the president appointed there f^i<*eri or not, 
since, in all other cases, he p. ..sesses the power 
of removal, the commissions invariabiv runnaiff - 
•' this commissioi lo continue in for^e during the 
pleasure of the pwsident of the United States for 
the time being." 

The president absolutely appoints certain in- 
ferior officers uf the government, such as midship- 
men, masters, gunners, &c. &c., in the navy, and 
all tne cadets that enter the army ; but, in point 

' ■■■■ f ! 
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: '!( 

It;::;;!'! i 

of fact, a great deal of republican equality is ob- 
served in the distribution of even these small 
favours. The plan is to give to each state officers in 
proportion to its representatives ; still the absolute 
selection is with the president. All the post- 
masters in the country, who are, in truth, only 
deputies of the post-master-general, receive their 
commissions from the latter officer. Of course the 
president, who can at any time remove the post- 
master-general, has a controlling voice in all the 
superior appointments of that department. The 
secretaries also appoint their own clerks, and 
there is a considerable patronage in the hands of 
the secretary of the treasury, who names several 
hundred officers, in the different custom-houses, 
that receive salaries of between five hundred and 
a thousand dollars each. The constitution indicates 
certain officers v/ho shall be nominated to the 
senate. It then goes on to say, that all others 
must be similarly appointed, unless congress, by 
law, shall see fit to trust the power in the presi- 
dent, or in the heads of departments. As yet, 
congress has seen fit to do both ; but should the 
trusts be abused, it always possesses the power 
to repeal its own enactments. 

A great deal is said in Europe concerning the 
econoLiy of this government. It is the subject of 
much ridicule and of high praise on our side of 
the Atlantic. In order to form a just opinion on 



the subject, it is necessary to ascertain some of 
the leading facts. 

You will always remembe , that as there exists 
a double form of government, there are double 
sets of officers to be paid. This circumstance, 
however, does not add in any great degree to the 
expense, since no duty is performed twice. The 
president of the United States receives a salary 
of twenty-five thousand dollars a year. This sum 
can neither be increased nor diminished during 
his term of service. He is also supplied with a 
furnished house. On this salary the president can 
live like a gentleman who receives a good deal of 
company, and it is thought he may even lay by a 
reasonable excess yearly. Perhaps, considering 
the nature of the government, the income is about 
what it should be. The heads of departments 
receive six thousand dollars each, and no 
house. Their salaries are too low, since 
they scarcely afford the means of creditable 
subsistence to men in their public situations. It 
is probable, however, that the country will, ere 
long, erect buildings for the residence of these 
officers, and increase their pay a little. There is 
no plausible reason why it should be so much in- 
ferior to that of the president. The chief justice 
of the United States receives five thousand, 
dollars a year, and each of the assistant justices 
four thousand five hundred. The judges of the 




tit '■:' \ \t 


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I h fS ,■;;; V 


t'S,^, ,*.;■! a 


district courts are paid from eight hundred to 
three thousand dollars a year, according- to the 
amount of their services. The vice-president gets 
five thousand dollars a year. The members of 
congress receivi> eight dollars a day, each, while 
at Washington, and eight dollars for every twenty 
miles of their route in going and returning. Minis- 
ters plenipotentiary receive nine thousand dollars 
a year salary, the same sura for an outfit, and one- 
fourth of it to defray the expences of their return 
home. This pay is much too small, certainly ; and 
it is as unwise in its generality, as in its amount. 
It is unjust to pay a man who is compelled to live 
in London, for instance, the same sum as a man 
who is compelled to live in Madrid. It is unwise 
to neglect to use, in a rational degree, an influ- 
ence that other people acknowledge, whatever 
may be its inherent merit, or whatever may be 
the opinion of the people of the United States 
themselves on the subject. Their motive in send- 
ing ministers abroad, is interest : and we, who 
know the effect of a little appearance in our 
hemisphere, know that he is a gainer who con- 
sults the prejudices of those with whom he is re- 
quired to dwell. But independently of this truth, 
which must, however, be taken with a proper de- 
gree of qualification, in many places, the agents of 
this government cannot subsist with a proper 
degree of comfort on their salaries. No man can 

11. ■ i. 



maintain the establishment of a private gentleman 
and educate four or five children well, on two 
thousand pounds a year, in London. Consuls 
receive no pay (as such). The collectors of the 
customs are paid in proportion to their duties, 
limiting the receipts to less than five thousand 
dollars a year. A similar plan is observed with 
post-masters, and sundry other officers ; the maxi- 
mum of pay varying according to the importance 
of the office. Although the higher functionaries 
of this government are not often paid as well as 
they should be, the lower officers are very gene- 
rally well rewarded. Salaries of two or three 
thousand dollars, for situations of no great dignity, 
are not uncommon, and there are many subordi- 
nates who receive from eight to twelve hundred. 
In short, the object, though it sometimes fails, is 
to make all classes of men comfortable, without 
furnishing the means of a useless splendour to 
any. The errors that have undoubtedly been 
made, are the unavoidable results of a popular 
government, in which official men are sometimes 
reluctant to incur a responsibility that leads to no 
very important results. I think that time will 
correct them, and should it not, the evil is one of 
far less magnitude than that which is entailed by 
a lavish expenditure of the public money. 

The whole of the civil, diplomatic, and miscel- 
laneous expences of this government, for the year 




ETT^.. i^ 

< ;: 



i: ! 






1826, were 2,600,177 dollars. This is, however, 
exclusive of the cost of the state governments, and 
the cost of collecting the revenue. The latter is 
about 750,000 dollars. The military expenditure 
was 6,243,236 dollars. But the greater part of this 
sum was for the erection of fortifications, for ord- 
nance, arming the militia, Indian department, 
and pensions of soldiers of the revolution, Sec. 
The actual cost of the army, pay, subsistence 
and clothing included, was about 2,000,000 of 
dollars. That so extensive a country can protect 
itself at so cheap a rate, is in some measure owing 
to its remote situation, but chiefly to its institutions, 
which trusts its defence to the citizens. A vast 
deal is clearly gained by thus limiting resistance 
to its foreign enemies. I do not think that the 
pressure of a crowded population can produce any 
material difference, since the present system of 
America must ever make it the interest of a great 
majority to preserve order. A soldier in the army 
receives five dollars a month pay, with his clothes 
and victuals. The officers are paid according to 
rank.* The other expences of the army are of 

'. * A soldier enlists for five years. He receives the following 
articles of clothing during that period, viz. five uniform coats; 
three cotton jackets with sleeves ; three woollen ditto ditto ; ten 
pairs of grey woollen overalls ; ten pairs of drilling ditto ; three 
fatigue frocks : five trowsers ; ten pairs of laced boots ; ten ditto 
shoes; ten flannel shirts ; ten cotton ditto ; ten pairs of stockings; 



u temporary nature, and furnish no clue to future 

The navy of the United States, for the same 
year (18'2G) cost 4,218,902 dollars. But this sum 
is also liable to a great deal of explanation. The 
United States, to be in i ^adiness to meet any emer- 
gency, maintain a corps of about 950 officers. 
Their present policy is to foster this corps, and 
consequently no one member of it is put on half 
pay, except at his own desire. The pay and sub- 
sistence of the officers, and the pay of the men, 
actually afloat (rather more than 5,000 in all), 
somewhat exceeds a million of dollars. In this 
number, too, about one-tenth are quarter-deck 
officers. Much of the money is for the expenses of 
navy yards, and the ordinary. About 300,000 dol- 
lars are for the provisions of the men. The rest is 
for the increase of the navy, arrearages, and for the 
support of the marine corps, of whom nearly 1000 
are employed. The latter are, of course, in addition 
to the sea officers and seamen. It would be trou- 
blesome to separate the several parts of these ex- 
penditures in such a manner as to give a clear and 
simple statement of each and all of them ; but as the 
American government publishes the most minute 

I ''m' i 


ten ditto socks ; two leathern stocks : one greatcoat ; three blankets; 
five pairs of wings ; four pompons ; two cockades and eagles; four 
bands and tassels ; one leathern cap cover, plate, scales and ball ; 
one forage cap, and ten pairs of flannel drawers. 

■ 'i ,: f 





m Itt 12.2 






lllpS 1 1.4 1.6 




















I lii 


documents on these subjects, it is in the power of 
any one to do it who has sufficient interest in the 
subject to pursue so elaborate an inquiry. I shall 
content myself with the main results, coupled 
with such facts of a general nature, as I think may 
reward you for the pain of decyphering my 


* In the January number (LXXIII.) of the Quarterly Review, 
there is an article on the United States of America. The reviewer 
speaks boldly of the American navy, for he professes to treat of 
a work written by an English naval officer, who, in his turn, had 
also written a little decidedly on the same subject. In a note at- 
tached to the end of this volume, the writer has endeavoured to show 
in what points his information differs from that of both reviewer 
and reviewed, in respect to this important branch of the American 
policy. His present object is, however, confined to expenditure. 
In page 279 of the said Review, is the following sentence, " With 
this small numberof men" (4,268), "the establishments of the dock- 
yards on a very limited scale, and the civil branches of the service, a 
mere tritle, the sum expended for the naval department in 1826, 
was 4,222,952 dollars, or close upon one million sterlin In 

the printed report of the secretary of the treasury, now before the 
writer. Letter F. page 39, is a minute statement of the expenditure 
of the naval establishment for the year 1826. The gross amount is 
4,218,902 dollars, 45 cents. From this report the following items 
are extracted : " Repairs of vessels, 485,970 ; ship houses, 44,296 ; 
gradual increase of the navy 793,704 : ten sloops of war, 506,163 ; 
prohibition of slave trade, 22,220 ; pay and subsistence of marine 
corps (which is not included in the before mentioned number of 
men), 219,686 :'• and no less a sum than 294,380 for improvements 
and additions to navy yards, besides a number of small miscella- 
neous items, that make together about 1 10,000 more. The figures 
are all meant to represent dollars, and together they make 2,576,41 9, 



All the appointments of a captain of the navy, in 
command of a shore station, are worth something 
less than four thousand dollars a year, exclusive of 
a house. When in command of a vessel, his pay 
is considerably less. There is a difference made 
in the case of a vessel of a very small size, though 
the commander of a 44 receives as much as the 
commander of a 74. But the pay of both the army 
and navy should not be considered as permanently 
established, especially of the latter service, which 
is just beginning to receive, in all its bi-anches, 
that grave attention that its vital importance to the 
security and dignity of the nation demands. ; 

You will perceive that, as a rule, the inferior 
agents of the American government are better 
paid than the same description of individuals in 
the employment of almost any other nation, while 
the higher officers receive less.* 

or something more than one-half the sura that the reviewer has 
taken for premises by which he wishes i. ^how that the Americans 
maintain a small force at an enormous expense. Not one of the 
items here enumerated, properly belongs to the expense of the 
small number of men, the civil branches of the service, or the 
establishments of the dock-yards, unle^ additions and improvements 
to the latter can be thus considered. Independently of all this, the 
balance not only supports the service afloat, &c. &c. but it keeps 
all the officers of the ^navy (with perhaps a dozen voluntary excep- 
tions) on full pay. The writer here leaves the matter between the 
secretary of the treasury of the United States, and the contributor 
to the Qiiarterly Review. — See Note A. end of the volume. 

* The expenditure for the year 1 828, is estimated as follows ; 

^ uM! 







I The positive annual expenses of the American 
government are not far from 13,000,000 dollars. 
Of this sum rather more than three millions and 
a half are for the interest of the national debt. 
But the odd half million is met by the dividends 
of bank stock, for the purchase of which several 
millions of the debt were created. The actual outgo- 
ings, therefore, for the current service of the coun- 
try, all improvements and constructions included, 
are within 10,000,000 dollars. Every thing is so 
much on the advance in .the United States, that 
it is difficult to arrive at an exact understanding 
of what is meant by current expenditure. Thus, 
of 2,600,177 dollars, which formed the amount of 
the civil, miscellaneous and diplomatic head of the 
account (for the year 1826), near 1,200,000 dollars 
were miscellaneous encigh, as the charges includ- 
ed 188,000 dollars for light-houses, near 300,000 
for canal stock, and more than 200,000 for old 
claims arising out of the war of 1812. The real 
civil list of that year, exclusive of diplomacy, was 

■ '*'','. • • ■ 

the result rarely differing materially from these calculations. Civil, 
diplomatic, and miscellaneous, 1,828,385 dollars ; military ser- 
vice, including fortifications, ordnance, Indian department, provi- 
sions, arming of militia, &c. 4,332,091 dollars; naval service, in- 
cluding the gradual increase of the navy, 3,788,349 dollars, 
making a total for the regular expences of the government, includ- 
ing sums previously voted for erecting forts and building ships, of 
9,947,125 dollars. The interest of the debt is not contained in this 
amount. '..:■'.. . . . . 



1,256,745 dollars, and the cost of all the diplomacy 
of the country was 180,103 dollars. This trifling 
sum supported the whole expense and contingen- 
cies, in short, the entire cost of more than twenty 
different missions in Europe, Africa, and America. 
It is worthy of remark, that the diplomacy of this 
country is managed about as well as that of most 
nations ; and I am of opinion, that, when its power 
shall become sufficiently great to be dreaded, it 
will be found to be still more successful. 

The clear revenue of the United States, from the 
customs alone, is now (1828) about 20,000,000 of 
dollars. As this source of receipts produces in itself 
a great excess over all the outgoings, there are no 
direct impositions laid by the general government. 
The debt is in the course of rapid extinguishment, 
and as the interest is annually diminished, the 
ability of the country to increase its expenditure 
is of course increased. Notwithstanding this pros- 
perous state of the public purse, the most rigid 
economy is observed, a circumstance that it is idle 
to say is produced by any other cause than the 
direct agency of the people on the administration. 

Thus far we have not touched on the salaries of 
the state governments at all. They are graduated, 
however, on the same scale of expense, the richest 
and largest of these communities rarely paying as 
much to the public servants as the general govern- 
ment. There is undoubtedly, in some few instances, 
as in the legislatures and judiciaries, a double 


..if 1^- 

! I in 


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» 1 






■!i- 1 

set of officers to support ; but, when one remem- 
bers the great extent of the country, it will be seen 
that, under any other form of government, it would 
be impossible to avoid this expense. No single set 
of judges could travel over this great surface in 
times sufficiently short to administer justice equally 
and promptly, nor could one great and central le- 
gislative body enact all the local laws that are abso- 
lutely necessary to a country so new and so vast. 

The only reply that the enemies of America 
(and they are all the enemies of liberty) can urge, 
when her example is pointed to in support of the 
doctrine of economy, is founded on the fact of the 
double form of its government, and the additional 
expense that is consequently incurred. I know 
of but two ways in which we can arrive sufficient- 
ly near the truth to ascertain whether this addi- 
tional cost raises the expenses of the American to 
the level of those of the European or not. The 
one (and is it not infallible ?) is to compare the 
amount of contributions paid by the parties ; and 
the other is to attempt to reach the cost of govern- 
ing some particular portion of the confederacy, 
and then to make the necessary comparisons be- 
tween it and some equal community in our hemi- 
sphere. We will endeavour to do both. 

The state of New York contains one-seventh of 
the entire population of the Union. One seventh 
of 2,600,177 dollars, the whole amount of the 
" civil, diplomatic, and miscellaneous expenses'' of 



the general government for the year (1826) is 
371 ,453. This dividend includes more than one mil- 
lion of miscellaneous expenditure, such as *' light 
houses," " stock in canal companies,'* and " pay- 
ment of claims for buildings destroyed in the 
war,'* but no matter, we will take the amount in 
gross. Now the whole expenditure of the civil list 
of the state of New York, is about 350,000 
dollars. The two sums make 721,453 dollars. 
Here you have 1,700,000 inhabitants receiving 
justice at their own doors, internal protection, le- 
gislation in the utmost convenient form possible, 
and all the more general advantages of govern- 
ment, for the sum of less than half a dollar a head 
annually. If you divide the military and naval 
expenses of the United States by seven, you have 
the entire pecuniary charge that they defray, not 
only for the current expenses, but for the material 
provisions they are making for future defence.* 
The states are at no other material expenses than 
those attached to the civil list, unless it be for the 
purpose of domestic ini'provements, and even a great 
portion of the latter, is thus defrayed, in the salaries 
of the employ ts» 

Of incidental expenses the American pays less, 
considering his means, than the inhabitant of any 
other nation. Their city corporations, with the 
exception of one or two, are cheap, and little or 

* It should be remembered that all the expences of the general 
government (in time of peace) are paid by the importation duties. 

T 2 


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no money is expended in mere show. There arc 
no church establishments, and the religious con- 
tributions are therefore voluntary. Still the clergy 
are supported. There are various manners of 
doing this, as you may suppose, in a country so 
diversified in condition. In many of the old con- 
gregations, there are endowments which have 
grown in value with the growth of the country, 
and which now serve to relieve the people of a 
large portion of the expense. A farm bought for 
that purpose, and a house erected when land and 
materials were cheap, become valuable and useful 
in time. There is a common practice of erecting 
a church by contributions, and then renting the 
pews, f<>r the support of the clergymen. No ge- 
neral is, however, applicable to this particular 
branch of expense ; but as no one taxes himself 
beyond his own pleasure, and as churches are, for 
the circumstances, exceedingly numerous, it is fair 
to presume that the population do not find the ex- 
pense of supporting the clergy burthensome. Trif- 
ling additional taxes are also laid in the counties 
and towns to defray local expenses, and, among 
others, for the maintenance of the common schools. 
These taxes also vary according to circumstances, 
the county which is building a court house and 
gaol, or which is engaged in any other public 
work, paying more at the moment than the county 
which has already discharged that duty. The 
whole tax paid on a farm valued at 5000 dollars in 



one of the older counties of New York, was five 
dollars. This included every charge for that year, 
though the assessment is subject to variations, 
being sometimes more, and sometimes less. As the 
United States, in point of fact, imposes no taxes 
in time of peace, this charge was all the owner 
of this farm had to pay (as such) for the entire pro- 
tection of government. It is true he contributed 
something in the way of duties on imported goods, 
but that is a contribution that depended entirely 
on his personal expenditure. The impositions of 
the general government are, as you already know, 
commonly much lighter than those laid in other 
commercial nations. 

In order to make a correct estimate, however, 
of the comparative rate of the taxes paid by the 
American, it is necessary to consider the value of 
what he receives. He is required to pay for im- 
provements in the country, which produce a direct 
influence on the increasing value of his property. 
The income and the price of his farm keep equal 
pace with the growth of the settlement in which 
he lives. He enjoys the means of giving a credit- 
able education to his children, within a reasonable 
distance of his own dwelling, and all for the sum 
included in the state tax, if the cost of school- 
books, paper, &c. be excepted. He is certainly 
compelled to devote more or less of his time to 
working the highways,* but then he takes care that 

* This imposition is laid according to the property of the indi- 
vidual. A commutation in money at a very reduced rate is allowed. 

1 -, 

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the route by his own door shall be kept in as good 
order as that by the door of any body else. 

As a whole, the public impositions in America, 
including taxes, duties, labour, militia service, 
clergy, and every thing else, are exceedingly light. 
But it is absolutely impossible to give any parti- 
cular example which shall not be liable to so much 
exception as to destroy it as a rule. So much of 
the contribution is returned in the way of improve- 
ments which effect the value of the property taxed, 
that, had I all the statements in my head, I do not 
know that I could give you a clear idea of their 
relative amount. All those local impositions which 
exist in other countries, as octrois, &c. &c. are 
utterly unknown here. 

I have heard it imputed to America as a fault, 
that her system leads to the loss of time and mo- 
ney in excessive litigation. It is said that there 
are more suits at law here than among any similar 
number of people in the known world. Although I 
cannot pretend to say that the fact is so, I should 
be surprised to learn that it was otherwise. 

The whole territory of the United States covers 
2,000,000 of square miles. It is true that the 
title to more than half of this immense surface still 
exists in the government, where a vast deal of it 
will probably continue for ages. But, in order to 
bring our calculations within the bounds of exac- 
titude, let us again look at New York. This state 

but it is impossible to give its amount, since it is an assessment that 
diminishes with the improvement of the country. 




has 46,000 square miles of territory, which is own- 
ed among, we will say (1828), 1,750,000 people. 
Now, to every foot of this land there is a title 
somewhere. Very little, indeed, is the prop*^rty of 
the state. Here, then, is a plain and dire*" I'eason 
why the 1,750,000 inhabitants should have more 
questions about land titles than the same number 
any where else, simply because they are the owners 
of more of the article in dispute. Land is also great- 
ly subdivided in all the older parts of America, 
and of course each subdivision has its separate 
title. Then the rapid transfer of property which 
is incidental to the condition of a country in pro- 
gijss of settlement, multiplies conveyances, and 
each new conveyance opens the way to litigation. 
The revolution, with its changes, also gave birth 
to disputes which time is just beginning to settle, 
as indeed it is beginning to settle all other contro- 
versies that grow exclusively out of the transfers 
of real estates. 

The United States are, again, a more commer- 
cial nation, compared with their population, than 
any other in the world. Among such a people 
legal disputes must, of necessity, arise. Justice 
is comparatively cheap, and easy of access. Men 
have confidence in her decrees ; and the fear of 
power, influence, and corruption is unknown. In 
such circumstances wrong headed persons, who 
are ever apt to fancy themselves in the right, make 
their appeals to the tribunals boldly. I do not 


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believe that the system of the United States 
encourages litigation, except as it brings all men 
before the court on terms not of nominal, but of a 
true ecjuality. Still I can believe that the great 
number of low practitioners of the law who are 
scattered up and down the country, do induce 
men to enter rashly into legal contests. In the 
older and more regulated states, litigation is far less 
frequent, certcris parihus, than in those that are 
more new. The same is true of the proportion 
of taxes, as compared to the value of property. I 
am of opinion that, were it not for the great num- 
ber of country lawyers in America, it would be 
found that litigation is less resorted to than in many 
other countries, notwithstanding the unavoidable 
causes of contention which exist in anew country. 
The number of the lawyers is undeniably an evil ; 
but, besides being an evil which is likely to correct 
itself, and which is already beginning to correct 
itself, it is one that is not without its advantages. 
They serve to keep alive an active knowledge of 
their rights among the people, and although much 
abused as pettifoggers, they make, in common, 
exceedingly useful and intelligent local legislators. 
There is a great fashion of decrying men of 
moderate acquiremen s in all things, as if life were 
not more a matter of experience than of theories. 
It is much easier to assume than to prove, that a 
set of profound thinkers would legislate better for 
a community than a set of active and half-edu- 



cated men, who are familiar with the practices of 
the world. All the common passions oi man are 
as well, and perhaps better known to the latter 
than to the former, and after legislation has pro- 
vided against the danf;ers that are coincident to 
their existence, one must seek the rest of its 
duties in the world and not in books. But what 
says experience? It would be difficult to find 
any one country on earth in which the laws are 
better adapted to promote the true interests of 
the community, than in the most, I am not sure 
I could not say the least, favoured of the states 
of this republic. And yet legislation is the busi- 
ness of practical men altogether. At all events, 
they have contrived to obtain quiet and security 
at a cheaper rate than other people, and that, 
too, in many cases under all the unpropitious 
circumstances of great dispersion and the first 
stages of society. 

It is a rule which applies to all salaries in this 
country, that little or no allowances are made for 
the support of mere dignity. The dignity of 
government is supposed to rest in the people 
themselves ; and among their other provisions for 
its support, they have taken care to retain most 
of the money. The president receives a larger 
sum certainly than is necessary for his mere sub- 
sistence ; but then the president is liable to a 
vast number of expenses that other functionaries 
escape ; and, in his case, it is thought politic to 


» , 

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bid a little higher than common, in order to com- 
mand talent. It is not too much to say, that the 
president of the United States, if a prudent man, 
can save quite as much money out of his. salary, 
each year, as a first rate lawyer in practice would 
gain ; and I confess I see but one reason why he 
has the smallest right to ask any more. He has 
generally reached a time of life when he retires, 
that forbids further exertion ; and perhaps it is 
wisest to attach a degree of consideration to this 
high office, which shall preclude men from des- 
cending subsequently to inferior duties. The 
latter point, however, is one that will certainly 
admit of dispute, and I do not think the former as 
strong as it first appears. Necessity will teach men 
the value of prudence and exertion in early life ; 
nor is this the country that ought to wish to see 
its chief magistrate setting an example of useless, 
but attractive splendour. There are no vices so 
contagious as the corruptions which flow from the 
excessive use of money, for the desire to possess 
it is a passion that all men feel, since it is the 
medium by which all the ordmary good of life is 
obtained. The accountableness of the public 
agents, and the simplicity of men of station, are 
matters of so vast importance in a republic, that 
the one should never be neglected, and as little 
occasion as possible should be given to make any 
serious innovations on the other. 
We have just had a proof that the government 



of the United States knows how to give with 
grace and liberality on a proper occasion. When 
La Fayette first came to America, he did not pro- 
ceed on his distant and hazardous expedition 
empty handed. The new states were then so 
poor, and they had been kept, by the operation of 
colonial policy, so completely dependent on the 
mother country for supplies, that the contribu- 
tions of an individual were not without moment 
to them. The arms and money of the young 
Frenchman were scarcely less acceptable than his 
sword and his heart. They had amply returned 
his love ; but it still remained to discharge a debt 
whose obligations were scarcely less sacred. 

During the last session, a bill was introduced, 
appropriating two hundred thousand dollars in 
money, and a township of land, to extinguish this 
debt. It was not pretended that the money bor- 
rowed, or rather given (for the devotion of La 
Fayette to the cause he had espoused knew none 
of the forms of bargaining) had not been already 
returned. But the Americans know that their 
venerable friend has long been a heavy sufferer by 
the revolution in his own country, and they also 
know that he took little account of the pecuniary 
interests of this life. The bill was not passed in 
enthusiasm, and with the hurry of dramatic effect, 
but it went through the forms of legislation with 
calmness and dignity. It was even resisted by 
one or two sturdy republicans, who paid a tribute 

1 ' 




to the manliness of the nation, by openly contend- 
ing that, as the infirm and poorer agents of the 
revolution were still unrequited, they could not 
vote to bestow money on another, for services that 
were performed in common. But a vast majority 
of the two houses were of opinion that injustice to 
part, was no apology for injustice to the whole, and 
the case before them was one of too disinterested 
and too brilliant service to admit of a parallel. 

The claims of La Fayette on America cannot, 
surely, be likened to the claims of even Washing- 
ton. The immortal patriot of this country owed 
his allegiance, his services, and his life, to the 
land of his birth ; and his exceeding merit is in 
the faith and ability with which he discharged 
the duties. But nature had imposed no such 
obligation on La Fayette. We may admire and 
extol the filial piety of the child in its degree ; 
but without it, altogether, the offspring would 
become a reproach and a subject of scorn before 
mankind. The stranger who yields his aid under 
the influence of a general philanthropy, is alone 
entitled to deep and unqualified gratitude, since 
the universal obligations of society create indis- 
soluble connections between the members of 
families and the citizens of the same commu- 

But there was still a loftier claim in the case of 
La Fayette to the homage of a nation. His devo- 
tion to the cause of America was a devotion to 



the interests of humanity. The service he per- 
formed was chivalrous in its conception, bold in 
its moral attributes, and fearless in its execution. 
He dedicated youth, person, and fortune to the 
principles of liberty ; and it was fitting that an 
example should be given to the world, that he 
who had suffered in such a cause was not to go 
unrequited. In this view of the case, it was just 
as incumbent on the Frenchman to receive, as it 
was the duty of the American to bestow. At a 
time when the servants of despotism and abject 
submission jare receiving such ample gifts for 
their devotion, it is encouraging to see one splendid 
instance, at least, of virtue, and disinterestedness, 
and patient suffering, receiving a portion of the 
worldly rewards that should be the exclusive 
property of men devoted to the good of mankind. 

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<^c. Sj-c. 


I HAVE just witnessed one of the most imposing 
ceremonies of this government ; I allude to the 
inauguration of the president of the United States. 
It took place about noon, on the 4th of March, 
when the power of the late incumbent ceased, 





11 I 



and that of his successor commenced. It was 
simple in its forms, but it may possess sufficient 
interest to amuse a few leisure minutes. 

Every body was in the capitol by the appointed 
hour. As it is altogether a ceremony of conven- 
tion (with the exception of the oath of office), 
such persons were admitted to be spectators, as 
the officers who controlled the proceedings chose. 
But in a country like this, exclusion must proceed 
on a principle, and on such a principle, too, as 
shall satisfy the reason of the community. In the 
first place, the galleries of the hall of.the house of 
representatives were thrown open to every body, 
a measure that in itself served to commence with 
a system of equality. The floor of the house was 
next occupied, as a matter of course, by the sena- 
tors and representatives. The foreign ministers 
and their suites, the officers of the government, 
including those of the army and navy, ex-mem- 
bers of congress, and citizens of eminence from 
distant states, and finally strangers, who were 
deemed worthy of attention, composed the rest of 
th«i assembly. 

The officers of the army and navy appeared in 
uniforms ; and as there were a great many hand- 
some and well-dressed women present, the scene 
was sufficiently gay. But here all attempts at 
display ceased. There were no guards, no pro- 
cessions, no wands, no robes, nor any of the 
usual accompaniments of an European ceremony. 

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At the proper time, the president (Mr. Monroe) 
and the president-elect (Mr. Quincy Adams) entered 
the hall, accompanied by the great officers of state, 
the judges of the supreme court, &c. &c. The two 
former took their seats on the sofa of the speaker, 
while the others occupied chairs that had been 
reserved for them. After a short pause, the chief 
justice of the United States arose, and ascended 
to the little elevation on which the sofa stands. 
He held in his hand the sacred volume. Mr. 
Adams then took the oath, in the presence of the 
assembly, with solemnity and distinctness. The 
form was as follows : — " I do solemnly swear (or 
affirm) that I will idithfuUy execute the office of 
president of the United States, and will, to the 
best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend 
the constitution of the United States." 

With this brief but impressive office, a change 
in the executive power of this vast republic was 
effected. The moment Mr. Adams had pro- 
nounced the words yast quoted, he was the chief 
magistrate of a great nation, and his predeces- 
sor retired to the station of a private citizen. 

After a momentary delay, the new president 
commenced what is called his " inaugural ad- 
dress." It was long, and it was delivered with 
earnestness and apparent sincerity. It is custo- 
mary to recognise, on this occasion, the leading 
principles of the constitution, and for the new 
functionary to make some manifestation of the 



■:< i 'I 





particular course of policy by which he intends 
to be governed. Such professions are, however, 
rather general than minute, and seldom go farther 
than a confession of political faith, that depends 
much more on received axioms than on any pri- 
vate opinions. Still, there was a simplicity in 
the air of the president, and in the forms of the 
ceremony, which irresistibly led to the belief you 
were listening to professions that were entitled to 
more credit than those which similar scenes else- 
where are wont to create. When the address was 
ended, the assembly intermingled ; and after the 
congratulations and compliments proper to such 
an event, the multitude quietly dispersed. Imme- 
diately after, the senators proceeded to their 
chamber, where the oath was administered to 
Mr. Calhoun, who then took the chair of that 
body, in virtue of his office of vice-president of 
the United States. He made a short and perti- 
nent address, and the senate soon after adjourned. 
Dunng the course of that, or the succeeding day, 
Mr. Adams nominated Mr. Clay, the late speaker' 
of the house of representatives, to fill the vacancy 
(secretary of state) occasioned by his own election 
to the chair of the chief magistrate. Mr. Craw- 
ford, the secretary of the treasury, also retired ; 
and Mr. Rush, who had recently been minister in 
England, was selected to fill the situation. The 
place of Mr. Calhoun was supplied by a gentle- 
man from Virginia (Mr. Barbour"* With these 

1 •• 

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changes the new cabinet was complete, the other 
incumbents retaining office. I understand it is a 
practice for every member of the cabinet to 
tender his resignation on the election of a new 
president, which gives the latter an opportunity 
of making such alterations as he may deem expe- 
dient, in the most delicate manner possible. Two 
of the vacancies, in the present instance, were 
the results of promotions; and it is understood 
that Mr. Adams would have gladly retained Mr. 
Crawford, had that gentleman been disposed to 

I confess I have been struck with the imposing 
simplicity of such a quiet transfer of power. The 
office of president of the United States is one of 
great dignity and high trust, and its duties have 
always been discharged with singular moderation 
and zeal. The present incumbent is a prudent 
and zealous patriot, and there is no reason to 
distrust his intelligence or intentions. 

It is a necessary consequence of an European 
education, that we should subject all things to the 
rules that are known to govern life in our quarter 
of the world. Under these imoressions, a thou- 
sand absurd and childish theories have been 
urged among us, concerning the probable influence 
of such an officer, as the one whose inauguration 
I have just described. It would teach some of us 
moderation, though it did not teach us wisdom, 
did we thoroughly understand the fact, that it is 

VOL. ir. 


