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New York.

by James Fenimore Cooper.

THE increase of the towns of Manhattan, as, for the sake of convenience, we shall term New York and her adjuncts, in all that contributes to the importance of a great commercial mart, renders them one of the most remarkable places of the present age. Within the distinct recollections of living men, they have grown from a city of the fifth or sixth cla.s.s to be near the head of all the purely trading places of the known world. That there are sufficient causes for this unparalleled prosperity, will appear in the a.n.a.lysis of the natural advantages of the port, in its position, security, accessories, and scale.

The State of New York had been steadily advancing in population, resources, and power, ever since the peace of 1785. At that time it bore but a secondary rank among what were then considered the great States of the Confederacy. Ma.s.sachusetts, proper and singly, then outnumbered us, while New England, collectively, must have had some six or seven times our people. A very few years of peace, however, brought material changes. In 1790, the year in which the first census under the law of Congress was taken, the State already contained 340,120 souls, while New England had a few more than a million. It is worthy of remark that, sixty years since, the entire State had but little more than half of the population of the Manhattanese towns at the present moment! Each succeeding census diminished these proportions, until that of l830, when the return for the State of New York gave 1,372,812, and for New England 1,954,709. At this time, and for a considerable period preceding and succeeding it, it was found that the proportion between the people of the State of New York and the people of the city, was about as ten to one.

Between 1830 and 1840, the former had so far increased in numbers as to possess as many people as ALL New England. In the next decade, this proportion was exceeded; and the late returns show that New York, singly, has pa.s.sed ahead of all her enterprising neighbors in that section of the Union. At the same time, the old proportion between the State and the town–or, to be more accurate, the TOWNS on the Bay of New York and its waters–has been entirely lost, five to one being near the truth at the present moment. It is easy to foresee that the time is not very distant when two to one will be maintained with difficulty, as between the State and its commercial capital.

Bold as the foregoing prediction may seem, the facts of the last half century will, we think, justify it. If the Manhattan towns, or Manhattan, as we shall not scruple to term the several places that compose the prosperous sisterhood at the mouth of the Hudson–a name that is more ancient and better adapted to the history, a.s.sociations, and convenience of the place than any other–continue to prosper as they have done, ere the close of the present century they will take their station among the capitals of the first rank. It may require a longer period to collect the accessories of a first-cla.s.s place, for these are the products of time and cultivation; though the facilities of intercourse, the spirit of the age, and the equalizing sentiment that marks the civilization of the epoch, will greatly hasten everything in the shape of improvement.

New York will probably never possess any churches of an architecture to attract attention for their magnitude and magnificence. The policy of the country, which separates religion from the state, precludes this, by confining all the expenditures of this nature to the several parishes, few of which are rich enough to do more than erect edifices of moderate dimensions and cost. The Romish Church, so much addicted to addressing the senses, manifests some desire to construct its cathedrals, but they are necessarily confined to the limits and ornaments suited to the resources of a branch of the church that, in this country, is by no means affluent. The manner in which the Americans are subdivided into sects also conflicts with any commendable desire that may exist to build glorious temples in honor of the Deity: and convenience is more consulted than taste, perhaps, in all that relates to ecclesiastical architecture. Nevertheless, a sensible improvement in this respect has occurred within the last few years, to which we shall elsewhere advert.

It will be in their trade, their resources, their activity, and their influence on the rest of the world, as well as in their population, that the towns of Manhattan will be first ent.i.tled to rank with the larger capitals of Europe. So obvious, rapid, and natural has been the advance of all the places, that it is not easy for the mind to regard anything belonging to them as extraordinary, or out of rule. There is not a port in the whole country that is less indebted to art and the fostering hand of Government than this. It is true, certain forts, most of them of very doubtful necessity, have been constructed for defence; but no attack having ever been contemplated, or, if contemplated, attempted, they have been dead letters in the history of its progress. We are not aware that Government has ever expended one cent in the waters of Manhattan, except for the surveys, construction of the aforesaid military works, and the erection of the lighthouses, that form a part of the general provision for the safe navigation of the entire coast. Some money has been expended for the improvement of the shallow waters of the Hudson; but it has been as much, or more, for the advantage of the upper towns, and the trade coastwise, generally, than for the special benefit of New York.

The immense natural advantages of the bays and islands at the mouth of the Hudson have, in a great degree, superseded the necessity of such a.s.sistance. Nature has made every material provision for a mart of the first importance: and perhaps it has been fortunate that the towns have been left, like healthful and vigorous children, managed by prudent parents, to take the inclination and growth pointed out to them by this safest and best of guides.

