Imágenes de páginas

a people that had gathered in with their mothers' milk the principles and influences of sacred instruction, and had learned from the very earliest period of their days that it is God's truth which makes men free with a liberty above the conflicts of earth. And it was that very spirit which carried them successfully through their early struggles, and it is the remnant of that very spirit which has maintained the republic in its influence and power up to the present time.

“It is wonderful to me when I see the flood of immorality from other lands which is constantly breaking upon our shores, the overwhelming imported infidelity--for the greatest portion of the popular infidelity of this land is of a foreign and imported origin -when I see the anarchy which is bursting in upon us like a flood, and the licentiousness which is casting up its steaming vapor in all parts of the land, it is wonderful that this country has maintained its ground, that every institution of public order and domestic peace and personal liberty has not been swept off the earth before the power of that deluge which it has ap red im sible to resist. Nothing has maintained the country but the abiding influences of the hereditary instruction conferred upon generation after generation by our Christian fathers; influences, sir, buried so deep tnat all the pickaxes of infidelity have not been able to break them up; influences which have been sent abroa so extensively, and have entered so deeply into the vitals and minds of the people, that no power of evil has been able to eradicate them. It is amazing to me, as ar observer of this country, not that our institutions have occasionally reeled and staggered, and presented the question whether they should stand or not, but that for these sixty years they have been able to stand under the overwhelming flood that has sapped their very foundations. Jesuitism, assuming every shape and form—from the polite dancing master who instructs your daughter, to the teacher of foreign languages who is educating your sons; laying aside the garb of the priestly office, and adopting the unsuspected and fanciful intercourse of common life—has endeavored to undermine public and private virtue and public and private liberty. It is amazing that this land has been able to endure against these stupendous influences which have been setting in upon it. It never would have endured, had not the fathers of the land done what your institution is trying to make the fathers of the present generation do for the generation which is to come.

“When I look, sir, at the amazing power of imported infidelity contained in foreign publications, which are republished here, and made to suit the tastes of our people, tempting them as the intoxicating demon tempts our nation, at the lowest price, it is amazing to me that our nation has not been swept away by a mob, and that it has been practicable for us to maintain ourselves beneath our own roofs, in the secure possession of our rights.

“I maintain, sir, that it has been nothing but the early irradiation of this country with the light of God's word—it has been nothing, sir, but the early salting down of the early population of this land with the savor of Divine knowledge inculcated in the early teachings of the New England fathers, which has preserved our country from being overwhelmed and destroyed.

“ I hold it, sir, to be the duty of this republic to stand upon the conservative principles of liberty, which are sustained and upheld by the distinct recognition of the authority of the living God, and allow no new-born fraternity to be brought nut upon principles anarchical and disorganizing, not recognizing that the Lord ruleth in the affairs of men. In such circumstances as these, then, are we to take a personal responsibility; and never since the generation that established the independence of '76, has there been a generation in this land over whom such responsibilities were cast-over whom there needed such an incubation of the spirit of the Most High, and around whom there required such a wall of fire, to protect them from an influence that is attempting, in its power, to consummate their overthrow and prevent their being instruments of good to their fellow-men."

The features of the Constitution, and the views expressed by its framers, thus brought in review, show how different were the aims and purposes of our forefathers, compared with those which foreigners in our midst not only now proclaim as their own, but demand as a right to be carried out. The statesmen of the Revolution knew that liberty was a much-abused term, and that there is no word, as Montesquieu states, which had received more different significations. They knew that a democracy is not necessarily a free State, and were too sagacious not to distinguish the difference between the power of the people and the liberty

people. They desired to avoid extremes, and, knowing it to be necessary that power should be confined by power to prevent its abuse, they sought to establish a form of government in which there was the least danger of the abuse of power. Hence not a single member expressed himself in favor of measures which are now urged by foreigners, who have not resided long enough in the country to understand the true principles of the government, and who are profoundly ignorant of the difficulties which environed its establishment. “Universal suffrage," nor " the elections of all the officers” of the General Government, were not dreamed of by the framers of the Constitution.

Nor did they suppose it to be any part of their duty to establish "a department of the government for the protection of immigration;" but, on the contrary, the question with them was whether immigrants should be at all admitted to citizenship, and under what restrictions. Nor would such propositions as the abolition of the Sabbath, of prayers in public bodies, and of oaths upon the Bible, have for a moment been countenanced by them; they, on the contrary, as has been shown, were believers in the Bible, and, while they recognized the great principle of religious freedom, and made provision therefor in the Constitution, they nevertheless, in most, if not all the States, insisted upon the recognition of religion as a condition of eligibility to office.



