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Democracy In America, Volume 1 by Alexis de Toqueville

Part 11 out of 11

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preponderance, also lose their population or their riches: no
stop is put to their prosperity, and they even go on to increase
more rapidly than any kingdom in Europe. *r But they believe
themselves to be impoverished because their wealth does not
augment as rapidly as that of their neighbors; any they think
that their power is lost, because they suddenly come into
collision with a power greater than their own: *s thus they are
more hurt in their feelings and their passions than in their
interests. But this is amply sufficient to endanger the
maintenance of the Union. If kings and peoples had only had
their true interests in view ever since the beginning of the
world, the name of war would scarcely be known among mankind.

[Footnote r: The population of a country assuredly constitutes
the first element of its wealth. In the ten years (1820-1830)
during which Virginia lost two of its representatives in
Congress, its population increased in the proportion of 13.7 per
cent.; that of Carolina in the proportion of fifteen per cent.;
and that of Georgia, 15.5 per cent. (See the "American Almanac,"
1832, p. 162) But the population of Russia, which increases more
rapidly than that of any other European country, only augments in
ten years at the rate of 9.5 per cent.; in France, at the rate of
seven per cent.; and in Europe in general, at the rate of 4.7 per
cent. (See "Malte Brun," vol. vi. p. 95)]

[Footnote s: It must be admitted, however, that the depreciation
which has taken place in the value of tobacco, during the last
fifty years, has notably diminished the opulence of the Southern
planters: but this circumstance is as independent of the will of
their Northern brethren as it is of their own.]

Thus the prosperity of the United States is the source of
the most serious dangers that threaten them, since it tends to
create in some of the confederate States that over-excitement
which accompanies a rapid increase of fortune; and to awaken in
others those feelings of envy, mistrust, and regret which usually
attend upon the loss of it. The Americans contemplate this
extraordinary and hasty progress with exultation; but they would
be wiser to consider it with sorrow and alarm. The Americans of
the United States must inevitably become one of the greatest
nations in the world; their offset will cover almost the whole of
North America; the continent which they inhabit is their
dominion, and it cannot escape them. What urges them to take
possession of it so soon? Riches, power, and renown cannot fail
to be theirs at some future time, but they rush upon their
fortune as if but a moment remained for them to make it their

I think that I have demonstrated that the existence of the
present confederation depends entirely on the continued assent of
all the confederates; and, starting from this principle, I have
inquired into the causes which may induce the several States to
separate from the others. The Union may, however, perish in two
different ways: one of the confederate States may choose to
retire from the compact, and so forcibly to sever the federal
tie; and it is to this supposition that most of the remarks that
I have made apply: or the authority of the Federal Government may
be progressively entrenched on by the simultaneous tendency of
the united republics to resume their independence. The central
power, successively stripped of all its prerogatives, and reduced
to impotence by tacit consent, would become incompetent to fulfil
its purpose; and the second Union would perish, like the first,
by a sort of senile inaptitude. The gradual weakening of the
federal tie, which may finally lead to the dissolution of the
Union, is a distinct circumstance, that may produce a variety of
minor consequences before it operates so violent a change. The
confederation might still subsist, although its Government were
reduced to such a degree of inanition as to paralyze the nation,
to cause internal anarchy, and to check the general prosperity of
the country.

After having investigated the causes which may induce the
Anglo-Americans to disunite, it is important to inquire whether,
if the Union continues to subsist, their Government will extend
or contract its sphere of action, and whether it will become more
energetic or more weak.

The Americans are evidently disposed to look upon their
future condition with alarm. They perceive that in most of the
nations of the world the exercise of the rights of sovereignty
tends to fall under the control of a few individuals, and they
are dismayed by the idea that such will also be the case in their
own country. Even the statesmen feel, or affect to feel, these
fears; for, in America, centralization is by no means popular,
and there is no surer means of courting the majority than by
inveighing against the encroachments of the central power. The
Americans do not perceive that the countries in which this
alarming tendency to centralization exists are inhabited by a
single people; whilst the fact of the Union being composed of
different confederate communities is sufficient to baffle all the
inferences which might be drawn from analogous circumstances. I
confess that I am inclined to consider the fears of a great
number of Americans as purely imaginary; and far from
participating in their dread of the consolidation of power in the
hands of the Union, I think that the Federal Government is
visibly losing strength.

To prove this assertion I shall not have recourse to any
remote occurrences, but to circumstances which I have myself
witnessed, and which belong to our own time.