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- ^r? 4 








quite as unintelligible to the mass of the Ameri- 
cans how we contrive to get on under our systems, 
as it is to us how they manage to get on with 

I have already endeavoured to convey some 
idea of the nature of the private intercourse which 
the president holds with his fellow-citizens. He 
is uniformly treated with personal respect, but 
never with adulation. The tone of the manners of 
the country is so much opposed to the practices of 
courts, that artifice itself requires that some sacri- 
fice should be made to simplicity. Whenever the 
president appears in his official character, he is 
received with the quiet deference that is due to his 
office ; bul whenever he chooses to appear as a 
private citi '.en, he does it without exciting more 
attention than is naturally bestowed on an indi- 
vidual who occupies an elevated and responsible 
station. The late president (Mr. Monroe) made 
tours of observation through all the states, and 
along the whole line of the national frontier. His 
journey was rather of a public nature, and his re- 
ceptions, in the towns and states, wore a good 
deal of a public character. The ceremonies through 
which he passed were a species of homage paid, 
in remote quarters of the confederation, to the 
unity of the nation in his person, though, in no in- 
stance, did they exceed the compliments of the 
: governed to the man who filled a station to which 
he had been elected by the public will. When, 



on the other hand, the president chooses to leave 
the seat of government on his private affairs, he 
passes through the states like any other citizen, 
though it is not possible to separate the man en- 
tirely from the consideration, or, indeed, from the 
* actual power which attends the office. He jour- 
neys, on these occasions, like other people, in the 
steam-boats and public coaches ; and his pas- 
s ges through the towns are distinguished by no 
other marks of attention than the visits of compli- 
ment that he, or any other man of eminence, would 
naturally receive. 

The constitutional power of the president is not 
trifling, though it is always rigidly subordinate to 
the law. He is commander-in-chief of the army; 
but while it might prove some palliation to plead 
an illegal order issuing from this source, as an ex- 
cuse for violating any law, it would not be the 
slightest justification. The only supreme autho- 
rity in this republic is the law : and the president, 
not in words, but in fact, is just as much its sub- 
ject as the meanest corporal in the line. Should 
he venture to order a subaltern to do an illegal act 
the young man might refuse to obey, and should 
he order him to be punished for his disobedience, 
there is an authority in the country that would 
quickly take the supposed offender out of his 
hands. Now this is not a naked theory, but a 
rigid fact, and the consequence is just what it 
should be. Those who wield the public power 

u 2 

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nil. I'HLSIDKM'. 



for the time bcinj^, take all possible care never to 
be legally in the wrong, for they well know that 
neither influence, nor situation, nor fear, nor any 
other caup-^ .: save the offender from open accu- 
sation bcivie the nation. It is easy to say that 
such a system must give rise to insubordination 
and tumult, and a thousand other evils ; but where 
is the proof? The discipline of the army and navy 
of the United States is as good as those in other 
services, though submission to arbitrary power is 
far from being as common. All the authority is 
here, though it is not in the same hands as else- 

I have mentioned this fact to show you, that 
while there exists here the right to command for 
all legal purposes, there exists no authority to 
intimidate inferiors into a dangerous submission. 
These people are born and educated in a state of 
society, which inculcates deep and settled respect 
for the laws, without any respect for individuals. 
The president of the United States is commander- 
in-chief, it is true ; but he could have no security 
for obedience beyond the point where his views 
should become doubtful. 

The risk is too certain, and the success too 
remote and precarious, to leave the president any 
temptation to abuse his power. Four years do 
not suffice to mature a plan that would be 
dangerous to liberty, especially as the agency 
of a majority of those who would be the losers 

Tilt: I'ltK^IDKNI'. 


l)y the change, must be employed to ensure 
suecess. I do not believe you are silly enough 
to think that ten millions of people, who are ex- 
cessively impatient of any of the forms of des- 
potism, are likely to be subdued by a four-years 
monarch, though he should happen to be another 
Napoleon; more especially when he can neither 
obtain, feed, clothe, arm, nor pay his troops, 
without begging money annually of those whom 
he would fain crush. If there shall ever be any 
great alteration in the principles of this govern- 
ment, rely on it, it will proceed directly from a 
conviction, in the mass of the people themselves, 
that such a change is necessary to their happiness. 

Though the patronage of the president is great, 
it is subject to al' the division of political support. 
In most cases he is glad to get rid of the respon- 
sibility of appointments, since they oftener en- 
danger, than aid his popularity. He serves, 
therefore, rather as a check on vicious recommen- 
dations, than as an active source of emoluments 
and honour. Over all high and dignified appoint- 
ments, he, of course, exercises a direct influence, 
because he is supposed to know their duties 
familiarly, and he ought to know the qualifications 
of those he wishes to discharge them. But should 
he be disposed to go wrong, the senate would not 
ratify his nominations, and then his power is an- 

Let ;:;S suppose a desire of usurpation. An 





unprincipled individual finds himseli in the chair 
of tlic presidency. He wislies to become a king. 
He has but two ways of effecting this object; 
force or persuasion. If he has art enough to 
effect the latter, he is just as likely to succeed 
here as the king of England, for instance, would 
be likely to become absolute by the same means. 
If he be a man of common discretion, he will know 
that he must make a party, or his force will amount 
to just nothing at all. We will suppose him to 
have blinded the nation as to his real character 
and views, and to have selected and secured his 
agents ; two pretty difficult tasks, in the first 
place, you must allow. He has then got to place 
these agents in offices of trust, or they are no 
better than other men. In order to do this, he 
must deceive, or corrupt, the senate. But even 
this difficult task must be done in two years, since 
one-third of that body go out of office every other 
year. Well, he has bribed a majority of the 
senate, and he gets his tools into power. He 
then goes to work with the lower house, and 
soon brings two hundred men, who have been 
accustomed all their lives to look on him as an 
equal, to become his dependents. The two houses 
then give him an army, and vote money freely, in 
order to bribe that army ; for it is out of the ques- 
tion to think that men who have been nursed in 
liberty, will serve despotism for nothing. Now, 
we have him, in the short space of two years, in 



possession of the two houses, of the treasury, and 
provided with an army. It is high time he should 
make a bold demonstration, or anew congress will 
require new bribes. He takes the field with a 
hundred thousand men, and finds himself op- 
posed to a million and a half of citizens unaccus- 
tomed to be controlled illegally, and who are bent 
on resistance. The odds are a little against him, 
you will allow, even supposing all the traitors he 
has gained to continue honest men, because they 
are in his service. I will leave him to fight this 
second battle of Armageddon under the auspices 
of those wise heads, who think they sec signs in 
the clouds, and portents in the air. 

The legislative authority of the president is 
entirely negative. la this respect he possesses 
much power to do good, and none to do evil. 
His signature is necessary to make a law, perhaps ; 
but, if two-thirds of both houses vote in its 
favour, he dares not withhold it. He has, there- 
fore, rather more of a voice than any one, or any 
twenty members, without, in truth, forming a 
separate estate. As he acts under a higher respon- 
sibility, and it is supposed, with a greater fami- 
liarity with the interests and policy of the country 
than the ordinary legislator, his influence should be 
greater without putting it in his power to defeat 
the intentions of congress. It is easy to suppose 
cases in which the president can do much good. 
We will take one that is the most obvious. The 

.J M 





confederation is nearly equally divided into slave- 
owning, and what are called free states. There 
are, just now, eleven of the former, and thirteen 
of the latter. In a few years more the num- 
bers will probably stand thirteen to fourteen. Now 
each of these states has two votes in the senate, 
without whose concurrence no law can be enacted. 
The superiority of the representation of the free 
states, in the popular branch, can effect nothing 
on any question that may be supposed to touch 
the delicate interests of slavery, without obtain- 
ing the acquiescence of the senate. It is not 
easy to imagine a case when, at least, two of the 
northern senators would not be inclined to mo- 
derate views, should a contest arise that seriously 
involved any of the more important interests of 
the Union, and which was likely to divide 
men into sectional parties. But should parties 
in congress ever proceed so far as to produce, 
by a trifling majority, (it could not be a large 
one without materially uniting northern to 
southern men, or vice versa,) a law that should 
threaten serious danger to the harmony of the con- 
federation, the president has power to send it 
back, and to demand that a question of this mag- 
nitude should receive the assent of a number, 
that must, of necessity, include a concession on 
one side or the other ; and concession, as you well 
know, is a great step towards harmony. It is just 
as likely that the president, in the first place. 



should be a southern man, as a northern man ; 
and then he is expected to be, and, in point of 
fact, commonly is above all the ordinary excite- 
ments of legislative contests. The nation, which 
rarely, I may say, never, enters very blindly into 
the party heat v^rhich aifects all legislative bodies, 
would expect moderation in the president, and 
would support him in it. That such a case has 
not arisen, proves nothing but the difficulty of 
obtaining even a legislative majority on irritating 
and alarming questions ; for it is certain that in 
oniB instance, at least, such a question has been 
agitated. I mean the law for the admission of the 
State of Missouri, with the privilege of holding 
slaves. Had congress passed that law, and had 
the president good reason to think that it would 
seriously endanger the harmony of the confedera- 
tion, he must have been an impotent man indeed, 
not to have insisted that it should receive the 
support of an unequivocal majority. I do not 
believe that a refusal to admit Missouri to the 
Union, (with the privilege of holding slaves,) 
would have produced any other immediate result 
than applications to congress to change their resolu- 
tion ; and time would therefore have been given for 
the executive, (as well as the nation,) to estimate 
and weigh the consequences, even in the event of 
indecision on the part of the president ; and it is 
scarcely possible to conceive a case in which 
executive influence, and evident danger to the 






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confederation united, would not produce a change 
of two votes, especially as the constant changes 
in the members themselves, admit of such an 
interference vv^ithout involving personal vacil- 

This is one among a hundred similar familiar 
means by which any great danger that is likely to 
arrive to this confederation, may, and would be 

The president also possesses the power of re- 
ferring a question to congress in order to demand 
a majority of two thirds on any question of general 
policy. That pubhc opinion will prevent the 
abuse of this power, through vexatious inter- 
ferences with legislation, is known by experience, 
since it is difficult to conceive a case, unless of 
extraordinary magnitude, in which an officer so 
directly amenable to and dependent on public 
opinion, not only for his authority, but for his 
comfort, would dare to offend. The long neglect 
of the prerogative in England, is sufficient evi- 
dence of what public opinion can do in a case 
like this. But the neglect of the prerogative in 
England does not infer a necessary neglect of 
the salutary power of the president, since there 
is no jealousy of the exercise of the latter, the 
person who holds it being so shortly to be brought 
back into the bosom of the nation as a private 
citizen. In short, this is a power only to be 
resorted to iii cases in which the moderate and 




the wiser majority of the whole people would be 
of one mind ; and it is one that it might then be 
more injurious to neglect than to use. 

The president commissions all the officers of 
the general government, except those, who by 
law, receive their appointments from other func- 
tionaries. The judges of the United States' courts 
hold their offices during good behaviour.* With 
these exceptions, all other officers of the United 
States* government can be removed by the presi- 
dent. There are a great many officers of this 
government whose commissions are given but for 
four years; and though they are commonly re- 
commissioned, it is in the power of the president 
to pass them by if he should please. You remem- 
ber, of course, that in all cases which congress 
has not named, by a law that can at any time be 
repealed, the assent of the senate is necessary to 
an appointment. 

In the army and navy a regular system of pro- 
motion has been necessarily adopted , and as the 
senate, without a good reason, would not confirm 
any irregular nomination, preferment, in those 





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* The judges of the state courts hold their offices by different 
tenures. Some are during good behaviour ; others can be removed 
by the governors on a presentation by two thirds of the two legisla- 
tive bodies (which is, perhaps, the wisest provision of all); others 
serve until sixty years of age, as in New York; and some until 
seventy, as in Connecticut. All are, of course, liable to impeach- 







two branches of the public service, is always in 
due course, except in cases where character is 
imphcated. So admirable is the practice of 
checks and balances throughout all the depart- 
ments of this government, and so powerful and 
certain is the agency of public opinion, that no 
political management, except in cases that, by 
common consent, are thought to come fairly 
within the scope of political manoeuvrings, can 
easily be exercised. The most commendable 
impartiality is observed in those appointments, 
which, in their nature, should be kept superior to 
party influence. The president cannot advance 
his son a step in either of the two services named, 
unless the senate consents ; and the senate 
would not consent, unless the young man had 
clearly done something to merit the reward. 

A case occurred a few years since, which goes 
to prove the truth of what I tell you. A merito- 
rious lieutenant of the navy, who was entirely 
destitute of the irf?.aence of connections, came 
under the displeasure of some of the powers 
about the department under which be served. 
His name was omitted in the nominations to the 
senate, and juniors v/ere promoted over his head. 
Unprotected, and supported only by the truth, 
this gentleman went to Washington, and laid his 
case before the senators. He convinced them 
that justice had not been done him ; and the 
executive, in order to get other nominations con- 

iS 4)1 } 



firmed, was obliged not only to promote this 
gentleman, but to give him a commission that 
restored the rank he had lost. Here was a clear 
case of justice, in opposition to influence; for if 
the officer had been guilty of any offence, he was 
subject to a code of laws that, heaven knows, is 
severe enough. If any man believes that such a 
system destroys discipline, let him go on board 
an American man-of-war, and examine for him- 
self. In my opinion, it has a contreiry effect, by 
placing inferiors less in the power of their imme- 
diate superiors, and by consequently rendering 
both parties equally watchful. 

In relation to the more ordinary civil appoint- 
ments, the executive of the United States adopts 
a sufficiently discreet and useful course. The 
situations are, in general, well filled, and such a 
thing as a sinecure does not exist in the whole 
government. The president is, in fact, so far 
removed from the familiar and personal interests 
of society, that it is not difficult for him, even in a 
country as democratic as this, to preserve a dig- 
nified moderation. One hears a great deal said, 
in the United States, of management and intrigue; 
but it is necessary to remenibcr, that intrigue 
here, even when successful, does no more than a 
downright dogged power does elsewhere : and 
then it is always necessary to recollect, that the 
Americans, in complaining, compare themselves 
with the abstract right, and not with other people. 

1- ■■■ : 





Should one-tenth part of the executive abuses 
exist here that exist elsewhere, the world would 
ring with clamour. 

You may form some idea of the truth of this 
opinion, by an anecdote I shall mention. A New 
York merchant gravely assured me, that his 
countrymen were in a bad way ; that corruption 
had made great strides among them j and that he 
saw the downfal of the nation in ii3 advances. 
I begged he would mention a fact. Leading me 
into a corner, he solemnly assured me, in a half 
whisper, that he knew, of his own observation, 
that one of the clerks of the custom-house of that 
city was in the habit of taking fees that the law 
did not sanction. You may depend on it, Jules, 
I gave him a sharp look, to see that the fellow 
had no double meaning ; and then, convinced of 
his sincerity, I thought it no more than humane 
to offer the consolation of assuring him that these 
things sometimes happened elsewhere. Now, is 
all this owing to simplicity, and a new rtate of 
society ? It is a pity, then, it does not exist all 
over this continent. The president possesses the 
right to fill all vacancies that occur, during the 
recess of the senate, by commissions that shall be 
valid until the termination of the next session, un- 
less full appointments shall be sooner made. This 
power is in no danger of abuse, since the presi- 
dent himself can be removed with nearly the 
same ease as any other incumbent. 

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The authority of the president over the army 
and navy, though that of a general or an admiral, 
as well as of a civil magistrate, is always exercised 
by deputy. The secretaries of the two depart- 
ments are his organs, and they sign the orders 
with their own names. Washington took the field, 
as president, to suppress the Pennsylvania insur- 
rection ; and, to his everlasting honour be it said, 
he effected his object without shedding one drop 
of human blood. 

The president has a full, unequivocal power to 
pardon all criminals, except in cases of impeach- 
ment. It has been said (by Blackstone and Mon- 
tesquieu) that this power is incompatible with the 
nature of a democratic government. I know no 
better answer to an argument than a fact, and the 
fact, undeniably is, that the most democratic com- 
munities of the world exercise it with perfect 
safety. The mistake of these two writers only 
shows how very easy it is for the most acute 
minds to get so enveloped in prejudice, as in some 
measure to impair the faculties. The essence of 
the difference between a democracy and a des- 
potism is not so much in the amount of the power 
wielded, as in the manner in which it is created.* 


i II 

♦ It is surprising what vague and obstinate notions of govern- 
ment people acquire by habit. In America, the writer was several 
times asked how it was possible that one man cculd controul the 
interests of a whole community ; and in Europe he has often been 
pressed to say whether there is any authority in the United States 




fit . ;^ 

I believe I have now given you a hurried out- 
line of the authority and office of the president of 
the United States. He possesses a reasonable 
portion of power, but its exercise is balanced by 
a number of constitutional checks, and what is 
not less available in the present state of the world, 
by the watchfulness and force of public opinion. 
Society must materially recede before this high 
functionary can easily abuse his trust : and when 
that happens, the Americans, in common with the 
rest of the world, must be content to return to the 
political condition from which all our ancestors 
emerged. It is important, also, to remember that 
the character, qualifications, and usefulness of a 
president, are pretty generally sifted to the bot- 
tom, before the individual reaches the station 
at all. 

to repress the most common evils. If these worthy thinkers on 
civil polity would take the trouble to tax their intellects a little, they 
would see that necessity is a judicious legislator, and that no coun- 
try can exist long, without such a state of things as shall render 
society reasonable, quiet, and secure. The great point of difference 
is in the forms by which its objects are effected. There is no doubt 
that one people can do things that would be fatal to the order of 
another (for a time at least) and it is quite certain that they who can 
get all that government aims at, in the cheapest and simplest man- 
ner, are the best off. The great desideratum is to add security to 
freedom of personal efforts, and this is a point that varies in dif- 
ferent situations of the world, just as much as intellect and intelli- 
gence themselves vary. 

( 305 ) 




You inquire concerning the state of religion in 
the United States. I presume you ask the ques- 
tion in reference to its outward and visible signs, 
since it is not to be supposed that a layman, like 
myself, is sufficiently versed in its mysteries to go 
deeper than that which is apparent. 

You know there is no establishment. Congress 
is prohibited by the constitution from creating 
one, and most (I believe all) of the state consti- 
tutions have the same provision. In point of 
fact, there is none whatever. The clergy, and all 
that pertains, therefore, to religion, are supported 
by voluntary contributions, or by endowments that 
have been made by devises, gifts, and other pri- 
vate means. 

The first point to be considered, is the number 
and the nature of the sects. If the Presbyterians 
and Congregationalists, between whom there exist 
mere shades of difference in discipline and opinion, 
shall be considered as forming one sect, they are 
certainly the most numerous. It is computed that 
they possess near three thousand congregations. 
The Baptists are known to have more than two 


■"i ,r 




thousand. Perhaps the Methodists rank next in 
numbers. The Protestant Episcopal church is 
greatly on the increase. I find, by the Eccle- 
siastical Register, that it contains ten bishops, and 
three hundred and ninety-four clergymen.* Most 
of the latter are settled, and many have two or 
three congregations under their charge. There 

♦ It may be interesting to those of a similar faith in England, to un- 
derstand the constitution of this church in the United States. Where 
there are Episcopahans enough, the diocese is confined to a single 
state. But, as there are ten bishops, and twenty-four states, it is 
plain that several of the states are contained in one diocese. There 
are, in point of fact, however, eleven dioceses, that of Delaware 
being vacant. The highest spiritual authority known is, of course, a 
bishop. Priests and deacons being all the orders named in the Bible, 
are the only other orders known or used in America. The highest 
authority is exercised by the general convention. The general con- 
vention is composed of two bodies, a house of bishops, and a house 
of lay delegates. Each diocese has a convention for the regulation 
of its own affairs. The general convention consists of the bishops, 
■who form the house of bishops, and of laymen, who are sent as 
delegates from the state of convention. The object of this body is 
to promote harmony and uniformity of doctrine in the whole 
church. The state conventions contain the clergy of the diocese, 
and a lay delegation from each church. In both conventions, the 
clergy (or bishops, as the case may be) and the laymen vote sepa- 
rately, a majority of each being necessary to an ordinance. Clergy- 
men are presented by their congregations, and bishops are elected 
by the conventions of the diocese, and are approved of by the 
house of bishops. There is no salary yet given to any bishop, 
though provisions to a reasonable amount are making for that ob- 
ject. At present they are all rectors of churches. The oldest 
bishop for the time being, is called the presiding bishop, though he 
enjoys no exclusive authority. There have been, in all, twenty-one 



arc a good many Friends (Quakers) in Pennsyl- 
vania, New Jersey, and New York. Tlie two 
former states were originally settled by religion- 
ists of this persuasion. The Roman Catholics are 
the most numerous in Maryland and Louisiana. 
The first was a Roman Catholic colony, and the 
latter has, as you know, been both French and 
Spanish. The Floridas must also contain some 
Catholics. Many of the Irish who come to this 
country, and who are settled in the more northern 
states, are also Catholics ; but, including all, I 
should not think they rank higher, in point of 
numbers, than the sixth or seventh sect, after 
allowing for all the subdivisions among the Pro- 
testants themselves. There are some Lutherans 
and Moravians, and a great variety of less nu- 
merous or local sects. 

The most important point that is proved by the 
condition of this country, is the fact that religioa 
can, and does, exist as well without as w.t'.i the 
aid of government. The experiment has been 
tried here, for two centuries, and it is completely 

bishops of this church in the United States, and they hold their 
ordination from the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and 
from the non-juring bishops of the Episcopal church of Scotland, 

The law recognizes these authorities to a certain extent, as it does 
the authorities of all other churches. The Catholics have their 
archbishops and bishops, the Methodists their bishops, and the 
Presbyterians, Baptists, &c. &c. their own particular forms of 

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siiccesyful. So far from competition (if I may 
use so irreverent a term on so grave a subject) 
weakening, it increases its influence, by keeping 
zeal alive. While the Episcopalian clergyman 
sees the Presbyterian priest existing in his neigh- 
bourhood, and enjoying all the advantages that 
he himself enjoys, he is clearly obliged to do one 
of two things ; either to abandon the race, or to 
contend with watchfulness and care. Now this 
is exactly what is done here. The clergy are as 
chary as women of their characters, for they are 
certain of being proved, not by tests of their own 
establishing, but by those established by their 

You may be inclined to ask if such a rivalry 
does not lead to strife and ill blood ? Just the 
contrary. Each party knows that he is to gain, 
or to lose influence, precisely as he manifests the 
practice of the doctrines he teaches : and that, I 
apprehend so far as Christianity is concerned, is 
charity and forbearance. At all events, with now 
and then an insulated and rare exception, great 
apparent good will and cordiality exists among 
the clergy of the different sects ; and, I fancy, it 
is precisely for the reason that there is nothing to 
be gained, and a good deal to be lost, by a dif- 
ferent line of conduct. This is considering the 
question solely on its temporal side, but you 
know I commenced with professing ignorance of 



e of 

Freedom of thought on matters of religion, is so 
completely a consequence of intellectual advance- 
ment, that it is impossible to prevent men who 
think much from doing one of two things ; they 
either choose their own course, iu secret, or they 
become indifferent tu the subject altogether. I 
have always been of opinion that sects carry their 
articles of faith too far, since it is next to impos- 
sible to get two intellectual men to view any long 
series of metaphysical propositions in precisely 
the same light ; and it would be better to leave 
them to the dictates of their own consciences, and 
to the lights of their own intelligence in lesser 
matters, after they are once fairly of a mind on the 
more material truths of their creed. This desirable 
object is obtained in the United States, to a cer- 
tain degree, though not entirely, by allowing every 
man to choose his church without attracting com- 
ment or censure. Charity is a consequence of 
such a state of things, at least that charity which 
manifests itself outwardly. The true object of 
religion is, to teach men the path to heaven, and 
that is an affair more affecting the individual than 
any body else. The moment society ceases to 
take the absciute direction of the matter into 
its own hands, individuals interest themselves 
rather than lose the object ; and, unless they do 
interest themselves, under any system, 1 believe 
we are taught to think that establishments will 
do them no great good. 

In I 


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Still society has a worldly interest in the exist- 
ence of religion — granted. But if it can obtain its 
object without an establishment, of what use is the 
latter? It is true, one does not see as many churches 
in a given number of square miles in America, as 
in a given number of square miles in France or 
England : nor are there as many people to use 
them. In order to institute a fair comparison, all 
things must be considered. In the first place, I 
am of opinion that the Americans have more 
places of worship than twelve millions of people in 
any other country of the globe ; and if the pecu- 
liar condition of the new states be considered, I 
believe they have, in point of moral truth, twice 
as many. I am quite willmg to admit that the 
cheapness of construction, the freedom of opinion, 
and necessity itself, may all contribute to produce 
such a result, but I cannot see how this negative 
proof is to demonstrate that religion suffers from 
the want of an establishment. Let us examine 
the progress of the sects in a parish. 

Ten miles square of wilderness is laid out in a 
township. Settlers come into it from all quarters, 
and of all denominations. The state has reserved 
a few hundred acres of land, perhaps, for the sup- 
port of religion. The first thing commonly done, 
is to erect a shop for a blacksmith, and there is 
generally an inn near it, both being, of course, 
established in some convenient place. The school 
house, (or three or four of them,) soon follows, and 



then people begin to think of a church. During 
the time that force for so important an object lias 
been collecting, itinerant teachers, missionaries, 
&c., sent from the older parts of the country, have 
been in the habit of collecting the people in the 
school houses, barns, or some other building, in 
order to keep alive the remembrance of holy 
things. I think it may be taken as a rule that 
few settlements, in the more flourishing parts of 
the country, exist fifteen years without reaching 
the church building age. Some do it much sooner, 
and others, certainly, require more time to mature 
their efforts. But the church (the building) must 
have a faith, as well as its builders ? Not neces- 
sarily. Churches are frequently built and kept 
in abeyance for a maturity of opinions, though 
nineteen times in twenty the very disposition to 
erect a church pre-supposes an understanding as 
to the denomination it is to serve. In coming to 
this understanding, the minority are, of course, 
obliged to yield, which is precisely what they 
would have to do if there were an establishment. 
But an establishment would keep men from error. 
Let us see how the truth lies on this point. How 
do the establishments of Scotland, England, Den- 
mark, France, and Turkey, for instance, agree ? 
It is quite plain, I think, that establishments have 
nothing to do with truth ; and is it not equally 
plain, by the example of this country, that they 
are not necessary to the existence of religion? 

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But America was settled by religionists, and the 
spirit they infused in the country is not yet ex- 
tinct! Admitted. Is there any more likelihood, 
had the ancestors of the Americans been atheists, 
that the present generation would create an 
establishment, than that it would receive religion 
in sects ? Did the apostles come into favour under 
an establishment ? Or would not a country be 
more likely to receive religion in forms to suit 
tastes and opinions* than in any one form that 
could not suit all faculties, or appease all judg- 
ments ? Here then, I think, we have some reason 
to believe that establishments neither introduce 
nor keep religion in a country. But let us go 
back to our settlement. 

The church is built, and as the Presbyterians 
have given the most money, and are far the most 
numerous, the priest who is called is of their 
persuasion. Those who are firm in their own 
particular faith, cherish it in secret; and when 
the proper time comes, they join a congregation 
of their own people. They could do no more if 
the church was built under an establishment. 
Those who are not very rigid in their faith, most 
probably drop quietly into the communion of the 
church they find so convenient. An establish- 
ment would compel them to do precisely the same 
thing. In the course of a few years more, how- 
ever, the people begin to separate, or rather to 
follow their own opinions ; and then every thing 




settles down a8 quietly as men choose their wives, 
or make any other important selection that they 
have reason to think is particularly interesting to 
their individual happiness. But does not all this 
intermingling and indistinctness produce disorder 
and confusion ? Just the contrary. While society 
is in its infancy it produces harmony, by inducing 
mutual support : and it weakens prejudice, and is 
fatal to superstition, by bringing the former in sub- 
jection to all it wants to destroy it — familiarity : and 
by rendering the other obnoxious to the ridicule and 
exposed to the reason of competitors. It is a known 
fact, that a century ago, the American religionists 
were among the most bigotted of their respective 
sects ; and it is just as true now, that they have 
immensely improved, and that they are daily 
growing still more reasonable, as familiarity with 
each other teaches them how very little better 
any one man is than the rest of his fellow 

But it will become necessary, in time, to make 
some use of the land which has been reserved for 
the support of the gospel. How is this to be 
done in such a manner as not to give offence to 
the minority ? You will recollect that this fund 
has been created in the most insensible manner, 
and not by the aid of any imposition that is felt 
by the citizen. It is not so much a measure of 
general policy, as one that is intended to aid, to a 
reasonable ejttent, the wishes of the majority* 

m' I 

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i i 

"Were there Jews or Mahommedans enough in the 
land, to make such a measure necessary, I take it 
for granted, they would get their share. It is the 
great merit of this government that it does not 
aim so much to satisfy theories as to produce 
wholesome practical results. It is the great fault 
of its enemies, that instead of looking at it as a 
government should be viewed, in its worldly and 
positive aspects, they are for ever endeavouring 
to find some inconsistency in theory which shall 
appease a sense of secret uneasiness, that is 
beginning to get a little too prevalent for their 
complacency, that it is a more enviable state of 
society than they wish to believe. 

As respects the matter in question, the people 
of New York (for it is altogether an affair of the 
individual states,) have seen they must do nothing, 
under the most favourable circumstances for doing 
a great deal for the support of religion, or they 
must incur the risk of invading some perfectly 
dormant principle of a bald theory. They give 
land, which is of no value at the time, leaving 
the people to dispose of it when it does become 
of value. We will suppose this reservation now 
to be worth a division. The inhabitants of the 
town are then required to make their election. 
Every congregation, which is in truth a congrega- 
tion, gets its share, and the ^e the business is dis- 
posed of The infidel, or the man of indifference, 
or perhaps a solitary Catholic, gets nothing, it is 




true, for he does not want it. You will at once 
see that this sort of provision is of use only to 
those who go through the hardship of settling a 
town, since their successors may have different 
religious persuasions ; but it is meant for the en- 
couragement and consolation of those who do 
undergo the privations incident to such a service. 
The best possible proof of the wisdom of the 
measure is, that it does good, without doing the 
least harm to any body. I can readily understand 
that they who have been long accustomed to 
quarrel, and to see others quarrel about the tem- 
poralities of churches, will find a thousand diffi- 
culties in disposing of such a grant as this I have 
named ; but facts are daily proving here that it can 
be done, when men are once accustomed to meet 
on such occasions in a spirit of amity, without any 
difficulty at all. 

I remember to have held a conversation with 
an innkeeper who resided within a few yards of 
an edifice that was then in the course of erection 
as a place of public worship. I asked him the 
denomination of the people to whom it belonged. 
His answer was, " The Presbyterians." " And 
you, you are a Presbyterian, no doubt?'' " No, I 
was baptized in the Episcopal church, and I must 
say, I like it best after all." " Ah, then you have 
nothing to do with the cost of building this house ?'' 
"I have paid my share." " But how is it that you 
pay for the support of a church to which you do not 





■■; '■* 33! Ml 


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'. -inv 

-' 'i 


1- -: 






3 ; 

belong?" " I do as I please, and I please to help 
my neighbours, who will help me in some other 
way, if not in this ; besides, they are christians 
as well as myself: and I mean to have a pew, and 
go and hear their parson till I can hear one of my 
own church." "But you may be converted?" 
"Well,'' he said, smiling, " then I shall be a Pres- 
byterian, and my wife and myself will be of the 
same mind ; we are not afraid of looking the 
truth in the face in America, let it come out of 
what pulpit it may." 

In fact, the utmost harmony and good-will 
prevails among the different sects. Controversy 
is but little known, though I have been present 
at a dispute of a very remarkable character. The 
parties weie a Baptist and an Universalist. They 
met in a field at an appointed hour, and the cere- 
monial of the rencontre was arranged with as 
much precision as if they had met for a less pacific 
interview. They were to be placed so many feet 
asunder, in order that their voices should be 
audible. They were to speak altevnately, and by 
the watch, so many minutes at a time ; and each 
was to confine himself, according to an established 
protocol, to a certain set of opinions, during par- 
ticular hours. The audience stood around as 
silent listeners. 

It was a remarkable, and not an uninteresting 
scene. As you may suppose, the learning brought 
into the combat was none of the deepest, but the 



zeal and native shrewdness were great, and the 
discretion was admirable. I left the mooted 
point in as much doubt as I found it, though a 
great deal of absurdity was disposed of in the 
controversy, in a rough but sensible manner. 
This exhibition was, of course, as much of a 
novelty to the people of the country as it was 
to me. 

I witnessed other scenes that were alike im- 
pressive and beautiful. The Methodists have, at 
stated periods, what are called camp meetings. 
They assemble in thousands in some wood, and 
hold their religious festivals, in a manner that is 
as striking by its peculiar simplicity, as it is 
touching by the interest and evident enjoyment 
they experience. 

