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The writer of these pages, it may not be improper to remark, in conclusion, is not a member of the American Order. Nor would be have the reader to infer, from what has been said in favor of the cultivation of American feeling and sentiment, that he would countenance or uphold the political proscription of any person on account of his religion, or that he believes a religious test, secresy of action, or oath-bound obligations, to be consistent with the cultivation and development of genuine Americanism.
The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, may be considered as one of the absolute rights of individuals, recognized in our American constitutions, and secured to them by law. Civil and religious liberty generally go hand in hand, and the suppression of either of them, for any length of time, will terminate the existence of the other. It is ordained by the Constitution of the United States that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and the same principle appears in all the State constitutions. The principle is generally announced in them without any kind of qualification or limitation annexed, and with the exclusion of every species of religious test. 2 Kent, 32.
It is further provided in the Constitution that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the United States;" and it is clear, therefore, that any attempt to apply & religious test is violative of the spirit, if not the letter of the Constitution, as well as of that republican equality which is the very basis of the American government, and ought not to meet with any favor among those who would follow the precepts and principles of their American fore. fathers, and contribute their might to Americanize America.
Aside of the constitutional principle involved, however, and viewing the matter in the mere light of expediency, every liberal-minded man must concede the propriety of freeing the American movement from any and all religious tests or sectarian distinctions. Political proscription on account of religion, however plausible the pretext, is and always will be, as it deserves to be, obnoxious to men of liberal views and feelings, and will not, and ought not long to be countenanced or sustained by any considerable portion of the American people. The following extract, taken from a pamphlet recently issued, and said to be from the pen of Mr. Sage, of New Orleans, who is himself a member of the American
Order, is directly to the point, and deserves the serious consideration of all true Americans, who are more devoted to their country and its institutions than to the Order of which they are members :
If we admit every thing alleged against Roman Catholicism to be true, still the distinction is a barren folly. It loses many votes, and gains none. All the votes we have received, would have been ours, on the ground of anti-foreignism, while we have lost thousands every where, on the ground of anti-Catholicism.
Such is the unfortunate prejudice against, and fear of, even native Catholics, where they are not known, that persons of that denomination would seldom or never be nominated by either party, even if there were no 8th article, and no obligation. Why? Simply because vast numbers, every where, whose votes are valuable, might be displeased with such a nomination, and might not vote for it, unless the nominee was of the highest character for patriotism and ability, and had given ample proof to the people that he was not actuated by papal influence. Certainly, no one ought to vote against such a one, because of his Catholicism. No one could wish to proscribe a Carroll, a Gaston or a Taney..
If Catholicism should ever become aggressive, the more it should become so, the more the anti-papal prejudices of the people would be aroused, and the less parties would dare to countervail them in their nominations. He is no true politician and statesman, who does not heed the prejudices, feelings, and passions of the people, even though he knows them to be wrong.
But in reality there is no danger at all, of any yielding to papal or priestly influence in political matters, on the part of native American Catholics. The Pope may claim temporal power. What if he does ? Satan offered Christ all the kingdoms of the earth. The Khan of Tartary, after he has dined, every day, has a crier to proclaim to the other potentates of the world that they may dịne too! The question is, not what the Pope claims, but what the Catholic yields or allows. The truth is, the Pope's claim amounts to mere theory. It can never be effectual, in this country, as long as we educate the masses. The native American Catholic is a part of the sovereignty of the republic. He appreciates the blessings of this government just as the Protestants do, and he wishes to enjoy them himself, and preserve them to his descendants. If he yields to foreign influencemeven that of the Pope—in any temporal matter, the liberty and independence of his country is in that degree destroyed; and, moreover, he fears that yielding in one instance will be a precedent fraught with everlasting evil to himself and his posterity. While, therefore, he recognizes the Pope as his spiritual shepherd and king—the vicegerent of Christ-he holds him to the language of our Saviour : “ My kingdom is not of this world."
The truth is, that Catholics, bred in this country, are as little likely to be governed by religious or sectarian spirit, in party affairs, as Protestants are.
This is shown in Louisiana and Maryland, the two principal States in the Union containing a large native Catholic vote. We find that they have divided themselves pretty fairly between the two parties, although the American party combatted the temporal power of the Pope, as well as every other foreign influence. And we believe, that but for the honest fear that their religion was involved, the native Catholics of Louisiana would mostly have acted with the American party, for we have no population more thoroughly imbued with the spirit of nativism. But among the foreign Catholics, there has been no division of consequence. They are, however, controlled and arrayed against us, not so much through their religion, as through their ignorance, their unrepublican views, and their want of true American patriotism. If there is any
danger at all to be apprehended from any Catholicism, it is that which comes in from abroad, mixed with foreign ignorance and vice, and subject to priestly and demagogical control. This we get rid of, or deprive of harmful power, by carrying out the principles of anti-foreignism. The true policy is to cut off the source of supply, and then gradually educate and republicanize the mass we have received. We must keep in view the idea of progression, and human improvability.
But the most serious idea on the score of expediency is, that this distinction induces tens of thousands, all over the country, who have no religion, and whose political garments are loose, and perhaps easily changed, to say: “ We agree with you on foreign. ism, but cannot sanction your religious test.”
Moreover, there are thousands in our order, entirely opposed to any discrimination in any way, between native Protestants and Catholics, and who will withdraw from affiliation, if it be not abolished.