An attentive examination of what is going on in the United
States will easily convince us that two opposite tendencies exist
in that country, like two distinct currents flowing in contrary
directions in the same channel. The Union has now existed for
forty-five years, and in the course of that time a vast number of
provincial prejudices, which were at first hostile to its power,
have died away. The patriotic feeling which attached each of the
Americans to his own native State is become less exclusive; and
the different parts of the Union have become more intimately
connected the better they have become acquainted with each other.
The post, *t that great instrument of intellectual intercourse,
now reaches into the backwoods; and steamboats have established
daily means of communication between the different points of the
coast. An inland navigation of unexampled rapidity conveys
commodities up and down the rivers of the country. *u And to
these facilities of nature and art may be added those restless
cravings, that busy-mindedness, and love of pelf, which are
constantly urging the American into active life, and bringing him
into contact with his fellow-citizens. He crosses the country in
every direction; he visits all the various populations of the
land; and there is not a province in France in which the natives
are so well known to each other as the 13,000,000 of men who
cover the territory of the United States.

[Footnote t: In 1832, the district of Michigan, which only
contains 31,639 inhabitants, and is still an almost unexplored
wilderness, possessed 940 miles of mail-roads. The territory of
Arkansas, which is still more uncultivated, was already
intersected by 1,938 miles of mail-roads. (See the report of the
General Post Office, November 30, 1833.) The postage of
newspapers alone in the whole Union amounted to $254,796.]

[Footnote u: In the course of ten years, from 1821 to 1831, 271
steamboats have been launched upon the rivers which water the
valley of the Mississippi alone. In 1829 259 steamboats existed
in the United States. (See Legislative Documents, No. 140, p.

But whilst the Americans intermingle, they grow in
resemblance of each other; the differences resulting from their
climate, their origin, and their institutions, diminish; and they
all draw nearer and nearer to the common type. Every year,
thousands of men leave the North to settle in different parts of
the Union: they bring with them their faith, their opinions, and
their manners; and as they are more enlighthned than the men
amongst whom they are about to dwell, they soon rise to the head
of affairs, and they adapt society to their own advantage. This
continual emigration of the North to the South is peculiarly
favorable to the fusion of all the different provincial
characters into one national character. The civilization of the
North appears to be the common standard, to which the whole
nation will one day be assimilated.

The commercial ties which unite the confederate States are
strengthened by the increasing manufactures of the Americans; and
the union which began to exist in their opinions, gradually forms
a part of their habits: the course of time has swept away the
bugbear thoughts which haunted the imaginations of the citizens
in 1789. The federal power is not become oppressive; it has not
destroyed the independence of the States; it has not subjected
the confederates to monarchial institutions; and the Union has
not rendered the lesser States dependent upon the larger ones;
but the confederation has continued to increase in population, in
wealth, and in power. I am therefore convinced that the natural
obstacles to the continuance of the American Union are not so
powerful at the present time as they were in 1789; and that the
enemies of the Union are not so numerous.

Nevertheless, a careful examination of the history of the
United States for the last forty-five years will readily convince
us that the federal power is declining; nor is it difficult to
explain the causes of this phenomenon. *v When the Constitution
of 1789 was promulgated, the nation was a prey to anarchy; the
Union, which succeeded this confusion, excited much dread and
much animosity; but it was warmly supported because it satisfied
an imperious want. Thus, although it was more attacked than it
is now, the federal power soon reached the maximum of its
authority, as is usually the case with a government which
triumphs after having braced its strength by the struggle. At
that time the interpretation of the Constitution seemed to
extend, rather than to repress, the federal sovereignty; and the
Union offered, in several respects, the appearance of a single
and undivided people, directed in its foreign and internal policy
by a single Government. But to attain this point the people had
risen, to a certain extent, above itself.

[Footnote v: [Since 1861 the movement is certainly in the
opposite direction, and the federal power has largely increased,
and tends to further increase.]]

