Page images
PDF
EPUB

which he has in common with the Anglo- upon the existence of but one language, Saxon race, enable him to succeed tolera- can the citizens of the United States make bly well even in the forest, but he finds it any claim to it; for the colonists from more to his advantage to settle on a farm whom they are descended brought with bought at second-hand and partially culti- them the languages of the different counvated. The Swiss are much the same with tries from which they came, and these are the Germans. The French and Italians, retained in some instances to the present on the other hand, are totally unfit for day. At least eleven of the different lanplanting colonies in the woods. Nothing guages of Europe have been spoken by could possibly be more alien to the usual settlers in the United States. habits of a Frenchman. The population But let us examine these two points of France is almost universally collected somewhat more minutely, and we cannot in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, and fail to be struck with the facts which will thus, from early habit as well as constitu- be presented to our view. tional disposition, Frenchmen love socie- And in the first, never has there been ty, and cannot endure the loneliness and witnessed so rapid a blending of people isolation of the settlements we have de- from different countries, and speaking difscribed. When they attempt to form colo- ferent languages, as may be seen in the nies, it is by grouping together in villages, United States. Within the last two hunas may be seen along the banks of the St. dred years, people have been arriving from Lawrence and of the Lower Mississippi. some eleven or twelve different countries, Hence their settlements are seldom either and distinguished by as many different extensive or vigorous. They find them- tongues, yet so singular a'fusion has taselves happier in the cities and large towns. ken place, that in many localities, where If resolved to establish themselves in the population is at all compact, it would puzcountry, they should go to comparatively zle a stranger to determine the national well-settled neighbourhoods, not to the for- origin of the people from any peculiarity ests of the Far West.

of physiognomy or dialect, far less of language. Who can distinguish in New-York the mass of persons of Dutch descent from

those of Anglo-Saxon origin, unless, perCHAPTER VII.

haps, by their retaining Dutch family

names ? Where discover, by the indices of ON THE ALLEGED WANT OF NATIONAL CHAR

language, features, or manners, the de

scendants of the Swedes, the Welsh, with FOREIGNERS who have written about the a few exceptions the Poles, the NorweUnited States have often asserted that it gians, the Danes, or the great body of is a country without a national character. French Huguenots ? Almost the only exWere this the mere statement of an opin- ceptions to this universal amalgamation ion, it might be suffered to pass unnoticed, and loss of original languages are to be like many other things emanating from found in the Germans and French; and even authors who undertake to speak about in regard to these, had it not been for comcountries which they have had only very paratively recent arrivals of emigrants partial, and hence very imperfect, opportu- caused by the French Revolution, the St. nities of knowing. But as the allegation Domingo massacres, and various events in has been made with an air of considerable Germany, both the French and German pretension, it becomes necessary that we languages would have been extinct ere now should submit it to the test of truth. in the United States. The former is spo

If oneness of origin be essential to the ken only by a few thousands in the large formation of national character, it is clear cities, and some tens of thousands in Louithat the people of the United States can siana. In the cities, English as well as make no pretensions to it. No civilized French is spoken by most of the French; nation was ever composed of inhabitants and in Louisiana, the only portion of the derived from such a variety of sources ; Union which the French language has ever for in the United States we find the de- ventured to claim for itself, it is fast giving scendants of English, Welsh, Scotch, place to English. German, also, spoken Irish, Dutch, Germans, Norwegians, Danes, although it be by many thousands of emiSwedes, Poles, French, Italians, and Span- grants arriving yearly from Europe, is fast iards ; and there is even a numerous and disappearing from the older settlements. distinguished family in which it is admitted, The children of these Germans almost uniwith pride, that the blood of an Indian prin- versally acquire the English tongue in their cess mingles with that of the haughty Nor- infancy, and where located, as generally man or Norman-Saxon. Many other na- happens, in the neighbourhood of settlers. tions are of mixed descent, but where shall who speak English as their mother tongue, we find one derived from so many distinct learn to speak it well. Indeed, over nearly races?

the whole vast extent of the United States, Neither, if national character depends English is spoken among the well-educ?