It is a fashion to ridicule and condemn these 
meetings, on the plea that they lead to excesses 
and encourage superstition. As to the former, 
the abuse is enormously exaggerated; though, 
beyond a doubt, there are individuals who attend 
them that would seek any other crowd to shield 
their vices ; and as to the latter, the facts shew, 
that while new and awakened zeal, in ignorant 
persons, frequently breaks out in extravagance 
and folly, that they pass away with the exciting 
cause, and leave behind them tender consciences 
and a chastened practice. What are the weak- 
nesses of these men to those that are exhibited in 
countries where faith is fettered by the law ? Or, 


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h. ! 





if you maintain an establishment, and let men 
fellow their private opinions, in what does Ame- 
rica differ from other countries, except in things 
that are entirely dependent on the peculiar tem- 
poral condition of the republic, and which could 
not be avoided, if the citizens were all in full 
communion with the church of Rome itself? 

It is a mistake to believe that the liberality on 
religious subjects, which certainly exists to so 
eminent a degree in this country, is the effect of 
the want of an establishment. On the contrary, 
the fact that there is no establishment is owing to 
the liberal institutions, and to the sentiments of 
the people. You will remember, that the same 
political right to create establishments is to be 
found in the state governments, here, as is to be 
found any where else. All power that can belong 
to governments, and which has not been ceded to 
the United States, is the property of the states 
themselves, in their corporate capacities. It is 
true that most of them have decreed, in their 
constitutions, that no religious tests shall be 
known ; but it is necessary to remember who 
have framed these imperative and paramount 
ordinances. The powers, too, that decreed these 
limitations can change them. But let us examine 
into the actual state of the law on this interesting 

The provision contained in the constitution of 
the United States is altogether prohibitory. It 



goes to say, that the government of the confede- 
racy shall pass no iaw to create a religious esta- 
blishment, or to prohibit the free exercise of 
religion. It is contained in an amendment, and is 
embodied in a paragraph which exposes rather 
a declaration of the limits of congressional power, 
than any concession of power itself. The object 
of this amendment was unquestionably to afford 
a clearer evidence of the public mind, and to set 
at rest for ever any questions which, by construc- 
tions of any previously-conceded rights, might by 
possibility arise on matters of such importance. 
Still the declaration that congress shall not have 
power to do this or that thing, only leaves the 
individual states more unequivocally in possession 
of the right to do it, since they possess all the 
rights of government except those conceded to 
the Union, 

New England was settled by the Puritans* 
Whatever might have been the other good quali- 
ties of these zealots, religious liberality was not 
one of their virtues. It argues a somewhat super- 
ficial knowledge of the subject to contend that 
the Americans owe all their mental advancement, 
and freedom from prejudices, to the circumstance 
that they came into the country as reformers. 
It would be more true to say, that they came as 
dissentients ; but though dissent may, it does not 
necessarily, infer liberality. The fact is, that no 
country ever possessed a more odious and bigoted 



i: U'i 



:■ ». 






set of laws, on the subject of conscience, than 
those first enacted by the Puritans. Indep^tid- 
ently of the Httle favour that was extended to 
witchcraft, it was made death for a Quaker to 
enter several of their colonies ! This spirit, which 
they brought with them from England, was part 
of that noble and much-vaunted mental gift that 
the Americans received from the mother country. 
Fortunately, they had wisdom enough left to 
establish schools and colleges ; and although it is 
quite probable that many worthy sectarians, who 
aided in this labour, thought they were merely 
fortifying their exclusive doctrines, the result has 
shewn that they then took the very measure that 
was likely to introduce liberality and promote 
christian charity in their land. 
' The Quakers themselves, though less sangui- 
nary, for they did not deal in death at all, were 
not much more disposed to the intercourse than 
their eastern brethren. The Catholics in Mary- 
land enacted the laws that Catholics are fond of 
adopting, and, in short, genuine, religious liberality 
was only to be found in those colonies where the 
subject was thought to be of so little interest as 
not to invite bigotry. Out of this state of things 
the present rational, just, charitable, novel, and, 
so far as man can judge, religious condition of 
society, has grown. 

The unavoidable collision of sects has no doubt 
contributed to the result. It was not in nature to 



embitter life by personal and useless conflicts, 
and collected force did not exist in situations to 
produce combined oppositions. The Puritans had 
it all their own way in New England, until time 
had been given for reason to gather force: and, in 
the other colonies, adventitious circumstances 
aided to smother discussions. Liberality in poli- 
tics, in some degree, drew religious freedom in its 
train ; and when the separation from England 
occurred, the public mind was prepared to admit 
of great equality of rights in all things. Slavery 
was certainly retained, but it was retained much 
more from necessity than from any other cause. 

Still the advancement of thought in America 
was rather gradual than sudden. Many of the 
original provisions of the states, on the subject of 
religioE , imply a timid and undecided policy. In 
New JeTsey no Protestant can be denied any civil right 
on account of religion. This is clearly a defensive en- 
actment. In Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Tenes- 
see, a belief in God, and a future state of rewards 
and punishments, is necessary to enable a person to 
hold office. In North Carolina no person who denies 
the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine 
authority of the Old and New Testament was ca- 
pable of holding office. Many of these provisions 
have been changed, though some of them still 
remain. There is scarcely a year passes in which 
some law, that has been a dead letter, is not re- 

VOL. il. V 






\:Xi ■ 1 1 

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(• ; 



pealed in some one of the states, in order to brinpj 
the theory of the government more in unison with 
the practice. T believe I have quoted, above, all 
the states in which any thing approaching to reli- 
gious tests has existed, within the last ten years. 
Massachusetts has certainly altered its constitu- 
tion since that period, and a law disfranchising the 
Jews has just been repealed in the state of Mary- 
land, which you know was originally a Catholic 

In New Hampshire the constitution authorizes 
the legislature to make provision for the support 
oi Protestant ministers; and in Massachusetts the 
same duty is enjoined. The practice is simply this. 
An assessment is laid on all the inhabitants accord- 
ing to their estates. It is, like all other assess- 
ments in this country, exceedingly light, as its 
amount is regulated by the people themselves, 
through their immediate representatives. If a 
Baptist, for instance, resides in a parish where 
there is no baptist church, he is at liberty to prove 
that he has paid the assessment to a baptist church 
any where else ; but should he not be disposed to 
take this trouble, the money is paid to the town 
collector, who gives it to the church nearest his 
place of residence, I believe. A similar practice 
prevailed not long since in Connecticut, but, as I 
have already said, gradual changes are making, 
and it is a little difficult to get at the precise con- 




ditions of the laws of so many different communi- 
ties, that are fearlessly adapting their institutions 
to the spirit of the age. 

In Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and 
Tenessee, ministers of the gospel are not eligible to 
the state legislatures. In South Carolina, Ken- 
tucky, and Mississippi, they can be neither go- 
vernors nor legislators. In Missouri they can fill no 
other civil office, but that of justices of the peace. 
In New York, Delaware, and Louisiana, they can 
hold no civil offices at all. The constitution of the 
United States, and of all the other states, I believe, 
are silent on the matter, and, of course, clergy- 
men can serve in any situation to which they may 
happen to be called. In all cases, I understand, 
the construction put on these regulations is appli- 
cable only to men in the actual exercise of clerical 
functions. The opinions of the whole nation are 
directly opposed to the union of civil and religious 
duties in the same person. 

I have already told you, and I wish to repeat it, 
as an important tact that is always to be remem- 
bered, that, considering their scattered condition 
and circumstances, the people of this country ma- 
nifest great zeal and interest in behalf of religion : 
I honestly think more than any other nation I 
know, and I believe it is simply because they are 
obliged to depend solely on themselves for its 
comforts and security. Perhaps the activity of 
the nation has its influence on this as on other 









lit ? 

thinp^s. Remember, I do not say that we see spires 
and holy places as often here as in Europe : if we 
did, America would contain twenty times as many 
places of worship as the largest empire we have, 
being, Russia excepted, twenty times as large; and 
the state of New York alone, with 1, 750,000 souls, 
(1828) would possess two-thirds as many churches 
as England with her twelve or fourteen millions of 

English writers have not been ashamed to dwell 
on the comparative scarcity of churches in this 
country, compared with those in their own, as if 
the circumstance afforded any argument of a want 
of religion in the people. They might just as well 
quote the fact, that there were not as many tomb- 
stones to prove the same thing ; or the American 
might make the circumstance that his country 
possesses more trees than England a matter of 
moral exultation. 

You would be astonished to witness the perfect 
liberality between the sects which has grown up 
under this state of things. In the first place, there 
is nothing temporal to quarrel about, and the 
clergy are driven to their Bibles for their influence 
and power. I have asked several members of 
congress how many Catholics there were in that 
body, and nobody knew. I once asked an indi- 
vidual, in the interior of New York (and in a 
thriving and beautiful village), to what denomina- 
tion a certain person we had just left belonged. 




** He is an Episcopalian," was the answer. This 
was disputed by a third person present. Proof was 
then adduced to show which was right. All parties 
agreed that the individual in question was a strict- 
ly religious man. One insisted that he had seen 
him commune the preceding Sunday in the Epis- 
copal church. "What of that?" returned the 
other ; " I have seen his wife commune among 
the Presbyterians ; and every body knows that 
she and all her family are Episcopalians.'* Put 
every body did not know any such thing, for the 
other disputant maintained exactly the converse 
of the proposition. An umpire was chosen in the 
street. This worthy citizen ** really did not know, 
but he thought that both man and wife were very 
pious people! Stop," he continued, as he was coolly 

walking away, " you are right, John, Mr. 

is a Presbyterian, for I paid him the pew money 
last fall myself; and he would not have collected 
for the Episcopalians.'* But even this was disput- 
ed, and so, determined to settle the point, I went 
and asked the individual himself. He was a Pres- 
byterian. •* But you sometimes commune with 
the Episcopalians ?" *' Often." '* And your wife?" 
** Is an Episcopalian." " And your children ?' 
" We endeavour to make them christians, with- 
out saying much of sects ; when they are old 
enough, they will choose for themselves.*' " But 
which church do they go to ?" ** Sometimes to 
one, and sometimes to the other." ** But they are 


■^■- .V, ■'■! 
.5 '. ; > 









baptized ?" ** Certainly." " And by which cler- 
gyman?" "By the Episcopalian; because my 
church does not deny the validity of his ordination, 
though my wife's church disputes a little the vali- 
dity of the ordination of the Presbyterian." " And 
your wife, what does she think about it herself?'* 
" I believe she is of opinion that there is a good 
deal more said about it than is necessary." And 
there the matter rested. Now this may, according 
to some people's opinion, be dangerous intercourse, 
but, on the whole, I am inclined to think Christia- 
nity is the gainer. 

Religion is kept as distinct as possible from the 
state. It is known that Mr. Adams, the president 
just elected, is an Unitarian ; a persuasion that is 
repugnant to most Christian sects, and yet you 
see that he is in the chair. People at a distance 
would infer indifference to the subject of religion 
from such an excess of liberality ; but the fact is, 
the most zealous religionist in this country knows 
that the salvation of Mr. Adams' soul is a matter 
of more moment to himself than to any body else, 
and that if he be in error, it is misfortune enough, 
without condemning him to a worldly persecution. 
Besides, they have sagacity enough to know that 
there is no more infallible way to give strength to 
any party, that cannot be positively crushed, than 
by giving it importance and energy by resistance. 

The sheriff of the city of New York, an officer 
elected by the people, was, a few years ago, a Jew ! 



Now all the Jews in New York united, would not 
probably make three hundred voters. Some kind 
hearted people got up a society to convert the 
Jews there, a short time since, and a notice soon 
appeared in a paper inviting the Jews to meet to 
concert means of converting the Christians. 

Notwithstanding all this, the country is as much, 
or more, a Protestant and Christian country than 
any other nation on earth. I merely state a sim- 
ple fact, on which you are at liberty to reason at 
pleasure. The sects are about as numerous as they 
are in the mother country, and all that one hears 
concerning Thumpers and Dunkers, and other 
enthusiasts, is grossly caricatured. They exist, 
when they do exist at all, as insulated and meagre 
exceptions ; and it is odd enough, that perhaps 
half of these fantastical sects have been got up by 
emigrants from disciplined Europe, instead of 
being the natural offspring of the liberal institu- 
tions of the country itself. There is no doubt that 
many people come from our side of the ocean 
with strange notions of liberty and equality, and 
that they either quarrel with the Americans for 
not being as big fools as themselves, or set to 
work, in order to raise up creeds and political 
doctrines that they fondly hope will elevate man 
far above any thing heretofore known. In the 
mean time, the natives go on in their common 
sense and practical way, and ?=ay as little as pos- 
sible about liberty, equality, or bigotry, and con- 

1 (i 

S i. 



4" I 



II ' 





i i 


trive to be the freest and the happiest, as they 
will shortly be, in my poor opinion, the wealthiest 
and most powerful nation of the globe, let other 
people like the prediction as they may. 

I shall close this letter with giving you an ac- 
count of one sect, that is as remarkable for its 
faith as for its practices. I mean the Shaking 
Quakers. I have been at three of the establish- 
ments of these people, viz. Hancock (in Massa- 
chusetts), and Lebanon and Niskayuna (in New 
York). I believe there is still another establish- 
ment, in one of the south-western states. The whole 
number of the sectarians is, however, far from 
great, nor is it likely to increase, since their doc- 
trine denies the legitimacy of matrimony, or any 
of its results. There may be a thousand or fifteen 
hundred of them altogether. 

The temporalities of the Shakers are held in 
common. They are not an incorporated company, 
but confidence is reposed in certain trustees, who 
are selected as managers and guardians of all their 
real ^states, goods and chattels. They are an 
orderly, industrious sect, and models of decency, 
cleanliness, and of morality too, so far as the human 
eye can penetrate. I have never seen, in any coun- 
try, villages so neat, and so perfectly beautiful, as 
to order and arrangement, without, however, being 
picturesque or ornamented, as those of the Shakers. 
At Hancock, the gate posts of the fences are made 
of white marble, hewn into shape and proportions. 



They are manufacturers of various thingp, and they 
drive a considerable trade with the cities of New 
York, Albany, and Boston. They are renowned 
retailers of garden seeds, brushes, fanning uten- 
sils, &c. &c. 

Though men and women, who, while living in 
the world, w^ere man and wife, are often to be 
found as members of these communities, the sexes 
live apart from each other. They have separate 
dormitories, separate tables, and even separate 
doors by which to enter the temple. 

But it is to the singular mode of worship of these 
deluded fanatics that I wish to direct your atten- 
tion. You know, already, that no small portion 
of their worship consists in what they term the 
" labour of dancing." Their founder has contrived 
to lay his finger on one or two verses of the Old 
Testament, in which allusion is made to the cus- 
tom of the Jews in dancing before the ark : and, I 
believe, they also place particular stress on the 
declaration of Solomon, when he says, " there is 
a time for all things," among which, dancing h 
enumerated. It is scarcely necessary to say, that 
none but the most ignorant, and, perhaps, the 
weakest minded men, can join such a sect from 
motives of conscience. I saw several negroes 
among them. 

I went to attend their worship atNiskayuna. It 
was natural to suppose that their dancing was a 
sort of imitation of that of the dervishes, in which 


■ HI 

■ 'ti 

■t j 


■ kmrr' 






enthusiasm is the commencement, and exhaustion 
the close. On the contrary, it was quite a matter 
of grave preparation. The congregation (the 
Shakers) entered the meeting by different doors 
at the same time, the elders of the two sexes lead- 
ing the advance, and one following the other in 
what is called single file. The men arranged them- 
selves on one side of the room, and the women on 
the other. Their attire was rigidly simple and 
fastidiously neat. It was made nearly in the 
fashion of the highly respectable sect of Friends, 
though less rich in material. When silence was 
obtained, after the movement of the entrSey the 
whole group were formed in regular lines, and 
commenced singing certain spiritual songs of their 
own composition (I believe) to lively tunes, and 
with a most villainous nasal cadency. These songs 
were accompanied by a constant swinging of the 
bodies ; and, from this commencement, I expected 
the access of the infatuated worship would grow 
by a regular increase of excitement. On the 
contrary, the songs were ended tranquilly, and 
others were sung, and always with the same 
quiet termination. At length, one of the elders 
gravely said, ** Let us labour,'' just as you hear 
priests say from their desks, " Let us pray." The 
men then proceeded with gravity to take off their 
coats, and to suspend them from pegs ; after 
which they arranged themselves in rows on one 
side of the room, the women occupying the other 



in the same order. Those who did not join the 
sets, lined the walls, and performed the duties of 
nasicians with their voices. At the commence- 
ment of the song, the dancers moved forward, in a 
body, about three feet each, turned, shuffled, and 
kept repeating the same evolutions during the 
whole time of this remarkable service. It is 
scarcely possible to conceive any thing more 
ludicrous, and yet more lamentable. I felt dis- 
posed to laugh, and yet I could scarcely restrain 
my tears. I think, after the surprise of the ludi- 
crous had subsided, that the sight of so much 
miserable infatuation left a deep and melancholy 
regret on the mind. 

They appear to have an idea that a certain 
amount of this labour is requisite to salvation, for 
I learned that many of the elders had reached 
perfection, and that they had long since ceased to 
strive to reach heaven by pirouetting. 

Now the laws of the different states where the 
small fragments of this sect exist, are far too wise 
and too humane to give their deluded followers 
any trouble. They are inoffensive and indus- 
trious citizens, and, in one or two instances, the 
courts have interpreted the laws as humanely in 
their favour as circumstances would reasonably 
allow. It is plain that the true bond of their 
union is the. effect which concerted action and 
strict domestic government produces on the com- 
forts of the grossly ignorant ; but as the class of 














I: 'I 

I i 


the very ignorant is quite limited in this country, 
and is daily getting to be comparatively still less 
numerous, there is no fear that this, or any other 
religious sect that is founded altogether on fana- 
ticism and folly, will ever arrive at the smallest 


Sfc. Sec. 


You know not what you ask! I have 

already sent you an imperfect account (I must 
confess) of the jurisprudence of the United States, 
and now you ask me for what you are pleased to 
call an outline of its civil and criminal law. Do 
you know there are four-and-twenty states, one 
district, and four territories in this country, and 
that each of them has its own laws, varying in 
some particulars of form and of polic / from those 
of all the rest? My answer shall, therefore, be 
very short, nor should it be given at all, did I not 
know that various absurdities are circulated in 
Europe, in this very matter, by men who travel 
here, and who rarely possess a knowledge of, or 
give themselves the trouble to inquire into, the 
true condition of society, whether considered 



in reference to its conventional tone, or to its posi- 
tive institutions. 

The criminal law of the United States is more 
sanguinarythanthatof any particular state. Piracy, 
treason, murder, robberies of the mail, in which 
the life of the person in charge is endangered, and 
a few other offences, are punished with death. 
Crimes committed on the high seas, in certain 
reservations, such as forts, light-houses, &c., are 
also punished by the laws of the confederation. 
Smaller offences are punished by fines, or im- 
prisonment, or by both. Some of thr 'States inflict 
death for a variety of offences, especially the 
slave-holding communities ; others again are very 
tender of human life. In New York, murder, 
arson, if the building be an inhabited dwelling, 
and treason, can be punished with death. AH 
crimes that are exclusively military are punished 
by the military code of the general government. 

The great fault in the exercise of the criminal 
law, in most, if not all, of the states of America, 
is a false humanity. The people have heard a 
great deal, and a great deal justly, of the useless 
severity of the laws in many European countries, 
and they very naturally turn with horror from a 
system, that they are fond of thinking is unneces- 
sary to a nation in their own condition. I cannot 
say I agree with them. As there is less tempta- 
tion to crime in the United States, than in any 
other country, and, as more care is taken to pre- 

'■'■ . ' ^« 

' : 1 






vent it by means of education, and the entire 
absence of legal monopolies, it is as unwise as it »s 
unnecessary to reject those modes of preserving the 
order of society which the experience of all ages 
has shown to be salutary. 

The first and great duty of every government is 
to remove, as far as possible, all temptations to 
crime. This is to be done by the admission of 
equal rights, and by as general a diffusion, as pos- 
sible, of moral influences. But after these solemn 
and imperative duties are performed, little can be 
said against a stern and wholesome exercise of 
justice. Punishment, in order to be impressive, 
should be prompt and infallible. The indiscreet 
use of the prerogative of mercy is one of the great 
errors of American criminal policy ; though it is 
said that necessity often compels its exercise, as 
the public penitentiaries cannot hold the convicts 
that are accumulated by time, and which embrace 
crimes that elsewhere would sweep the offender 
from the earth. I should think this argument 
must prove some fault in the criminal code. It 
is true, that an immense proportion of the convicts 
are foreigners, or of the unfortunate race of blacks : 
but still it is necessary to legislate for things as 
they are ; and if rogues can emigrate from Europe, 
and a class of ignorant and hapless wretches exist 
in the state to swell the amount of crime, I should 
think both policy and justice require that a suit- 
able provision should be made to meet the evil. 



I was particularly struck with the fact, that a 
report of the superintendants of the New York 
state prison, commenced with premises like this, 
" As the object of all punishment is the reforma- 
tion of the offender ;" now I take it, that the 
object of the punishments which communities 
inflict, is for no such purpose. Society punishes 
for its own protection, though reformation ?««j/, 
and (when practicable without losing sight of the 
great and principal cause of legal punishments,) it 
should ever be considered as a collateral good, to 
be effected by the same means. But it is dan- 
gerous, indeed, to assume that punishment has no 
other motive than reformation, l^ this be true, 
why do we execute for murder, or why are so 
many people taught to believe that He who holds 
the destinies of the universe has decreed that 
sinners shall expiate their offences in a lasting 
condemnation ? It is very true, that as we can un- 
derstand only our relations to the Deity, without 
comprehending the relations which the Deity 
holds to us, it may be dangerous, or even im- 
pious, to 'pretend to deduce any reasoning from 
the great laws of God, which shall be strictly 
applicable to the obligations which man owes to 
his fellows. But we all know that the world does 
not graduate punishments against society for the 
purpose of amending the criminal, though we may 
all feel that an object so humane should not be 

• ■ i 

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ii : 

i : 


neglected when good opportunities for effecting 
it are afforded. 

America is peculiarly placed as respects crime. 
It is a young, vigorous, abundant, and a highly 
commercial country, in which moveable property 
abounds, and in which it is remarkably exposed 
to be pilfered from the absence of a rigid police ; 
a sort of protection that is not very suitable to 
the habits and opinions of its people. The 
great and increasing intercourse with an old 
nation, in which crime abounds to an extra- 
ordinary degree, and the prodigious facilities of 
a communication which every day is rendering 
still more easy, tempt rogues from the mother 
country to shift their scene of action. Thus, 
while the country has been acting on a criminal 
law that is adapted, perhaps well enough, to the 
degree of temptation which exists in the nation 
itself, its cities are beginning to swarm with fugi- 
tive felons from England, who, under favour of a 
common language, not only practise all their arti- 
fices with equal dexterity as at home, but, what 
is far worse, bring corruption into the land, and 
lead hundreds of youths into the paths of vice. 
But this is an evil that will correct itself, though 
I think the good people, especially of the large 
towns, are little aware that their excessive lenity 
is not only mistaken on abstract principles, but 
that it is peculiarly wrong in a nation, that» how- 



ever it may go to the root of crime by diminishing 
temptation as much as possible, must still, for a 
long time, be exposed to a prodigious importation 
of vice. 

The law of real property, in the United States, 
is a good deal the same as that of England. Entails 
are, however, destroyed every where, and the doc- 
trine of descent has, in many of the states, been 
roughly handled. In Nev^ York — I quote this 
state oftenest, as the most populous and the most 
important, though you are to understand that the 
laws of New Yoric are strictly applicable only to 
itself, while t-iey are commonly founded on prin- 
ciples that are general — in New York, the father 
is the next heir of a child who leaves no issue. 
This is a wise, a humane, and a natural departure 
from the dictum of the common law, and it does 
much good in a country like this. The next of 
kin inherit, after the father, in equal portions, 
without distinction of age or sex. i'he widow is 
entitled to one-third of the personal estate of the 
husband, and to the use of one-third of the real 
estate during life. The husband is owner of all 
the personals of the wife, and he is the tenant by 
courtesy of her real estate, according to the pro- 
visions of the English common law. There is, 
however, a good deal of difference in the rights of 
husbands and wives in the different states. In 
some, the property of the woman is much more 
respected than in others. • 





1. ■ ti 




The party in possession of property in fee, can 
devise it, without restriction, to whom he pleases. 
This is, I think, a wiser provision than the law of 
France, which requires natural descent, to a cer- 
tain extent ; but the law of France I consider 
an enactment that is intended to do away with 
the custom of entails, which had taken such 
deep root in Europe. Rich men, here, often give 
more to their sons than to their daughters; 
though it is very common for men of small for- 
tunes to make the daughters independent at the 
expense of the sons. Of course, any irregularity 
or alienation of property from the descent (or 
ascent) prescribed by the law, must be made by 

Marriage is, of course, altogether a civil con- 
tract. Its forms are, however, more or less 
artificial, according to the policy of particular 

* The writer is hourly acquiring evidence of the gross ignorance 
concerning the United States, which travellers are importing into 
Europe, where, heaven knows, enough has long existed. He has 
lately read a book, written by an Englishman, in a sufficiently 
amicable spirit, which says that a gentleman of New York, who is 
the proprietor of a large estate (40,000 acres) is obliged by law to 
let it pass to his nephews and nieces ! It is possible that, in the 
case in question, a reversionary interest might have been given by 
some former owner in fee, to certain nephews and nieces ; but any 
owner in fee (of mature age) can devise to whom he pleases. The 
law allows devises to go as far as all people actually living, and to 
twenty-one years after, by fixing age, sex, or any other qualification 
by which the party to inherit can be accurately distinguished. 



states. In some, banns are necessary ; in others, 
evidence tha<^ A^ould establish any other contract 
would establish that of marriage. As a breach of 
the marriage contract is always criminal, the law 
requires, in cases of indictments for bigamy, 
rather more positive testimony than would be re- 
quired in those of inheritance and legitimacy. 
Thus, a child would be considered born in wed- 
lock, in many states, under the reputation of 
matrimony, though a man would scarcely be 
punished for bigamy, without direct evidence of 
the two contracts. The policy of the different 
states, however, varies so much, to suit the par- 
ticular conditions of society, that no general rule 
can be laid down. In portions of the country 
recently settled, it is the practice to make the 
contract before a justice of the p' ace, as in many 
parts of New York; but then, a justice of peace 
has no more power to celebrate a marriage than 
any other man. It is thought that his testimony, 
as a public officer, is more imposing than that of 
a private individual, and these people always 
attach high importance to legal rank. People 
of any condition are always (with a few extraor- 
dinary exceptions) married by clergymen. 

I can tell you little more that is distinctive in 
American law, without dealing in exceptions, 
since, though the governing principles are always 
the same, the policy of one state differs greatly 
from that of another. 

z 2 


4 ■ 




Sfc. Sfc, 

New York, 

It is an age since I wrote to any of the club. 
But though my pen has been necessarily quiet, 
the intervening time has not been unemployed. 
In the interval I have run over an immense sur- 
face in the southern and western states. It would 
be idle to attempt to describe all I have seen, and 
there would be the constant danger of leading you 
astray by exceptions, should I descend into detail. 
Still, as there is a gicat deal that is distinctive, I 
shall endeavour to convey to you some general 
ideas on the subject. 

The first, and by far the most important feature, 
which distinguishes these states from their north- 
ern sisters, is slavery. Climate and productions 
induce some other immaterial differences. The 
laws, usages, institutions, and political opinions, 
with such exceptions as unavoidably grow out of 
states of society marked by such distinctions as the 
use or the absence of domestic slaves, are essen- 
tially the same. 

There is a broad, upland region, extending 
through the interior of Virginia, the two Carol inas, 
and Georgia, where slaves are used, more as they 
were formerly used in New York and in the east- 
ern states, than as they are now used in the other 
sections of the states named. That is to say, the 



farmer is the master of three or four labourers, and 
works in the field at their sides, instead of being 
a planter, who keeps a driver, and what are called 
gangs. Tenessee, and Kentucky also, with some 
exceptions, employ the negroes in a similar manner; 
while on the Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and 
along the coast of the Atlantic, as far north as the 
Chesapeake, slavery exists much in the same forms 
as it is found in the English West India islands. 

The country, on the whole coast of the United 
States, until one gets far northward and eastward, 
is low and champaign. It is healthy, or not, 
according to the degrees of latitude, and to local 
situation. The uplands are invariably salubrious. 
There is no region on earth more beautiful, or 
more fertile, than large parts of Virginia, Ken- 
tucky, and Tenessee. There is also much barren, 
or otherwise little valuable land, in the former 
state, as there is in the neighbouring states of 
North and South Carolina. 

South Carolina and Louisiana are the only two 
states which, at the census of 1820, contained more 
blacks than whites. The former had 231,812 
white inhabitants, and 258,497 blacks ; leaving a 
balance of 26,685 in favour of the latter. Of the 
blacks, 251,783 were slaves, being 19,971 more 
slaves than whites. Louisiana had, at the same 
time, 73,383 whites, and 79,540 blacks ; of the 
latter, 69,064 were slaves, being rather fewer 
slaves than whites. All people having black 
blood are enumerated as blacks. Georgia is the 

■I ;.i 



next considerable community which has so large a 
proportion of blacks. It had, in 1820, 189,566 
whites, and 151,439 blacks. Virginia had 603,008 
whites, and 462,042 blacks ; and North Carolina 
419,200 whites, and 219,629 blacks, or nearly two 
whites to one black. In Kentucky there were 
434,644 whites to 129,491 blacks ; and in Tenes- 
see, which is much disposed to the habits of a free 
state, there were 339,727 whites to 82,826 blacks, 
a proportion of the latter not greater than what 
formerly existed in New York and New Jersey. 
Most of the blacks, in all these states, are slaves. 
In 1790 there were 757,208 blacks in the United 
States; in 1800, 1,001,729 ; 1810,1,377,810; in 
1820, 1,764,836. By making premises of these 
facts, and taking the past rate of increase as a 
rule for the future, it would be found that there 
are now (1828) about 2,000,000 of blacks in the 
United States. In 1820 there were 233,400 /ree 
blacks in the United States. As the free blacks 
do not increase at the same rate as the slaves, this 
number cannot have accumulated in a full propor- 
tion, by natural causes. But emancipation has 
been busy since. New York, alone, has liberated 
more than 10,000 slaves since 1820. We will 
therefore assume that natural increase and eman- 
cipation have kept the free blacks up to the level 
of the increase of the whole number. This would 
leave us something like 1,750,000 for the whole 
amount of slaves in the country, at the present 
moment (1828). This result is probably not far 


from the truth. You will see, however, that my 
premises are a little faulty, because the increase 
of blacks between the years 1800 and 1810 was 
a good deal greater, in comparison with whole num- 
bers, than between 1810 ani 1820. This fact is 
owing to the abolition of the slave trade, which 
occurred between the two censuses of 1800 and 
of 1810, and which being known by a prospective 
law, induced extraordinary importations. Thus 
the increase between 1800 and 1810 was 376,581, 
whereas between 1810 and 1820 it was only 
387,026, although there was so much larger a stock 
to increase from. Still, I think the amount of slaves 
cannot be much short of the number I have named. 
The white population, in the whole country, is 
now about 10,000,000. Of this number, however, 
at least 6,000,000, and probably a gr; at many more, 
are in the free states. If we put the entire white 
population of the slave-holding states at 3,500,000, 
we shall probably give them quite as many as they 
possess. This would be making two whites to one 
slave in those states, and it is probably as near the 
truth as one can get at this distance of time from 
the census. But it has already been seen, that 
in many of these states the proportion of blacks is 
much larger than in others ; South Carolina ac- 
tually possessing more slaves than whites; and 
Tennessee having four whites to one black. There 
are, again, districts in these very states, in which 
the proportion of the whites to the blacks, and of 
the blacks tc the whites, is even still greater. 

I '^'W 


■!•>■ -iv: 

V -il 

:•:: :.\S 



i : I 



I' ' \ 

In addition to these facts, it may be well to 
state that the whole white population of the 
country is known to have increased faster than 
the coloured, though the black population of the 
southern, or slave-holding states is thought to 
have increased a little faster than that of the 

In considering the question of slavery, as now 
existing in the UnitCvi States, the subject natu- 
rally divides itself into the past, the present, and 
the future. It has been often said, that a people, 
claiming to be the freest of the earth, ought to have 
brought their practice more in conformity with 
their professions, and to have abolished slavery 
at the time they declared their independence. 
There are many unanswerable reasons against 
this allegation ; or reasons that will be deemed 
unanswerable, by that portion of mankind who 
regard life as it actually exists, in its practical 
aspects and influences. There is not now, nor 
has there ever been since the separation of the 
colonies from the mother country, any power to 
emancipate the slaves, except that which belongs 
to their masters. This reason might satisfy most 
practical men of the impossibility of instantly 
achieving so desirable an object. That sort of 
humanity which regards the evils of a distant and 
alien people, and which, at the same time, turns a 
cold eye on the sufferings of those at hand, is, to 
say the least, as useless as it is suspicious. There 
is scarcely a nation in Europe, if, indeed, there 





be one, that has not a proportion of its population, 
that is quite equal to the proportion the slaves of 
America bear to the whites, which is not quite as 
low in moral debasement, the name of liberty alone 
excepted, and which, as a whole, endures much 
more of physical suffering than the negroes of 

The condition of the American slave varies, of 
course, with circumstances. In some few por- 
tions of the country, he is ill dealt by. In most 
districts his labour is sufficiently light, his clothing 
is adapted to the climate, and his food is, I believe, 
every where abundant. The strongest evidence, 
after all, which can be given, that the amount of 
animal suffering among the American slaves is not 
great, (there are exceptions, of course), is the fact 
that they are a light hearted and a laughing race. 
I am very ready to grant that ignorance, and 
absence of care, are apt to produce hilarity, and 
that some of the most degraded and least intellec- 
tual people of the earth, are among the gayest ; 
but I believe that it is a rule in nature, that where 
there is much animal suffering there is an animal 
exhibition of its existence. 