London is indebted to artificial causes, in a great degree, for its growth and power. That great law of trade, which renders settling places indispensable, has contributed to her prosperity and continued ascendency, long after the day when rival ports are carrying away her fleets and commerce. She is a proof of the difficulty of shaking a commercial superiority long established.

Scarce a cargo that enters the ports of the kingdom that does not pay tribute to her bankers or merchants. But London is a political capital, and that in a country where the representation of the Government is more imposing, possessing greater influence, than in any other Christian nation. The English aristocracy, which wields the real authority of the state, here makes its annual exhibition of luxury and wealth, such as the world has never beheld anywhere else, ancient Rome possibly excepted, and has had a large share in rendering London what it is.

New York has none of this advent.i.tious aid. Both of the Governments, that of the United States and that of the State, have long been taken from her, leaving her nothing of this sort but her own local authorities. But representation forms no part of the machinery of American policy. It is supposed that man is too intellectual and philosophical to need it, in this intellectual and philosophical country, PAR EXCELLENCE. Although such is the theory, the whole struggle in private life is limited to the impression made by representation in the hands of individuals. That which the Government has improvidently cast aside, society has seized upon: and hundreds who have no claim to distinction beyond the possession of money, profit by the mistake to place themselves in positions perhaps that they are not always exactly qualified to fill. Of all social usurpations, that of mere money is the least tolerable–as one may have a very full purse with empty brains and vulgar tastes and habits. The wisdom of thus throwing the control of a feature of society, that is of much more moment than is commonly supposed, into the chapter of commercial accidents may well he questioned

Some crude attempts have been made to bring the circles of New York within the control of a code prepared and promulgated through the public press. They who have made these abortive attempts have been little aware of the power with which they have to contend. Napoleon himself, who could cause the conscription to enter every man’s dwelling, could not bring the coteries of the Faubourg under his influence. In this respect, society will make its own laws, appeal to its own opinions, and submit only to its own edicts. a.s.sociation is beyond the control of any regular and peaceful government, resting on influences that seem, in a great measure, to be founded in nature–the most inflexible of all rulers. Tastes, conditions, connections, habits, and even prejudices, unite to form a dynasty that never has yet been dethroned. New York is nearer to a state of nature, probably, as regards all its customs and a.s.sociations, than any other well-established place that could be named. With six hundred thousand souls, collected from all parts of Christendom–with no upper cla.s.s recognized by, or in any manner connected with, the inst.i.tutions, it would seem that the circles might enact their own laws, and the popular principle be brought to bear socially on the usages of the town–referring fashion and opinion altogether to a sort of popular will. The result is not exactly what might be expected under the circ.u.mstances, the past being intermingled with the present time, in spite of theories and various opposing interests; and, in many instances, caprice is found to be stronger than reason.

{conscription = the military draft; the Faubourg = the fashionable neighborhoods of Paris; the popular principle = democracy}

We have no desire to exaggerate, or to color beyond their claims, the importance of the towns of Manhattan. No one can better understand the vast chasm which still exists between London and New York, and how much the latter has to achieve before she can lay claim to be the counterpart of that metropolis of Christendom. It is not so much our intention to dilate on existing facts, as to offer a general picture, including the past, the present, and the future, that may aid the mind in forming something like a just estimate of the real importance and probable destinies of this emporium of the New World.

It is now just three-and-twenty years since, that, in another work, we ventured to predict the great fortunes that were in reserve for this American mart, giving some of the reasons that then occurred to us that had a tendency to produce such a result.

These predictions drew down upon us sneers, not to say derision, in certain quarters, where nothing that shadows forth the growing power of this republic is ever received with favor. The intervening period has more than fulfilled our expectations. In this short interval, the population of the Manhattan towns has more than trebled, while their wealth and importance have probably increased in a greatly magnified proportion. Should the next quarter of a century see this ratio in growth continued, London would be very closely approached in its leading element of superiority–numbers. We have little doubt that the present century will bring about changes that will place the emporium of the Old World and that of the New nearly on a level. This opinion is given with a perfect knowledge of the vast increase of the English capital itself, and with a due allowance for its continuance. We propose, in the body of this work, to furnish the reasons justifying these antic.i.p.ations.