ACTER IN AMERICA.

ted, with a degree of purity to which there ment of their claims to national character, is no parallel in the British realm. There, do the same. on a space not much larger than a sixth part Amalgamation takes place, also, by inof the United States territory, no fewer than termarriages to an extent quite unexamthree or four languages are spoken; and in pled anywhere else ; for though the AngloEngland alone, I know not how many dia- Saxon race has an almost undisputed poslects are to be found which a person unac- session of the soil in New-England, peocustomed to them can hardly at all com. ple are everywhere else to be met with prehend, however familiar he may be with in whose veins flows the mingled blood pure English. As for France, with its Gas- of English, Dutch, Germans, Irish, and con, Breton, and I know not how many French. other remains of the languages spoken by

Nor has the assimilation of races and the ancient races which were once scat-languages been greater than that of mantered over its territory, the case is still ners, customs, religion, and political prinworse.* Nor does either Germany or Ita- ciples. The manners of the people, in ly present the uniformity of speech that some places less, in others more refined, distinguishes the millions of the United are essentially characterized by simplicity, States, with the exception of the newly-ar- sincerity, frankness, and kindness. The rived foreigners; a uniformity which ex- religion of the overwhelming majority, and tends even to pronunciation, and the ab- which may therefore be called national, is, sence of provincial accent and phraseology. in all essential points, what was taught by A well-educated American who has seen the great Protestant Reformers of the sixmuch of his country may, indeed, distin- teenth century. With respect to politics, guish the Southern from the Northern with whatever warmth we may discuss the modes of pronouncing certain vowels; he measures of the government, but one feel. may recognise by certain shades of sound, ing prevails with regard to our political if I may so express myself, the Northern institutions themselves. We are no propor Southern origin of his countrymen; but agandists : we hold it to be our duty to these differences are too slight to be read- avoid meddling with the governments of ily perceived by a foreigner.

other countries ; and though we prefer our Generally speaking, the pronunciation own political forms, would by no means of well-educated Americans is precisely insist on others doing so too. That govthat given in the best orthoëpical authori- ernment we believe to be the best for any ties of England, and our best speakers people under which they live most happiadopt the well-established changes in pro- ly, and are best protected in their rights of nunciation that from time to time gain person, property, and conscience; and we ground there. A few words, however, are would have every nation to judge for itself universally pronounced in a manner differ- what form of government is best suited to ent from what prevails in England. Either secure for it these great ends. and neither, for example, are pronounced Assuredly no country possesses a press eether and neether, not ither and nāther, nor more free, or where, notwithstanding, pubwillour:lawyers probably ever learn to say lic opinion is more powerful ; but on these lien for lēen. There is a very perceptible points we shall have more to say in andifference of accent between the English Other part of this work. and Americans, particularly those of the The American people, taken as a whole, Eastern or New-England States. There are mainly characterized by perseverance, is also a difference of tone; in some of the earnestness, kindness, hospitality, and selfstates there is more of a nasal inflexion of reliance, that is, by a disposition to depend the voice than one hears in England. upon their own exertions to the utmost,

English literature has an immense cir- rather than look to the government for asculation in America; a circumstance which sistance. Hence, there is no country where may be an advantage in one sense, and a the government does less, or the people disadvantage in another. We are not want more. In a word, our national character ing, however, in authors of unquestion is that of the Anglo-Saxon race, which able merit in almost every branch of liter- still predominates among us in conseature, art, and science. Still, if a litera- quence of its original preponderancy in ture of our own creation be indispensable the colonization of the country, and of the to the possession of a national character, energy which forms its characteristic diswe must abandon all claim to it.

tinction. It may be added, that we have no fash- Has the reader ever heard Haydn's celions of our own. We follow the modes of ebrated oratorio of the Creation performParis. But in this Germans, Russians, ed by a full orchestra ? If so, he cannot Italians, and English, without any abate- have forgotten how chaos is represented * I have been informed that there are twelve dis

; ments being sounded together without the

at the commencement, by all the instrutinct lauguages and patois spoken in France, and that interpreters are needed in courts of justice with least attempt at concord. By-and-by, howin a hundred miles of Paris !

ever, something like order begins, and

CHARACTER.