There is still a higher, and a very numerous 
class of American slaves, who are far better in- 
structed, better clothed, and better fed, and who 
are altogether a superior race to the lowest class 
of the European peasants. I mean the domestic 
servants, and those who labour as mechanics and 



11 ! 




While on this branch of the subject, I shall take 
occasion to say, that yearly meliorations in the 
condition of the slaves (and of the blacks gene- 
rally), are taking place in some one part of -the 
country or other. Several unjust and exceedingly 
oppressive laws, that were the fruits of colonial 
policy, have been repealed, or greatly qualified, 
and public opinion is making a steady advance to 
the general improvement, and, I think, to the final 
I'beration of the race. Although these changes 
art not as rapid as they might be, even with a 
due regard to policy, and far less rapid than most 
good men could wish, it is a course that is more 
likely to be attended with less positive injury to 
the race of beings that true philanthropy would 
so gladly serve, than one as headlong and as ill- 
advised as mere declaimers and pretenders would 

I think no candid man will deny the difficulty 
of making two or three millions of people, under 
any circumstances, strip themselves, generally of 
half their possessions, and, in many instances, of 
all. There are few nations in Europe, at this 
hour, in which the poorer classes would not be 
relieved from serious pressure, would they, who 
have the means, tax themselves to discharge the 
debts which are the causes of so much of the 
heavy impositions of their respective governments. 
Now, this would be a measure that would do good 
to millions, great and almost inconceivable good, 
and harm to none but to them that paid ; whereas. 





a sudden, or any very violent emancipation of the 
slaves of America, would ruin those who did it, 
and scarcely do less than ruin half, or e'-en more, 
of those in whose behalf the charitabl*^ . ct would 
be performed. Let me be understood I do not 
mean to say that much more than is done might 
not be done, prudently, and with safety ; nor do 
I mean to say that most of those who find them- 
selves in possession of a species of property, that 
they have been educated to think a natural and 
just acquisition, th ik "luch of the matter at all ; 
but what I woulr w! to express is, that they 
who do think c?\ Ay and sincerely on the subject, 
see and feel all tkeso difficulties, and that they 
weaken efforts v.i would otherwise produce an 
effect more visible than the sentiment which I 
think is silently working its way throughout the 
whole of this nation. 

In considering the question of American slavery, 
in reference to the past, it is plain that Europe 
has been an equal participator in all that there 
is of shame, or sin, in the transaction. There can 
be no charge more vapid and unjust, than for an 
European to reproach the American with the 
existence of slavery in his country. That the 
American is in the enjoyment of greater power to 
do natural justice than the European, is just as 
true, as that, in most things, he does it. That 
slavery is an evil of which the great majority of 
the Americans themselves, who have no present 
agency in its existence, would gladly be rid of, is 

I - 





manifest, since they have abolished it in so many 
states already ; but that it is an evil not to be 
shaken off by sounding declarations, and fine 
sentiments, any man, who looks calmly into the 
subject, must see. But so far as a comparison 
between Europe and America is concerned, let us, 
for an instant, examine the exceedingly negative 
merit of the former. Is it not a fact that the 
policy of all America was for more than a century 
controlled by Europe, and was not this scourge 
introduced under that policy ? Has that policy, 
in Europe, been yet abandoned ? Let us take 
the two most prominent nations boldly to task at 
once ; does England or France, for instance, at 
this moment, own a foot of land on earth, where 
black slaves can be profitable, and where they do 
not use them ?* It is absurd for France, or for Eng- 
land, to say we have no slaves in our respective king- 
doms, properly so called, when every body knows 
that the one is at this moment filled with white beg- 
gars, and the other with paupers who are supported 
by the public purse, and both for the simple rea- 
son that they are overflowing with population. It 
is true, that two centuries ago, when they had 
more room, they did not import negroes from 
Guinea; but it is, also, just as true, that they 
sent their ships to convey them to colonies which 
are situated in climates where they might repay 
them for their trouble. It is as puerile as it is un- 

* It is well known that an Indian would be next to nothing in 
the Canadas, &c. 




just, therefore, for ihese two countries, (most others 
might be included) to pretend to any exclusive 
exemption from the sin or the shame of slavery. 

The merit of Christendom on the subject of the 
wrongs of Africa, is, at the best, but equivocal. 
Yet, such as it is, the meed is better due to the 
United States than to any other nation. They 
were the first to abolish the trade in human flesh, 
though the nation, of all others, that might most 
have reaped that short-sighted, but alluring profit, 
which tempted men to the original wrong. Had 
not the congress of the United States abolished 
this trade, there is no doubt millions of cres 
might have sooner been brought into lucrative cul- 
tivation, and the present generation at least would 
have been millions the richer. The whole body 
of the whites might have become a set of task- 
masters to gather wealth from the labour of the 
blacks. No doubt true policy dictated the course 
they have taken, and they have but a very nega- 
tive merit in pursuing it : still it should always be 
remembered, that what has been done, was done 
by those who might have profited in security by a 
different course, and by those, too, who had been 
educated in the shackles of a deeply rooted preju- 
dice on the subject. 

In reproaching the Americans with incongruity 
between their practices and their professions, two 
or three points are very necessary to be remem- 
bered. In the first place, it is not true, as respects 



" ti 


* f. 

near 7,000,000 of the ten that comprise their po- 
pulation ; for thej/ have given freedom and (essen- 
tially) equal rights to those blacks who remain 
among them. The very condensation of the inte- 
rests of slavery adds, however, to the difficulty of 
the subject, since it makes the loss fall on a com- 
paratively reduced number. The northern men 
had to do one of two things ; to separate their 
fortunes from a portion of their countrymen, to 
whom they were bound by the ties of fellowship, 
blood, common interests, and common descent, or 
submit to be parties to an union in which some 
of the other parties were slave holders. They 
were, in fact, slave holders themselves, at the time 
of the compact, so that it would have been absurd 
to be very fastidious about the matter ; and there 
would have been but little wisdom in rejecting 
so much positive good, in order to assert an ab- 
stract principle, that could be attended with no 
single practical benefit. The southern states would 
have held their slaves, had the northern refused to 
have joined them to make one nation ; and, so far 
as humanity is concerned, the negroes would not 
have been so well off, e^nce they now feel the in- 
fluence of northern policy, while war and blood- 
shed, and all the evils of a dangerous rivalry that 
would have arisen between men whom nature had 
made friends and brothers are avoided. In short, 
this is a reproach against the northern man, that 
is more likely to be made by those who view the 



Union, and the continued harmony which pervades 
these vast regions, with unquiet jealousy, than by 
any reasoning and practical philanthropist. 

As to the southern man himself, he is placed, 

like so many nations of other quarters of the globe, 

in an unfortunate predicament, that time and 

society, and all the multiplied interests of life 

render so difficult to change. The profession of 

the southern man is unquestionably that of equal 

rights ; and it is undeniable that he holds the 

black in slavery ; but this does not involve quite 

so great an absurdity as one would at first imagine. 

The slave holders of the present day (viewed ns a 

body) are just as innocent of the creation of 

slavery, as their fellow-citizens of New York or 

Connecticut ; and the citizens of New York or 

Connecticut are just as innocent of the creation 

of slavery as the citizens of London or Paris. But 

the citizens of the two former states have a 

merit in the matter that the citizens of neither 

of the towns named can claim, since they have 

stripped themselves of property to give freedom 

to their blacks, while those who were parties 

to the original wrong have contributed nothing 

to the measure they so much urge. But is it not 

possible to assert a principle under acknowledged 

limitations ? The black man in the southern states 

of this Union is not considered a citizen at all. It 

would not be safe to consider him a citizen, in a 

country of equal politi :1 rights, s' ^ehe is far too 






M i 


; • I.. 

ignorant, and must for a generation at least, remain 
too ignorant to exercise, with sufficient discretion, 
the privileges of a citizen in a free government. It 
would, if any thing, be more prudent for the Vir- 
ginian and Carolinian to admit boys of twelve years 
of age to vote, and to legislate, than to admit their 
blacks, in their present moral condition, without 
having any reference to the danger of a personal 
dissension. Equal rights do not, in any part of 
America, imply a broad, general, and unequivocal 
equality. It is the glory of the institutions of this 
country, that they have never run into practical 
excesses, in order to satisfy craving theories. By 
equal rights, the citizen of Connecticut, (and, I 
believe, no man doubts his rational and unlimited 
freedom,) understands that all who have reached a 
certain standard of qualification, shall be equal in 
power, and that all others shall be equal in pro- 
tection. He does not give political power to the 
pauper, nor to females, nor to minors, nor to idiots, 
nor yet even to his priests. All he aims at is jus- 
tice ; and in order to do justice, he gives political 
rights to all those who, he thinks, can use them 
without abuse. He would be culpable only, if 
any class existed in his community, who might, 
with a little care, freely enjoy these rights, did he 
neglect to resort to that care. He therefore ex- 
cludes only those who, on great, general, and lasting 
principles, are disqualified from exercising politi- 
cal power. The situation of the Carolinian is dif- 




ferent, but his principle is quite the same : he ex- 
cludes more ; for, unhappily, when he arrived at 
the knowledge and the practice of a liberal policy 
himself, he found a numerous class of human beings 
existing within his borders, who were not compe- 
tent to its exercise. He had but a choice between 
a seeming inconsistency, or the entire abandon- 
ment of what he thought a great good. He chose 
to make all equal, who can bear equality ; and in 
that he has done exactly what his northern coun- 
tryman has done, and no more. Should he un- 
necessarily neglect, however, to qualify these ex- 
ceptions to enjoy a better state of being, he then 
becomes inconsistent. 

I think these considerations must lead us to 
the conclusion, that most of the merits of this ques- 
tion lie in the fact of how much has been done 
and is now doing, towards effecting a change in 
what is admitted to be a prodigious evil. I feel 
confident that no discreet father, or husband, or 
brother, could ask a Carolinian, who was living 
in a state of highly polished society, and who en- 
joyed all the advantages of great moral improve- 
ment, to admit, at once, a body of men who had 
been nurtured in the habits of slavery, with all 
their ignorance and animal qualities, and who are 
numerically superior, to a participation of equal 
political rights. Such a measure would induce 
an absolute abandonment of their country and 
property on the part of the whites, or it would 

VOL. n. 

A A 






involve a degradation, and abuses that are horrible 
to reflect on. Individuals may and have parted 
with their means of personal indulgence to give 
liberty to their slaves ; but it is too much to 
expect it from communities : nor would discreet 
individuals do it, if it were to be a general act, 
since a disorganization of society would be an 
inevitable consequence. 

The true question, and that in which the friends 
of humanity should feel the deepest interest, is that 
connected with the steps that are taken to lead to 
the general emancipation, which must sooner or 
later arrive. 

At the period of the declaration of the inde- 
pendence of the United States, slavery existed in 
all the British colonies. The blacks were not 
numerous in the northern provinces, for, there, the 
white was the better labourer. Still there were 
slaves in every one of the thirteen original states 
of this Union. The proportion of slaves in some 
of the middle states was nearly equal to what it 
now is in some of the southern. Massachusetts 
(which in 1790 had 5,463 blacks), put such a con- 
struction on its own bill of rights as abolished 
slavery. This was, I believe, the first measure 
of the sort that was ever taken on the American 
continent. The example has been successively 
followed, at different periods, by all the northern 
and middle states until slavery is either abolished 
in fact, or by laws that have a prospective opera- 





tion, in nine out of the fourteen states that 
adopted the present constitution in 1789. You 
may form some idea of the difficulty of getting rid 
of such an evil as slavery, by observing the 
caution with which these comparatively little in- 
cumbered states have approached the subject. 
Perhaps twenty years are necessary to effect the 
object humanely, even after the policy of a com- 
munity is perfectly decided. 

Numberless influences have, at the same time, 
been at work, however, to extend the limits in which 
slavery might exist. Alabama and Mississippi 
formed parts of Georgia ; Kentucky and Tenessee 
were within the ancient limits of Virginia ; and 
Louisiana, Missouri, and the Floridas were ac- 
quired by purchase. The people of Virginia and 
Georgia, in ceding their territory, were not dis- 
posed to cede the right of emigration, with the 
privilege of carrying their wealth with them, and 
slavery, in consequence, became extended over 
the four states named. Slaves were found in the 
two others, and in the Floridas. In this manner the 
eleven present slave-holding states came into exist- 
ence. In the mean while, the states of Ohio, Indi- 
ana, and Illinois, were organized off* what was once 
called the north-western territory. These, added 
to the nine states that had abolished the policy of 
slavery, and by the subsequent acquisition of 
Maine, brought their whole number up to thirteen. 
I think that the influence of free opinions, if I 

A A 2 





.i. ■ 




i%'-''^ . ■K'-i 


may SO express it, is steadily on l*ie increase. It 
is not the smallest evil of slavery, that it begets in 
the master an indifference to its existence, and 
that it gives birth and durability to cruel and last- 
ing prejudices. That these piejadices must be 
rooted out of the majority of the citizens of the 
southern states themselves, ere slavery shall ce'^se 
to exist, is indisputable, since no power but their 
ow^n can extinguish it. But my friend assures me, 
that within his recollection, an immense change has 
taken place in this particular. Twenty years ago* 
even in New York, a general and deep prejudice 
existed against this unfortunate class of human 
beings. It is rapidly disappearing. It is true, 
that the sort of commingling of the races, which 
a certain class of philanthropists are much fonder 
of proclaiming than they would be of practising, 
does not occur, nor is it likely very soon to 
occur in this country. Still there is every dispo- 
sition t 'o the blacks justice, though there is 
none wh'u^:;ver to mingle the blood. I have heard 
of instances in which human beings of peculiar 
colour and form were esteemed in Europe as curi- 
osities ; but I fancy, if they abounded in any 
country, there would be found the same natural 
desire, in that portion of its inhabitants who 
believed themselves to possess the physical 
advantage to retain it, as is now found here. It 
is odd enough, that Europe, which, for so many 
centuries, has been making patents of nobility 

* '■ I 


obstacles to matrimony, sho'ild decry so kirH)' 
against a peopl^^ who hesitate a little at interraim:- 
ling colours. 

But there will still be a greater objecti tr? a.iain^ft 
this mingling of the races, for a long hme to 
come. With few exceptions, the blacks of Ameiica 
belong to an ill-educaied and inferior class. When 
free, they are left, like other men, to look after 
their own interests ; and most of those, who have 
character and talent enough to rise above the con- 
dition of menials, push their fortunes in countries 
where they are not daily and hcutly oifended by 
the degradation of their caste. I think this 
circumstance must long keep them in a station 
which will prevent intermarriages. You will 
admit too, that matrimony is very much nn aflair 
of taste ; and, although there well may he, and 
there are, portions of the world where white colour 
is not greatly admired, such is not t\\^, rase here. 
The deep reluctance to see one's p' f t^^rity exhibit- 
ing a hue different from one s own, i:, to be ove»'- 
come, ere any exten'^^ve intercoui'se can occur 
between the blacks ai i the whites. 

The probable future fate of the blacks of 
America, is a subject of deep and painful interest. 
I confess, however I am not one of those who see 
any great danger to the whites in their increasing 
numbers. While they remain ignorant, their 
efforts must always be feeble and divided, and, as 
they become enlightened, they must see the utter 







'I ^ 

.4 i^ 

impossibility of any continued success in a rising 
against a force numerically and morally so 
superior. Although the distances in America 
seem very great on the map, the inhabitants have 
contrived the means of bringing themselves won- 
derfully near to each other. The whites in the 
whole country increase faster than the blacks ; 
and I think it will be found, that as emancipations 
multiply, the disproportion in numbers will be 
still greater, and always in favour of the former. 
It would not only be the duty of the northern 
men, but it would be a duty readily performed, 
to fly, in case of need, to the assistance of their 
southern neighbours. It is not easy to suppose 
circumstances in which the white population of 
the southern states, already (as a whole,) two to 
one against the skves, armed, intelligent, 
organized, and possessing the immense moral 
superiority of their domestic relations, should not 
be sufficient of themselves to protect their persons 
and property against a rising. The only circum- 
stances in which the danger could be very immi- 
nent or extensive, would be in the event of a 
foreign war; and then their common country 
would be a party, and the aid of states that will 
shortly mmber of themselves twenty or thirty 
millions, could be commanded in their defence. 

But the danger of slavery, so far as it is con- 
nected with numbers, has its own cure. No man 
will keep a negro after he ceases to be profitable. 




any more than he will keep an extra supply of 
other animal force. If Carolina can bear 500,000 
slaves, Carolina will probably accumulate that 
number ; but after she has reached the point 
where policy says she must stop, instead of 
resorting to laws to retain her negroes, she will 
have recourse to laws to get rid of *Vem. This to 
an European, and particularly to an Englishman, 
who knows that excessive population is the 
greatest burthen of his own country, may seem 
difficult ; but in order to form a correct opinion of 
a question purely American, it is necessary to 
consider the actual state of things on this side of 
the Atlantic. 

The already vast, and constantly increasing 
coasting trade of the United States, offers an 
easy, natural, and perfectly practicable drain, to 
the black population of the South. The blacks 
furnish, already, thousands of sailors, and useful 
sailors too, and they constitute a very important 
material for the supply of seamen, in consider- 
ing the future commercial and nautical power of 
this confederation. The demand for domestics at 
the north, too, will, for many years, continue be- 
yond the probability of a white supply. You will 
remember that experience has shewn that the free 
blacks have very little natural increase, and both 
these growing demands must therefore meet with 
most of their supplies from the slave-holding states. 
Then, again, the proximity of the West Indies, 



of Mexico, and of the South American States, in 
which a commingled population already exists, 
offer facilities for emigration, that Europe does 
not present. The slave population of the United 
States may reach 4 or 5,000,000, but (after a 
very short time) at a diminishing rate of in- 
crease,* and then I think it will be found that 
n(?w means will be taken to get rid of them. 

In forming these conjectures, I have not re- 
garded the narrowing of the limits of slavery by 
the constant advancement of opinion. It is true, 
that the surface on which slavery, in fact, 
exists, has, on the whole, been rather enlarged 
than otherwise since the existence of the confede- 
ration ; but we should not lose sight of the cir- 
cumstances under which this extension of the 
slave region has been effected. 

It has spread with the diffusion of population, 
over districts that were originally the property of 
tlie slave-holders ; and in no respect, except in 
mere territorial division, has there been any 

* At present the slave-holder has a motive for increasing his 
slaves, since he can sell them in the new states, but this demand 
will, of course, cease as the new states get full. Louisiana has re- 
cently passed a law, prohibiting the importation of slaves, a fact 
which the writer thinks proves the truth of his theory. The reader 
will always recollect that slaves cannot be importedinto the United 
Stales, but that they can be transported from one state to another, 
unles s prohibitions are made by the states themselves. This was 
part of the original compact, without which the southern states 
would not have consented to the present constitution. 





virtual enlargement of its political limits, unless 
one can thus call the enlargement of the borders 
of society. It is true, that when Missouri was 
admitted to the Union, an effort was made by 
the friends of the blacks (I use the term techni- 
cally) to abolish slavery in that state. Had they 
succeeded, it would have been an inroad on the 
ancienc limits ; but their defeat ought not to be 
deemed an extension of the surface occupied by 
slaves, since slaves were there before. It was a 
sort of attempt to turn the flank of slavey, or to 
get into its rear ; whereas I think it manifest that 
the great victory over habits and prejudices, 
which true policy will be sure to gain in time, is 
to be gained by pressing steadily on, in an open, 
manly, but cautious and conciliating manner, in its 
front. Ardent and steady a friend of universal 
liberty as you know me to be, I am by no means 
sure, that, had I been a member of that congress, I 
would have given so violent an alarm to the slave- 
holders of the south as to have contributed to 
.attempt to carry that law. - • 

It is only necessary to witness the immense 
superiority that free labour possesses over slave 
labour, and to examine the different conditions of 
society in a state without slaves, and in one with, 
to see that a close contact must be destructive to 
the principles of slavery. The friends of emanci- 
pation have now a noble front, extending from 
the Atlantic to the Mississippi. I even think that 






* Si 

accident has contributed to throw those commu- 
nities most in advance, which are the least likely 
to retard the progress of emancipation. The 
honest and affluent, but quiet population of 
Pennsylvania, for instance, is much less suited to 
give the alarm to their neighbours of Maryland, 
than would be done by the more restless, ever- 
busy people of New England, while their example 
is left to produce its undiminished effect. If I 
have been correctly informed, public opinion and 
sounder views of policy are making great progress 
in the latter state. The inhabitants begin to see 
that they would be richer and more powerful 
without their slaves than with them. This is the 
true entering wedge of argument, and juster 
views of moral truth will be sure to follow convic- 
tions of interest, as they have followed, and are 
still following, emancipation farther north. 

The first and surest sign of a disposition to 
give freedom to the slaves, is the accumulation of 
the free blacks, since they are not only a positive 
proof that emancipation exists, but they argue an 
indifference to slavery in the whole community. 
In Maryland there were 145,429 blacks in 1810, 
and 147,128 in 1820. During the same time, the 
whites increased from 235,117 to 260,222. Emi- 
gration retarded the increase of the two races, no 
doubt ; and yet, you see, contrary to the law of 
increase in most of the slave-holding states, the 
whites grew faster than the blacks. Now, of this 





number of 147,128 blacks, 39,730 were free. 
This is a very large proportion, and I hail it as a 
most auspicious omen. In point of fact, there 
were 4,109 fewer slaves in Maryland in 1820, 
than in 1810; while the whites had increased 
25,105. Indeed, I heard ery many enlightened 
and respectable men in Maryland regret that 
slavery existed among them ! at all ; and the 
opinion is getting to be quite common, that free 
labour is the most profitable. Even in Virginia, 
the whites have increased 51 ,474, during the same 
ten years, while the blacks have increased only 
38,954. It is true, the emigration renders these 
results a little doubtful ; but the fact that there 
were, in 1820, 36,889 free blacks in Virginia, 
proves something. It is also of importance, that 
there exist, in so many of the slave-holding 
states, large bodies of their respective communi- 
ties, who have very little interest in the perpetua- 
tion of the evil, except as their own personal 
welfare is connected with that of society. 
Although the latter influence is one of moment, 
it is also one that may influence a man both ways, 
since he may be as likely to believe that the 
interests of society call for some relief against the 
evil, as to think he ought to support it. 

I have endeavoured to lay this important sub- 
ject before you in a practical form. It has been 
done rapidly, and, I am quite certain, very 
imperfectly. It is proper to understand there 


■'.. ' ' f* 







■^ lii 12.2 


U 11.6 




















is SO much of intimate detail necessary to view 
the state of American slavery with discretion, that 
it is highly probable I may have fallen into error, 
but I still think you will find the views I have 
taken of it not without some plausibility. I shall 
sum them up, together with the leading facts, in 
as few words as possible. 

I think liberal sentiments towards the blacks 
are rapidly gaining ground in most of the southern 
states.* Positive, political freedom is granted, or 
is in the course of being granted to them, in thir- 
teen of the twenty-four communities of the confe- 
deration. Emancipation, geographically speaking, 
has now reached a formidable point of resistance 
(on account of the numbers of the slaves), but it is 
steadily advancing through the powerful agency of 
public opinion. When it has passed this point, its 
subsequent march will, I think, be easier and 
more rapid. Tenessee and Kentucky, the states 
that flank Virginia, have by no means so deep an 
interest in the maiiitenance of slavery, as the states 
further south ; and I think it is not chimerical to 
hope that, by the aid of prospective laws, many 
are now living who may see slavery limited to the 
shores of the Atlantic, and to the Gulph of Mexico, 
with perhaps a belt for a little distance on each 
side of the Mississippi. In the mean time the ad- 

* The writer does not mean that every man becomes in some 
degree sensible of the evil, but that a vast number do, and of men 
too, who are likely to have an effect on legislation. • 




vance of opinion is steady and great. Unless the 
christian world recedes, its final success is inevi- 
table. I will not incur the charge of empiricism 
by pretending to predict the precise period. 

I do not think that slavery, under any circum- 
stances, can entail very serious danger on the do- 
minion of the whites in this country, for at least a 
century or two. Districts might be ravaged be- 
yond a doubt, but the prodigious superiority of the 
whites, in every thing that constitutes force, is the 
pledge of their power. . , . . .1^ 

I am of opinion that the number of the slaves 
will be limited, as a matter of course, by necessity. 
There is a point beyond which they would be a 
burden. Nor is that point so distant as we com- 
monly imagine. Perhaps it has been already 
attained in some of the older states. * 

I think that the free black population (except in 
the way of emancipation) does not increase, or, at 
least, not materially: and at the proportions 
between the whites and the blacks is steadily 
growing in favour of the former ; that in future it 
will 3ven grow faster ; thot emigration, the navy, 
commerce, and unsettled habits, will tend to re- 
press the increase of the blacks, and to consume 
their numbers; and that the time of the inter- 
mingling of the races to any great extent is still 
remote. . — . 

Though there is much in these views to excite 
the regrets of a man of pure philanthropy, it ap- 

,'- -U 

?. ■ 




pears to me that the cause of emancipation is far 
from being as bad as it is generally supposed to 
be in Europe. Impatience is a characteristic of 
zeal. But impatience, though creditable to the 
feelings of the European, sometimes leads him, on 
this subject, into assertions that might provoke 
comparisons which would not be so honourable to 
his own society, perhaps, as he is apt to fancy. 
Impatience, however, on the part of the American, 
may even do worse ; it may retard the very con- 
summation he wishes. Mildness, candour, and 
conciliation are his weapons ; and I think they 
will be irresistible. Although an ardent wisher for 
the happy moment of general emancipation, I al- 
ways turn with disgust from those cold and heart- 
less paragraphs which occasionally appear in the 
northern journals of this country, and which, un- 
der a superficial pretension to humanity, trifle with 
the safety and happiness of two of their fellow 
citizens in order to give an affected aid to the un- 
doubtedly righteous cause of one black man. If 
this species of irritating language did good, if it 
did no harm by hardening men in their opinions, 
it would be disagreeable ; but under the actual 
state of things it is far worse than useless. The 
general tone of the press, however, is sufficiently 
amicable, and all those who understand the differ- 
ence between argumentation and judgment, have 
reason to hope it may long continue so. 

But physical suffering, especially in a country 




like this, is not the prominent grievance of slavery. 
It is the deep moral degradation, which no man 
has a right to entail on another, that forms the 
essence of its shame. God has planted in all our 
spirits secret but lasting aspirations after a state 
of existence, higher than that which we enjoy, and 
no one has a right to say that such are the limits 
beyond which your reason, and, consequently, 
your mental being, shall not pass. That men, 
equally degraded, exist under systems that do not 
openly avow the principle of domestic slavery, 
is no excuse for the perpetuation of such a scourge, 
though circumstances and necessity may urge a 
great deal in extenuation of its present existence. 



SfC. S^T. 

New York, 

The next subject of interest, after the unfortu- 
nate descendants of the Africans, that has been 
brought into my notice by this southern tour, is 
the remnant of the original possessors of these re- 
gions. By far the most numerous, and the most 
important of the native tribes, which still continue 
in the immediate vicinity of the whites, are those 
which occupy reservations in Georgia, the Flori- 






das, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tenessee. The 
lingering fragments of a hundred tribes are cer- 
tainly seen scattered over the immense surface of 
this country, living on greater or less tracts that 
had been secured to them, or dwelling by suffer- 
ance in the woods ; but the only people now re- 
siding east of the Mississippi who can aspire to 
the names of nations, are the Creeks, the Choctaws, 
the Chickasaws, the Cherokees, and the Semi- 
noles, all of whom dwell in the portion of country 
I have named. 

As a rule, the red man disappears before the 
superior moral and physical influence of the 
white, just as I believe the black man will event- 
ually do the same thing, unless he shall seek shelter 
in some other region. In nine cases in ten, the 
tribes have gradually removed west ; and there is 
now a confused assemblage of nations and lan- 
guages collected on the immense hunting grounds 
of the Prairies. 

It is impossible to say any thing of the numbers 
of the Indians, except by conjecture, since they 
are not considered as coming properly within the 
computations of the census. Perhaps the five 
nations named may contain not far from twenty 
thousand souls. It is not probable that all the 
Indians that live within the boundaries of the 
United States, stretching from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, materially exceed 120,000, if indeed they 
reach that amount. Still I do not pretend to any 



grrat accuracy in my estimates. Their numbers, 
in this quarter of America, have always been ex- 
aggerated, and the sounding terms of nations and 
tribes have contributed to the extension of a mis- 
taken idea of their importance. 

The ordinary manner of the disappearance of the 
Indian is by a removal deeper into the forest. Still, 
many linger near the graves of their fathers, to 
which their superstitions, no less than a fine natu- 
ral feeling, lend a deep interest. The fate of the 
latter is inevitable; they become victims to the 
abuses of civilization, without ever attaining to 
any of its moral elevation. 

As might be supposed, numberless divisions of 
these people, when the country was discovered, 
were found in possession of districts along the 
coast, and deriving a principal means of support 
from the ocean. They were fishermen rather than 
hunters, though the savage state ordinarily infers 
a resort to both pursuits. Most of these people* 
too, retired reluctantly from, a view of the great 
salt lake, but some were environed by the whites 
before they were probably aware of the blighting 
influence of the communion, and getting gradually 
accustomed to their presence, they preferred re- 
maining near the places where they had first drawn 
breath. Trifling districts of territory have been, 
in every instance in which they were sufficiently 
numerous to make such a provision desirable, se- 
cured to them, and on these little tracts of land 


I >i 



B B 




If. ) 

many of them still remain. I have visited one or 
two of their establishments. 

In point of civilization, comforts and character, 
the Indians, who remain near the coasts, are about 
on a level with the lowest classes of European 
peasantry. Perhaps they are somewhat below the 
English, but I think not below the Irish peasants. 
They are much below the condition of the mass of 
the slaves. It is but another proof of the wayward 
vanity of man that the latter always hold the In- 
dians in contempt, though it is some proof that 
they feel their own condition to be physically 
better : morally, in one sense, it certainly is 

^' ny of these Atlantic Indians goto sea. They 
ar ito often found in the whalers, and, in some 
instances, in the vessels of war. An officer in the 
navy has told me that he once k^ew a Montauk 
Indian who was a captain of the main-top in a 
sloop of war ; and in another instance a flag offi- 
cer had his gig manned by Indians. They make 
active and very obedient seamen, but are never 
remarkable for strength. The whole number of 
them who now go to sea, does not, however, pro- 
bably exceed a hundred or two.* 

* The writer, while in America, heard an anecdote which may 
give some idea of the notions of retributive justice which linger so 
long in the philosophy of an Indian, and which is, probably, the 
basis of his desire for revenge, since he is well known to be as 
eminently grateful as he is vindictive. The whalers always take 



I accompanied Cadwallader on a visit to a con- 
nexion, who lives within forty miles of New York, 
on the adjacent island of Nassau (Long Island). 
The uncle of my friend was a man of an extensive 
hereditary estate, on which there might have been 
a reservation of a few thousand acres of woods. 
While shooting over this forest, one day, the pro- 
prietor asked me if I felt any desire to see an In- 
dian king. Surprised at such a question, in such a 
place, an explanation was requested. He told me 
that an Indian, who claimed to be a descendant of 
the ancient Sachems, then held his court in his 
woods, and that a walk of fifteen minutes would 
bring us into the presence of King Peter. We 

I found this Indian, dwelling with his family, in 
a wigwam of a most primitive construction. It 
was in the form of a bee-hive, or rather of a very 

their reward in a portion of the profits of the voyage. An Indian 
made several voyages in succession, in the same ship; he found, 
at his return, that bad luck, advances, and the supplies of an ex- 
travagant family at home, left him always in debt. ^'- What shall I 
do ?" was the question put to his owner, as each unfortunate balance 
was exhibited. " You must go to sea." To sea he went, and, as 
stated, for four or five years, always with the same result. At 
length, good fortune, with a proper amount of preventive castigation 
on his improvident wife, before he sailed, brought the balance on 
his side. The money was of course tendered ; but for a long time 
he refused to receive it, insisting that justice required that his 
owners should now go to sea, where it would seem he had not en- 
joyed himself quite as much as he believed the other party to the 
contract had done on shore. 

li 15 2 





A wrc;\v.\vr. 

high dome. The covering was made of a long, 
tough grass, that grows near the sea, and the tex- 
ture was fine and even beautiful. A post in the 
centre supported the fabric, which was shaped by 
delicate curving poles. A hole in the top admitted 
the light, and allowed the smoke to pass out, and the 
fire was near enough to the upright post to permit 
a kettle to be suspended from one of its knots (or 
cut branches) near enough to feel the influence of the 
heat. The door was a covering of the mats, and 
the furniture consisted of a few rude chairs, bas- 
kets, and a bed, that was neither savage, nor yet 
such as marks the civilized man. The attire of 
the family was partly that of the one condition, and 
partly that of the other. The man himself was a 
full-blooded Indian, but his manner was that spe- 
cies of sullen deportment that betrays the disposi- 
tion without the boldness of the savage. He com- 
plained that " basket stuff" was getting scarce, 
and spoke of an intention of removing his wigwam 
shortly to some other estate. 

