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fore, or for what good purposes, are attempts at this particular period made, by some men, to depreciate the importance of the Union? or why is it suggested that three or four confederacies would be better than one? I am persuaded in my own mind, that the people have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Union, rests on great and weighty reasons.
They who promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct confederacies in the room of the plan of the Convention, seem clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the continuance of the Union in the utmost jeopardy: that certainly would be the case; and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the Poet, "FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL, TO ALL MY GREATNESS !?"
On the Danger of War between the States.
Ir these states should either be wholly disunited, or only united in partial confederacies, a man must be far gone in Utopian speculations, who can seriously doubt that the subdivisions into which they might be thrown, would have fequent and violent contests with each other. To presume a want of motives for such contests, as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent unconnected sovereignties, situated in the same neighbourhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.
The causes of hostility among nations are innume-rable. There are some which have a general and al-most constant operation upon the collective bodies of society. Of this description are the love of power, or the desire of pre-eminence and dominion-the jealousy of power, or the desire of equality and safety. There are others which have a more circumscribed, though an equally operative influence, within their spheres: such are the rivalships and competitions of commerce between commercial nations.. And there are others, not less numerous than either of the former, which take their origin entirely in priAvate passions; in the attachments, enmities, interests, hopes, and fears, of leading individuals in the communities of which they are members. Men of this class, whether the favourites of a king or of a people, have in too many instances abused the con-fidence they possessed; and assuming the pretext of some public motive, have not scupled to sacrifice the national.tranquility to personal advantage, or person-al gratification.
To multiply examples of the agency of personal: considerations in the production of great national events, either foreign or domestic, according to their direction, would be an unnecessary waste of time. Those who have but a superficial acquaintance with: the sources from which they are to be drawn, will themselves recollect a variety of instances; and: those who have a tolerable knowledge of human nature, will not stand in need of such lights, to form their opinion either of the reality or extent of that agency.
From what has taken place in other countries,. whose situations have borne the nearest resemblance to our own, what reason can we have to confide in those reveries, which would sedu us into the expectation of peace and cordiality between the members of the present confederacy, in a state of separation? Have we not already seen enough of the fallacy and extravagance of those idle theories which
have amused us with promises of an exemption from the imperfections, the weaknesses, and the evils incident to society in every shape? Is it not time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt as a practical maxim for the direction of our political conduct, that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue?
So far is the general sense of mankind from corresponding with the tenets of those, who endeavour to lull asleep our apprehensions of discord and hostility between the States, in the event of disunion, that it has, from long observation of the progress of society, become a sort of axiom in politics, that vicinity or nearness of situation, constitutes nations natural enemies. An intelligent writer expresses himself on this subject to this effect: "NEIGHBOURING NATIONS (says he,) are naturally ENEMIES of each other, unless their common weakness forces them to league in a CONFEDERATE REPUBLIC, and their constitution prevents the differences that neighbourhood occasions, extinguishing that secret jealousy, which disposes all states to aggrandize themselves at the expense of their neighbours." This passage, at the same time, points out the EVIL and suggests the REMEDY.
IT is sometimes asked, with an air of seeming triumph, what inducements the states could have, if disunited, to make war upon each other? It would be a full answer to this question to say,-precisely the same inducements which have, at different times, deluged in blood all the nations in the world. But unfortunately for us, the question admits of a more
particular answer. There are causes of difference within our immediate contemplation, of the tendeney of which, even under the restraints of a federal constitution, we have had sufficient experience to enable us to form a judgment of what might be expected, if those restraints were removed.
Territorial disputes have, at all times, been found one of the most fertile sources of hostility among nations. Perhaps the greatest proportion of the wars that have desolated the earth have sprung from this origin. This cause would exist, among us, in full force. We have a vast tract of unsettled territory within the boundaries of the United States. There still are discordant and unsettled claims between several of them; and the dissolution of the union would lay a foundation for similar claims between them all.
In the wide field of western territory, therefore, we perceive an ample theatre for hostile pretensions, without any umpire or common judge to interpose between the contending parties. To reason from the past to the future, we shall have good ground to apprehend, that the sword would sometimes be appealed to as the arbiter of their differences. The circumstances of the dispute between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, respecting the lands at Wyoming, admonish us not to be sanguine in expecting an easy accommodation of such differences. The articles of confederation obliged the parties to submit the matter to the decision of a federal court. The submission was made, and the court decided in favor of PennsylvaRia. But Connecticut gave strong indications of dissatisfaction with that determination; nor did she appear to be entirely resigned to it, till by negociation and management, something like an equivalent was found for the loss she supposed herself to have sustained. Nothing here said, is intended to convey the slightest censure on the conduct of that state. She, no doubt, sincerely believed herself to have been injured by the decision; and states, like individuals, acquiesce with great reluctance, in determinations ta their disadvantage..
The competitions of commerce would be another fruitful source of contention. The states less favorably circumstanced, would be desirous of escaping from the disadvantages of local situation, and of sharing in the advantages of their more fortunate neighbours. Each state, or separate confederacy, would pursue a system of commercial polity, peculiar to itself. This would occasion distinctions, preferences and exclusions, which would beget discontent. The habits of intercourse, on the basis of equal privileges, to which we have been accustomed from the earliest settlement of the country, would give a keenér edge to those causes of discontent, than they would naturally have, independent of this circumstance. We should be ready to denominate injuries, those things which were in reality the justifiable acts of independent sovereignties consulting a distinct interest. The spirit of enterprise, which characterizes the commercial part of America, has left no occasion of displaying itself unimproved. It is not at all probable, that this unbridled spirit would pay much respect to those regulations of trade, by which particular states might endeavor to secure exclusive benefits to their own citizens. The infractions of these regulations on one side; the efforts to prevent and repel them on the other, would naturally lead to outrages, and these to reprisals and wars.
The public debt of the Union would be a further cause of collision between the separate states or confederacies. The apportionment, in the first instance, and the progressive extinguishment, afterwards, would be alike productive of ill humour and animo'sity. How would it be possible to agree upon a rule of apportionment, satisfactory to all? There is scarcely any that can be proposed, which is entirely free from real objections. These, as usual, would be exaggerated by the adverse interests of the parties.
If even the rule adopted should in practice justify the equality of its principle, still delinquences in payment, on the part of some of the states, would result