THE ROYAL CHARTERS.

at length the clear notes of the clarionet, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, but are heard over all the others, controlling the northern and southern bounding lines, them into harmony. Something like this if extended according to the terms of the has been the influence in America of the charter, would have terminated, the one in Anglo-Saxon language, laws, institutions, the Pacific Ocean, and the other in Hud

son's Bay; yet by the same charter, they But if, when it is alleged that we have were both to terminate at the South Sea, -no national character, it be meant that we as the Pacific Ocean was then called. have not originated any for ourselves, it The North Carolina and Georgia charmay be asked, What nation has ? All owe ters conveyed to the colonists provinces much to those from whom they have that were to extend westward to the South sprung; this, too, has been our case, al- Sea. though what we have inherited from our The Massachusetts and Connecticut remote ancestors has unquestionably been charters made these colonies also reach much modified by the operation of politi- to the South Sea, it never appearing to cal institutions which we have been led to have entered the royal head that they must adopt by new circumstances, and which, thus have interfered with the claims of probably, were never contemplated by the Virginia. New-York, which they must also founders of our country.

have traversed, seems not to have been thought of, though claimed and occupied

at the time by the Dutch. Indeed, conCHAPTER VIII.

sidering the descriptions contained in their charters, it is marvellous that the colonies

ever ascertained their boundaries. LookFew points in the colonial history of the ing at the charter of Massachusetts, for United States are more interesting to the example, and comparing it with that state curious inquirer than the royal charters, as laid down on our maps, we are amazed under which the settlement of the country to think by what possible ingenuity it first took place.

should have come to have its existing These charters were granted by James boundaries, especially that on the northI., Charles I., Charles II., James II., Will. east. Still more confounding does it seem iam and Mary, and George I. They were that Massachusetts should have successvery diverse, both in form and substance. fully claimed the territory of Maine, and Some were granted to companies, some to yet have had to relinquish that of Newsingle persons, others to the colonists Hampshire. themselves. Most of them preceded the The charter granted to William Penn foundation of the colonies to which they for Pennsylvania was the clearest of all, referred; but in the cases of Rhode Island yet it was long matter of dispute whether and Connecticut, the territories were set- or not it included Delaware. On the othtled first; while Plymouth colony had no er hand, Delaware was claimed by Marycrown charter at all, and not even a grant land, and with justice, if the charter of the from the Plymouth Company in England, latter province were to be construed lituntil the year after its foundation. erally. Still, Maryland did not obtain

The ordinary reader can be interested Delaware. only in the charters granted by the crown Such charters, it will be readily supof England; those from proprietary com- posed, must have led to serious and propanies and individuals, to whom whole tracted disputes between the colonies provinces had first been granted by the themselves. Many of these disputes were crown, can interest those readers only still undetermined at the commencement who would study the innumerable lawsuits of the war of the Revolution; several reto which they gave occasion. Such in mained unadjustified long after the achievethose days was the utter disregard for the ment of the national independence; and it correct laying down of boundaries, that was only a few years ago that the last of the same district of country was often cov- the boundary questions was brought to a ered with two or more grants, made by the final issue before the Supreme Court of the same proprietors, to different individuals ; United States. thus furnishing matter for litigations which After the Revolution, inimense difficullasted in some colonies more than a cen- ties attended the settlement of the various tury, and sometimes giving rise to lawsuits claims preferred by the Atlantic States to even at the present day.

those parts of the West which they beThe royal charters give us an amusing lieved to have been conveyed to them by idea of the notions with respect to North their old charters, and into which the tide American geography entertained in those of emigration was then beginning to flow. days by the sovereigns of England, or by Had Virginia successfully asserted her those who acted for them. The charter claims, she would have had an empire in of Virginia not only included those vast the Valley of the Mississippi sufficient, at regions now comprised in the States of some future day, to counterbalance almost

see.