The manufacture of baskets and brooms is a 
common employment of all the Indians who 
reside near the settlements. They feed on game, 
and, sometimes, like the gypsies, they make free 
with poultry, though in common they are rigidly 
honest ; nearly always so, unless corrupted by 
much intercourse with the whites. "With the pro- 
ceeds of their labour they purchase blankets, 
powder, and such other indulgences as it exceeds 



their art to manufacture. King Peter, I was 
told, claimed a right, in virtue of his royal 
descent, to cut saplings to supply his materials, 
on any estate in the island, lie was perm ed to 
enjoy this species of feudal privilege in quiet, it 
being well understood that he was not to exceed 
a certain discretion in its exercise. 

In the more interior parts of the country, I fre- 
quently met families of the Indians either travel- 
ling, or proceeding to some village, with their 
wares. They were all alike, a stunted, dirty, and 
degraded race. Sometimes they encamped in 
the forests, lighted their fires, and remained for 
weeks in a place ; and at others, they kept roam- 
ing daily, until the time arrived when they should 
return to their reservations. 

The reservations in the old states, and with 
tribes that cannot aspire to the dignity of nations, 
are managed on a sufficiently humane principle. 
The laws of the state, or of the United States, 
have jurisdiction there, in all matters between 
white men, or between a white man and an 
Indian ; but the Indians themselves are com- 
monly permitted to control the whole of their own 
internal policy. Bargains, exceeding certain 
amounts, are not valid between them and the 
whites, who cannot, for instance, purchase their 
lands. Schools are usually provided in the more 
important tribes, by the general government, and 








in the less, by charity. Kclij^^ious instruction is 
also furnished by the latter means. 

I saw reservations in which no mean advances 
had been made in civilization. Farms were im- 
perfectly tilled, and cattle were seen grazing in 
the fields. Still, civilization advances slowly 
among a people who consider labour a degrada- 
tion, in addition to the bodily dislike that all men 
liave to its occupations. 

There are many of these tribes, however, who 
fill a far more important, and altogether a remark- 
able position. There is certainly no portion of 
country within the admitted boundaries of the 
United States, in which their laws are not para- 
mount, if they choose to exert them. Still, savage 
communities do exist within these limits, with 
whom they make treaties, against whom they 
wage open war, and with whom they make 
solemn peace. As a treaty is, by the constitu- 
tion, the paramount law of the land, the several 
states are obliged to respect their legal provisions. 

That neither the United States, nor any indi- 
vidual state has ever taken possession of any land 
that, by usage or construction, might be decreed 
the property of the Indians, without a treaty and 
a purchase, is, I believe, certain. How far an 
equivalent is given, is another question : though 
I fancy that these bargains are quite as just as 
any that are ever driven between the weak and the 


strong, the intelligent and the ignorant. ^ is not 
pretended that the value of the territory gained 
is paid for; but the purchase is rather a deference 
to general principles of justice and humanity, than 
a concession to a rignt in the Indians, which 
itself might admit of a thousand legal quibbles. 
The treaties arc sufficiently humane, and, although 
certain borderers, who possess the power of the 
white man with the disposition of the savage, do 
sometimes violate their conditions, there is no just 
reason to distrust the intentions or the conduct of 
the government. But you may desire to know 
something of the detail of the intercourse. 

You have seen that the expenses of the war 
department of this government for the year 1826, 
was 6,243,230 dollars. Among other charges, I 
find the following items included in the gross 
amount. The sums are all in dollars. Civiliza- 
tion of Indians, 14,914 ; pay of Indian agents, 
29,860; sub-ditto, 12,131 ; presents to Indians, 
16,387; contingencies of Indian department, 
130,542 ; general councils with Indians on 
Lake Superior, 270,000; relief of the Florida 
Indians, 7,249 ; treaties with ditto, 3,218 ; Creek 
treaties, 109,471 ; Choctaw treaty, 2,056; Choc- 
taw schools, 2,804 ; treaties with Choctaws and 
Chickasaws, 15,000: other Indian treaties, 
183,568 ; annuities to Indians, 243,542, &c. &c. 

The annuities are sums paid for grants of land. 
At the treaties, presents are always made to the 


-i- . 



i ■ 


i- -^ 




% ! 

ii- -i 

I ; 

tribes, and the agents and sub-agents are men 
employed to maintain the influence of the govern- 
ment, and at the same time, to see that the rights 
of the Indians are respected. 

There is a bureau of the war department that 
is called the *' office of the Indian affairs," A 
humane and discreet individual is at its head, and 
a good deal is endeavoured to be done in mitigating 
the sufferings, and in meliorating the cond'tion of 
the Indians, though, owing to the peculiar habits 
and opinions of these people, but little, I fear, is 
effected. I see by the report of the current year, 
(1827) that, in nine months, requisitions towards 
the support of the objects of this bureau, were 
made to the amount of 759,116 dollars, or at the 
rate of a little more than a million of dollars a 
year. This, you will remember, is one tenth of 
the current expenditure of the whole government, 
and nearly as much as is paid for the support of 
the whole civil list, strictly speaking. The manner 
in which the money is appropriated, can be seen 
in the extracts already quoted for the year 1826. 

The government, it would appear by the 
reports, puts the utmost latitude on the construc- 
tion of their constitutional powers, by even paying 
money for the support of missionaries among the 
Indians. I believe, however, that the alleged and 
legal object of this charge, is for general instruc- 
tion, though in point of fact, the teachers are mis- 
sionaries. They are of all sects, Protestant and 



Catholic, the question of creed never being dis- 
cussed at all. 1 see by the reports, that (in 1827) 
there were 1291 scholars in the different schools 
that come under the superintendence of the 
government. It is not probable that all the 
Indians belonging to the tribes that receive this 
instruction, much exceed, if indeed they reach, 
the total number of 30,000. I think it is there- 
fore apparent, that quite as good provision for 
elementary instruction is made in behalf of the 
Indians, as is commonly made for the people of 
any country, except those of the United States 
themselves. There is no reason to suppose that 
all the children who present themselves, are 
not taught, and there is much reason for believing 
that efforts are constantly making to induce all to 
come. The number of teachers is 293, which 
is quite enough to instruct ten times the number. 
You are not to suppose, however, that all these 
teachers are men hired expressly for that purpose. 
They are the missionaries, their wives and families, 
and some of them are for the purpose of instruct- 
ing in the arts of life, as well as in reading and 
writing. Much of the expense is defrayed by 
charitable associations. The sum actually paid 
by the government for the express object of 
instruction, is 7,150 dollars, or enough to maintain 
rather more than forty teachers at stipends of 150 
dollars each. It is probable that some receive 


|; ' 'iMii 

i «| 


I'M 1 

pj 1 

I'^'^'i H 




Ui :! 




1 1 

more, and some less. It is said that the schools 
are generally in a flourishing condition. 

Where there is much intercourse between the 
very strong and very weak, there is always a 
tendency in the human mind to suspect abuses of 
power. I shall not descend into the secret im- 
pulses that give rise to these suspicions : but, in 
this stage of the world, there is no necessity for 
suspecting a nation like this of any unprovoked 
wrongs against a people like the savages. The 
inroad of the whites of the United States has 
never been marked by the gross injustice and 
brutality that have distinguished similar inroads 
elsewhere. The Indians have never been slain 
except in battle, unless by lawless individuals ; 
never hunted by blood-hounds, or in any manner 
aggrieved, except in the general, and, perhaps, in 
some degree, justifiable invasion of a territory that 
they did not want, and could not use. If the 
government of the United States was poor and 
necessitous, one might suspect them of an unjust 
propensity ; but not only the facts, but the pre- 
mises, would teach us to believe the reverse. 

A great, humane, and, I think, rational project, 
is now in operation to bring the Indians within 
the pale of civilization. I furnish you with its 
outline as it is detailed in a recent report of the 
head of the Indian office. 

Most, if not all of the Indians who reside east 




of the Mississippi, live within the jurisdiction 
some state or of some territory- In most cases 
they are left to the quiet enjoyment of the scanty 
rights which they retain ; but the people of their 
vicinity commonly wish to get rid of neighbours 
that retard civilization, and who are so often 
troublesome. The policy of states is sometimes 
adverse to their continuance. Though there is no 
power, except that of the United States, which 
can effect their removal without their own con- 
sent, the state authorities can greatly embarrass 
the control of the general government. A ques- 
tion of policy, and, perhaps, of jurisdiction, lately 
arose on this subject between Georgia and the 
general government. In the course of its disposal, 
the United States, in order to secure the rights of 
the Indians more effectually, and to prevent any 
future question of this sort, appear *o have hit on 
the following plan. 

West of the Mississippi they still hold large 
regions that belong to no state or territory. They 
propose to several tribes (Choctaws, Chickasaws, 
Cherokees, &c.) to sell their present possessions, 
improvements, houses, fences, stock, &c., and to 
receive, in return, acre for acre, with the same 
amount of stock, fences, and every other auxiliary 
of civilization they now possess. The induce- 
ments to make this exchange are as follow : — Per- 
petuity to their establishments, since a pledge 
is given that no title shall ever be granted that 








t i 


may raise a pretext for another removal ; an or- 
ganization of a republican, or, as it is termed, a 
territorial government for them, such as now 
exist in Florida, Arkansas, and Michigan ; protec- 
tion by the presence of troops ; and a right to 
send delegates to congress, similar to that now 
enjoyed by the other territories. 

If the plan can be effected, there is reason to 
think that the constant diminution in the numbers 
of the Indians will be checked, and that a race, 
about whom there is so much that is poetic and 
fine in recollection, will be preserved. Indeed, 
some of the southern tribes have already endured 
the collision with the white man, and are still 
slowly on the increase. As one of these tribes, at 
least (the Chickasaws) is included in this plan, 
there is just ground to hope that the dangerous 
point of communication has been passed, and that 
they may continue to advance in civilization to 
maturity. The chief of the bureau for Indian 
afiairs gives it as his opinion that they (the Chicka- 
saws) have increased about ten per cent, within 
bix years. Their whole number ir computed at 
four thousand souls. 

Should such a territory be formed, a nucleus 
will be created around which all the savages of 
the west, who have any yearnings for a more 
meliorated state of existence, can rally. As 
there is little reluctance to mingle the white and 
red blood, (for the physical difference is far less 




than in the case of the blacks, and the Indians 
have never been menial slaves), 1 think an amal- 
gamation of the two races would in time occur. 
Those families of America who are thought to 
have any of the Indian blood, are rather proud of 
their descent ; and it is a matter of boast among 
many of the most considerable persons of Vir- 
ginia, that they are descended from the renowned 

The character of the American Indian has been 
too often faithfully described to need any repeti- 
tion here. The majority of them, in or near the 
settlements, are a humbled and much degraded 
race. As you recede from the Mississippi, the 
finer traits of savage life become visible ; and, 
although most of the natives of the Prairies, even 
there, are far from being the interesting and roman- 
tic heroes that poets love to paint, there are spe- 
cimens of loftiness of spirit, of noble bearing, and of 
savage heroism to be found among the chiefs, that 
it might embarrass the fertility of the richest inven- 
tion to equal. I met one of those heroes of the 
desert, and a finer physical and moral man, 
allowing for peculiarity of condition, it has rarely 
been my good fortune to encounter. 

Peterlasharroo, or the Young Knife, chief of the 
Pawnees, when I saw him, was a man of some six 
or seven and twenty years. He had already gained 
renown as a warrior, and he had won the confi- 
dence of his tribe by repeated exhibitions of wis- 

!■: ■{ 

r .'' i, 

K;, 'ij 









dom and moderation. He had been signally 
useful in destroying a baneful superstition, which 
would have made a sacrifice of a female prisoner, 
whose life he saved by admirable energy, and a 
fearless exposure of his own. The reputation of 
even this remote and savage hero had spread 
beyond the narrow limits oif his own country, and, 
when we met, I was prepared to yield him esteem 
and admiration. But the impression produced 
by his grave and haughty, though still courteous 
mien, the restless, but often steady, and bold 
glance of his dark, keen eye, and the quiet dig- 
nity of his air, are still present to my recollection. 
With a view to propitiate so powerful a chief, I 
had prepared a present of peacock's feathers, 
which were so arranged as to produce as much 
effect as the fine plumage of that noble bird will 
allow. He received my offering with a quiet 
smile, and regarded the boon with a complacency 
that seemed to find more of its motive in a wish 
to oe grateful, than in any selfish gratification. 
The gift was then laid aside, nor was it regarded, 
again, during the whole of a long and interesting 
interview. You may judge of my surprise, when 
I afterwards learned that this simple child of the 
plains considered my gift in some such light as a 
courtier would esteem a brilliant. The interpreter 
assured me that I had made him able to purchase 
thirty horses, a species of property that constitutes 
the chief wealth of his tribe. But, notwithstand- 



ing my unintentional liberality, no sign of pleasure, 
beyond that which I have related, was suffered 
to escape him, in the presence of a white man. 



You can scarcely expect a very minute descrip- 
tion of what I have seen in my southern tour. 
Still I may put a few general facts before your 
eyes, in a new, and, perhaps, not uninteresting 

The eleven slave holding states of this confede- 
ration contain about 489,000 square miles of terri- 
tory. If Arkansas and the Floridas (not yet states) 
shall be included, they will swell the amount to 
about 600,000, or something less than double the 
extent of the whole thirteen northern, or fiee 
states, including Michigan, which, together, cover 
a surface of 334,000 square miles. Thus, you see, 
that about one half of the v/hole computed terri- 
tory of the United States is so far settled, as to 
have arrived at the point of establishing the state 
or territorial governments. But there is no pro- 
bability that any other community will be speedily 
formed, on this side of the Rocky Mountains, of 

,"'■ -t 




i' t) 


sufficient importance to aspire to the possession 
of I separate government. The Prairies, and the 
deserts of the west, present natural obstacles to 
the further progress of the population in that quar- 
ter, and climate opposes a serious reason to the 
comfortable existence of man towards the north- 
west. That all these regions will, in time, come 
to have a population of their own, is certain ; but, 
in a country where there is still so much room for 
the employment of men, that day is necessarily 

I have estimated the whole white popula- 
tion, now in possession of these 600,000 square 
miles, at 3,500,000, and the blacks at less than 
1^900,000, of which number, as you know, I 
think something like 1,750,000 may be slaves. 
The free blacks in the free states, in 1820, 
amounted to 112,281; 10 or 12,000 have been 
manumitted since by the operation of the laws. 
The estimate of the whole number of blacks, 
in the United States, must materially exceed 
2,000,000, or I have given quite enough to the 
southern states. Supposing these estimates to 
be near the truth, (it is impossible that they 
should be exact), the whole of the 600,000 square 
miles are occupied by 5,400,000 souls, exclusive 
of Indians, or at the rate of nine inhabitants to the 
square mile. But the remark which I have made 
concerning the districts of country, entirely un- 
inhabited, to the north, is also applicable to 



similar regions to the south. There are also 
fewer villages to the south than to the north. 
The same is true with respect to towns of all 
sizes. Baltimore, the largest city in the slave 
holding states, contains, perhaps, about half as 
many inhabitants as Philadelphia ; and New Or- 
leans, and Charleston, and Richmond, the only 
other three towns of any magnitude, are not all 
together as large as Boston. After the places just 
named, there is no town that reaches 10,000 inha- 
bitants, and few that come up to half that number. 
There are, however, one or two new thriving 
places on the bays of the Gulf of Mexico, where 
cities will probably be formed, though, I think, 
there is scarcely a town now in existence, except 
Baltimore, New Orleans, Charleston, and Rich- 
mond, in the whole of this immense region, that 
contains 10,000 souls. 

In forming an idea of the appearance of a coun- 
try thus inhabited, in addition to the general fact 
of districts that are entirely untenanted, you are to 
call into view the peculiar division of property 
which occurs on nearly all the coast. Extensive 
plantations, on which none but the best land is 
worked, make fearful interruptions in the agricul- 
tural character of the country : and the vast pine 
barrens that occur along the Atlantic, and even on 
the Gulf, leave wide spaces of unoccupied ground, 
even in the longest peopled parts of these states. 

But there are states, or parts of states, that pre- 

VOL. II. c c 







sent a very different picture. Some of the counties 
of Maryland and Virginia are in a high degree 
beautiful ; and the uplands of the Carolinas and 
Georgia a»- f an entirely different character from 
the coas . Tenessee has not only a fine climate 
and a fertile soil, but a population that, in com- 
mon, might vie with the population of any coun- 
try for all the best attributes of man. 

You will see that the great physical force of this 
nation, however, lies in the more northern states. 
If we except Kentucky, Tenessee, and the uplands 
generally, I think this must long continue to be 
the fact. The arts of life are more cultivated there 
than to the south ; and as they get still more into 
use, men will cling to their indulgence with all the 
tenacity of acquired habits. Emigration to the 
south-western states has been chiefly fed by Vir- 
ginia, Georgia, and the two Carolinas. These four 
states contained, in 1790, 1,463,982, and in 1820, 
2,535,493. Emigration to the new northern states 
has been chiefly fed by New England. In 1790 
New England had 1,009,522 souls ; and in 1820, 
1,659,864. Here you see that the rate of increase 
is rather in favour of the latter ; but if we look 
into the increase of the states that have been fed 
by this emigration, it will be found to be still more 
in favour of the northern portion of the country. 
In 1790 all the free states had 2,033,248 inhabi- 
tants, and in 1820, 5,225,117. In 1790 all the 
slave-holding states contained 1,890,080 souls, 



and in 1820, 4,400,617. Here you see that, not- 
withstanding the vast superiority of the southern 
states over the northern in extent, that the increase 
of population in the latter is in a ratio consideiably 
in their favour. In 1790 the slave-holding states 
had 137,168 fewer inhabitants than their northern 
sisters, whereas in 1820 the northern states had 
824,500, the most. After allowing for the differ- 
ence of capital, the excess is nearly 400,000 too 
many for the regular proportion of the increase. 
It is also known that many adventurers go from 
the northern states into the southern, while com- 
paratively few southern men come north, though 
it is certainly done. If we take 6,500,000 as the 
present population of the northern states (and I 
believe it is wi hin bounds), there will remain 
5,500,000 for the southern. This will show again 
that the southern states are beginning to maintain 
their own; but their present growth is more owing 
to the vast regions of fertile land that have lately 
been opened for sale at the south than to natural 
increase, since every man who emigrates counts 
two in the amount of comparative numbers. 

The inducements that carry the northern man 
far south, must be exceedingly strong to overcome 
the effects of climate, and the repugnance he 
feels to slavery. Still these inducements do exist, 
and in some parts of the country the climate 
itself is among the reasons for emigration. It is 
the coa i, chiefly, which is unhealthy; and even 

c c 2 






' I 



I'll'- 1 





ft i 

on the coast there are found many delightful and 
salubrious situations where northern men gladly 
resort for the purposes of trade. It is quite natu- 
ral that the northern population, having occupied 
most of their own best lands, should begin to find 
their way into the southern, and particularly into 
the south-western siates. 

There is a considerable difference of character 
between the people of the northern, and between 
some of tfie people of the southern states of this 
Union. I do not allude to the distinctive traits 
which form the habits of a border man, and a man 
of the towns, for these exist between the frontier 
inhabitant of New York and the inhabitant of the 
city of that name. But slavery itself, and the dis- 
persed establishments of the whites, which is a 
consequence of slavery, have a direct effect on the 
manners of the southern inhabitants. 

The owner of slaves, whatever may be his co- 
relative standing with men of his own colour, is a 
species of aristocrat, so far as manners are con- 
cerned. He is kept, in his own person, from the 
pursuits and employments that are commonly 
thought to degrade men, and of course he acquires 
the opinions of a superior caste. Where sufficient 
opportunities of association are allowed, he gets the 
habits, also, of this caste. I am of opinion that in 
proportion to the population, there are more vnen 
who belong to what is termed the class of gentle- 
men, in the old southern states of America than in 



any other country of the world. So far as 
pride in themselves, a courteous air, and a 
general intelligence are concerned, they are, per- 
haps, quite on a level with the gentry of any other 
country, though their intelligence must necessarily 
be chiefly of that sort which is obtained by the 
use of books, rather than of extensive familiarity 
with the world. In respect to conventional man- 
ners they are not so generally finished as the 
upper classes of other countries, or even of some 
classes in their own, though I do not know where 
to find gentlemen of better air or better breeding 
throughout, than most of those I have met in the 
southern Atlantic states. 

The American who has had the advantage of 
early association wi^h men of breeding, and who 
possesses the advantages of fortune and edu- 
cation, occupies a station in society that the 
gentleman, or nobleman, of no country of different 
political institutions can ever fill. He sees, and 
knows that he exists without a superior. He has 
wealth, and manner, and education, and beyond 
this, neither he nor any of his countrymen can 
go. No man can, m truth, go beyond them any 
where ; though artificial distinctions may have 
the effect to reduce men below the consideration 
that these advantages should produce. So long 
as society shall be governed by its ordinary and 
natural feelings, it is not possible to deprive 
money, intelligence, and manners, of their influ- 

■ f 



" ■I 





. ' 3 





ence ; but it. is quite possible to give an artificial 
importance to other causes of distinction to which 
society must bend by its own ordinances. It is 
true, that in some countries, actual power is con- 
nected with nominal rank; but it is just as true, 
that actual power is to be attained in America, 
though by different means. Thus, the English 
gentleman may become a peer, and the American 
gentleman may become a senator; and, although 
the former is certain of transmitting his rank to 
his posterity, still it is a rank which, while it has 
many inferiors, has some superiors. The American 
who sees himself in possession of the three great 
requisites of an elevated condition, meets the pre- 
sident as an equal, who is intrusted, for a time, with 
honourable powers, but who merely fills a station 
that he himself may one day occupy. 

It is the fashion of Europe to talk a great deal 
of the levelling institutions of the United States. 
I have elsewhere said, that elevating would be a 
better word. It is difficult to conceive how insti- 
tutions that admit of the strongest temptations for 
every man to aspire, can have the effect of plac- 
ing a nation below the level of other communities. 
All rational theory, and what is of far more im- 
portance, the facts, prove exactly the reverse. I 
would defy any nation on earth to produce as 
many men (and women too) as the United States, 
allov/ing for their opportunities and their num- 
bers, who have reached a creditable moral eleva- 




tion of character. I include manners, no less 
than principles, intelligence, and other requisites. 
That this class will increase, both in quality 
and quantity, as the population becomes more 
dense, is, I think, certain, and then we shall have 
a new face put upon certain ancient theories. 

Let us suppose these states inhabited by one 
hundred millions of people. It is, for our present 
purpose, a matter of indifference whether they 
shall live under one government, or under twenty. 
Their men of fortune, breeding, and education, 
have reached the acme of human elevation, (of 
course no allusion is intended to religion,) for a 
patent of nobility does nothing towards raising 
the qualifications of its possessor, however it may 
serve to depress his inferiors. We will suppose 
some four or five millions of these men acknow- 
ledging, and actually possessing no earthly 
superior, in full communion with the rest of the 
world. What do you think will be their effect on 
the condition of society ? They will claim to be 
equal to ranks that are admitted to be superior 
to the immense majorities of other nations. Nor 
do I see how their claim is well to be denied. 
They will be quite equal in manners, in wealth, in 
general elevation of character, (even admitting 
that they shall be subdivided again and again as 
states in political power,) and they will insist on 
being equal, in society, to the highest ranks of other 
countries. Now, my dear Somersetshire baronet. 







ft if 

what are we to do in order to maintain our present 
unquestionable superiority over these gentry who 
are contriving to get above us by their levelling 
institutions ? We cannot pistol them down, for, un- 
happily, a democrat can shoot as well as an aris- 
tocrat, and in point of numbers, they will be ten 
to one ; we cannot laugh them down, for the 
joke will be on their side ; we cannot look them 
down, for they will have a full share of " the sub- 
stantials," and by present symptoms, I think they 
will have more; nor can we send them to 
Coventry, for, independently of getting so many 
motley nations as Europe contains, to be exactly 
of one mind, they will care less about the associa- 
tion than we do. 

I have been led into this train of reflections by 
studying the character of the better classes of 
these people, more especially as I have found 
them in the southern states. Their conventional 
manners vary, of course, according to circum- 
stances ; but that high and manly principle of 
fearless independence, which is almost peculiar 
to this country, forms a conspicuous feature in 
their characters. I very well know, that where 
manners are wanting, this bold quality may make 
men exacting and coarse ; but where manners do 
prevail, and, considering the circumstances, they 
prevail here to an extraordinary degree, it makes 
men truly noble. 

Slavery is not favourable to the milder qualities 




in the master. It may polish, but it never 
subdues his manner. But he who governs many 
human beings, without having much intercourse 
with his equals, is apt to acquire habits of im- 
patience and self-will. That these qualities exist 
in a much greater degree in the southern, than in 
the northern states of America, is, I believe, 
undeniable, though I do not think they exist to 
the degree that the theory would lead us to 

. The accounts of the violence and vindictive 
tempers of the people of the southern states of 
America are, I am quite satisfied, grossly exag- 
gerated, not only in Europe, but in America 
itself. It is commonly sufficient that rare excep- 
tions of any thing extraordinary should occur, any 
where, to give circulation to reports that such 
things are distinctive of national character. I 
recollect to have seen a caricature, in the Palais 
Royal, of an Englishman leading his wife to be 
sold, with a halter round her neck ; and I make 
no doubt that to thousands of the spectators it 
conveyed an idea of a common national usage, 
if not of a law. When I descended the Ohio 
and the Mississippi, it was not done without 
some terror for my eyes ; but I cannot say that I 
saw any body gouged during the whole journey. 
Sundry marvellous tales were told me ; but, like all 
other marvellous exploits, they would not endure 
examination. Such thinsfs must have occurred. 


■ tl 



■- i 

or the rumour would not have been raised ; but, if 
it were ever common, the practice is certainly 
getting into disuse. That rude and violent men 
should have navigated these endless rivers when 
their banks were nearly untenanted, is quite pro- 
bable ; but the manners of the boatmen now are 
about as good as those of boatmen in Europe ; in 
many things, they are much better. 

I have elsewhere alluded to the duels of Ame- 
rica, and as they may properly be introduced 
here, we will endeavour to discuss the subject. 
Personal combats are, beyond a doubt, the relics of 
an age when man had the desires of high civiliza- 
tion, without any other means of attaining them 
than by appeals to force. The principle on which 
they are grounded, says, that a man is willing to 
prove that he cares less for his life than he does 
for his reputation. I fear, too, that more or less 
of a desire to punish aggression, or of personal 
feelings, are mingled with the sentiment : but as 
it is a chivalrous c abject, we will give it its most 
chivalrous construction. In the eastern states of 
America, in New York, (the city of that name 
excepted,) and in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, 
duels are less frequent thaii, perhaps, in any other 
civilized country, especially in a country where 
men have as high a respect for themselves as they 
have in this. My friend, who has known the 
more western counties of New York intimately 
for thirty years, assures me that he recollects 




only one duel in all that time, and that was fought 
full five-and-twenty years ago. He does not 
pretend that this combat stands alone ; but he 
thinks that he should have heard of them had there 
been many more. He also excepts those meetings 
wiiich took place between officers while the troops 
and seamen were serving within the districts 
named. A duel in New England is exceedingly 
rare. He accounts for this fact on his favourite 
principle of common sense. Religious education 
may do a great deal, but then common sense has 
something to do with religion. There are many 
instances in which English clergymr-j have been 
engaged in duels : and I fancy that it is not an un- 
common circumstance for men who are in full com- 
munion with their respective churches, in Europe, 
to meet in private combats. Such a thing could 
scarcely occur in the United States, by reason of 
the people being much too exacting to allow of so 
broad a difference between profession and prac- 
tice. Cadwallader thinks, and my own observa- 
tion confirms his opinion, that there is a greater 
proportion of men (in high situations of life too) 
in the United States, who dare, and who would, 
refuse, and who have refused to fight duels, on 
the ground of the absurdity of the practice, than 
in any other nation he has visited. I must say 
that this is the only people among whom I have 
found gentlemen-like men who have openly 
laughed at the gross folly of the usage, and who. 





h ^ 

i i 


it was understood, considered themselves as too 
rational to be guilty of so great an act of folly. It 
must be admitted that common sense has done all 
it can do with these individuals. 

Next to this class, which is very numerous in 
the portions of country named, come those who 
live in the great towns, and all the rest of the 
middle states. Duelling is about as common in 
this portion of the country as it is in France or in 
England. Perhaps the older parts of Virginia 
and the two Caroiinas may be included in this 
division ; though, as it is thought, and I believe 
justly, that men in warm climates have quicker 
and more sensitive passions than men in colder, 
it is possible they may be rather more frequent. 

The whole of the remainder of the Union may 
be included, with certain exceptions, in another 
division, in which duels are probably, consider- 
ing the amount of the white population, at least 
as four to one, compared with Europe, or even 
in a higher rate of disproportion. 

It is necessary, however, to bear in mind one 
circumstance which has had a great influence on 
obtaining a character for the Americans, not only 
as duellists, but as a semi-barbarous people, 
in Europe. Nothing occurs out of the ordi- 
nary course of events, and in which the law is 
offended, that does not go the round of their 
thousand journals. It is also fair to suppose that 
the ingenuity of an editor on a remote frontier is 



often at a loss to give interest to his sheet, and 
that when an opportunity does occur, he suffers 
none of the more interesting, which is always the 
exciting, portion of the incidents to be kept in 

A century ago, iren met in detachments of five 
and six of a side, to settle some trifling point of 
honour between two. After this it was thought that 
every man might purge himself of disgrace in his 
own person. Swords were used, until common 
sense began to teach men that it was fully to pre- 
suppose the same degree of strength and personal 
activity and skill in any two men. Then came 
pistols. For a long time (the practice still exists 
in some places) the injured party was to call out 
the offender, and to stand up and be shot at, be- 
fore he could with propriety get a chance of 
redressing his wrongs. This practice can surely 
only be accounted for by supposing that the 
object of the challenger was to purge himself of 
disgrace by risking his life. 

As I understand the matter, the rough, steady, 
unaccommodating fashion, which the Americans 
have of viewing things, had long induced them to 
chafe under these equivocal practices. Common 
sense did its work thoroughly on a great propor- 
tion of the nation, who said plainly, " We will not 
do so ridiculous a thing as to let a man shoot at us 
because he has done us a wrong ; and as for revenge, 
we think it nobler to forgive." But common sense 



,11 -'"J . ;- 








did not go so far with, perhaps, a moderate majo- 
rity. They continued to fight in the European 
fashion. About five-and-twenty years ago there 
was a great intellectual crisis in this nation. They 
began to cut up certain antiquated opinions, freely, 
and to talk with more boldness than before, of all 
things connected with government, morals, and 
customs. When two men went into the field and 
both returned unharmed, the non-combatants were 
apt to ask, with a sneer, for what did you go there? 
This sort of language, which was used openly, and 
with something of the air of contempt, compelled 
the combatants to give some proof that they had 
been in a little jeopardy, and, in short, it set com- 
mon sense at work on their side of the question. 
They were not sufficiently under its influence to 
join the non-combatants, but they had too much 
directness of thought not to make the practice 
consistent with itself. When they looked at their 
pistols, which were fixed with hair triggers, and 
which bore a most bloody aspect, and which, by 
the by, underwent all these preparations in 
Europe, whence they were imported, they were 
induced to inquire into the object of so much 
arrangement. The result was, that in addition to 
the absurdity of fighting at all, they had incurred 
the absurdity of fighting with so little danger, as 
to make the practice doubly ridiculous in the eyes 
of those who determined to look at the naked 
truth. So they began to take aim, and to prac- 



tise, and to get skill, until they reached the present 
honourable standard. 

This system of stripping a thing, that is foolish 
in itself, of all its inconsistent folly, has brought 
the custom under a certain set of rules. The true 
object of every duel is, or it ought to be, to ex- 
hibit courage. A shall not injure B without 
incurring a certain risk, and he shall, at least, be 
driven to prove that he has spirit to meet that 
risk. It is true, that the world admits a degree of 
vengeance into the custom, since it says, that 
certain offences require two shots, and certain 
others may be expiated by one. But I think, on 
the whole, that even this extraordinary bloody- 
mindedness takes the aspect of an additional pur- 
gation to the man who has received the wrong. 
That courage which is willing to endure the pain 
of a wound, but which shrinks from the danger of 
death, say the American duellists, (in their prac- 
tice) is, like the courage of a boxer, of a very 
inferior quality. They, therefore, deal in that 
which is thought to be superior. 

