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als. Were the prospect ever so dark before us in the path of rectitude as to this question, we never would believe that God has made a world, in which the course of bonorable justice leads to detriment, while that of crooked, deceitful, and cruel policy leads on to gain. We know it is not so. We know there is an eternal, indissoluble connection between national virtue and national prosperity; as there is a connection, equally indissoluble, and terribly certain, between national crime and national misery.
But how long shall it be that a Christian people-freer than any other people, and more favored of God than any other nation on the earth, in an age too of such general civilization and intellectual refinement,-shall stand balancing the considerations of profit and loss on a great national question of justice and benevolence? How long shall it be that when the path of rectitude lies plain before us, we shall stop to deliberate whether our cursed avarice may not better be gratified by stepping over the stile, and rushing forward in the path of guilt? How long shall we remain a spectacle of mortification to all good beings in the universe of God? 'How long before we shall learn first of all to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him, and let the considerations of national seläshness at least come up afterwards, if we cannot bring ourselves wholly to annihilate them? How long shall the world wait before it is permitted to behold the glorious spectacle of a great nation, in a great crisis, trampling under foot all thought of every thing but duty, and stepping forth, nobly, decidedly, sternly, in the path traced out by the hand of justice and the thoughts of inercy?
It makes us indignant to see how a statesroan of no mean powers of intellect can pervert his ingenuity to make the worse appear
the better reason ; to make it appear that the only course left for us to pursue is one, which will most inevitably involve us in the crimes of perjury and cruelty. But let us not be schooled in the way of our interest by the lessons of the mere politician. Let us be cautious how we darken the map of our political course by the blots of our own invention, or refuse to be guided by the great beacon of national as well as individual prosperity,—by the light of religion. In this case as in every other, we may rest assured in the confidence that a nation's duty is its path to glory and happiness; and the duty of our whole nation is never doubtful. Here it is so evident that even they who would violate it, dare not plainly contradict it, but attempt to escape from it by perplexing the conscience with the intricacies of apparently clashing and opposing duties, and by deceiving the mind with the phantoms of general expedience and necessity.
We have no doubt that our remarks upon the article in the North American Review will appear extremely false and exaggerated to all who have read only on that side the question which that article
aims to support. They will wonder what there is in that temperate paper to excite any but an inhabitant of Bedlam to such an outcry of violated justice and humanity as we have been making. They will declare that we have written under the influence of a distempered imagination ; and that we are mad enthusiasts on a question which we cannot understand, because we are determined to put the authority of the Bible above that of Vattel, and to impose silence on the demands of avarice, while the voice of God is speaking within us by the dictates of our reason and of conscience. By such persons we are well content to be so esteemed; knowing that, from the days of St. Paul downwards, mankind have been ready to brand all with the epithet of madmen, who speak forth the words of truth and soberness to bosoms agitated with passion, and beclouded by the selfishness of a worldly policy.
Such persons will see nothing but benevolence in the spirit, justice in the principles, and truth in the assertions of that article, and will probably arise from its perusal with minds deeply convinced of its reasonableness, and more than ever in the power of that abominable sophistry of expediency and state necessity, which has sometimes darkened the understandings of the wisest of men. The article is indeed most plausible in its character; and it is this which makes us grieve for the influence it will probably exert. It is written with all the beauty of style wbich characterizes the productions of its author, and in that spirit of cold and temperate caution, with which all Machiavellian schemes of policy, from time immemorial, have been broached. Whatever the writer may think of his own disposition, and we doubt not he supposes he is at least doing his country service, it is manifest that he does not feel as he ought for the welfare of those, on whose destiny he is exerting perhaps a most powerful influence. His mind gives way, like that of multitudes of others, to the false faith that the Indians never can be civilized; and his habits of weighing too often, and too exclusively, the good and the happiness which might accrue to the nation, if these stumbling blocks were out of the way, makes him write of them as if they were neither human, nor endowed with the rights nor the capabilities, which their more fortunate neighbors possess; to be treated, indeed, like so many stubborn animals, and to be sacrificed without scruple, whenever the interests of the whole United States seem to require it. Those who differ from him, and strongly maintain the part of full justice, he treats as men indeed of a misguided enthusiastic benevolence, but with little understanding, and no practical experience in these matters.
If some of the principles developed in this article were exhibited in their naked and abstract distortion, we hesitate not to say, however specious the form, they are here made to assume, that all
honest men would call them infernal. They are no other than the maxim that power makes right, and that we may lawfully do evil that good may come.
The maxin that power makes right is the one, on which every conquering nation has proceeded froin the time of Romulus “ before and after.” It is the force of this maxim only, which gave to the Spaniards, who first discovered this country, an exclusive command, (in the justice of which this writer seems perfecily to agree) over the territory and even the lives of its native possessors. It is the same maxim, which kept the English so long in the undisputed enjoyment of an abstract right to enslave and torture the natives of Africa.
