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change struck; and in the night of the 18th of April, 1775, the cannons of Lexington called a new-born nation to regenerate the world. The people rose as one man, and turning the ploughshare that tilled the soil into a sword to defend it, they threw themselves.upon their unjust oppressors, and proclaimed at Philadelphia the immortal principles of self-government, that made tyrants tremble and every generous heart palpitate with joyful hope. At that moment a new name was inscribed on the catalogue of great nations. If not in national importance, it was great by the moral influence it immediately exercised on the world. England, overwhelmed with a debt of one hundred and twenty-eight and a half millions sterling, chargeable with an annual interest of four and a half millions, wished to transfer a portion of the burden to her colonies, and attempted to infringe their rights ty the imposition of the celebrated stamp-tax. The colonists admitted the justice of all the members of a confederation contributing, according to their ability, to the support of the common government, since the prosperity of each depends on the security and well-being of all, but declared they could not and ought not share in the expenses of a war with which they had nothing to do, and a luxurious courı which was equally repugnant to their repose and American simplicity. At first England affected to acknowledge the right of the colonies to refuse to pay for faults they had no share in committing ; but after the pause of a few years, she renewed her attacks under a different form. With equal firmness America repelled the second attempt to violate her liberties; and England, offended at this unexampled audacity, closed the port of Boston, and kindled the flames of a war which doubled her troublesome debt. Then appeared the host of blazing meteors that illumined the path of our Revolution, and now watch in their high spheres over our safety. They broke the chains of thirteen colonies, and offered to the astonished world the most sublime spectacle of ancient or modern times—the fusion of all races, tongues, and sects, in the one political religion of liberty. The Declaration of Independence found thirteen states and three mill-. ions of people; now there are thirty-one states, and a population of twenty-five millions. The whole exterior commerce of the republic, at 1780, amounted to about eight and a half millions annually ; now our annual exports exceed one hundred and fifty-eight millions, while our internal commerce is valued at five hundred millions per year, without estimating the home consumption.
What a change has the progress of civilization effected on this vast continent during the last two centuries; and what a glorious change to the enlightened mind.* Then a few ill-constructed roads, and the water-courses nature had bestowed, were our only means of intercommunication ; now, about ten thousand miles of railway and numerous canals, which embrace, in continuous lines of navigation, thirty thousand miles of lake and river, render the most northern corner of Maine nearer in time to Florida and Mexico than was Boston to Charleston in those days. Steam and the magnetic telegraph have annihilated distance. A few years ago, and the majestic forest spread its wing far and wide, and the Indian was monarch of all he surveyed-traversing its wilds with his spear, or navigating its lakes with his bark canoe. What was once gloomy forests is now beautiful villages and populous cities, teeming with industrious and intelligent inhabitants, ministering to the wants of the mother-country. Our vast prairies are now becoming thrifty farms, and the produce of every climate smiles upon our shores. The application of steam to various purposes has produced wonderful results. America and England are brought withtn a ten-days' voyage, and China will in fifty years be, comparatively, as near as England now is: the whole world will yet be neighbors to each other, and PEACE AND GOOD WILL universally prevail among mankind.
In the preparation of the following work, we have found new reason to admire the rapid progress of our own country in population, the arts, and the various institutions which ac
* The following passage will realize to our readers the electricity or of the power of steam; scarcely any manucondition of things two hundred years ago :
factures, but very imperfect agriculture, and very little " The number of the pilgrims was but one hundred, all horticulture. Crossbows had scarcely gone out of use in told. The bark in which they crossed the ocean was of war, and their firearms generally had matchlocks. They less capacity than that of one of the craft which navigate had their old baronial establishments, their ruined castles, our Schuylkill canal. The length of their voyage was the and deserted monasteries; their magnificent cathedrals, same with that of Columbus, a little more than a century their two great universities, their vast enclosures for parks before. The Spaniards had held their revels in the halls and preserves. They had monuments of the times of the of the Montezumas' during the greater part of this centu. Druids, and abiding evidence that England, for two century. Virginia had been settled a few years, and contained ries, had been a Roman province. They boasted of a confrom five hundred to one thousand inhabitants. What we stitution; but it existed principally in custom, depending now call New England was regarded as an island--a mis. upon uncertain memory, and there were precedents of all take not corrected in old England so late as the time of an kinds——those favoring prerogative greatly prevailing over official despatch of Lord North's during our Revolution, those in favor of liberty. From the peasant to the prince, They came from England, and our thoughts are naturally the distance was more awful than we can well imagine. turned to the condition of things in England at the time. For five thousand years the human race had been subject, They had not much glass for their houses, and not a great all the world over, to the dominion of arbitrary power, deal of linen for their persons; no tea or coffee, and but | From the earliest period of recorded time, history had
for their tables, in old England then. They had been occupied with the rise and fall of kingdoms and of uo science of chymistry or of geology ; no knowledge of kings."