It is quite plain that fighting is a serious thing, 
and serious things become a little absurd, unless 
done in a serious manner. But it is plain, that 
there ^aust be a medium in the serious character 
of a duel, or men might put the pistols into each 
other's mouths at once, and then absurdity on the 
other side, would be attained, and a practice, that 
is sufficiently foolish in itself, is obliged to get as 

,. 1 1 


■w-.". ^ 





K 1 

h :l; 

near the true medium as possible, or it could not 
exist in a common sense nation. This little prelude 
brings us to the field of battle. 

The American brings on the ground just as 
Kiuch skill with the weapon he is to use, as he 
can; which, you will see, is just what the swords- 
man did, or the great masters of the art, the ancient 
chivalry of Europe. When confronted with his an- 
tagonist, he finds himself thrown on the severest 
possible trial of his steadiness and nerves, or on 
the very quality whose prepossession he came thus 
to prove. He knows that his life is the penalty of 
a blunder, just as a false guard would have been fatal 
with the other weapon. The result is, certainly, 
that, perhaps, in every two or three duels, one man 
falls, and, in almost all, somebody is hurt. The 
usual forms are much as they are in Europe. As, 
however, skill is deemed not only fair, but neces- 
sary, when there is reason to suspect that either 
party is inferiorto the other in the use of the weapon, 
his second takes care to propose some alteration 
in the distance, which destroys skill, and throws 
the combatants more completely on their nerves. 
In some few instances, rifles and muskets have been 
used, to produce this equality, especially among 
border men, who have been most used to these 
weapons. This is, clearly, no more than another 
change like that from the lance and the casque to 
the small sword, and from the small sword to the 
pistol. And still, so completely do we get to be 



the slaves of custom, that we shudder at hearing 
of a duel with a rifle, while wo think nothing of a 
duel with a pistol ! Surely the change from the 
small sword to the pistol, was greater than the 
change from the pistol to the rifle. For my own 
part, I wish they would introduce artillery, for I 
feel perfectly convinced, that so long as men can 
maintain a reputation for spirit, at a rate so cheap 
as one life in ten or twelve duels, the barbarous 
custom will continue. It will go out of use in 
something like the explosion of a magazine. It is 
a pity that the friends of humanity had not hit on 
some less suspicious plan of furthermg their views, 
than one so very equivocal as that which teaches 
us to believe, that this sort of honour can be 
maintained at the least possible danger. 

With respect to the causes of the frequency of 
the American duels a great deal can be said. The 
military and naval men have fought more duels 
than they would otherwise have done, on account 
of their long peace. Swords get impatient of 
quiet, and courage is a quality so vital to a soldier, 
that he is often uneasy until he has had an oppor- 
tunity of proving its existence. They are said to 
be much less frequent now than formerly ; espe- 
cially, when the increased number of the officers 
is remembered. 

Duels of society (so to speak) are, if any thing, 
(out of the two services), less common here than 
in Europe. Then Doctors* Commons heals no 


D D 



y I 

t ; ' 



breaches in the United States. The offence is 
rare, but the pistol is always the proctor. 1 am 
incHned to think that the political institutions of 
the nation, by bringing men of different breeding 
and education, more in contact than they are 
found in other countries, give rise to many duels. 

The frequent recurrence of the elections, while 
they render the polls more quiet than they would 
be under any other system, produce a greater 
proportion of grave political quarrels than elec- 
tions do, for instance, in England. Then the dis- 
persed, secluded situation of the planters, in the 
southern states, has a tendency to foster morbid 
sensibility, while their habits bring them, fre- 
quently, into a species of irritating association. 

The laws of England and of most of the States 
of this country are the same on the subject of duels. 
To kill a man in any violent rencontre, which can 
be readily avoided, is, by the common law, murder. 
Nor is it a legal plea that mere honour was a 
sufficiently compulsory motive. Now the same 
common sense and directness of thought, which, in 
some cases, makes the American refuse to fight 
at all, and induces him, in others, to fight in a 
reasonably dangerous manner, produces another 
difference in the practices of the mother and 
child, on this subject. In England when a man 
is killed in a duel, the survivor is tried, and all 
things being found fair, he is acquitted according 
to opinion, and not according to law ; whereas, in 



America, the direct and unaccommodating way 
these people have of considering matters, pre- 
cludes such a result. The law is the same as in 
England, but their construction of it would be 
different. A man, who had killed another in a 
duel, would, most probably, be sentenced to be 
hanged, and the conventional opinion of society 
is, therefore, exhibited in not trying him at all. 
There is an occasional struggle between the com- 
batants and the non-combatants to bring some 
particular case before a jury ; but the former are 
always too wise to incur the risk, they therefore 
get out of the way. You may see, in this very 
fact, a striking difference in the manner in which 
thought is exercised in the two nations. 

The people of this country have fought many 
duels with the English, while they scarcely ever 
fight with any other foreigner. This was, per- 
haps, for many reasons, to be expected. Their 
wars were irritating ; their policy has often been 
conflicting ; and the citizen of the young nation 
may have often been too sensitive, and the subject 
of the old nation may sometimes have been too 
exacting. I know no more of the matter than 
that the people of both nations think that their 
own countrymen have been right in these quarrels, 
'jtnd the foreigners wrong ; which is only another 
proof that there is no great reason in any thing 
that appertains to the practice. 

No hospitality, kindness, or courtesy, can ex- 




^t -M 

!;il.« fi 




s i 

ceed that of most of the planters of the southern 
states of this confederation. It was a practice, 
long in use, for a stranger to drive up to the door 
of a dwelling, of any pretension, and to ask food 
and lodging for the night. The custom is not 
entirely neglected, even now, though increased 
travelling, and the greater frequency of inns, have 
conspired to put a stop to it. This freedom of in- 
tercourse is, clearly, no more than a natural con- 
sequence of simplicity of manners, and of absence 
of suspicion. It is even practised in the northern 
st:*tes. I remember to have seen a country house, 
which had the air of the residence of a man of 
fortune, while travelling in the interior of New 
York. Calwallader demanded its owner's name 
of a man by the road side. ** It is near din- 
ner time," he then coolly said, " and we shall not 
fare well in these woods at the inn; let us try 

Mr. 's table.*' " Do you know him, 

then V " Not at all ; I know his family, and 
he must know mine." Of course I was anxious 
to see the result of such an interview. A servant 
was asked if Mr. — • — was at his residence ? The 
answer was favourable. We were ushered into 
a saloon, where we found a very gentleman- 
like man, a well-bred woman, and two or three 
charming daughters. ** I am Mr. John Cadwalla- 

der, of Cadwallader, in county," said my 

friend, ** and I have taken the liberty to pay my 
respects to you in passing." Our host held out 




both hands, and expressed his satisfaction at 
the compliment; I was then introduced, and we 
found the dinner so abunuant, and the wines so 
delicious (to say nothing of the young ladies) that 
we were induced to stay till next day for a second 
trial. In fifty other instances have gentlemen who 
had heard of our presence in their neighbourhoods, 
ridden miles to meet us, and to invite us to their 
dwellings ; and I do firmly believe, that through 
Virginia and the Carolinas, and in several other 
states, we might have travelled without spending 
a sixpence, or eating, drinking, or sleeping in an 
inn. Indeed, I am persuaded that this hospitality 
is one reason why the inns are not better in the 
southern states, for, out of the towns, they are 
generally worse than they are found to be farther 

From what I have written, you must have al- 
ready gathered that the southern states are to be 
divided into two classes of society, or, rather, that 
in some instances, one state may, in itself, con- 
tain both. I allude to the material difference 
which exists between the small proprietors, who 
are, to all intents, capital farmers, with from four, 
or even from one, to twenty slaves, and the great 
planters, who own several hundreds. The former 
generally grow wheat, corn, (maize) and all the 
other articles of a divided husbandry, while the 
others produce tobacco, ^rice, cotton, or sugar. 



^^' it 
■■■• V 


i It i 




They are, however, beginning to grow tobacco in 
some of the free states, as in Ohio. 

But I have not room, or knowledge enough, to 
enter into the endless details which such a state 
of society, and regions so vast, can produce. You 
will see some curious accounts of manners and 
customs in the " Letters from the South,'' a book 
that is ascribed to Mr. Paulding, an American 
writer, who stands among the highest of his coun- 
trymen for talent, ?»nd who being a gentleman 
generally known to his countrymen, has had the 
best opportunities for observing their manners in 
those parts of the country that he has visited. • 


Sfc. Sfc. 


I ARRIVED here about a fortnight since, in order 
to see the town, and to witness a ceremony that 
took place yesterday. Before attempting a de- 
scription of the latter, I shall give a brief answer 
to your question concerning the movements of your 

During my recent excursions to the south, I 
frequently met La Fayette, who has now been in 



nearly all, if not in every one, of the twenty-four 
states of this Union. 80 far from the warmth and 
cordiality of his reception having in the least 
abated, he is just as much the object of affection- 
ate and sincere attention to-day as he was the hour 
he landed. We were in New York together lately, 
when there was a constant succession of enter- 
tainments in his honour, and as earnest a desire 
manifested to press about his person as in the 
interviews I have so often related. 

Among the different public exhibitions got up 
on this occasion, there was one which is worthy 
of being particularly mentioned, by its singularity. 
There is a great deal of wood used in the construc- 
tion of most Anaerican houses. Until within the 
last twenty years a great many in New York (more 
especially in the less pretending quarters of the 
town) were built of this material altogether. There 
are, consequently, an extraordinary number of 
fires in that city. Fires are infinitely more fre- 
quent in all part? of America than in Europe, from 
this very cause. In a city like New York, it is 
also a consequence of frequent danger from such 
an enemy, that there exists admirable skill and 
preparation to subdue it. It is often said, and, 
from repeated observation I believe it to be true, 
that the firemen of New York are more expert 
and adventurous than those of any other town in 
the world. When an alarm is given, the citizens, 
in general, give themselves no trouble in the mat- 





li r 1 ' 





ter, unless chance has placed them in the imMe- 
diate vicinity of the danger. The cry is sounded 
by boys and repeated by the firemen themselves, 
for a minute or two, and then a few or more bells, 
according to the degree of the danger, ring the 
alarm. In the day these frequent cries produce 
no extraordinary sensation, but when they break 
in upon the stillness and security of the night, I 
scarcely know a more startling or disagreeable 
interruption to one's slumbers. There is a defect 
in this part of the arrangement, though it is diffi- 
cult to see how it can be well remedied under the 
present system. The firemen are citizens ; chiefly 
shopkeepers and mechanics, and they pursue 
their ordinary employments at all times, except 
when required to meet to render aid, or occasion- 
ally for the purpose of discipline. The latter is 
little needed, however, in a place where there is 
so much serious practice. 

I remember to have been at one of these fires 
in the night. A vast pile of pine boards, which 
filled a vacant lot adjoining a row of noble brick 
houses, was in flames when I reached the place. 
Within fifty feet, on the other side, there stood a 
small temporary wooden building. The sheets of 
the element flashed upwards against a battle- 
ment of brick, which they even surmounted, and 
bending like the tongue crthe serpent, they wound 
themselves along the cornices of the adjoining 
dwelling. It was too late to save much of the 


A Fllli: IN NEW YORK. 


lumber, and all the attention of the firemen was 
given to the buildings. Engine a rived after en- 
gine, with great rapidity ; and with the most beau- 
tiful accuracy, the captain of each machine took 
his station in the place he was ordered to occupy. 
There might have been two thousand persons col- 
lected at the spot, but scarcely another sound was 
heard than the whizzing of the streams of water, 
the strokes of the engines, and the crackling of the 
conflagration. Water wa3 thrown from one ma- 
chine to another, by means of conducting leathern 
tubes. One of those, near which I stood, burst. 
I followed the man who was sent on the errand 
that immediately succeeded the discovery of the 
accident. He approached a carriage loaded with 
the article he needed, and communicated the fact ; 
" So many feet of hose," said the person to whom 
he addressed himself, with perfect quiet ; it was 
supplied, and the damage was repaired without 
the slightest confusion, and without the least un- 
necessary delay. From time to time the flames 
were seen kindling on the roof of the small wooden 
building, and then the engine nearest the confla- 
gration directed its stream for an instant to the 
spot. No rifleman could have sent his deadly 
messenger with surer aim, than the water fell upon 
the little torch-like flame. 

The families continued in the adjoining houses, 
and the proprietor of the building next the lumber, 
resolutely refused to open his doors for the re- 




moval of the furniture, though his cornices were 
frequently blazing. He was right ; for the steadi- 
ness, activity, and skill of the firemen, soon re- 
duced the glaring torrent of the elements to a pile 
of black smouldering ruin. 

The ceremony to which I alluded in the open- 
ing of this letter, was a review of these firemen by 
La Fayette. The engines, with their companies, 
were all assembled in the little park (paddock 
would be a better name), in front of the city hall. 
These engines bear some such comparison to the 
engines of Europe, as the English mail coaches, 
on a birth-day, bear to the ordinary French dili- 
gences in the provinces. No nobleman's carriage 
is more glossy, neater, or, considering their re- 
spective objects, of more graceful form. They are 
also a little larger than those we see on our side 
of the Atlantic, though not in the least clumsy. 
When La Fayette had passed in front of these 
beautiful and exquisitely neat machines, they 
formed themselves in a circle. At a signal the 
engines were played, and fortr limpid streams 
shot upward, toward an imaginary point in the air. 
It appeared to me that they all reached that point 
at the same instant, and their water uniting, they 
formed Sijet d'eau that was as remarkable for its 
conceit as for its beauty. 

But the ceremony yesterday was of a very 
different description. It was the anniversary of 
the battle of Bunker s Hill. Fifty year: ago the 



yeomanry of New England first met the battalions 
of England, in open and deadly conflict. The 
affair of Lexington had occurred a few weeks 
earlier ; but, though blood was first drawn in that 
straggling contest, it neither produced the im- 
portant results, nor was it characterized by so 
many striking and memorable incidents as the 
affair on the hill. 

In the battle of Bunker's Hill, the Americans 
had no positive leader. A thousand men, chiefly 
youths under the age of five and twenty, passed 
over in the night, from the adjacent country into 
the peninsula of Charlestown. It was intended 
to occupy a high conical eminence called Bunker's 
Hill, at the distance of long cannon shot from 
the batteries in the town of Boston. By some 
mistake, the working party advanced much nearer 
to the enemy, and took possession of a much 
lower ridge of land, that terminated suddenly at a 
short distance in their front, quite near to the 
shore. The latter hill was, in fact, known by the 
name of Breed's.* Here a small redoubt, flanked 
by a low entrenchment, was thrown up. The party 
who performed this labour, was led by a gentle- 
man of the name of Prescott, who had seen some 
service in the colonial wars, and who held the 
rank of colonel in the levies of the province of 

* Bunker and Breed are l:he names of two families of New Eng- 
land. Individuals of those names were, or had been, the owners of 
the two hills in question. 



Massachusetts Bay. You will remember that the 
affair occurred in the summer of 1775, and, as 
the independence of the colonies was not declared 
until July 1776, the appellation of States was then 

There was an eminent physician in Boston of 
the name of Warren, who had acted a conspicu- 
ous part in all the political measures that preceded 
the quarrel. This person was distinguished for 
his high moral intrepidity. As he was a man in 
the vigour of life, and of a daring mind, the pro- 
vincial congress of Massachusetts had chosen him 
a major-general in their levies, only the day 
before ihe battle. 

General Warren appeared on Breed's Hill in 
the morning, bearing a musket, though not with 
any desire to exercise his newly acquired military 
authority. Delicacy to his veteran countryman, 
and perhaps some incompleteness in the forms of 
his appointment, might have forbidden such an 
assumption of power. It is said that Mr. Prescott 
offered him the command, and that he declined 
assuming it. In the course of the movements that 
preceded the conflict. General Putnam, a well- 
known partizan officer of the adjoining provinces 
of Connecticut, led some small bodies into the 
peninsula, over whom, he of course exercised a 
species of authority. But the chief command, if it 
belonged to any one, was the right of Mr. Prescott, 
who constructed, and who held the half finished 



redoubt. The resuU of the battle is well known ; 
but, unhappily, a', its close, Mr. Warren, or, as he 
is usually called from the nature of his death. 
General Warren, fell, by a musket ball which 
passed through his head. 

The exceeding merit and unquestionable patriot- 
ism, no less than the high rank which this gentle- 
man was destined by his countrymen to fill, in- 
duced them to consider his loss, and very justly, 
as the greatest calamity that befel them on that 
day. A small, unpretending monument of very 
perishable materials, had, therefore, been erected 
to his memory, on the precise spot where he fell. 
But it is now intended to rear a column in granite, 
which shall be more worthy cf the great occasion, 
and more in conformity with the augmented means 
of the state, to perpetuate an event which is 
deemed to be so creditable, to their exertions in 
the conflict. The ceremony of yesterday was to 
lay the corner stone of this monument. 

I shall not pretend to enter into a detail of pro- 
ceedings tha^: were alike noble and affecting. Tens 
of thousands were on the hill, and Mr. Webster, 
a distinguished citizen of Boston, addressed his 
countrymen from a stand where his words reached 
the ears of a multitude. I saw La Fayette, who 
occupied a high place, and when the orator 
spoke of his particular services, there were 
a few minutes of intense and delightful interest. 
There was also a little group of grey-headed 

I : ' i: if 




and tottering veterans, who, fifty years before, 
had risked their lives, or shed their blood on the 
precise spot where so many people had now 
assembled in prosperous and peaceful security. 
Altogether it was one of the most interesting 
ceremonies I ever witnessed, and I regret that my 
limits absolutely forbid its description. Among 
other things, there was an entertainment spread 
on the hill, of near or quite four thousand covers. 

Boston is a wealthy, a thriving, and decidedly 
a picturesque town. It stands on an uneven 
surface, and it occupies nearly the whole of a 
peninsula of several miles in circuit. Large vil- 
lages are rising on the adjoining shores at the 
different points where the numerous bridges 
connect the town with what may be called the 
main. The population, within a circumference of 
twelve miles, must, I think, exceed eighty thou- 
sand souls. The harbour is beautiful, and dotted 
with islands. It is one of the most secure in 
America, and would easily contain five or six 
hundred sail. But there is no fixing its limits, as 
it is several miles iu ihe open sea, and warehouses 
might be erected to advantage on most of the 
islands, especially if a few break-waters were 

One of the best, and the oldest of the universities 
of the United States, is within a few miles of Boston. 
We visited this institution, as well as that of Yale, 
in our journey to this place. We dined in the 

VALF l!01,LK(iK. 


commons of the latter with one of the tutors. 1 
was struck with one circumstance on this occa- 
sion, which, as it is in striking contrast with 
what occurs in the universities of the mother 
country, I shall mention. 

Cadwallader has a kinsman at Yale, who is 
descended from one of the wealthiest and bust 
known families of this country. The young man 
himself, who is a fine, gentleman-like and manly 
youth, is actually in possession (or will be on 
attaining his majority) of a fortune that would be 
deemed very large in most countries. He dined 
at a table within twenty feet of us. During the 
repast, which was exceedingly simple and without 
any beverage but water and cider, I observed one 
of the servants coolly seated by the side of, and 
in close conference with, the kinsman of my 
friend. In a few minutes the domestic arose to 
hand the bread to one of the young gentlemen. 
In the course of the evening, when we were at our 
inn, I ventured to ask the youth if the servants of 
the university were permitted to take such liber- 
ties. The face of the young man flushed, and he 
told me he did not understand me. I explained. 

" Oh, that was ; he is a class-mate : but 

he waits, during the meals, in order to pay his 
board : he is poor, and can do no better." " And 
you make a companion of him ?" " Why not? is 
poverty a shame?" I was silenced, and when 





i' :,^i 




had left us, the conversation was renewed 

between Cadwallader and myself. 

" There is a singular but gross error prevalent 
in Europe,'' said my friend, ** on the subject of 
the influence of wealth in America. Money is a 
positive good everywhere, since it buys not only 
necessaries, but commands, in a greater or less de- 
gree, the respect of those who wish to profit by it. 
But money is more within the reach of individuals 
here than any where else, at least, a sufficiency of 
money to leave men in the possession of those inde- 
pendent feelings which belong to nature, and which 
must be suppressed by some artificial cause, or 
they will be found in every bosom, inasmuch as 
they depend on the inherent qualities of pride and 
will. I think money of more importance in 
England than in any country I have ever visited. 
It is obviously necessary it should be so, since, 
without it, men are reduced to scanty means of 
subsistence, and to a straitened and often mi- 
serable economy. I have seen people in England 
with incomes of two or three hundred a year, 
existing in narrow lodgings, compelled to calcu- 
late closely the amount of their daily consumption, 
and positively enjoying no one exclusive advan- 
tage ; when men of the same income, in America, 
might dwell in houses of three times their size, 
better furnished, and supplied in abundance 
with every necessary of life j indeed, in an abun- 



dance that is scarcely known in any part of 
Europe. I know this fact from close observation. 
People may wish to dispute it ; but the prices of 
things are sufficient evidences of its truth. There 
is scarcely a necessary of life, clothes and some 
few manufactured articles excepted, that is not 
to be had at about half the cost in America that it 
can be had in England. But most of the exceptions 
are articles to be purchased rarely : in the articles 
of luxury there is no comparison. It is, therefore, 
no more than a natural consequence of such 
abundance that money should be less esteemed 
than where indulgences are dearer. Then our 
institutions, our habits, and our opinions, give no 
artificial importance to wealth. A man can 
neither buy preferment in church, state, army, 
navy, nor in any thing else, with his dollars. He 
can give dinners, and he can educate his children, 
and give them manners, and, in this direct and. 
natural manner, advance his own or their import- 
ance; but there the benefits of money cease. I do 
not mean to say that society is not penetrated in 
America by the use of money, for it is to be pene- 
trated every where by its agency; but it must 
be done here exactly as it is done in France, for 
instance, and it has vastly less instrumentality in 
effecting that object than it has in England. A 
rich widow cannot get precedency of her superiors 
by giving her hand to any possessor of a high 
title ; nor can a seat in congress be bought, and 




1 1 


U I il 


E E 



dollars be made the entering wedge of farther 
advancement, except as people choose to yield to 
their influence in the shape of entertainments, 
extravagance, and show^. In point of fact, money, 
without character, will do little here beyond what 
it can get in plain barter. But you have been at 
Oxford. There, young men can buy silk gowns, 
and, with silk gowns, consideration, and with 
consideration that is bought by money, they get 
exaggerated and unnatural ideas of its importance. 

You see young never dreamt that his 

class-mate was poor, though he himself has more 
than twenty thousand a ^ear. I affirm, for I 
have passed the ordeal, and I know it, that the 
thought of distinction from money never enters 
the head of an American school-boy, unless, 
indeed, it may be the child of some exceedingly 
vulgar parvenu. 

" Now, what can be more absurd than the fact 
that grave English writers are constantly affirm- 
ing, that there is no other ground of distinction in 
America than money ! This incessant habit of 
asserting so glaring a falsehood can only proceed 
from a consciousness of the exorbitant influence of 
wealth among themselves. There is no sort of 
doubt, that when money is united to merit and 
talent, in the United States, that it can do more 
than when the latter qualities stand unsupported 
by so powerful an ally ; but among all the unjuct 
and ridiculous charges brought against us. there 




is not one more absurd than this, that money 
places men in power, or at the head of society, or 
high in the estimation of their fellow-citizens. 
With the exception of the Patroon, there is not 
a decidedly wealthy man in the whole represen- 
tation of the state of New York. Mr. Clinton is 
notoriously very poor. Of all the presidents, only 
one could be called rich. There is not a man of 
any great fortune in any one of the higher offices 
of the general government ; and it is not thought 
very reputable for a man of good estate to fill a 
situation of mere emolument. Indeed, his coun- 
trymen would not let him have it, for the simple 
reason that he had enough already, unless his 
peculiar talents were needed. 

" As to society, it must always support that part 
of its influence which is dependent on show and 
expense, by money ; but in large towns, where 
there is competition in wealth, as in other things, 
money does but little in this way, and it is every 
hour doing less. You scarcely saw z. parvenu, unless 
he had merit, (and a large proportion of our paV' 
vcnus have merit,) in the circle into which I 
introduced you, though you saw a vast number of 
men of breeding and character, who had very 
little .money. It is impossible to preven* people 
who have money from riding in coaches and giving 
entertainments, and it is not possible to prevent 
people of grovelling minds from envying them 
these enjoyments *, but it is possible for a commu- 






:!!ljf « 



l^ii 1 i; 

1 K 1 ' 

I: * SI! 



nity to be so constituted as to limit the superiority 
of mere money; and if such a community exists 
on the globe, it exists here. I dare say that men 
who have made their money, get purse-proud, in 
the United States, as they do in other places; but 
it must be proved that men who have not money 
are abject, and time-serving, and spiritless, before 
any thing is made out towards establishing that 
money does more in America than it does in 
France, or half as much as it does in Eng- 

I must say, that my own observations confirm 
this opinion. There was a beautiful simplicity in 

the conduct of young that denoted an 

entire absence of the coarser influence of money, 
and which spoke volumes in favour of the wise 
regulations of the institutions of his college. I 
am assured, and, so far as opportunity will allow 
me to speak, I have every where seen the most 
perfect and just equality in the treatment of the 
youths in all the public schools I have visited. I 
am told that this was not always the case. In 
Howard College, for instance, before the revolu- 
tion, the aristocratic classification of the mother 
country prevailed, and boys were taught from 
earliest life, to consider the adventitious circum- 
stances of wealth and birth as being things of 
primary good. As Cadwallader says, they who 
write of this country, should know more of the 
actual state of its society before they affirm so 



boldly that this or that influence controls society, 
on authority no better than the habits of those 
who live under systems so totally different. I 
have certainly seen sneers in the public journals, 
and heard them uttered too, against the sudden 
elevation of this or that individual, by means of 
his w^ealth ; but I find, on examination, that his 
rise is little more than the style he can display, at 
the cost of money, and that the bottom of the 
complaints is generally envy. The boldness and 
distinctness with which these remarks themselves 
are made, are proofs that there is no overwhelm- 
ing, since there is not even a silencing influence 
attached to the possession of wealth. 



My pen grows weary, for I have seen so much, 
and written so little to the purpose, that I feel 
disposed to throw it away altogether. After 
making the tour of the coast of New England, 
and seeing all its large towns, I have returned 
here to prepare for my departure. I cannot quit 
the country, however, without giving you a sum- 
mary of the information I have gained, or without 


Ff ' 





indulging a little in speculations to which that 
information must naturally give rise. 

The first reflection that is excited in the mind 
of an intelligent foreigner, after visiting these 
states, is an inquiry into the causes that have 
effected so much with means so limited, and in a 
time so short. A century ago the whole of the 
1,000,000 of square miles that are now more 
or less occupied by these people, did not contain 
a million of souls. So late as the year 1776, the 
population was materially under 3,000,000, nor at 
the time did they actually cover more than 
200,000 square miles, if indeed they covered as 
much. But since the peace of 1783, activity, 
enterprise, intelligence, and skill, appear to have 
been contending with each other, and they have 
certainly produced a result that the world has 
never before witnessed. I have heard Europeans 
sf>y, that when they have heard that the 
Americans, of whom they had been accus- 
tomed to think as dwellers in remote and dark 
forests, possessed a million of tons of shipping, 
they believed their neutral character had made 
their flag a cloak for the enterprise and wealth 
of other nations. No doubt their commerce 
was somewhat unnaturally forced, and many 
frauds did exist, but the motives for deception 
have ceased these dozen years, and still America 
has a million and a half of tonnage. Perhaps no 
one demonstration of the energy of this popula- 



tion has excited in Europe the surprise that has 
been created by the boldness and dexterity with 
which they have constructed canals, that put to 
shame all similar works everywhere else. We 
understand the nature and the expense of this 
description of public works, and we know how to 
make a proper estimate of the enterprise necessary 
to effect them. But although the system of canals, 
which has broke so suddenly into existence in 
the United States, within the last ten years, 
argues an advanced and advancing state of society, 
it manifests no new principle of energy. It may 
be a higher exhibition of the quality, since the 
stage of improvement demands a sujierior manifes- 
tation of skill ; but, believe me, the spirit which 
has produced it has not been dormant an hour 
since the British colonies have achieved their inde- 

Although circumstances have lessened the in- 
terest which Europe has felt in America, it may 
be well questioned, whether the United States do 
not, at this hour, enjoy a higher consideration, on 
our side of the Atlantic, than the political doc- 
trines, formerly in fashion, would have given to a 
people so dispersed, so few in ^iumbers, and so 
remote. Their vast and growing commerce, of it- 
self, makes them an object of the greatest attention, 
and the sure conviction that the child of that com- 
merce, a marine, is likely soon to play its part in 
the great game of nations, gives additional interest 

!:i '! h 



to this republic. Still our anticipations are vague, 
founded on data but imperfectly understood, and, 
at all times, fettered by the prejudices and dis- 
tinctive opinions of our own hemisphere. 

In the first place, the influence of emigration 
on the growth of the United States has been 
usually overrated by Europeans. I have had 
occasion to say, already, that for thirty years it did 
not add many more than five thousand souls, annu- 
ally, to the population. The fact is sufficiently 
known by the returns of the custom-houses, where 
all masters of vessels are obliged to report the 
number of their passengers. It is true, that thou- 
sands, who leave the mother country for the 
British provinces, find their way into the republic 
by land ; but, perhaps, an equal number of natives 
have removed into the Canadas, the upper pro- 
vince of which is nearly, or quite half, peopled by 
emigrants from the states, or their descendants. 

The first, the most important and the least un- 
derstood, cause of the exceeding advance of the 
American states, is to be found in the character 
of their population. The genera' diffusion of a 
respectable degree of intelligence, would, of itself, 
produce an effect that it might be difficult to esti= 
mate precisely, but which may be always traced 
in its strongest point of view, in the respective 
conditions of the savage and of the civilized man. 
In addition to this general and mighty cause, the 
actual necessities of society supply an incentive 



to ingenuity and talent, that are wanted else- 
wheic. Were the American an indolent and con- 
tented . being, nurtured in dulness, and kept in 
ignorance of the incentives which prompt men to 
exertion, this very state of necessity might serve 
to depress him still lower in the scale of being. 
But there is nothing more surprising in the coun- 
try than the universal knowledge which exists of 
the condition of Europe. Their wants, therefore, 
feed their desires, and, together, they give birth 
to all the thousand auxiliaries of exceeding inge- 
nuity. A proof of this fact is to be found in the 
manner in which the first canal of any importance 
was constructed. As it speaks volumes on the 
subject, I shall relate it. 

Five and twenty years ago engineers from 
Europe began to make their appearance in Ame- 
rica. They brought with them the rules of science, 
and a competent knowledge of the estimates of 
force, and the adaptation of principles to results ; 
but they brought them all calculated to meet the 
contingencies of the European man. Experience 
showed that they neither knew how to allow for 
the difl5culties of a novel situation, nor for the 
excess of intellect they were enabled to use. 
Their estimates were always wild, uncertain, and 
fatal, in a country that was still experimenting. 
But five-and-twenty years ago was too soon for 
canals in America. It was wise to wait for a 
political symptom in a country where a natural 


I '! 



impulse will always indicate the hour for action. 
Though five-and-twenty, or twenty, or even fifteen 
years, were too soon, still ten were not. Ten 
years ago demonstrations had been made which 
enabled keen observers to detect that the time 
for extraordinary exertion had come. The grer.t 
western canal of New York was conceived and 
planned. But instead of seeking for European 
engineers, a few of the common surveyors of the 
country were called to the aid of those who were 
entrusted with the duty of making the estimates ; 
and men of practical knowledge, who understood 
the people with whom they had to deal, and who 
had tutored their faculties in the thousand col- 
lisions of active life, were brought to the task as 
counsellors. The result is worthy of grave atten- 
tion. The work, in its fruits and in its positive 
extent, exceeded any thing of a similar nature 
ever attempted in Christendom. The authority 
to whom responsibility was due, was more exact- 
ing than any of our hemisphere. Economy was 
inculcated to a degree little known in other na- 
tions; and, in short, greater accun ;y than usual 
was required under circumstances apparently the 
least favourable to attain it. Now, this canal was 
made (with such means) at a materially less cost, 
in infinitely less time, and with a boldness in the 
estimates, and an accuracy in the results, that 
were next to marvellous. There was not a man 
of any reputation for science employed in the 



work. But the utmost practical knowledge of 
men and of things was manifested in th^ whole of 
t,he affiir. The beginning of each year brought 
its estimate of the expense, and of the profits, and 
the close its returns in wonderful conformity. The 
labour is completed, and the benefit exceeds the 
hopes of the most sanguine. 