all the other states put together. North | yet unjustifiable means were often emCarolina and Georgia also laid claim to ployed to induce the latter to cede their territories of vast extent. The claims of claims to the former, such as excessive Connecticut and Massachusetts directly importunity, the bribery of the chiefs, and conflicted with those of Virginia. Hence sometimes even threats. Thus, although, it required a great deal of wisdom and pa- with the exception of lands obtained by tience to settle all these claims, without right of conquest in war, I do not believe endangering the peace and safety of the that any whatever was obtained without confederacy. All, at length, were adjusted something being given in exchange for it, except that of Georgia, and it, too, was ar- yet I fear that the golden rule of “doing ranged at a later date. Virginia magnan- to others as we would that they should do imously relinquished all her claims in the unto us,” was sadly neglected in many of West; a spontaneous act, which immedi- those transactions. In Pennsylvania and ately led to the establishment of the State New-England, unquestionably, greater fairof Kentucky, followed in due time by nes was shown than in most, if not all the the foundation of those of Ohio, Indiana, other colonies; yet even there, full.justice, Illinois, and Michigan, in what was long according to the above rule, was not always called the Northwestern Territory. The practised. Indeed, in many cases it was. relinquishment by North Carolina of her difficult to say what exact justice implied. claims west of the Alleghany Mountains To savages roaming over vast tracts of led to the creation of the State of Tennes- land which they did not cultivate, and

But Connecticut refused to abandon which, even for the purposes of the chase, her claim to the northeastern part of Ohio, were often more extensive than necessary, often called to this day New Connecticut, to part with hundreds, or even thousands without receiving from the General Gov- of square miles, could not be thought a ernment a handsome equivalent in money, matter of much importance, and thus conwhich has been safely invested, and forms science was quieted. But although our the basis of a large capital, set apart for forefathers may not have done full justice the support of the common schools of the to the poor Indians, it is by no means cerstate. *

Georgia also ceded her claims in tain that others in the same circumstances the West to the General Government, on would have done better. the condition that it should obtain for her The impatience of the colonists to obfrom the Indians a title to their territory tain possession of lands which their charlying to the east of the Chattahoochee ters, or arrangements consequent thereon, River, now the western boundary of that led them to regard as their own, has at state. Out of the cession thus made by times thrown the General Government into Georgia have been formed the States of much embarrassment and difficulty. Thus, Alabama and Mississippi.

in the conflict between it and the State of The United States have had to struggle Georgia, a few short years ago, Congress with still more serious difficulties, origina- had agreed to buy the claims of the Inditing in the old royal charters. Little re- ans still remaining within that state, and to gard was paid to the prior claims of the provide for their removal beyond its limIndians in the extensive grants made by its, in return for the relinquishment of its hose charters, directly or indirectly, to claims in the West. But this removal of the colonists. The pope had set the ex- the Indians, it had been expressly stipulaample of giving away the Aborigines with ted, was to be effected peaceably, and with the lands they occupied, or, rather, of giv- their own consent. Time rolled on, the ing away the land from under them; and population of Georgia increased, the setalthough in all the colonies founded by tlements of the white men had begun to our English ancestors in America there touch those of the red men, and the latter was a kind of feeling that the Indians had were urged to sell their lands and to retire some claims on the ground of prior occu- farther to the west. But to this they pation, yet these, it was thought, ought to would not consent. Thereupon the Gengive place to the rights conferred by the eral Government was called on to fulfil its royal charters. The colonists were sub- engagement. It exerted itself to the utject to the same blinding influence of most to persuade the Indians to sell their selfishness that affects other men, and to lands; but neither would it employ force this we are to ascribe the importunity with itself

, nor allow Georgia to do so, though which they urged the removal of the Indi- much was done by the colonists, and someans from the land conveyed by the royal thing, too, by the state indirectly, to worry charters, and which they had long been the Indians into terms. The chiefs, howwont to consider and to call their own. ever, long held back. But at length the In no case, indeed, did the new-comers lands were sold at a great price, and their seize upon the lands of the aboriginal oc-occupants received others west of the cupants without some kind of purchase ; Mississippi, and have removed to these.

There, I doubt not, they will do better * Amounting to 2,040,228 dollars.

than in their former abode.