The Constitution had not destroyed the distinct sovereignty
of the States; and all communities, of whatever nature they may
be, are impelled by a secret propensity to assert their
independence. This propensity is still more decided in a country
like America, in which every village forms a sort of republic
accustomed to conduct its own affairs. It therefore cost the
States an effort to submit to the federal supremacy; and all
efforts, however successful they may be, necessarily subside with
the causes in which they

As the Federal Government consolidated its authority,
America resumed its rank amongst the nations, peace returned to
its frontiers, and public credit was restored; confusion was
succeeded by a fixed state of things, which was favorable to the
full and free exercise of industrious enterprise. It was this
very prosperity which made the Americans forget the cause to
which it was attributable; and when once the danger was passed,
the energy and the patriotism which had enabled them to brave it
disappeared from amongst them. No sooner were they delivered from
the cares which oppressed them, than they easily returned to
their ordinary habits, and gave themselves up without resistance
to their natural inclinations. When a powerful Government no
longer appeared to be necessary, they once more began to think it
irksome. The Union encouraged a general prosperity, and the
States were not inclined to abandon the Union; but they desired
to render the action of the power which represented that body as
light as possible. The general principle of Union was adopted,
but in every minor detail there was an actual tendency to
independence. The principle of confederation was every day more
easily admitted, and more rarely applied; so that the Federal
Government brought about its own decline, whilst it was creating
order and peace.

As soon as this tendency of public opinion began to be
manifested externally, the leaders of parties, who live by the
passions of the people, began to work it to their own advantage.
The position of the Federal Government then became exceedingly
critical. Its enemies were in possession of the popular favor;
and they obtained the right of conducting its policy by pledging
themselves to lessen its influence. From that time forwards the
Government of the Union has invariably been obliged to recede, as
often as it has attempted to enter the lists with the governments
of the States. And whenever an interpretation of the terms of
the Federal Constitution has been called for, that interpretation
has most frequently been opposed to the Union, and favorable to
the States.

The Constitution invested the Federal Government with the
right of providing for the interests of the nation; and it had
been held that no other authority was so fit to superintend the
"internal improvements" which affected the prosperity of the
whole Union; such, for instance, as the cutting of canals. But
the States were alarmed at a power, distinct from their own,
which could thus dispose of a portion of their territory; and
they were afraid that the central Government would, by this
means, acquire a formidable extent of patronage within their own
confines, and exercise a degree of influence which they intended
to reserve exclusively to their own agents. The Democratic
party, which has constantly been opposed to the increase of the
federal authority, then accused the Congress of usurpation, and
the Chief Magistrate of ambition. The central Government was
intimidated by the opposition; and it soon acknowledged its
error, promising exactly to confine its influence for the future
within the circle which was prescribed to it.

The Constitution confers upon the Union the right of
treating with foreign nations. The Indian tribes, which border
upon the frontiers of the United States, had usually been
regarded in this light. As long as these savages consented to
retire before the civilized settlers, the federal right was not
contested: but as soon as an Indian tribe attempted to fix its
dwelling upon a given spot, the adjacent States claimed
possession of the lands and the rights of sovereignty over the
natives. The central Government soon recognized both these
claims; and after it had concluded treaties with the Indians as
independent nations, it gave them up as subjects to the
legislative tyranny of the States. *w

[Footnote w: See in the Legislative Documents, already quoted in
speaking of the Indians, the letter of the President of the
United States to the Cherokees, his correspondence on this
subject with his agents, and his messages to Congress.]

Some of the States which had been founded upon the coast of
the Atlantic, extended indefinitely to the West, into wild
regions where no European had ever penetrated. The States whose
confines were irrevocably fixed, looked with a jealous eye upon
the unbounded regions which the future would enable their
neighbors to explore. The latter then agreed, with a view to
conciliate the others, and to facilitate the act of union, to lay
down their own boundaries, and to abandon all the territory which
lay beyond those limits to the confederation at large. *x
Thenceforward the Federal Government became the owner of all the
uncultivated lands which lie beyond the borders of the thirteen
States first confederated. It was invested with the right of
parcelling and selling them, and the sums derived from this
source were exclusively reserved to the public treasure of the
Union, in order to furnish supplies for purchasing tracts of
country from the Indians, for opening roads to the remote
settlements, and for accelerating the increase of civilization as
much as possible. New States have, however, been formed in the
course of time, in the midst of those wilds which were formerly
ceded by the inhabitants of the shores of the Atlantic. Congress
has gone on to sell, for the profit of the nation at large, the
uncultivated lands which those new States contained. But the
latter at length asserted that, as they were now fully
constituted, they ought to enjoy the exclusive right of
converting the produce of these sales to their own use. As their
remonstrances became more and more threatening, Congress thought
fit to deprive the Union of a portion of the privileges which it
had hitherto enjoyed; and at the end of 1832 it passed a law by
which the greatest part of the revenue derived from the sale of
lands was made over to the new western republics, although the
lands themselves were not ceded to them. *y

[Footnote x: The first act of session was made by the State of
New York in 1780; Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, South and
North Carolina, followed this example at different times, and
lastly, the act of cession of Georgia was made as recently as

[Footnote y: It is true that the President refused his assent to
this law; but he completely adopted it in principle. (See
Message of December 8, 1833.)]