As to the abolition of national neutrality, and the adoption of the intervention policy of Kossuth, which is now urged by the Free German Association, that, it is to be hoped, will only take place when the American people no longer revere the name of Washington, nor respect the lessons of wisdom taught them in his Farewell Address. As was truly and eloquently remarked by Commodore Stockton, at the Congressional Celebration of Washington's Birth-day, in 1852, "we shall be true to our country, the American people will be true to their country and to its Constitution, just so long as we are all true to the memory of Washington. Througb all time, the virtue of our people will be guaged by the intensity of their veneration for his precepts of wisdom, by the vigor of their appreciation for his character, and by the respect which they cherish and manifest for his virtues. If the time shall come when unholy ambition, the lust for power, and foreign conquest or the glory of expensive war, shall animate our public men, and their fierce passions and dangerous designs cannot be checked by the remembrance of the probity of Wasbington and his policy, then indeed the golden age of this republic will be forgotten. If the time shall come, when, under the influence of generous, hospitable emotions, or ill-considered partiality, our people shall rashly seek to involve the republic in the stormy and wretched vortex of European politics; and, abandoning the ground of Washington, seek to place themselves on that of foreign powers—forgetful that their first and chief duty is to take care of their own countrythen, if the farewell warnings of the Father of his Country cannot recall them to a true perception of the duties of patriotism, nothing but those calamities which entangling alliances, and the long and fearful train of evils which float in the wake of pernicious war, will reveal the delusion, the folly, and the errors of their degenerate age.”

Those who now demand the abolition of neutrality, and the active intervention of our government in the affairs of other nations, ask nothing more nor less than to repudiate the Washingtonian policy, and no longer heed the warning voice of his Farewell Address. In that memorable State paper he thus cautions his countrymen on this subject :

“ The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith Here let us stop.


[ocr errors]

• Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

“Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when me may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice ?"


Nor is this the only expression of his opinion on the subject. Numerous letters written by him may be referred. to in which similar views were expressed. In one, addressed to Patrick Henry, dated October 9, 1795, he says:

“My ardent desire is, and my aim has been, so far as depended on the Executive de. partment, to comply strictly with all our engagements, foreign and domestic, but to keep the United States free from political connections with any other country-to see them independent of all, and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others. This, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home," &c. This is emphatic enough. Nothing left for exegetical skill to exercise

His ardent desire is to keep “the United States free from political connections with any other country.” In another, addressed to Gouverneur Morris, dated December 22, 1795, he uses this language :

“ My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration, to maintain friendly terms with, but to be independent, of all the nations of the earth; to share in the broils of none; to fulfill our own engagements; to supply the wants and to be carriers for them all,” &c.

itself upon.

Again, in a letter written by him to Alexander Hamilton, in 1796, when Lafayette was imprisoned in Austria, and an effort was made by Americans to release him, he uses the following strong and remarkable language :

“ The result of my reflections on this subject, and which I have communicated to the two young men, is, that although I am convinced in my own mind that Mr. Lafayette will be held in confinement by the combined powers until peace is established, yet, to satisfy them and their friends of my disposition to facilitate their wishes, so far as can be done with any propriety on my part, I would, as a private citizen, express in a letter to the Emperor my wish, and what I believe to be the wishes of this country towards that


gentleman, viz. : that the liberation of him, conditioned on his repairing hither, would be a grateful measure."

General Washington, as we all know, must have had more feeling upon this subject than could have found an existence in the bosom of any other living man. Lafayette was his friend and companion in our conflict for liberty; and with all those generous, and noble, and heaven-descended emotions that must have filled the breast of that great and good man ; yet, under circumstances of so much feeling and sympathy, such was the regard of Washington for his own country, that he refused to interpose, even in that case, except as a private citizen. Yet now we are told, by these foreign reformers, that, in this enlightened day of "progress," Washington was declaring a policy good for that day, but not for this, when his mighty soul, heaving with affection for his companion in arms, could not so far forget his own policy, and what was due to his country, as to write an official letter in favor of his release. Again, upon a similar occasion, in writing to Hamilton, when Mr. Talleyrand de Perigord was here, General Washington said :

My wish is, and it is not less my duty as an officer of the republic, to avoid offence to powers with whom we are in friendship, by conduct towards their proscribed citizens which would be disagreeable to them; whilst, at the same time, these immigrants, if people of good character, ought to understand that they will be protected in their persons and property, and will be entitled to all the benefits of our laws. For the rest they must depend upon their own behavior, and the civilities of citizens at large, who are less restrained by political considerations than the officers of government must be.”

Here, again, we find General Washington declaring the same principle, in language so strong, so clear, and so plain, that none can misunderstand him. And in a letter to William Heath, dated May 20, 1797, he again declares :

“ No policy, in my opinion, can be more clearly demonstrated than that we should do justice to all, and have no political connection with any of the European powers beyond those which result from and serve to regulate our commerce with them,” &c.

This is equally explicit. It shows distinctly the only object which, in his judgment, would justify political connection with foreign countries, viz. : a connection growing out of or serving to regulate our commerce with them. In a letter to Thomas Pinckney, dated May 28, 1797, he says :

“ A little time will show who are its [the country's] true friends, or, what is synonymous, who are true Americans—those who are stimulating a foreign nation to unfriendly acts, repugnant to our rights and dignity, and advocating all its measures, or those whose only aim has been to maintain a strict neutrality, to keep the United States out of the vortex of European politics and preserve them in peace.”

« AnteriorContinuar »