{another work = James Fenimore Cooper, “Notions of the Americans: Picked up by a Travelling Bachelor” (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Carey, 1828)–a detailed description, in the guise of letters written by a fict.i.tious Belgian traveler, of the geography, history, economy, government, and culture of the United States}

Seventeen years since, the writer returned home from a long residence in Europe, during which he had dwelt for years in many of the largest towns of that quarter of the world. At a convivial party in one of the most considerable dwellings in Broadway, the conversation turned on the great improvements that had then been made in the town, with sundry allusions that were intended to draw out the opinions of a traveller on a subject that justly ever has an interest with the Manhattanese. In that conversation the writer–his memory impressed with the objects with which he had been familiar in London and Paris, and Rome, Venice, Naples, etc., and feeling how very provincial was the place where he was, as well as its great need of change to raise it to the level of European improvement–ventured to say that, in his opinion, speaking of Broadway, “There was not a building in the whole street, a few special cases excepted, that would probably be standing thirty years hence.” The writer has reason to know that this opinion was deemed extravagant, and was regarded as a consequence of European rather than of American reasoning. If the same opinion were uttered to-day, it would meet with more respect. Buildings now stand in Broadway that may go down to another century, for they are on a level with the wants and tastes of a capital; but none such, with a single exception, existed at the time of which we are writing.

{seventeen years since = Cooper had returned to New York in November 1833, after a seven year sojourn in Europe}

In these facts are to be found the explanation of the want of ancient edifices in America. Two centuries and a half are no very remote antiquity, but we should regard buildings of that, or even of a much less age, with greater interest, did the country possess them. But nothing was constructed a century since that was worth preserving on account of its intrinsic merits; and, before time can throw its interest around them, edifice after edifice comes down, to make way for a successor better suited to the wants and tastes of the age. In this respect New York is even worse off than the other ancient places of the country–ancient as things can be regarded in America–its great growth and commercial spirit demanding sacrifices that Philadelphia and Boston have as yet escaped. It is quite within the scope of probable things, that, in a very few years, there should not be standing in the old town a single structure of any sort, that was there previously to the Revolution. As for the new towns, Brooklyn, Williamsburgh, etc., they had no existence worth alluding to anterior to the commencement of the present century.

If any dwelling is to be found within the limits of either, that can claim a more remote origin, it is some farmhouse that has been swallowed up by the modern improvements.

That which is true of the towns, in this respect, is equally true of the whole country. A dwelling that has stood half a century is regarded as a sort of specimen of antiquity, and one that has seen twice that number of years, of which a few are to be found, especially among the descendants of the Dutch, is looked upon with some such reverence as is felt by the modern traveller in gazing at the tomb of Cecilia Metella, or the amphitheatre of Verona.

{tomb of Cecilia Metella = the most famous monument on the Appian Way outside Rome, commemorating the wife of Cra.s.sus (d. 53 BC), who as member of the First Triumvirate, joined with Caesar and Pompey to end the Roman Republic; amphitheatre of Verona = built by the Emperor Diocletian about 290 A.D. to stage gladiator combats, it is one of the largest surviving Roman amphitheaters}

The world has had a striking example of the potency of commerce as opposed to that of even the sword, in the abortive policy of Napoleon to exclude England from the trade of the Continent. At the very moment that this potentate of unequalled means and iron rule was doing all he could to achieve his object, the goods of Manchester found their way into half of his dependent provinces, and the Thames was crowded with shipping which belonged to states that the emperor supposed to be under his control.

{abortive policy = in the early years of the 19th century the French Emperor Napoleon had sought, largely unsuccessfully, to blockade England from trade with Europe}

As to the notion of there arising any rival ports, south, to compete with New York, it strikes us as a chimera. New Orleans will always maintain a qualified compet.i.tion with every place not washed by the waters of the great valley; but New Orleans is nothing but a local port, after all–of great wealth and importance, beyond a doubt, but not the mart of America.

New York is essentially national in interests, position, and pursuits. No one thinks of the place as belonging to a particular State, but to the United States. The revenue paid into the treasury, at this point, comes in reality, from the pockets of the whole country, and belongs to the whole country. The same is true of her sales and their proceeds. Indeed, there is very little political sympathy between the places at the mouth of the Hudson, and the interior–the vulgar prejudice of envy, and the jealousy of the power of collected capital, causing the country to distrust the town.