The slightest observation in the United States enables one
to appreciate the advantages which the country derives from the
bank. These advantages are of several kinds, but one of them is
peculiarly striking to the stranger. The banknotes of the United
States are taken upon the borders of the desert for the same
value as at Philadelphia, where the bank conducts its operations.

[Footnote z: The present Bank of the United States was
established in 1816, with a capital of $35,000,000; its charter
expires in 1836. Last year Congress passed a law to renew it,
but the President put his veto upon the bill. The struggle is
still going on with great violence on either side, and the speedy
fall of the bank may easily be foreseen. [It was soon afterwards
extinguished by General Jackson.]]

The Bank of the United States is nevertheless the object of
great animosity. Its directors have proclaimed their hostility
to the President: and they are accused, not without some show of
probability, of having abused their influence to thwart his
election. The President therefore attacks the establishment
which they represent with all the warmth of personal enmity; and
he is encouraged in the pursuit of his revenge by the conviction
that he is supported by the secret propensities of the majority.
The bank may be regarded as the great monetary tie of the Union,
just as Congress is the great legislative tie; and the same
passions which tend to render the States independent of the
central power, contribute to the overthrow of the bank.

The Bank of the United States always holds a great number of
the notes issued by the provincial banks, which it can at any
time oblige them to convert into cash. It has itself nothing to
fear from a similar demand, as the extent of its resources
enables it to meet all claims. But the existence of the
provincial banks is thus threatened, and their operations are
restricted, since they are only able to issue a quantity of notes
duly proportioned to their capital. They submit with impatience
to this salutary control. The newspapers which they have bought
over, and the President, whose interest renders him their
instrument, attack the bank with the greatest vehemence. They
rouse the local passions and the blind democratic instinct of the
country to aid their cause; and they assert that the bank
directors form a permanent aristocratic body, whose influence
must ultimately be felt in the Government, and must affect those
principles of equality upon which society rests in America.

The contest between the bank and its opponents is only an
incident in the great struggle which is going on in America
between the provinces and the central power; between the spirit
of democratic independence and the spirit of gradation and
subordination. I do not mean that the enemies of the bank are
identically the same individuals who, on other points, attack the
Federal Government; but I assert that the attacks directed
against the bank of the United States originate in the same
propensities which militate against the Federal Government; and
that the very numerous opponents of the former afford a
deplorable symptom of the decreasing support of the latter.

The Union has never displayed so much weakness as in the
celebrated question of the tariff. *a The wars of the French
Revolution and of 1812 had created manufacturing establishments
in the North of the Union, by cutting off all free communication
between America and Europe. When peace was concluded, and the
channel of intercourse reopened by which the produce of Europe
was transmitted to the New World, the Americans thought fit to
establish a system of import duties, for the twofold purpose of
protecting their incipient manufactures and of paying off the
amount of the debt contracted during the war. The Southern
States, which have no manufactures to encourage, and which are
exclusively agricultural, soon complained of this measure. Such
were the simple facts, and I do not pretend to examine in this
place whether their complaints were well founded or unjust.

[Footnote a: See principally for the details of this affair, the
Legislative Documents, 22d Congress, 2d Session, No. 30.]

As early as the year 1820, South Carolina declared, in a
petition to Congress, that the tariff was "unconstitutional,
oppressive, and unjust." And the States of Georgia, Virginia,
North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi subsequently
remonstrated against it with more or less vigor. But Congress,
far from lending an ear to these complaints, raised the scale of
tariff duties in the years 1824 and 1828, and recognized anew the
principle on which it was founded. A doctrine was then
proclaimed, or rather revived, in the South, which took the name
of Nullification.

I have shown in the proper place that the object of the
Federal Constitution was not to form a league, but to create a
national government. The Americans of the United States form a
sole and undivided people, in all the cases which are specified
by that Constitution; and upon these points the will of the
nation is expressed, as it is in all constitutional nations, by
the voice of the majority. When the majority has pronounced its
decision, it is the duty of the minority to submit. Such is the
sound legal doctrine, and the only one which agrees with the text
of the Constitution, and the known intention of those who framed

The partisans of Nullification in the South maintain, on the
contrary, that the intention of the Americans in uniting was not
to reduce themselves to the condition of one and the same people;
that they meant to constitute a league of independent States; and
that each State, consequently retains its entire sovereignty, if
not de facto, at least de jure; and has the right of putting its
own construction upon the laws of Congress, and of suspending
their execution within the limits of its own territory, if they
are held to be unconstitutional and unjust.