To rid itself of such embarrassments cations afterward introduced during the created by the old charters, the General subjugation of the Saxons by the NorthGovernment, at the instance of great and men or Danes, lasting through 261 years, good men, adopted, some years ago, the plan and which, though both partial in its exof collecting all the tribes still to be found tent, and interrupted in its continuance, within the confines of any of the states, left not a few monuments of its existence, upon an extensive district to the west of and gave a name to one of the orders of Arkansas and Missouri, claimed by no the English nobility.t state, and, therefore, considered as part of But, above all, he must study the influence the public domain. There it has already of the Norman Conquest, which was comcollected the Cherokees, the Choctas, the pleted within twenty years from the battle Chickasas, the Creeks, and several smaller of Hastings, fought A.D. 1066. Without tribes. Soon the territories of all the states extirpating all the Saxon institutions, that will be cleared of them, except in so far as event reduced the Anglo-Saxons of Engthey may choose to remain and become land to the condition of serfs; gave their citizens. Nor can I avoid cherishing the lands to sixty thousand warriors, compohope that the great Indian community now sing the conqueror's army; established an forming, as I have said, west of Missouri absolute monarchy, surrounded by a powand Arkansas, will one day become a state erful landed aristocracy; and thus introitself, and have its proper representatives duced an order of things wholly new to in the great council of the nation. I may the country, and foreign to its habits. conclude these remarks by observing, that He must attentively mark the influence the late painful dispute between the Uni- exercised by the Anglo-Saxon and Norted States and Great Britain, now so hap- man races upon each other, during the pepily terminated, relative to the boundaries riod that has since elapsed, of nearly eight between the State of Maine on the one hundred years; and he will there find a hand, and Lower Canada and New-Bruns- clew to many transactions which appear wick on the other, originated in the geo- wholly unintelligible in the common histographical obscurity of certain limits, de- ries of England. The reciprocal hatred of scribed in one of these old charters. the two races will explain the quarrel of

Becket, the first archbishop of the Saxon

race after the Conquest, and Henry II., CHAPTER IX.

the fifth of the Norman kings; that nationHOW A CORRECT KNOWLEDGE OF THE AMER- al animosity leading Becket to resist the

ICAN PEOPLE, THE NATURE OF THEIR GOV- demands of the king, as calculated to exERNMENT, AND OF THEIR NATIONAL CHARAC- tend the tyranny of a hated race of con

querors, and the king to humble the conTER, MAY BEST BE ATTAINED.

quered by crushing their haughty representHe who would obtain a thorough knowl- ative. That this, and not the diminution edge of the people of the United States, their of the power of the pope, as is commonly national character, the nature of their gov- believed, was Henry's object, may be seen ernment, and the spirit of their laws, must from the fact of his being no less earnest go back to the earliest ages of the history in calling for assistance from Rome, than of England, and study the character of the Becket was in invoking her protection. various races that from early times have

He will perceive this mutual animosity settled there. He must carefully mark manifesting itself in innumerable instances the influences they exerted on each other, and in apparently contradictory conduct. and upon the civil and political institutions At one time the Anglo-Saxons sided with of that country. He must study the Sax. the nobility against the monarch, as in the on Conquest, followed by the introduction wars between the barons and King John, of Saxon institutions, and Saxon laws and and also Henry III., not because they loved usages; the trial of an accused person by the barons, who were of the same detesthis peers; the subdivision of the country ed Norinan race, but because they dreadinto small districts, called townships or ed the consequences to themselves of anhundreds ; the political influence of that other conquest, by a king who had invited arrangement; and the establishment of over the Poitevins, the Aquitains, and the seven or eight petty kingdoms, in which Provençals, to help him against his own the authority of the king was shared by the subjects in England. At other times they people, without whose consent no laws of sided with the king against the barons, importance could be made, and who often when they saw that the triumph of the latmet for legislation in the open fields, or ter was likely to augment their burdens. beneath the shade of some wide-spreading And although, as M. Thierry remarks, I forest, as their Scandinavian kinsmen met,

* From A.D. 787 to A.D. 1048. at a much later period, round the Mora + That of Earl, from the Danish and Norwegian stone.* He must next study the modifi. Jarl, who was at once the civil and military govern

or of a province. * On the plains of Upsala in Sweden. The mora * “Conquête de l'Angleterre," vol. iv., p. 366-368, stone signifies the stone on the moor.

Brussels edition.

« PreviousContinue »