In this sketch of the circumstances under which 
the New York canal has been made, we may trace 
the cause of the prodigious advance of this nation. 
Some such work as this was necersary to demon- 
strate to the world, that the qt .lities which are 
so exclusively the fruits of liberty and of a diffused 
intelligence, have an existence elsewhere than in 
the desire of good. Without it, it might have been 
said, " The advance of America is deceptive ; 
she is doing no more than our own population 
could do under circumstances that admitted of so 
much display ; but she will find the difference 
between felling trees,, and burning forests, and 
giving the finish which denotes the material pro- 
gress of society." The mouths of such critics 
are now silenced. The American can point to his 
ploughs, to his ships, to his canals, to his bridges, 
and, in short, to every thing that is useful in his 
particular state of society, and demand, where a 
better or a cheaper has been produced, under any 
thing like circumstances of equality. 

It is vain to deny the causes or the effects of the 
American system, dear B6thizy, nor should a man as 





f 1 1 



A t,L>iMAUY. 

philanthropist as yourself wish to deny them, since 
they rest on principles that favour the happiness 
and prosperity of the human race. We should not 
cavil about names, nor minor distinctions, in go- 
vernments, if the great and moving principles are 
such as contemplate the improvement of the spe- 
cies in the mass, and not in exclusive and selfish 

The second great cause of tho advancement of 
the United States is the abundance which is the 
consequence of room and of intelligence united, 
and which admits of so rapid an increase of its 
positive physical force. It is known that the po- 
pulation has doubled in about twenty- three years, 
though it is supposed that this rate of increase is 
gradually diminishing. It is probable that in the 
next fifty-five years there will be two more dupli- 
cations of the amount. Of this number, suppos- 
ing that slavery continues in its present form, and 
under its present influences (two things that can- 
not be rationally supposed), seven millions will be 
slaves, and forty-three millions free men. But 
slavery, though on the increase, as a whole, is 
known not to be on the increase in a ratio equal to 
th it of the whites. 

The third cause of the great progress of this 
country, and it is one intimately blended with all 
the other moral causes, is the perfect freedom of 
its civil and religious institutions, which gives the 
utmost possible play to the energies, and the 



strongest possible inducements to the laudable 
ambition of man. 

There is unquestionably a powerful action and 
reaction between all these influences, which pro- 
duce a vast combined result. A rapid review of 
what has been done in the way of general improve- 
ment, in the nation, may serve to give some idea 
of their effects. 

I shall not write here of the condition of the 
army, and navy, and militia, since enough has 
been already said to furnish a sufficiently accurate 
knowledge of those branches of the subject. 

The finances of the United States, you know 
to be prosperous. The public debt at the close 
of the last war (1813), amounted to about 
120,000,000. On the first of October 1827, it 
was 68,913,541 dollars. But as seven millions of 
this debt was created for the purchase of the bank 
stock so often named, the true debt should not be 
estimated at more than 61,913,541 dollars.* This 
debt pays an interest^of 6, 5, 4|, and 3 per cent. 
On 13,296,247 dollars an interest of 3 per cent, is 
paid; on 28,831,128, an interest of 6 per cent, is 
paid ; on 15,993,972, an interest of 4^ percent, is 





* On the first of January 1828, it was estimated to be 67,413,377 
dollars ; or, deducting the seven millions for bank stock, at 
60,413,377. The writer has since seen it announced, that 5,000,000 
of principal will be paid on the 1st of July, 1828, so that the debt 
of the United States, on that day, will be about 55,413,377 dollars, 
if the cost of the bank stock shall be deducted. (See next page.) 








paid ; on 5,792,000, an interest of 5 per cent, is 
paid. These sums make the amount named. Tlie 
gradual diminution of the debt is taking place as 
fast as the terms of the loans will admit, and on 
those portions which pay the highest rate of inte- 
rest. The last mai^ be redeemed in J 835, and 
probably will be redeemed, at the present rate of 
diminution, before the end of the next dozen years, 
unless some new causes for loans should occur. In 
addition to these facts, it must be remembered 
that a stock which pays but three per cent, is 
never worth par. Thus, if the 13,296,247 of the 
3 per cents, can be bought for 80 dollars, in the 
100, this portion of the debt is also reduced in 
point of fact to 10,590,908 dollars. So that, all 
things considered, the whole actual debt of the 
United States cannot be considered as being more 
(on the 1st of July 1828) than 52,714,098 dollars, 
or something less than 12,000,000 of pounds 

In a country so united in interests, but so sepa- 
rated by distance, a system of extended and easy 
internal communication is of vital importance. 
Without it, neither commerce, nor political har- 
mony, nor intelligence, could exist to the degree that 
is necessary to the objects of the confederation. It 
has therefore been effected at some cost, but in a 
manner that is already returning its reward in 
pecuniary profit, as well as in the other great essen- 
tials named. The subject naturally divides itself 




into three branches, viz. that of information, that 
of internal trade, and that of personal communi- 

For the first, the general post-office, with its 
numberless dependencies, has been established. 
The diffusion of intelligence is justly considered 
by the American statesmen to be no less import- 
ant to the preservation of their institutions, than 
to the general advanc ^ment of the character and 
power of the nation. There are in the country 
about 7000 post-offices (1828), and a nearly in- 
calculable distance of post route. The chief of 
this dep;*rtment says, that there is not now scarce- 
ly an inhabited district of any size in all these vast 
regions, to which the ramifications of these routes 
do not extend. The same admirable economy 
exists in the management of this department, as 
in all the others of the government. Although it 
is quite pKin that comparatively little correspon- 
dence can exist to defray the expenses of routes 
so extended, yet the department not only pays for 
itself, but it is beginning to yield a small revenue 
to the country. One would think that, under such 
circumstances, the cost of letters and journals was 
greater here than elsewhere. You shall judge for 
yourself. A letter for less than thirty miles pays 
six cents ; for less than eighty and over thirty, 
ten cents ; for less than one hundred and fifty 
miles, and over eighty, twelve and a half cents ; 
for all distances over four hundred miles, twenty- 




'HI' I 



five cents. A cent is one hundredth part of a 
dollar, or about an English half-penny, thus a 
letter will be transferred fifteen hundred miles, for 
a shilling sterling dollar. Double letters pay 
double, until they attain 'i certain weight, when 
they begin to pay by the ounce. Printed sheets, 
journals, or any thing else, pay one cent, for less 
than one h^'ndred miles,A^per sheet, and one cent 
and a half for all distances over. The editors 
of public journals receive all their printed sheets 
gratis. The mail is carried in coaches a great 
proportion of the distance, in sulkies in other por- 
tions, and on horseback the rest. 

The personal communication is effected by 
means of stage coaches and steam-boats. 1 he 
vast rivers, and the prodigious facilities that are 
offered by means of the bays, enable passengers to 
travel with astonishing ease, rapidity and cheapness. 
The traveller may leave Boston by land. A ride 
of forty-five miles brings him to Providence ; here 
he embarks for New York, 200 miles further, by 
the way of the sound of Long Island ; the Naritan 
carries him to Brunswick ; a few miles more of 
land carriage takes him to the Delaware; the 
river and bay of that name bring him to New- 
castle ; three hours by land, and he is on the 
waters of the Chesapeake ; from the bay he may 
ascend half a dozen rivers, or proceed along the 
coast. At Norfolk, he enters a canal, and by 

\ ■' 



means of sounds, bays, and a trifling land carriage, 
it is quite ,jossible to reach the southern limits of 
Georgia. Most of this route is travelled in the 
manner I have described, and the rest of it is 
daily becoming more so. 

The internal commerce of America exists with 
the least possible incumbrance. It is conducted 
chiefly by water, and an immense deal of it is 
done coast-wise, by means of the rivers, that are 
so many arteries penetrating the country in every 
direction. A license costs a few dollars, (two I 
believe,) and when a vessel is provided with such 
a document, there is no impediment to its passage 
into any of the public waters of the country. 
The whole confederation is unqualifiedly one na- 
tion in respect to commerce. 

The government of the Un, '^ed States is also 
making certain military roads that are intended 
to intersect the country in those directions in 
which water does not flow. In addition to these 
improvements, states and chartered companies are 
effecting a vast deal more in the same way, that I 
have neither the room nor the knowledge neces- 
sary to communicate. As the debt is discharged, 
and larger sums come into the disposal of 
congress, it is to be presumed that they will 
increase the expenditures, by advancing the 
improvement of the country in all things that 
properly belong to their power. 

In manufactures, the Americans have made 


!•• F 



III . ' 



■M is-'.' 

I' !:, ■"■•.,■ ' 

•ill i 

'it' I 

m 1 





immense progress since their separation from the 
mother country. The great Lord Chatham 
declared it should be the policy of England to 
prevent her colonies from manufacturing even a 
hobnail ; and this plan of monopolizing wealth 
was tolerably successful, so long as the Americans 
were dependent on England, and even for many 
years afterwards. But, although the importations 
of this country, for home consumption, are greater 
now than they ever have been, its own manufac- 
tures have increased fifty fold. 

The question of protecting manufactures by 
legislative enactments, is the one which involves 
more political warmth, at the present time, than 
any other question of mere policy. Indeed it 
may be said to be the only one. The disputants 
are chiefly men that are immediately interested 
in the result, though it is certain, that a few 
leading politicians adopt the opposite sides from 
policy or on principle. The only real point in 
dispute is, whether America has reached the 
period when it has become her interest to 
encourage her manufactures, at some little 
expense to her commerce, or rather at some little 
expense and loss to those who are engaged in 
particular branches of commerce, since it is 
obvious that nothing can have a greater tendency 
to increase the trade between different sections of 
a country like this, than increasing its objects. A 
vast deal is said, pro and con, on this subject. 



One party contends that it will destroy the ship- 
ping, and prove fatal to the revenue. If this 
reasoning be true, then the time is inevitable 
when the shipping and revenue of the United 
States must disappear, for nothing is more certain 
than that the time will come, when a vast pro- 
portion of their population finds that no great 
community can exist in prosperity, without a 
division of employment. But it is plain that these 
partisans utter absurdities, since it is a matter of 
perfect iadifFerence to the citizen to whom or by 
what process he pays the dollar of duty that he 
is now obliged to pay for his coat. If the col- 
lector of some port does not receive it, some other 
collector can and will. But this dollar will be paid 
on an increased price, since the American manu- 
facturer cannot bring his goods into the market so 
cheap as the foreign manufacturer, or he would not 
ask for protection. This maybe true at the moment, 
and I am of opinion, that, (with the exception of 
articles that are deemed important to defence, 
and perhaps to certain articles that require some 
little time to give them ihe perfection neces- 
sary to competition,) no laws Vv'ill be passed 
immediately on the subject. The question of 
manufactures is, however, clearly one of interest. 
Of their usefulness, and of their being one of the 
most active agents of wealth, as well as of the 
comfort of society, there can be no doubt. It is 
therefore like many other questions in America, 

F F 2 



'■■• tth 




purely one of time. Although it may not accord 
with her policy this year, to encourage them, or 
for her citizens to embark in them, the result is 
inevitable. A nation that lives so fast as this, does 
not compute time by ordinary calculations. Fifty 
years ago they manufactured next to nothing. They 
now manufacture almost every article of familiar 
use, and very many of them much better than 
the articles that are imported. They even begin 
to export. The coarse cotton goods of this country 
are already sent to South America, and I am 
told that they are preferred to the British. Impor- 
tations of coarse cottons from India have entirely 
ceased ; and indeed I was assured that their own 
coarse cottons were greatly preferred in their own 
markets to any other. 

The American manufacturer has to contend wita 
one difficulty that is unknown to the manufac- 
turers of other countries. The unobstructed 
commerce of the United States admits of impor- 
tations from all quarters, and of course the con- 
sumer is accustomed to gratify his taste with the 
best articles. A French duke might be conlent to 
use a French knife or a French lock ; but an Ame- 
rican merchant would reject both : he knows that 
the English are better. On the other hand, an Eng- 
lish duchess (unless she could smuggle a little) 
might be content with an English silk ; but an 
American lady would openly dress herself in silk 
manufactured at Lyons. The same is true of 



hundreds of other .rticlcs. The American manu- 
facturer is therefore compelled of starting into 
existence full grown, or nearly so, in order to 
command success. I think this peculiarity wiU 
have, and has had, the effect of retarding the ap- 
pearance of articles manufactured in the country, 
though it will make their final success as sure as 
their appearance will be sudden. 

It is impossible to speak with certainty on the 
details of a question so complicated. A thou- 
sana articles are manufactured already, and may 
be considered as established. Twenty years ago, 
the Americans imported all their good hats ; fif- 
teen years ago they imported most of their coarse 
cottons ; and ten years ago they imported most, 
if not all of their fine glass and ornamental hard- 
ware, such as fire-grates, &c. Many of these 
importations have ceased, and I am told that, 
considering the increase of the consumers, they 
are diminishing daily. 

Though the particular matter that is now in 
dispute may be one of deep interest to certain 
merchants and manufacturers, it is clearly not the 
main question. Manufacturing is a pursuit so 
natural, and one so evidently necessary to all ex- 
tended communities, that its adoption is inevitable 
at some day or other. The policy of the Ameri- 
cans wisely leaves them, in all cases except those of 
extraordinary necessity, (which become exceptions 


1 s 





of course,) to the operation of natural influences. 
Policy will, nineteen times in twenty, indicate its 
own wants. If it be admitted that a people who 
possess the raw material in abundance, who 
enjoy the fruits of the earth to an excess that 
renders their cultivation little profitable, must 
have recourse to their ingenuity, and to their in- 
dustry, to find new employments and different 
sources of wealth, then the Americans must 
become manufacturers. When the hoar shall 
arrive, it will be vain to utter speculative reasons, 
for the v/ants of the nation will work out their 
own cure. If restrictive laws shall be necessary 
to effect it, the people will allow of a lesser evil 
to get rid of a greater. When the manufacturers 
of America are once fairly established* so that 
practice has given them skill, and capital has 
accumulated a little, there will be no fear of 
foreign competition. The exceeding ingenuity 
and wonderful aptitude of the people will give 
them the same superiority in the fabrication of a 
button or of a yard of cloth, as they now possess in 
the construction of a ship, or as they have mani- 
fested that they possess in the construction of a 
canal. A sufficient motive is all that is necessary 
to induce exertion. They have taken the infallible 
measure to ensure success, in bringing the 
greatest possible number of competitors into 
action, by diffusing intelligence so widely, and 



to so creditable an extent. I think that most 
questions of manufacturing will be settled prac- 
tically in the next five-and-twenty years. 

The vast extent of the United States affords all 
the means of wealth and comfort that climate, 
mines, and other natural facilities can supply. 
They are known to possess lead, copper, gold, 
iron, salt, and coal. The lead mines of Missouri 
are very extensive, and, with little or no skill, are 
already productive. The gold of Carolina is pro- 
bably quite as abundant as is desirable. Copper 
is found in many places, but it is not yet much 
wrought. Iron is abundant, much worked, and 
some of it is more esteemed than any imported. 
Salt is found in quantities sufficient to supply the 
whole country, and even to furnish the article for ex- 
portation. It is not dug for yet, as the springs are 
found so saturated with the mineral as to render the 
process of boiling and evaporation more profitable. 
Coal exists in various parts of the country. It 
is procured, however, chiefly in Virginia, Penn- 
sylvania, and Rhode Island. It is of various 
kinds, and of different degrees of excellence. That 
most in use is of the class anthracite. Of this 
species there are several gradations of quality. 
That of Pennsylvania is said to be the best. 
Mountains of coal exist in that state, and the 
people of the growing manufacturing town of 
Pittsburgh cut it out of the hills with as much 
facility as they would bring away an equal weight 



Si l! 

ii ' I? 

•? it 

\" 15 

'I I 

I i" '■ 

•; I ' I 

V i 
ii'i 'J 





of dirt. Canals and railways are made to several 
of the coal mines, or rather coal mountains, and 
domestic coal is getting into very general use. 
The coal of eastern Pennsylvania is most fortu- 
nately placed. It lies within sixty or seventy 
miles of Philadelphia, to which place it is already 
conveyed by water. Philadelphia has a large 
capital, is now a great manufacturing town, and 
will probably be one of the largest in the world 
S the course of half a century. From Phila- 
delphia, coal, or any thing else, can be carried by 
water to any part of the country which has a water 
communication with the ocem. 

The cultivation of the vine has commenced. 
Wine is already made ; though, as time is abso- 
lutely necessary to produce excellence in the 
quality of the grape, and as capital is still 
easily convertible to so many lucrative uses, it is 
possible that half a century may elapse before 
the United States export their liquors. That 
they will sooner or later do so is, I think, beyond 
a doubt. The silk worm is also beginning to at- 
tract attention, and plantations of the olive are 
coming daily more into fashion. In short, there 
is no means of comfort, indulgence, or wealth, that 
the Americans, in some one part of their country, 
cannot command ; and it would be as weak, as it 
will unquestionably be false, to suppose that a 
people so sagacious and so active will neglect 
them beyond the moment when circumstances 



shall render their adoption profitable or con- 

The construction of canals, on a prar; ical scale, 
the mining for coal, the exportation ofxc 'ton goods, 
and numberless other improvements, \.hich argue 
an advancing state of society, have all sprung into 
existence within the last dozen years.* It is a 
knowledge of these facts, with a clear and saga- 
cious understanding of their immense results, 
coupled with exciting moral causes, that ren- 
der the America^ se. guine, aspiring, and confi- 
dent in his antic' .'' tic .}. He sees that his nation 
lives centuries .u a!» age, and he feels no disposi- 
tion to consider himself a child, because other peo- 
ple, in their do a^^e, choose to remember the hour 
of his birth. 

How pitiful do the paltry criticisms on an inn, 
or the idle, and, half the time, vulgar comments on 
the vulgarity of a parvenu become, when objects 
and facts like these are pressing themselves on 
the mind ! I have heard it said, that there are 
European authors who do not like to contract 
acquaintances with American gentlemen, be- 
cause they feel a consciousness of having turned 
the United States into ridicule! I can tell these 
unfortunate subjects of a precipitate opinion, that 
they may lay aside their scruples. No American 
of any character, or knowledge of his own country. 

* Forty years ago no cotton was raised in the United States. 



can feel any thing but commiseration for the man 
who has attempted to throw ridicule on a nation 
like this. The contest is too unequal to admit of 
any doubt as to the result, and the wir»er way will 
be for these Quixotes in literature to say and think 
as little as possible about their American tilting 
match, in order that the world may not liken their 
lances to that used by the hero of La Mancha, and 
their helmets to barbers' basins. 



Having given so much of our attention to the 
subject of the sources of the national importance 
possessed by the Americans, it may not be with- 
out its use to devote an hour to the consideration 
of the manner in which they will probably be used. 
The points of main interest are, whether the pre- 
sent republican institutions of the country will 
remain, and whether the states will long continue 
to act as one people, or will submit to be divided 
into two or more confederacies. 

The first fact that strikes an intelligent man, 



in considering the structure of this government, 
and the state of society that exists under it, is its 
perfectly natural formation. It is scarcely pos- 
sible, I am not sure that it is possible, to conceive 
of a community which has attained the advantages 
of high civilization that is less artificial. 

In order that individual efforts should be excited 
(without which nations must inevitably become 
sluggish, and finally barbarous, though dwelling 
in any abundance), the rights of property are re- 
spected. Beyond this the law leaves every man 
(the slaves in the southern states excepted) on 
grounds of perfect equality. This equahty is, 
however, an equality of rights only ; since talents, 
money, and enterprise, being left to their natural 
influences, produce their natural effects, and no 

In respect to the continuation of the present 
republican institutions of this country, every fact, 
every symptom, and all reasoning is, I think, in 
their favour. In the first place, they have, in sub- 
stance, continued for nearly, and in some instances 
for quite, two centuries. The habits of the people, 
their education, their feelings, and their interests, 
unite to preserve them. It is true there are not 
many instances in the world, of governments on 
an extended scale existing for any great length 
of time in forms nearly resembling those of the 
United States ; but there are examples enough to 
prove that governments have endured for centuries 


;! :1 





on principics that will make this endure, though 
policy were less active than it is in contributing 
to its preservation. We will endeavour to find 
some of thend. The government of England is 
representative, and to a great degree it is free ; 
that is to say, it is a government of laws, instead 
of being a government of will, which, I take it, 
constitutes the essential difference between liberty 
and despotism. Now the main point of ditference 
between the government of England, and that of 
the United States, is in the bodies that are the re- 
spective repositories of power. In the former 
country, the power is in the aristocracy ; in the 
latter country it is in the people. That the latter 
is more natural is sufficiently evident, by the fact 
that England itself has been quietly tending to- 
wards the same result, during two centuries, under 
circumstances that have been calculated to bring 
natural influences into play. It is true, that the 
power still rests in the aristocracy, but it is not an 
aristocracy that is exclusive. To speak of the 
governing aristocracy of England, as a class of 
nobles, is absurd ; it is the aristocracy of wealth, 
of talents, and of enterprise, that rules Great Bri- 
tain. Were the avenues to political power closed 
against the approach of new aspirants, the govern- 
ment of Great Britain would be overturned in a 
dozen years. It is not in the power of art to re- 
press the energy of natural influences, when they 
have once gathered head. The effect of vast com- 



merce, of intelligence diffused to a certain degree, 
and of individual enterprise, has been to wrest the 
power from the crown, to curtail its influence in the 
lords, and to repose most of its exercise in the 
commons. Now, all that democracy can do with- 
out recourse to violence in England, is here done, 
because it is obeying a natural law. But the very 
difficulty which is found in effecting a final tri- 
umph, (as by compelling the lords to acquiesce at 
all times in the wishes of the commons,) proves 
the difficulty of completely wresting power from 
those who hold it, though they may happen to be 
the few. So far it is an argument in favour of 
the perpetuity of the American democracies, for 
they, too, are useil to the authority of the peo- 
ple. Still, public opinion, which is no more 
than popular law, is so triumphant, that it is dif- 
ficult to conceive a a«iestion on which a clear ma- 
jority of the people of England should be deci- 
dedly united, that the three estates would incur 
the risk of opposing. Let us turn the picture to 
the side of America. 

Here we have a government in which the 
people are the sources of power. The state of 
society is precisely that (though in a still higher 
degree) which in England has wrought a change 
from absolute monarchy to a species of qualified 
aristocracy. Instead of waiting for the march of 
natural events, circumstances pe'-nitted that they 
should be anticipate m. They u ve been antici- 



?l iif: 




pated, and so far from a reaction being the result, 
greater harmony is daily occurring between causes 
and effects, as the government gets more adapted 
to practical objects. 

1 see but one possible manner in which the 
people of the United States can ever lose any of 
their liberty. They may enact laws of a more 
rigid character as the advancement or corruption 
of society shall require them, and they may 
possibly be driven to some slight curtailments of 
the franchise for the same reason ; but this will, 
in no degree, change the principle of their govern- 
ment. By losing their intelligence, the people 
of the United States may lose the consciousness 
of their rights, and with it their enjoyment. But 
all experience goes to show how difficult it is to 
wrest vested rights from communities. 

But the vulgar argument against the perpetuity 
of the American government, is the impossibility 
that the rich should not govern the poor, and the 
intellectual the weak of mind. The continuation 
of property in families, and its consequent accu- 
mulation by individuals, by entails, is a provision 
of aristocracy in order to secure its power. The 
very provision itself argues a consciousness of 
natural weakness. It is evident, that it is as un- 
just, as it is opposed to our common affections, to 
make one child affluent at the expense of half a 
dozen others. No man left to the operation of 
natural feeling would do so cruel an act. This 



fact is sufficiently proved by the example of the 
Americans themselves, who have a perfect right 
to do this injustice if they please, by simply 
making those in existence, and who have a 
natural hold on their affections, the subjects of 
the wrong. Still no man does it. It is true that 
the father of an only son might create a sort of short 
entail, that should work injustice to descendants 
he could not know ; or a father who was educated 
under an artificial system, where advantages are 
actually established from the practice, might do 
the same thing ; but we have proof in the United 
States, that the father will not do it, under the 
operation of natural causes. Now, the Americans 
have taken care that this artificial stale of things 
shall not occur, for strict entails cannot be made ; 
and if one father should be so obdurate and un- 
natural as to do a wrong, in order to rob parties 
who were strangers to him, of their natural 
rights to his estate, he has no pledge that his 
son will be as absurd as himself. There is no 
truth more certain, than that property will regulate 
itself when left to itself. It will change hands 
often, and become the reward of industry, talent, 
and enterprise. But we have no need of specu- 
lating in order to know what effect money will 
produce on the institutions of America. There 
are thousands of rich men here, and of very rich 
men too, and there is not a class of the commu- 





! ''1! 





nity that has less political power. There are 
many reasons why it should be so. 

Wealth gives no direct influence in politics. 
Seats in congress are not bought and sold. Then 
the owners of great wealth are t^vo-thirds of the 
time more agreeably employed in its increase, 
than in courting popularity, without which, 
nothing political can be done ; and there is also a 
reluctance to give men, who have much money, 
places of much profit at all. But it is plain, that 
wealth, even supposing it could be brought to 
act in concert throughout a country like this, can 
never work a change in its institutions, until it 
can be accumulated for generations ; and that is 
a result the institutions themselves forbid. Indeed, 
so little do I think a danger that is so often named 
is to be dreaded, that I think there would be 
vastly more danger, that the people of a nation 
like this would find means to strip any given set 
of men of exorbitant wealth, than the set of men 
themselves would find means to strip the nation 
of its liberties. Neither case is likely to occur, 
however, since the danger is scarcely within the 
bounds of a reasonable probability. 

Talents may unite to destroy the rights of the 
people. But, surely, talents are just as like- 
ly to regulate themselves, and to produce an 
equality, as mone^ It is not in nature, that any 
great number of talented men should conspire to 




overturn the government, since, in the first place, 
it would require an improbable unanimity of 
talent, and, in the second place, a majority of the 
conspirators vv^ould be literally selling their birth- 
rights for messes of potage. If there be a country 
in the world where talent has already a certain 
and manly road to preferment, it is in this. Under 
the present system, each man can work for him- 
self, whereas, by changing it to a monarchy, the 
many would have to toil for the advantage of the 
few. As to those inducements which are known 
to influence men in Europe, such as titles, and 
decorations, they are entirely artificial; and I 
know, from observation, that it would be a difficult 
matter to get, even now, a vast proportion of 
the Americans to consent to use them. We are 
completely the creatures of habit in all these 
matters; and it is the habit of the American to 
look on distinctions of this nature with a cold eye. 
This peculiarity of opinion is gaining ground daily ; 
for there was, for a time, on precisely the same 
principle of habit, a lingering of the ancient 
prejudices. We should never forget that the 
moral influence of this nation is beginning to 
manifest itself in stronger colours every hour. 
The time, I think, is near, when the American 
gentleman will pride himself as much on his 
peculiar simplicity, as gentlemen of other 
nations take pride in their quarterings and titles. 
The strength of this feeling will keep even pace 


I '"I' 


' m 


I If 

I I 

VOL. 11. 

G G 



with the power of the radon, until it would 
become difficult indeed Uf pers'-iade a man that 
glories in having no worldly superior, to submit to 
ft. division of society, that, by an artificial arrange- 
ment, shall place him beneath so many others. 
You will remember, that the great difference 
between this government and most others, is the 
important fact, that the Americans began at the 
bottom to raise their superstructure, whereas we 
have, in nearly every instance, began at the top 
to work downwards. Men have been elevated 
towards the throne in our systems, but in what 
manner are you to elevate a man who finds him- 
self already at the summit. It is true, that if a 
hundred, or a thousand Anyericans could monopo- 
lize the honours and emoluments of a change of 
government, that number might conspire to keep 
their present elevation, and force the rest of the 
nation below them. But a thousand, nor ten 
tiiOU8?^^^'« men of the highest talent, could not 
pertaac'' a million to give up rights that they 
are educated to believe inherent, even if these 
ten thousand could agree among themselves as to 
the gradations of their own rewards. A noble- 
man of France, or of England, cannot understand 
the sort of veneration that a vizier feels for the 
Grand Turk ; and any attempt on the part of the 
sovereigns of these two countries, to bring the 
peers into the abject submission that is prac- 
tised in the seraglio, would induce a singular 





commotion. Nor to the 4mericau it >•= \\ili as 
inconceivabln how one man can yield prec-j^loviry, 
or respect, or submission to anolh<(. ?.uei. ly 
because he happens to be born a.i ^ i^.esi: sou. 
You see all this is aitificial, and the feci m its 
long existence in the world establishfci; noUiing, 
but the opinions of the world. Opinions that 
are the nearest to nature, are the least liable to 
change. The world thought that the sun moved 
round the earth until quite lately, and yet the 
fact, I believe, is not so. We will sum up this 
argument in a very few words. Ten centuries 
ago, one century since, nay, twenty years since, 
very different opinions existed in Europe on the 
subject of governments from those that are now 
getting into fashion. The tendency is to natural 
rights, at the expense of artificial institut.ons. In 
some few instances, change has been attempted 
by revolution ; but revolution h d aar.gerous 
remedy. The Americans ha '. no revolution, 
strictly speaking ; they have oniy preceded the 
rest of Christendom in their reformS; because 
circumstances po fitted it. If they have gone 
farther than it may be wise for other nations to 
follow, it is no reason that they are not safe them- 
selves. So has ^'ngland gone farther than France, 
and France farther than Sweden, and Sweden 
farther than Russia. There is no danger of re- 
action in America, for there has been no blow to 
produce the rebound. The progress has beec 

G G 2 










steady and natural ; and there must be a gradual 
return to the ignorance of the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries to effect any material change. It 
is odd enough, that in an age when even des- 
potism is fettered by public opinion, men should 
affect to believe that a people who feel its influ- 
ence more than any other, who have fortified their 
institutions by law, by habit, and by common 
sense, are liable to be affected by causes that are 
hourly losing their ascendancy in every other 

I shall state one more simple fact, leaving you 
to reason on it for yourself. So far from increasing 
familiarity and intercourse with the system of 
Europe producing any desire for imitation on the 
part of those Americans who are brought in 
contact with our privileged orders, it is notorious, 
that it produces quite a contrary effect. 

But the question of infinitely the most interest 
is that which touches the durabitity of the con- 
federation. It is the only one of the two that is 
worthy of grave comment. 

If we fix the habitable territory of the United 
States, east of the Rocky Mountains, at 1,000,000 
of square miles, we shall not exceed the truth. 
By giving a population of 150 to the square mile, 
we get a gross amount of 150,000,000 for the 
population of this republic. Ip. 1850, the popula- 
tion will probably be 241^00,000; in 1880, 
48,000,000; and in 1920, near, or quite. 



100,000,000. I do not think there are sufficient 
reasons to distrust the increi e so far as the period 
named. If any thing, I believe I am materially 
within bounds. 

Now the first impression that strikes the mind, 
is the impossibility that 100,000,000 of people 
should consent to live quietly under the same go- 
vernment. It is quite certain that such vast 
masses of intelligent men could not be controlled 
by force ; but it remains to be proved that they 
cannot be kept together by interest. Let us ex- 
amine how far the latter agent will be active. 

The people of the United States can, under no 
other arrangement, enjoy protection against fo- 
reign wars at so cheap a rate. Aggression on their 
rights will be out of the question, should they 
remain united. Should they separate, they would 
make rivals, and of course enemies, at their own 
doors. Nature has adapted these vast regions to 
profit by internal trade. This species of commerce 
can never be conducted on terms so favourable as 
those offered by the Union. Should they sepa- 
rate, a thousand irritating and embarrassing ques- 
tions about the right to navigate the rivers and 
bays, would unavoidably occur, which now are 
unknown. They are a people of peculiar institu- 
tions, and vast political weight is necessary to 
secure the proud and manly population of this 
country, the respect they claim in foreign coun- 
tries. They have felt the degradation of being 

:' ■ 1 







contemned ; they are beginning to know the pri- 
vileges of being respected ; and they will shortly 
enjoy the advantages of being feared. It is not in 
nature to suppose that men will wilfully and blindly 
throw away their superiority. I think there will 
also be an outward pressure that will tend to unite 
them still closer. 