We are aware that the governing motive of commerce, all over the world, is the love of gain. It differs from the love of gain in its lower aspects, merely in its greater importance and its greater activity. These cause it to be more engrossing among merchants than among the tillers of the soil: still, facts prove that this state of things has many relieving shades. The man who is accustomed to deal in large sums is usually raised above the more sordid vices of covetousness and avarice in detail. There are rich misers, certainly, but they are exceptions. We do not believe that the merchant is one t.i.ttle more mercenary than the husbandman in his motives, while he is certainly much more liberal of his gains. One deals in thousands, the other in tens and twenties. It is seldom, however, that a failing market, or a sterile season, drives the owner of the plough to desperation, and his principles, if he have any, may be preserved; while the losses or risks of an investment involving more than the merchant really owns, suspend him for a time on the tenter-hooks of commercial doubt. The man thus placed must have more than a common share of integrity, to reason right when interest tempts him to do wrong.

Notwithstanding the generally fallacious character of the governing motive of all commercial communities, there is much to mitigate its selfishness. The habit of regarding the entire country and its interests with a friendly eye, and of a.s.sociating themselves with its fortunes, liberalizes its mind and wishes, and confers a catholic spirit that the capital of a mere province does not possess. Boston, for instance, is leagued with Lowell, and Lawrence, and Cambridge, and seldom acts collectively without betraying its provincial mood; while New York receives her goods and her boasted learning by large tran{s}shipments, without any special consciousness of the transactions. This habit of generalizing in interests encourages the catholic spirit mentioned, and will account for the nationality of the great mart of a great and much extended country. The feeling would be apt to endure through many changes, and keep alive the connection of commerce even after that of the political relations may have ceased. New York, at this moment, contributes her full share to the prosperity of London, though she owes no allegiance to St.

James.

The American Union, however, has much more adhesiveness than is commonly imagined. The diversity and complexity of its interests form a network that will be found, like the web of the spider, to possess a power of resistance far exceeding its gossamer appearance–one strong enough to hold all that it was ever intended to inclose. The slave interest is now making its final effort for supremacy, and men are deceived by the throes of a departing power. The inst.i.tution of domestic slavery cannot last.

It is opposed to the spirit of the age; and the figments of Mr.

Calhoun, in affirming that the Territories belong to the States, instead of the Government of the United States; and the celebrated doctrine of the equilibrium, for which we look in vain into the Const.i.tution for a single sound argument to sustain it, are merely the expiring efforts of a reasoning that cannot resist the common sense of the nation. As it is healthful to exhaust all such questions, let us turn aside a moment, to give a pa.s.sing glance at this very material subject.

{Calhoun = Senator John C. Calhoun (1782-1850} of South Carolina}

At the time when the Const.i.tution was adopted, three cla.s.ses of persons were “held to service” in the country–apprentices, redemptioners, and slaves. The two first cla.s.ses were by no means insignificant in 1789, and the redemptioners were rapidly increasing in numbers. In that day, it looked as if this speculative importation of laborers from Europe was to form a material part of the domestic policy of the Northern States. Now the negro is a human being, as well as an apprentice or a redemptioner, though the Const.i.tution does not consider him as the equal of either. It is a great mistake to suppose that the Const.i.tution of the United States, as it now exists, recognizes slavery in any manner whatever, unless it be to mark it as an interest that has less than the common claim to the ordinary rights of humanity. In the apportionment, or representation clause, the redemptioner and the apprentice counts each as a man, whereas five slaves are enumerated as only three free men. The free black is counted as a man, in all particulars, and is represented as such, but his fellow in slavery has only three fifths of his political value.

This is the celebrated clause in which the Const.i.tution is said to recognize slavery. To our view the clause is perfectly immaterial in this sense, making the simple provision that so long as a State shall choose to keep a portion of her people in this subordinate condition, she shall enjoy only this limited degree of representation. To us, it appears to be a concession made to freedom, and not to slavery. There is no obligation, unless self-imposed, to admit any but a minority of her whites to the enjoyment of political power, aristocracy being, in truth, more closely a.s.similated to republicanism than democracy.

Republicanism means the sovereignty of public THINGS instead of that of PERSONS; or the representation of the COMMON interests, in lieu of those of a monarch. There is no common principle of popular sway recognized in the Const.i.tution. In the government of the several States monarchy is denounced, but democracy is nowhere proclaimed or insisted on. Marked differences in the degrees of popular control existed in the country in 1789; and though time is lessening them, are still to be found among us.

The close consideration of all these facts, we feel persuaded will give a coloring to some of the most important interests of the country, differing essentially from those that have been loosely adopted in the conflicts of parties, and many heresies appear to us to have crept into the political creed of the Republic, purely from the struggles of faction. When men have a specific and important purpose in view, it is but natural they should bend most of its collateral connections to the support of their own objects. We conceive that the Const.i.tution has thus been largely misinterpreted, and they who live at the epoch of the renowned “equilibrium” and of the “rights of the people of the Sovereign States,” will have seen memorable examples of the truth of this position.