The maxin that evident right must yield to expediency is also as ancient as the combination of human depravity, with superiority in one individual or nation over another. “We have long passed the period of abstract right,” says ibis writer. “Political questions are complicated in their relations, involving considerations of expediency and authority, as well as of natural justice.” We object not to what is contained in these sentences, so far as it relates to those abstract rights, the permission and prevalence of which would disorganize the whole constitution of human society, and throw us back into a state of murderous anarchy, worse than the wildness of the brutes. These are theoretical rights, such as were contended for in the most terrible period of the French Revolution, such as God never gave to men in communities, and such as each man surrenders when he enters into the social compact. We deny that the rights which belong to the Indians, and of which wicked men are endeavoring to defraud them, partake of this character in the slightest degree. They are not abstract rights ; they are stronger and more evident than any abstract right can be; they are written and acknowledged in almost every treaty, which our government has been called to make with these tribes. The attempt to reason them away by the complicated “considerations of expediency and authority” is an attempt of gross cruelty and injustice. What renders it still worse is the truth that these considerations are altogether imaginary; and that the difficulties, which have occasioned such a summary and most comprehensive definition of impossible abstract rights, as would include all that is worth possessing by any community of human beings, are accumulated solely by the spirit of proud and selfish extortion. They are such, moreover, as would return with a tenfold perplexity and power at that distant period, with which the writer of this article most complacently declares we have no business to trouble ourselves in the present decision of the question. We refer our readers to the plain statements and reasonings of William Penn, for a most thorough exposition of the real falsehood and immorality of such arguments and principles as this article contains. We warn them not to give them
selves up to the power of its polite and plausible and apparently humane sophistry, 'till they have examined this question carefully in all its possible aspects, and in the clear light of our religious obligations.
We think we can see, in the agitation of this question, a crisis of greater importance to this whole country-(not to the Indians alone; that, though it be the business of humanity to weigh it even in the hair’s estimation, is perbajis the least part of the matter) than any other era has presented since the first moment of our national existence. We will go farther, and affirm without fear of being contradicted by those who have been accustomed to watch the progress of the world, and how God administers the affairs of this portion of his universe, that it is a crisis of greater moment, and
which hang greater consequences, than any event, which has transpired since the May Flower landed its first adventurers on the shores of this continent;-a continent then occupied through its whole extent by that numerous people, concerning the fate of whose last remaining descendants, we, in our national capacity, are to legislate and decide. It is so, because it far more deeply involves our moral and religious character, by bringing us, in that capacity, to the very eve of the commission of a great and dreadful crime. Perhaps it is one of those awful occasions, on which Jehovah resolves to try, by a high and solemn trust, the true character of those kingdoms whom he has loaded with his benefits; and from whom he requires an eminence of goodness, and a readiness of grateful obedience to his commands, and a jealous acknowledgement and support of the supreme authority of his laws, in some measure proportionate to the greatness and peculiarity of the blessings he has conferred.
The agitation of this question is not like that of admitting the independence of the Greeks, in which no decision could affect any great principle of evangelical morality or national law. It is not like that of the abolition of the slave-trade, in which the wrong alternative was that of continuing, to a somewhat longer period, the commission of a crime with which a nation had been stained for centuries. It is not like that of the declaration of independence, where, in any alternative, the moral character of the people would have remained spotless. It is a question whether we shall now contaminate ourselves, in addition to all our other guilt, with a new and awful crime ;-new, in proportion to the singularity of the circumstances, (unexampled in the history of the world) in which Providence has placed us in regard to the Indians ;-and awful, in proportion to the civil and religious privileges which we enjoy, and the means of knowing our duty in the light, which the universal spread of the Gospel has poured so abundantly upon us. Judging from these circumstances, a sin committed by us, whatever be its nature, must make us incalculably more
guilty, than it could have made almost any other nation, which has ever existed. And here we are, on the very eve of deciding the question, whether we shall plunge ourselves into such guilt, and yet we are sitting apparently in the apathy of the sleep of death.
We repeat it. There is an awful, and a deeply criminal apathy, in which the public mind of our whole country is slumbering on this momentous subject. The public feeling has never yet been roused by any of those strong representations and appeals, which the case would justify, and which the crisis imperiously demands. It is a proof how callous the heart of our nation has become to everything but the stimulus of vanity, and selfishness, and pride, that even in New England, whose inhabitants are apt to be foremost on every occasion, where the interests of religion and of patriotism are at stake, the indifference of which we speak is profound. We are apparently at too great a distance from the place where this tragedy threatens to be acted, to experience a very awakening impulse of excitement for those who are to be its victims. Distance in space lessens the power of sympathy, and deadens our sensibilities for the sufferings of the oppressed. We have heard of thousands murdered, or enslaved for life, and tortured by task-masters, in a distant land, with far less emotion than that with which we should witness a single blow, causelessly inflicted on a stranger within our gates. But the danger is none the less alarming, because it is not at our very doors; the sufferings of the Indians will be none the less acute, and the injustice inflicted upon them none the less atrocious, and the consequences to our country none the less certain and terrible, because those sufferings may not be witnessed by us, or because we cannot be present on the spot, to have our souls harrowed with the effect of that injustice, or because those consequences look sinall and chimerical in the distance.
The Christian public especially have been criminal in their neglect of this great subject. It belonged to them to have been long since watching, with a vigilance which could not be lulled into security, the most distant approach of an event like that, which now threatens so soon to be accomplished. It belonged to them to detect the precursors of the storm, and give warning of its progress in the distant horizon, while yet the sky above was unspotted with a cloud. It was their part to have calculated and foretold the effect of the passions of inankind, with whose power they are so well acquainted, and to have made provision against their terrible results.
But while even distant nations have been investigating this subject with the most evident interest, we ourselves, on whom its consequences are to fall, are found sleeping,—even while there may be heard around us the portentous noise and movement, which precedes the quick shock of an earthquake.