The confederated government of the United 
States has not power enough to make itself dan- 
gerous to the rights of the states. In the first 
place, it is no more than a representation of the 
people in another form ; and there is little proba- 
bility that any decidedly unpopular policy can 
long continue, if, indeed, it could be adopted at 
all. Each hour lessens the danger of particular 
states receding from the Union, by lessening their 
relative importance. Even New York, with ten 
millions of inhabitants, would be embarrassed sur- 
rounded by a powerful rival of fifty or sixty mil- 
lions. The great communities would be safer, and 
more important, by exercising their natural influ- 
ence in the confederation, and the smaller could 
not exist separately. But it may be thought that 
the separation will take place in such a manner 
as to divide the present Union into two great na- 
tions. That these expectations are vague, and 
founded on a general reasoning that may be false, 
when applied to a particular case, is evident by the 
fact that men are divided on the grounds of this 
separation. Some say that the slave-holders will 



separate from their northern brethren ; and some 
think that the line will be drawn north and south. 
Now, in point of fact, there is no solid reason in 
either of these opinions, except as they have a ge- 
neral reference to the difficulty of keeping such 
masses of men together. My own opinion is, that 
the United States are now passing, or, in fact, 
have in a great measure passed, the ordeal of the 
durability of the Union, 

As to grave shakings of the head, and gene- 
ral assertions, they prove nothing, unless, as they 
often do, they prove ignorance. Forty years ago, 
unbelievers would have shaken their heads, had 
they been told that a constitutional government 
would now exist in France. We must look at 
plain, direct, and natural causes for the influences 
that are to support, or to destroy this confedera- 
tion. We can easily see the advantages of the 
connection, now let us endeavour to seek the dis- 

The first objection that presents itself is dis- 
tance. But distance is an object that has more 
force now, when roads and Cuixim'mication by wa- 
ter are in their infancy, than it can ever have here- 
after. Existing facts, therefore, not only show 
that the United States are sufficiently near to each 
other for all practical and desirable purposes of 
general government, but that in truth the empire 
might still be extended without material inconve- 




The next objection is the question of slaves 
and of freedom. The control of 'he slaves is a 
matter left entirely to the states who hold them ; 
and, so far as they have any direct influence on 
the durability of the Union, it is, I think, in its 
favour, by adding an additional motive for its 
continuance to the southern states. One might 
acknowledge a danger of a difference of habits 
arising under the slave policy, that would induce a 
dangerous difference in character, were it not for 
the fact, that this state of things has existed so 
long, and that the people of the north und the 
people of the south are rather assimilating than 
becoming more widely distinct in habits and 

Next comes local interest. This, after all, is the 
only point worthy of much consideration. It is a 
branch of the subject that presents two or three 
different aspects. That of employment, that of 
geographical inducements to divide, and that of 
minute separate interests. It is plain that the 
people of a country in which there is so great a 
diversity of soil and of climate, must pursue dif- 
ferent employments. But is not this fact rather 
a motive of harmony than of dissension ? They 
can supply each other's wants without incurring 
the danger of rivalry. The northern man will ex- 
ercise his ingenuity, and will be the mariner ; the 
man of the middle states will grow the primary 
recessaries of life, and the southern man will sup- 



ply both with luxuries. The manufacturer will 
buy wheat, and tobacco, and wine, and fifty other 
necessaries, of the Virginian, Marylandcr, &c. and 
cotton, and sugar, and olives, and fruits, of the 
southern man. They are necessary to each other ; 
and it is therefore pla. a their interests are united. 
As to the geographical inducements to separate, 
it is impossible (when distance is admitted to be 
conquered) to discover more than one. There 
might, under certain circumstances, be a reason 
why countries that lie on the tributaries of the 
Mississippi, for instance, should wish to be under 
one government. But they arc under one govern- 
ment already, and by what process can they be more 
so than they are at this ir^ment? The Kentuckian, 
and Tenesseean, and Ohiese, and Indianian, might 
lose some advantages, in the way of geographical 
inducements, by separating from New York to 
cling to Louisiana, or vice versa ; but what could 
he possibly gain ? There might have been a dan- 
ger of such a separation, when the outlet of the 
Mississippi was the property of another nation ; 
but the outlet of the Mississippi is now the pro- 
perty of the republicans themselves. The citizen 
of New Orleans has just as much influence in the 
general government as the citizen of New York or 
Boston. Independently of these facts, which, I 
think, contain an unanswerable argument, each 
day is so ramifying and connecting interests 
throughout the whole of this Union, as to render 

^ ^ 





■ 50 "^" IIII^H 

1^ 12.0 


IL25 nil 1.4 


■ 1.6 





(716) S72-4S03 





^^^ ^^ V ^Q^ 




it difficult to the states, which might be thought 
to be the most exposed to what I have called geo- 
graphical inducements, to make a selection, even 
in circumstances that should compel a choice. 

The control of minute interests might easily 
lead to dissensions, in a free country. But the 
natural and exceedingly happy constitution of 
American society leaves the states the control of 
all matters that do not require concentrated action ; 
it leaves even the counties and towns, also, the 
right of controlling their more minute interests. 

Now where are we to seek a rational argument 
for believing that this confederation will dissolve ? 
Its plan of government leaves as few matters of 
contention as possible, while the interests, the 
habits, their feelings, and the history of the people 
are the same. Moral and physical causes unite 
to keep them together, while nothing indicates that 
they must divide, but sage and incredulous shakings 
of the head! I make no doubt, that if Coeur de Lion 
had been told that his brother would be forced to 
grant a charter to his barons, his head would have 
been shaken too ; and that Queen Elizabeth would 
not have believed that the royal veto could ever 
slumber for a century ; or that Isabel might have 
entertained rational doubts of her American pro- 
vinces becoming more important dominions than her 
own Arragon ; and yet all these things have come 
to pass ! Are we to believe for ever only what we 
wish ? We are told that China contains a hundred 


and fifty millions of people, in one empire ; and 
why are we to believe that semi-barbarians have 
more wisdom than a nation that has shown itself 
as shrewd, as firm, and as constant as the Amjeri- 

Let us give one moment's attention to the politi- 
cal history of this republic since its establishment. 

Between the years 1775 and 1789, a confe- 
deration existed, which, though it imperfectly 
answered the objects of the war, partook of that 
flimsiness of texture which has proved the bane 
and weakness of so many previous political 
unions. The Americans, instead of becoming 
impatient and restive under acknowledged diffi- 
culties, deliberately went to work to remedy the 
evil. The present constitution was formed. Its 
chief merit consists in its yielding to unavoidable 
evils, its consulting natural objects, and its profit- 
ing by those advantar^es which had endured the 
test of time. This is a broad foundation on which 
to repose the fabric of government. 

Until near the end of Washington's administra^ 
tion, the Americai^«» were scarcely treated with 
the courtesy that was due to a nation. The 
character of that illustrious man lent a dignity to 
his government, which adventitious circumstances 
would have refused. England boldly held military 
posts within the undeniable limits of the country, 
and a thousand indignities, and numberless acts of 
injustice, disgraced the history of that period* 



Commanders of vessels of war exercised a lawless 
authority on the coasts of the republic ; and there 
is an instance on record of a captain of a sloop of 
war, openly and insolently refusing to obey the 
civil authorities of the country, because he knew 
that he commanded a greater nautical force than 
that of the whole republic united. At that day, 
Europeans generally believed these people black 
and barbarous, and they listened to accounts of 
their proceedings, as we listen to the events of 
farther India. 

Then followed the general war, with its abuses. 
The vast commerce of America grew, but it be- 
came a prey to all the belligerents. Acts, that 
would disgrace any man of the smallest pretension 
to character, were committed by boastful nations, 
under the pitiful plea of power ; and the com- 
plaints of a remote people, were despised and 
ridiculed, for no other reason than that they were 
a nation weak and dispersed. But a mighty spirit 
was in the land. The statesmen were wary, firm 
in their principles, yielding to events while they 
protested against injustice, and watchful to let no 
opportunity of regaining their rights pass without 
improvement. At this period, an immense region, 
which possessed countless positive advantages, 
which offered a foothold to rivals, and which was a 
constant temptation to division among themselves, 
was peaceably acquired. The purchaseof Louisiana 
was the greatest master stroke of policy that has 



been done in our times. All the wars, and con- 
quests, and cessions of Europe for the last hundred 
years, sink into insignificance, compared with the 
political consequences that are dependent on this 
increase of territory. Spain had been accessory 
to the wrongs, and Spain too was quietly made 
to contribute to the peace and security of the 
republic, by a cession of the Floridas. 

A new era is now about to dawn on this nation. 
It has ceased to creep ; it begins to walk erect 
among the powers of the earth. All these things 
have occurred within the life of man. Europeans 
may be reluctant to admit the claims of a com- 
petitor, that they knew so lately a pillaged, a 
wronged, and a feeble people; but nature will 
have her laws obeyed, and the fulfilment of things 
must come. The spirit of greatness is in this 
nation: its means are within its grasp; and it is 
as vain as it is weak to attempt to deny results 
that eve^y year is rendering more plain, more im- 
portant, and more irresistible. 



NOTE X.—Page II7. 

Soon after the writer arrived in England, he read an 
article in the LXXIII number of the Quarterly . eview, 
which created some surprise, as it imparted very different 
opinions on the subject of the United States' navy, from 
those which he had communicated to his friends. The 
article to which he alludes, professes to review the " Per- 
sonal Narrative of Travels," &c. " with Remarks on the 
present State of the American Navy, by Lieutenant the 
Honourable Frederick Fitzgerald de Roos, Royal Navy,'"* 
and another book on the same country, to which it is not 
necessary to refer. Anxious to know whether it was pos- 
sible that he himself could have fallen into so many gross 
errors on the subject of the American marine, he took the 
following plan of arriving, as near as circumstances would 
allow, to the truth. He sent the Review and Travels to 
an American naval officer, now in Europe, with a request 
that he would read them, and favour him with his written 
opinion of the professional facts contained in both. The 
answer is below. 

" I shall comply with your request quite cheerfully. 
You are at liberty to make such use of the little informa- 
tion I shall impart, as you may think proper : though I 




have some delicacy in placing my name before the world 
as an author, wiiich, as you very well know, in)[)lies a ])ur- 
suit but little in accordance with the education and habits 
of a sailor. 

" I ])resume you do not intend that I shall touch on any 
matters contained in either of the works you have sent nie, 
but those which are strictly professional. Were any one 
disposed to enter into a critical examination of the Review, 
or of the ' Travels,"" I think very many points would pre- 
sent themselves for critical examination. The reviewer, 
for instance, might be asked on what authority he pro- 
nounced that ' ten thousand of the men that fought at 
Waterloo, would have marched through North America,' 
when it is matter of history, that twelve or fourteen thou- 
sand of the same men, went to the right about, after pene- 
'•iting the state of New York some forty or fifty miles, 
f'.ar of the militia of his disaffected New England, 
which was flocking across Champlain to oppose them in 
thousands, and who, forty years before, had led the precise 
number he has named (10,000) captives to Boston ! I had 
thought the battles of Chippewa, Niagara, and the two 
affairs of fort Erie, to say nothing of Bunker's Hill, New 
Orleans, Plattsburgh, Saratoga, and a multitude of other 
places and events, might have spared us, in 1828, the 
vapourings that were so much in fashion in 177^- ^ ^'^- 
cline to the opinion that the reviewer is no better soldier 
than I am myself : and I think it will be in my power to 
shew that he has not the utmost possible familiarity with 
naval subjects. Mr. de Roos might also be asked on what 
authority he says ' that most of the respectable inhabi- 
tants of New York are seen in turn' in the bar-room of 
the city hotel. If it be the same authority which induced 
him to say that ' New York is situated on the Peninsula 
which separates the Hudson and the East River,' I beg to 




assure him, that it is not entitled to the smallest credit- 
But we will quit tlicse general subjects for tliosc on wiiich 
I am more particularly at iiome. 

" The reviewer commences his nautical career by saying, 
* It is not for us to decide on the |M)licy of tlie American 
government, with regard to tlie increase of its naval for'e/ 
I take this to be the least exceptionable declaration in the 
whole article. I shall pass over every |)oint that ifijuires 
argument to support it, for it is my intention to deal as 
much ru possible with facts. The reviewer .says, 'it^will 
retpiire a long time, &c. before America can deal single 
handed with the navy of any of the maritime powers of 
Europe.'' Now, I think, the facts would show that, England 
and France excepted, there is not another navy in the world 
so strong as that of the United States. ' \'iewing it in its 
greatest extent,"* &c. says the reviewer, ' it (the American 
navy) may be ccmsidered to consist of twelve sail of the line, 
twelve frigates, nine sloops, and a few barges, &c.' T>.e 
navy of the United States consists of twelve sail of the 
line, one sixty, twelve forty-fours, three thirty-sixes, six- 
teen corvettes and sloops, with a few smaller cruisers. 
These vessels are all on the ocean. There is (as you say 
by an error of the press) an omission of several frigates 
in yoiu- own letter, page 98 of Vol. II., of the sheets 
you have obligingly permitted me to read. Your total 
amount of our marine is correct, but the omission has been 
made in the detail. Considering the size and condi- 
tion of these vessels, what other marine, except those 
named, is as strong ? The reviewer says, that ' the order 
of congress for building these ships (of the line) limited 
their size to that of seventy-fours,"* &c. Now it happens 
that the limitation was just the other way, the law saying 
that tliey should not be less than of seventy-four gims. I 
do not understand what the reviewer means, when he says 
vol. n. >i II 

) ' . ii 




a ship is not inU'ndcd to be laiiiulu'd, '' hc'nig built iiiuK'r 
.shuds,' Docs lie bclievo the Arncricans builtl shi|)S to Umk 
at ? Next comes a niiiiute division of an erroneous account 
of our force. (See Review, \nifTc '2^3^ near tlie bottom). 
One instance of its mistakes sliall suffice. ' Of the twelve 
frigates, five have been l)uilt,' &c. Tiie United States, the 
Lil)erator, the Guerrier, the Java, the Macedonian, tlie 
C(mstitution, the Con<r»'tSS, the Brandywine, and tlie Po- 
tomac, are all aflt)at, and most of them have been used. 
In this detailed account the reviewer rijihtly gives two 
ships rating twenty-four guns, ' but which,' he continues, 
* can mount nmny more."* One word on this subject in 
passing. The John Adams, twenty-four, is an American 
built ship. She is pierced for twenty-four guns, and 
mounts twenty-four guns, and is rated twenty -four guns. 
The Cyane, tlie other vessel in (juestion, was captured 
from the Knglish. She numnts thirty-two guns, mounted 
thirty -two, if not thirty-four, when taken, was put down 
at that time, in Steele's list, at tirenfif guns, and is now 
rated by us at twenty-four guns. I mention these circum- 
stances, in order that they may be proved to be wrong if I 
am mistaken. Yor.r remarks on the subject of the rating 
of vessels, I believe to be correct. It is worthy of observa- 
tion, that the reviewer, in his enumeration of our total force, 
(page 273) omits these two twenty-fours, though he intro- 
duces them in the close of the same paragraph. 

" I am well content that the reviewer should believe the 
Caledonia more than a match for the Pennsylvania ; but, I 
must say, I think it would have been more prudent not to 
hazard any prophetic opinions on the subject. Ships of one 
hundred and thirty guns seldom lower their flags to opinions, 
and it would have been well to have had the result of an ex- 
periment, before so much theoretical confidence was mani- 
fested. I have not the smallest doubt that there are many 



if I 



t, I 


brave nu'n in the British nav), (in ronnnantl of tlu* CahHlo- 
nia) who wouKl seek aeonHiet witii the Pennsylvania, in the 
event of so great a eal.iniity as a war; hi ' I am (juite sure 
that any man among thi-m who is likel;, o he sueeessfiil in 
so serious a struggh-, wouhl he eonseious of all its hazards. 
I shall say nothing on tiie suhjeet of the reasoning of the 
reviewer in relation to the size of ships and the weight <.r' 
metal. I am old ent)Uirh to remenilu-r very simihir (l«»e- 
trines nuieh in fashion in relation to frigates ; hut, as I am 
very certain that eaeh nation will pursue its own policy in 
the construction and armament of its vessels, there is no 
use in nmking it a matter of argument. If there he any 
thing connected with my profession for which I have an 
especial aversion, it is whij)ping a shij) on paper. 

** The reviewer is just as cimfident, that in all the naval 
battles of the late war, the Americans had a decided superio- 
rity of force, as he is now, that even against this superiority 
of force, the Caledonia could capture the Pennsylvania. I 
am content that he should think so, though I am by no 
means disposed to give implicit credit to the erudite autho- 
rity he quotes (Mr. James) in sup])ort of this opinicm. 

" There is a remarkable declaration of the reviewer 
(page 278) to which I desire to call your attention. He 
says that the United States, being nn mirirnltiwnl and nnn- 
mercial nation^ ' it is their obvious ])olicy to avoid war as 
much as possible, consistent with national honour."" If I 
were not a sailor and a Yankee, and he a reviewer and an 
Englishman, I should venture to say, that 1 presume he 
means ' consisteMtlij with national honor.' I give vou 
this little grammatical flourish nuich in the same humour 
that the reviewer gives us his professional knowledge, and, 
perhaps, quite as ignorantly. But, retreating to my deck, 
I would ask if the reviewer means to imply that England 
goes to war for other objects ? 

" The next fact that I shall allude to, is the complement 

11 II 2 



oftlir N<irtli (Jiiroliim. 'I'lif ivviewcr stntcs, that it is *• cou- 
si(li>ral)ly inoiv than 1,1()0 iktsouh/ I am coiiiiK-lli-d to 
say he has luvn grossly dcccivwl. If lie will |(M>k at |»aj;t' 
ti.'W), U'ttiT H |1 1 of tlu' (loninu'ntH of tlu' sccri'tary of tho 
naw f<»r tlu' prisi'iit year, lu- will sw the detail of the eoni- 
plemeiit of the Delawai'is (a sister shij) of the ( arolina) 
iiieliidiiig every })ersoii on Ixiard, from the comnuKlore c-. 
the hoys, exehisively of the marines. The total is 'J20 
souls. At pajre 257-. No. I- [1 | lie will find the estinuite 
for her marine, viz. 117i including the staff of a scjuadron. 
The two smns together make KVJ souls, which, I can 
assure the reviewer, is the full war comj)lement of the ship, 
v/ith a flag officer, band, marine staff, &c. &c., though liable, 
a!> in all ships, to be diniinished l)y service, or tem]H)rarily 
increased by a few su})ernumeraries, particularly l)y an 
officer or two, now and then. 

" You have sufficiently ex|X)sed, in your own note, tlie 
mistake of the reviewer on the subject of the cost of main- 
taining our navy. 

" Perhaps the most singular assertion in the whole arti- 
cle is the following : ' The American timber in so bady that 
three of the line-of-l)attle ships are already in a state of 
decay.' Alt good American ships are l)uilt of tire oak and 
locust ; I should be glad to know where better timl)er is to 
be found ! It is true, that during tlie war, we were com- 
pelled to construct several vessels in a hurry, and that a 
little other timber was admitted, rather than not get the 
snips in tir e, and that such timber has been found de- 
cayed. I write with a detailed report of the commissioner 
of the navy for the year 1827, before me. It mentions the 
particular condition of every vessel in the service. I ex- 
tract the following : ' Ohio, seventy-four : outside plank 
much decayed, from the rail to the ways, and some spots 
of decay inside, in the plank across the stern, in the ceil- 




inff, aiul j(un dirk tlainps.' ' Wasliii., >n, sovi-ntv-fmir : 
will r(H|iiitv ('(>iisi(li>ral)lr ivpuirs in liir plaiikin^, t(»)>-tiiu- 
Ihts, lu'ains and HtMir-tindicrs : tlu' coppor should bo v\- 
aniini'd hetoro slu' ^oos t«) soa/ ' Franklin, sevonty-t<»nr : 
will rt'Cjuirt' ])ianKin^ froni near water's ttlsrc to the rail, 
and an e\ninin<uion of her copper/ As these three ships 
are in nnieh the worst condition <»t" any «>t' the twelve, 1 
presume they are the vessels alluded to. The l'ore«roin;x is 
the ottieiul statement of those who are best informed in the 
matter. The Washington has been built fourteen years, 
the Imlejjendenee thirteen, and the Ohio ten. If the re- 
viewer thinks that Hritish ships tlo not often want plank- 
ing above water, I presume he is mistaken. Hut the 
Washington is, confessedly, defective in niany of her 
timbers. The Washington was ])uilt in the war, and, i 
believe, of mixed tind)er. 1 have also heard, though 1 
will not vouch for its truth, that she was, in part, built of 
ctjptured tind>er, which had been intended for the Hritish 
navy. A sufficient evidence of the (piality of our tind)er 
is, however, contained in the fact, that we have nevei been 
obliged to break up a ship that was built expressly for a 
cruiser, larger than a sloop of war, since the regular esta- 
blishment of our navy in 1797- i'^^' Java was thought to 
be the worst ship, of her size, we ever had ; but, on exami- 
nation, it was found that she would very well bear repairs. 
But what interest has the reviewer in proving we have 
rotten ships ? did he ever know an American officer a}K)lo- 
gize for a defeat on account of a rotten ship .'' 

The next topic worthy of notice, is the dry docks. The 
reviewer proves, to his own satisfaction, that a dry dock 
in England costs i?15,000 less than one in America. In 
other words, ten of these dry docks, which would be suffi- 
cient for the largest navy in the world, would cost, in 
America, an excess of n('150,0()(). I do not see that the 



point is worthy of a discussion, since they are not perish- 
able things. 

" I had forgotten to comment on the opinion of the re- 
viewer, that Kngland possesses ' coal and iron in greater 
quantities than any other country of the world.' The 
assumption is a little gratuitous, and I think an intelligent 
examinatijn of the facts would convince him of his error. 

" There is a strange perversion of the frank and manly 
expositi(m of certain acknowledged defects in our dock- 
yards and naval system, which it is the duty of the secre- 
tary of the navy to make to congress, and which, I presume, 
he will continue to make annually until they are amended. 
One is tempted to believe such ministerial candour is 
usual, or the reviewer could not mistake its motive. A 
wise man wovdd be induced to believe it a proof of a 
desire for reformation ; but the reviewer appears to think 
it infers a confession of imbecility. Perhaps, however, 
something shoidd be allowed for the course of policy pur- 
sued by the two nations in executive matters. 

" In page 284 there is another gauntlet thrown (by the 
reviewer) from the Barham oi Jiffy guns, to any American 
sixty gun frigate. ' She (the Barham) being in all 
respects a much finer ship."* I shall not dispute the 
prowess nor the perfection of the Barham, though I must 
still doubt the prudence of saying so much about them. 
There is a renowned dramatic hero who destroyed a whole 
army very nuich in the same way. I cheerfully acquit 
every British naval officer of the indiscretion. 

*' I shall venture again to step beyond my proper limits. 
What does the reviewer mean by stating that ^ Diplomatic 
Treaties, &c. cost the United; States 5,140,099 dollars r 
(See Review, page 285.) He foots up the ' civil depart- 
ment of the state"* at 7^155,307 dollars. This is a good deal 
worse than the Barham ! The official statements of the 



whole expenditure of the United States' government for 
the year 1826, are now before me. The whole amount 
of the ' civil, miscellfmeons, and diplomatic"* expenses 
for that year, are 2,600,177 dollars 79 cents. (See Docu- 
ment, page 35, [4] Treasurer's Report, 1826). I follow 
your example, and extract items. ' Light-house establish- 
ment, 188,849 ;' ' Marine-hospital establishment, 54,336 ;' 
* Public buildings in Wasliington, 91,271 ;' ' ;Stock in 
the Chesapeake and Delaivare Canal Company, 
107,500 \ ' Stock in the Dismal Swamp Company, 
150,000 ;■" ' Stock in the Louisville and Portland Canal 
Company, 30,000;' ' Payment of claims for buildings 
destroyed, per act of March, 1825, 208,311 ;' * Diplo- 
matic department, 152,476 40 cents;' '■Mission to the 
Congress of Panama, 9000;' ' Contingent e.vpenses of 
foreign intercourse, 18,627,' Sic. &c. All the expenses 
that can hy possihility be construed to belong to * Diplo- 
matic, Treaties,' &c. are footed up separately, and, together, 
they make the sum of 232,719 8 cents ! ! The miscel- 
laneons charges are also footed separately, and make 
1,110,713 23 cents; and the civil make 1,256,745 
48 cents. I do not wonder that a writer who sees figures 
through such a medium shovdd say immediately after- 
wards, ' it is the obvious policy of the governing powers 
of a country like that we have been describing to cultivate 
peace and amity Avith all the world.' I am quite of his 
mind, though seemingly for very different reasons. It is 
lucky for this writer that he lias not fallen into the hands 
of one of our regular quill-drivers, or he would be beaten 
out and out, notwithstanding his singular felicity in de- 
ciding combats on paper. 

" Let us look at one more of his weak points. In page 
279 he says we expended (he refers to the year 1826) 
4,222,952 dollars to support our navy. He is silent as to 

'I I 



the expense of Irmlding ships, tliovigh we had several 
frigates and ships of the line on the stocks that yoar, and 
had just commenced building ten sloops of war, three of 
which were actually launched before the month of June. 
Of the army he says nothing for that year, though he tells 
us, that in 1824 it cost 5,270,254 dollars. Why he se- 
lected the year 1824, it is impossible for me to say, when 
the reports of 1826 were just as clear, and probably they 
were before him. But we will take his own premises. 
His American * civil department of state'' cost 7il55,307 
dollars ; his support of the American navy cost 4,222,952 
dollars ; and his army for the year 182 !< cost 5,270,254 dol- 
lars. (It actually happened, including fortifications, Indian 
department, road surveys, &c. &c. that the expenditure 
belonging to the war department, for 1826, was upwards 
of 6,000,000.) Now all these sums make 16,648,513 
dollars, to say nothing of the expenses of building 
ships and forts. On the same page the reviewer puts 
the nett revenue of the country at 20,385,430 dollars, 
which leaves an excess of 3,636,817 dollars for the other 
expenses of the government. Immediately after, he says, 
* the public debt on the 1st of October, 1825, was 
80,985,537."* This, at five per cent, about a fair average, 
would require 4,049,276 dollars to pay the interest. But 
he admits that the debt had been diminished nearly 
10,000,000 of dollars in the years 1824 and '25. The 
secretary of the treasury says, page 6 of his last report, 
that in the years 1825 and 1826, 21,297,210 dollars were 
paid on the principal of the public debt. I should like 
to know where the money came from, since, by the 
reviewer's showing, the wliole expense of the government 
exceeded the whole receipt 1,412,359 dollars. If he 
believes his own premises, he will at least allow us tlic 
<'redit of having a very clever financier somewhere about 



the Treasury. But I must stop, or he will bo apt to 
tliink that I l)elon«i; to that class of Americans whom he 
accuses of indulging in a ' cold, valrulnt'nuj tone of argu- 

" If, as he says, the government of the United States is 
* ostentatious,' it must be the ostentation of this cold 
tone of argumentation, for every body knows they get 
very little money to figure with. I shall not animadvert 
on the close of his sentence. If any American minister at 
the English court has failed in ' courtesy and civility,' 
let it be proclaimed in a manly manner to the world, or 
spare us inuendos. You cannot expect that I should go 
any further with this writer. I know nothing of boundary 
lines : all I hope is, that they may be peaceably settled. 

" As to tlie German, or pretended German author, re- 
viewed, I have nothing to say to him. He either knows a 
vast deal more of my country than I know myself, or he 
knows nothing at all about it. Mr. de Roos being a profes- 
sional man, and coming forward under his own name, is 
entitled to more respect. 

" I think it unfortunate that this gentleman did not give 
himself sufficient time to make his observations. 

*' Mr. de Roos is hasty in his inferences. He thinks a 
dock-yard was placed at Philadelphia because the peoj)le 
were * unwilling to be behind-hand with her neighbours 
in the possession of such an advantage.' It appears to me 
a sufficient reason, that Philadelphia was one of the 
largest, and, what has liitherto been an object with us, one 
of the safest sea-ports in the country. Baltimore is as 
large a town now as Philadephia was when the yard was 
established, and yet Baltimore has no dock-yard, wliile 
Portsmouth, Gosport, and Mobile (all three quite small 
places) have dock-yards. 

•' At Washington, Mr. de Roos entered the navv-vard. 

'. ii 

I y 



He saw the house of the commissioner, (captain of the 
yard ;) but ' could observe no other residence belonging 
to officers."* I take this acknowledgment to be another 
pr(X)f of his haste, as the master-commandant has a very 
neat and commodious dwelling within a few rods of the 
other house, and nearly in its front. I think, too, he 
must have passed the extensive quarters of the officers of 
the marine corps, which are very near the gate, and 
before which there are always sentinels. Mr. de Roos is 
mistaken in calling the inclined plane Commodore Porter"'s: 
it was built under the inspection of Commodore Rodgers. 
He is also unfortunate in his opinion of the fate of 
. the Potomac (on that plane), for she was launched 
without difficulty shortly after he saw her. (See page I7.) 
* The shed, or rather houses, under which they build 
their ships, are not of an approved construction.' By 
whom — ^by Mr. de Roos ? Mr. de Roos says, * It has been 
the fashion of travellers to accuse the Americans of an 
habitual violation of veracity in conversation ;** but then 
he thinks this accusation is without foundation. I am 
happy that he found reason to think so. 

" In New York, Mr. de Roos describes a peculiarity in 
the construction of the Boston sloop of war, on board of 
wLich vessel he unquestionably believed he had paid a 
visit. I can assure him that the Boston sailed for the 
coast of Brazil some months before he visited New York, 
and she had not returned as late as March, 1828. Mr. de 
Roos says that * only one vessel (a sixty gun frigate) was 
building' at New York. He is again mistaken: there 
were two frigates (the Sabine and the Savannah) on the 
stocks there the whole of the year 1826. The Lexington 
and Vincennes sloops were launched in March and May of 
the same year. 

" Mr. de Roos next describes the Ohio, ^41, which he 



terms a splendid ship. I am glad to hear that a profes- 
sional gentleman has reason to be pleased with an) of our 
vessels ; but I think he labours under some error when he 
adds, ' I afterwards learned that this vessel (the Ohio) 
was an instance of the cunning, I will not call it wisdom, 
which frequently actuates the policy of the Americans. 
The substance of his charge is, that we fit out fine ships, 
and send them abroad to create a false idea of our power. 
Not being in the secret of the commissioners of the navy, 
who select all the vessels used, I shall not venture an 
opinion on the matter ; but it is clear the Ohio has never 
been used in this manner, since, so far from ever having 
been at sea at all, she has never even been entirely finished. 
It is also some presumption that he has been led into an 
error thai, the Franklin and Washington, the former of 
which looked ' quite small, after seeing the Ohio,' have 
both been much in actual service. 

" Mr. de Roos is wrong when he says we pay bounties 
for seamen. I presume his error arises from the advance 
which is always paid to a sailor in America, whether it be 
for a vessel of war, or for a merchant-ship. I do not 
well see how he can be right in supposing that the recruit- 
ing officer made his report while he (Mr. de Roos) was in 
the yard, since that officer makes his report only to the 
department at Washington. How does Mr. de Roos 
reconcile ' the raw recruits from the inland states,' page 
66, with * the war complement of their choicest seamen,' 
page 63 ? 

" If Mr. de Roos is of the same mind as Mr. Halliburton, 
(whom he quotes,) in believing that all circumstances go 
to show the difficulties of our having a navy, I hope he 
will be disposed to give us the more credit, should the 
result differ from his expectations. 

" Mr. de Roos is entirely mistaken in what he says 



about Boston. Nearly, if not quite half of the whole 
naval force that has sailed from the United States since 
1012, has sailed from that port. He is also wrong in 
calling the Natchez a 'J4>, when she is a sloop of war. 
As these are most of the naval facts touched u})on by 
Mr. de Roos in his brief account, I shall now turn my 
attention to your own statement. 

" I have already noted the error in the detailed account 
of our force, and which you state to be an omission of the 
press. Your estimates of the number of men necessary to 
man our present ships is sufficiently correct, though you 
have not certainly allowed officers enough. The whips 
of the line alone would require near 800 officers, in- 
cluding all those who are commissioned, or have warrants. 
The frigates would need as many more, and the sloops 
and smaller vessels quite half as many more. Two thou- 
sand officers would be employed, at least, if all our ships 
were manned. This is a little more than twice our present 
number ; but it is intended to increase the lists, I believe. 
At all events, we could at any moment create tbe necessary 
number by promoting qualified midshipmen. 

" I presume, when you say that the United States must 
be admitted to possess 30,000 seamen, you mean what are 
technically called able seamen. The estimate is, I think, 
sufficiently low. 

" I shall close this note by adverting to a part of the 
Review that had escaped me in running my eye rapidly 
over its contents. I am sorry to see the reviewer treating 
the subject of impressment in so cavalier a manner. Of 
course, I allude to the impressment of American seamen 
into the British service. This is a grave question, and 
plain dealing in time of peace will be very likely to prevent 
trouble hereafter. Though the reviewer takes it as part 
of his premises, there is no more unsafe calculation than 



to believe * the past will speak for the future'' in relation 
to Amerio-'i. We do not dispute the right of Kngland to 
nmke her own munieipal laws ; but we do dispute her 
right to exercise them in any way that shall make it unsafe 
for an American to navigate the ocean. I admire the 
ctK)lness with which the reviewer says, ' If they (the Ame- 
ricans) have any plan to offer, by which American seamen 
may be protected ngninut sermng in our fleets^ and British 
seamen from enterimj theirs, Great Britain will un- 
doubtedly be ready to discuss it."* We have a phui for 
the protection of our seamen. The Pennsylvania, and 
her five noble sisters, whose frames are now providing, the 
Alabama, the Delaware, the Ohio, the New York, the 
Vermont, tlie North Carolina, &c. &c. &c., furnish a hint 
of its outline. 

" 1 intend to part in good humour with r ly unknown 
friend, the reviewer ; and, in order to let him see it, I 
shall give him a piece of perfectly disinterested advice. If 
England wishes to discuss any question connected with a 
right to impress men out of American ships, the sooner 
she does it the better ; for, in a very few more years, it 
will not do even to talk about.'''' 

'I'lIK KM).