The first popular error, then, that we shall venture to a.s.sail, is that connected with the prevalent notion of the sovereignty of the States. We do not believe that the several States of this Union are, in any legitimate meaning of the term, sovereign at all. We are fully aware that this will be regarded as a bold, and possibly as a presuming proposition, but we shall endeavor to work it out with such means as we may have at command.

We lay down the following premises as too indisputable to need any arguments to sustain them: viz., the authority which formed the present Const.i.tution of the United States had the legal power to do so. That authority was in the Government of the States, respectively, and not in their people in the popular signification, but through their people in the political meaning of the term, and what was then done must be regarded as acts connected with the composition and nature of governments, and of no minor or different interests of human affairs.

It being admitted, that the power which formed the government, was legitimate, we obtain one of the purest compacts for the organization of human society that probably ever existed. The ancient allegiance, under which the Colonies had grown up to importance, had been extinguished by solemn treaty, and the States met in Convention, sustained by all the law they had and backed in every instance by inst.i.tutions that were more or less popular. The history of the world cannot, probably, furnish another instance of the settlement of the fundamental compact of a great nation under circ.u.mstances of so much obvious justice.

This gives unusual solemnity and authority to the Const.i.tution of 1787, and invests it with additional claims to our admiration and respect.

The authority which formed the Const.i.tution admitted, we come next to the examination of its acts. It is apparent from the debates and proceedings of the Convention, that two opinions existed in that body; the one leaning strongly toward the concentration of power in the hands of the Federal Government, and the other desirous of leaving as much as possible with the respective States. The principle that the powers which are not directly conceded to the Union should remain in first hands, would seem never to have been denied; and some years after the organization of the Government, it was solemnly recognized in an amendment. We are not disposed, however, to look for arguments to the debates and discussions of the Convention, in our view often a deceptive and dangerous method of construing a law, since the vote is very frequently given on even conflicting reasons.

Different minds arrive at the same results by different processes; and it is no unusual thing for men to deny each other’s premises while they accept their conclusions. We shall look, therefore, solely to the compact itself, as the most certain mode of ascertaining what was done.

No one will deny that all the great powers of sovereignty are directly conceded to the Union. The right to make war and peace, to coin money, maintain armies and navies, &c., &c., in themselves overshadow most of the sovereignty of the States. The amendatory clause would seem to annihilate it. By the provisions of that clause three fourths of the States can take away all the powers and rights now resting in the hands of the respective States, with a single exception. This exception gives breadth and emphasis to the efficiency of the clause. It will be remembered that all this can be done within the present Const.i.tution. It is a part of the original bargain. Thus, New York can legally be deprived of the authority to punish for theft, to lay out highways, to incorporate banks, and all the ordinary interests over which she at present exercises control, every human being within her limits dissenting. Now as sovereignty means power in the last resort, this amendatory clause most clearly deprives the State of all sovereign power thus put at the disposition of Conventions of the several States; in fact, the votes of these Conventions, or that of the respective legislatures acting in the same capacity, is nothing but the highest species of legislation known to the country; and no other mode of altering the inst.i.tutions would be legal. It follows unavoidably, we repeat, that the sovereignty which remains in the several States must be looked for solely in the exception. What then is this exception?

It is a provision which says, that no State may be deprived of its equal representation in the Senate, without its own consent.

It might well be questioned whether this provision of the Const.i.tution renders a Senate indispensable to the Government.

But we are willing to concede this point and admit that it does.

Can the vote of a single State, which is one of a body of thirty, and which is bound to submit to the decision of a legal majority, be deemed a sovereign vote? a.s.suming that the whole power of the Government of the United States were in the Senate, would any one State be sovereign in such a condition of things? We think not.

But the Senate does not const.i.tute by any means the whole or the half of the authority of this Government; its legislative power is divided with a popular body, without the concurrence of which it can do nothing; this dilutes the sovereignty to a degree that renders it very imperceptible, if not very absurd. Nor is this all. After a law is pa.s.sed by the concurrence of the two houses of Congress it is sent to a perfectly independent tribunal to decide whether it is in conformity with the principles of the great national compact; thus demonstrating, as we a.s.sume, that the sovereignty of this whole country rests, not in its people, not in its States, but in the Government of the Union.