But, brethren, suppose the objections we have urged, and many others which might be mentioned, to be untenable ; the very fact that the special portion of the eighth article of the Philadelphia platform, is calculated, without the proper gloss, to place the American party in a false position ; the fact that it forces us into an interminable politicoreligious argument with those who would otherwise agree with us; the fact that it makes people fear that the spirit which prompted its adoption, was one of religious bigotry and intolerance, (for the full extent of partizan feeling is never expressed in a platform ;) the fact that it divides us among ourselves, on a question of paramount importance not necessary to the issue ; and, above all, the fact that it enables our enemy to bring us to battle on narrow and most disadvantageous fields, so that we can be woro ried and made to expend our strength and ammunition, before we reach that broad and true field, on which Americanism and foreignism shall be drawn up in battle array, and where we can fight a decisive battle, with ample room and full force, and with a prospect of victory ;-these facts alone, we say, should determine us to discard this test or distinction, as well as every thing else but nativism ;—for on this we are all agreed ; and any thing else might cause dissension.
We say, then, to our brethren of the other States, let us confine ourselves to antiforeignism, which we all agree upon; and not meddle with what will cause dissension among us. By carrying out this principle, we affect the only class of Catholics that we need fear-if there are any such—we mean foreigners, who are ignorant, vicious, bigoted, and politically controllable by priests—controllable not so much through their religion, as through their ignorance. At all events, this one issue is an all-sufficient basis for a party—as was the same issue for our fathers in the Revolution ; and its im. portance should prompt every patriot to desire that it should be disencumbered, and presented nakedly to the American people.
Equally obnoxious are, and ever mast and will be, all efforts to cultivate and develop American sentiment and feeling, by means of secret and oath-bound political organizations. Publicity is the very first necessity of republicanism; and if those engaged in the attempt to redeem American institutions from foreign influence, would speedily accom. plish their laudable and patriotic object, they must do so in the true spirit of Americans and with republican means. They must move in an American manner, with an open organization, permitting the light of day to shine upon all their acts, and not by adopting the very system and the use of the very instrumentalities of those whose power and influence they seek to curtail and destroy. Secret confederacies, especially for political purposes, are of foreign origin, and should meet with no countenance nor support from those who are Americans by birth, and republicans in feeling and sentiment.
The warning voice of Washington, in his Farewell Address, on this subject, cannot be disregarded, without departing from his principles and precepts, and coming in conflict with the true principles of our government. “All combinations and associations," says he in that memorable document, “under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force-to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprizing minority of the community; and according to the alternate triumphs of different parties to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common, councils and modified by mutual interests.” And he continues further, and says: "However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reigns of governmentdestroying, afterwards, the very engines which had lifted them to unjust dominion."
Exclusiveness, secrecy, and implicit oath-bound submission are a reproach to Americanism, and savor too much of the leading characteristics of foreign Jesuitism ever to become popular in a nation of liberalminded and enlightened freemen, who are regulators of their own thoughts, masters of their own actions, and vindicators of their own manhood. They are foreign to the genius of free institutions, at variance with the spirit and character of our government, and cannot be moulded by any false movement of expediency into a republican principle. They can never be blended, and never ought to be, with republicanism, so as to be productive of public good. Trae devotion to country and its institutions needs no such aid of foreign origin. Americanism can, without such means, stand before the world as it really is—the panoplied champion of the sacred heritage of freedom.
The following views, expressed by A. B. Ely, Esq., of Boston, himself a prominent member of the American Order, in a récent speech at New
York, are directly to the point, and deserve the serious consideration of all who would put an end to foreign influence :
“ The influence of one man, with high, holy and patriotic motives, is something, and worth something in politics. The influence of two such is something more, even though they may act in different spheres. Bring them to act together, and their power for good is even greater. Unite the influence of many, and they will accomplish what they could hardly have attempted separately and apart.” So we believe that if Americans will unite together for the purpose of carrying out the great and glorious principles of our party, we can do our country some service, and exert a united, healthful influence, that, whether it tell socially or politically, will tell honestly and patriotically, and for the good of all.
Can such a union be brought about while we continue to be a secret organization ? I venture the opinion, no! It is well known that when public bodies, more particularly political bodies, close their doors against the admission of others, and transact their business with secrecy, that there is wrong somewhere, or their actions will not hear the scrutiny of the world. We are not a set of men who wish to accomplish our ends by taking advantage of the ignorance of others, nor are we ashamed of the means we take to accomplish those ends. Why then do we close our doors ? Why do we exclude all but the initiated? Why do we debar those who are Americans in feeling from participating in our debates and plans? Is it to be wondered, sir, they refuse to support our candidates, when they are not permitted to raise a voice in their nomination? Rather, by far, would they stay from the polls, declining to vote at all, than to support men, though advocating the same principles, in whose election as a candidate they had no control.
A secret organization, such as that by which Americanism has been disseminated, is, under ordinary circumstances, a dangerous form of political action. It was intended to meet the cunning of Jesuitism, and the insidious policy of foreign despotism-to fight in the dark, and with the same weapons, the agents of the Pope and his cardinals. The success that has attended such a course is known to all.
It was not long before the secret enemy we were fighting was in our midnight coun. cils, taking part in our debates, helping us to mature our plans, and reporting to their Jesuitical employers.
Now that we find we have proceeded in error, it is our duty and safety to alter our course, and adopt a better mode of organization, leaving all collateral matters of religion and sectionalism out of the question, and leaving Jesuits to take care of themselves. Fill our offices with Americans, and we have no fear of enemies at home or abroad. We will then, like the wise man, have built our house upon a rock whose foundation is strong enough to contend with the elements.
Then might the world resound the echo, that “ Americans must and shall rule America."
Foreign influence is a great and an acknowledged evil—the bane of a republic—and against its “insidious wiles,” we are taught by Washington, "the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake.” The history of the past and the experience of the present justify the demand of Americans for America. During the elevation and splendor of the Athenian power, the privilege of citizenship could only be obtained in