Sovereignty, and that of the most absolute character, is indispensable to the right of secession: Nay, sovereignty, in the ordinary acceptation of the meaning of the term, might exist in a State without this right of secession. We doubt if it would be held sound doctrine to maintain that any single State had a right to secede from the German Confederation, for instance; and many alliances, or mere treaties, are held to be sacred and indissoluble; they are only broken by an appeal to violence.

Every human contract may be said to possess its distinctive character. Thus, marriage is to be distinguished from a partnership in trade, without recurrence to any particular form of words. Marriage, contracted by any ceremony whatever, is held to be a contract for life. The same is true of governments: in their nature they are intended to be indissoluble. We doubt if there be an instance on record of a government that ever existed, under conditions, expressed or implied, that the parts of its territory might separate at will. There are so many controlling and obvious reasons why such a privilege should not remain in the hands of sections or districts, that it is unnecessary to advert to them. But after a country has rounded its territory, constructed its lines of defence, established its system of custom-houses, and made all the other provisions for security, convenience, and concentration, that are necessary to the affairs of a great nation, it would seem to be very presumptuous to impute to any particular district the right to destroy or mutilate a system regulated with so much care.

The only manner in which the right of secession could exist in one of the American States, would be by an express reservation to that effect, in the Const.i.tution. There is no such clause; did it exist it would change the whole character of the Government, rendering it a mere alliance, instead of being that which it now is–a lasting Union. But, whatever may be the legal principles connected with this serious subject, there always exists, in large bodies of men, a power to change their inst.i.tutions by means of the strong hand. This is termed the right of revolution, and it has often been appealed to to redress grievances that could be removed by no other agency. It is undeniable that the inst.i.tution of domestic slavery as it now exists in what are termed the Southern and South-Western States of this country, creates an interest of the most delicate and sensitive character.

Nearly one half of the entire property of the slave-holding States consists in this right to the services of human beings of a race so different from our own as to render any amalgamation to the last degree improbable, if not impossible. Any one may easily estimate the deep interest that the masters feel in the preservation of their property. The spirit of the age is decidedly against them, and of this they must be sensible; it doubly augments their anxiety for the future. The natural increase, moreover, of these human chattels renders an outlet indispensable, or they will soon cease to be profitable by the excess of their numbers. To these facts we owe the figments which have rendered the Southern school of logicians a little presuming, perhaps, and certainly very sophistical. Among other theories we find the bold one, that the Territories of the United States are the property, not of the several States, but of their individual people; in other words, that the native of New York or Rhode Island, regardless of the laws of the country, has a right to remove to any one of these Territories, carry with him just such property as he may see fit, and make such use of it as he may find convenient. This is a novel co-partnership in jurisdiction, to say the least, and really does not seem worthy of a serious reply.

The territory of the United States is strictly subject to the Government. The only clause in the Const.i.tution which refers to this interest conveys that meaning. But, were the instrument silent, the power would remain the same. Sovereignty of this nature is not determined by munic.i.p.al law, but by the law of nations. Thus, for instance, the right to make war, which is inherent in every state of FOREIGN RELATIONS, infers the right to secure its conquests; and that clause of the Const.i.tution which declares that the war-making power shall abide in Congress, says, at the same time, by an unavoidable implication, that the national legislature shall have all authority to control the consequences of this war. It may dispose of its prisoners and its conquests according to its own views of policy and justice, subject only to the great principles that modern civilization has introduced into public concerns.

One can understand why a different theory is in favor at the South. It would be very convenient, no doubt, to the slaveholder to be permitted to transfer his slaves to the gold diggings, and gather the precious metal in lieu of a crop of cotton. But this, the policy of the whole country forbids. Congress has very justly left the decision of this very important matter to the people of California itself; and they have almost unanimously raised their voices against the measure. This, after all, is the really sore point in controversy between the South and the North. The fugitive slave has been, and will be given up to the legal claims of his master; and, in a vast majority of the people of the North, there is no disposition to disturb the legislative compromise that has been made of this matter. It is true that the North still owes the South a great deal more, though it may be questioned if the machinations of demagogues and the ravings of fanaticism will permit it to discharge the obligation. Penal laws should be pa.s.sed, punishing those who meddle with this grave interest out of the limits of the State in which the parties reside; and energy should be shown in rendering such an act of justice effective and sure. Good-neighborhood, alone, would exact some such provision from every well-disposed community, and there cannot be a doubt that good policy coincides. The abolitionists, beyond a dispute, have only had a tendency to rivet the fetters of the slave, and to destroy the peace of the country.

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