The entire doctrine of Nullification is comprised in a
sentence uttered by Vice-President Calhoun, the head of that
party in the South, before the Senate of the United States, in
the year 1833: could: "The Constitution is a compact to which the
States were parties in their sovereign capacity; now, whenever a
compact is entered into by parties which acknowledge no tribunal
above their authority to decide in the last resort, each of them
has a right to judge for itself in relation to the nature,
extent, and obligations of the instrument." It is evident that a
similar doctrine destroys the very basis of the Federal
Constitution, and brings back all the evils of the old
confederation, from which the Americans were supposed to have had
a safe deliverance.

When South Carolina perceived that Congress turned a deaf
ear to its remonstrances, it threatened to apply the doctrine of
nullification to the federal tariff bill. Congress persisted in
its former system; and at length the storm broke out. In the
course of 1832 the citizens of South Carolina, *b named a
national Convention, to consult upon the extraordinary measures
which they were called upon to take; and on November 24th of the
same year this Convention promulgated a law, under the form of a
decree, which annulled the federal law of the tariff, forbade the
levy of the imposts which that law commands, and refused to
recognize the appeal which might be made to the federal courts of
law. *c This decree was only to be put in execution in the
ensuing month of February, and it was intimated, that if Congress
modified the tariff before that period, South Carolina might be
induced to proceed no further with her menaces; and a vague
desire was afterwards expressed of submitting the question to an
extraordinary assembly of all the confederate States.

[Footnote b: That is to say, the majority of the people; for the
opposite party, called the Union party, always formed a very
strong and active minority. Carolina may contain about 47,000
electors; 30,000 were in favor of nullification, and 17,000
opposed to it.]

[Footnote c: This decree was preceded by a report of the
committee by which it was framed, containing the explanation of
the motives and object of the law. The following passage occurs
in it, p. 34: - "When the rights reserved by the Constitution to
the different States are deliberately violated, it is the duty
and the right of those States to interfere, in order to check the
progress of the evil; to resist usurpation, and to maintain,
within their respective limits, those powers and privileges which
belong to them as independent sovereign States. If they were
destitute of this right, they would not be sovereign. South
Carolina declares that she acknowledges no tribunal upon earth
above her authority. She has indeed entered into a solemn
compact of union with the other States; but she demands, and will
exercise, the right of putting her own construction upon it; and
when this compact is violated by her sister States, and by the
Government which they have created, she is determined to avail
herself of the unquestionable right of judging what is the extent
of the infraction, and what are the measures best fitted to
obtain justice."]

Chapter XVIII: Future Condition Of Three Races - Part IX

In the meantime South Carolina armed her militia, and
prepared for war. But Congress, which had slighted its suppliant
subjects, listened to their complaints as soon as they were found
to have taken up arms. *d A law was passed, by which the tariff
duties were to be progressively reduced for ten years, until they
were brought so low as not to exceed the amount of supplies
necessary to the Government. *e Thus Congress completely
abandoned the principle of the tariff; and substituted a mere
fiscal impost to a system of protective duties. *f The Government
of the Union, in order to conceal its defeat, had recourse to an
expedient which is very much in vogue with feeble governments.
It yielded the point de facto, but it remained inflexible upon
the principles in question; and whilst Congress was altering the
tariff law, it passed another bill, by which the President was
invested with extraordinary powers, enabling him to overcome by
force a resistance which was then no longer to be apprehended.

[Footnote d: Congress was finally decided to take this step by
the conduct of the powerful State of Virginia, whose legislature
offered to serve as mediator between the Union and South
Carolina. Hitherto the latter State had appeared to be entirely
abandoned, even by the States which had joined in her

[Footnote e: This law was passed on March 2, 1833.]

[Footnote f: This bill was brought in by Mr. Clay, and it passed
in four days through both Houses of Congress by an immense

But South Carolina did not consent to leave the Union in the
enjoyment of these scanty trophies of success: the same national
Convention which had annulled the tariff bill, met again, and
accepted the proffered concession; but at the same time it
declared it unabated perseverance in the doctrine of
Nullification: and to prove what it said, it annulled the law
investing the President with extraordinary powers, although it
was very certain that the clauses of that law would never be
carried into effect.

Almost all the controversies of which I have been speaking
have taken place under the Presidency of General Jackson; and it
cannot be denied that in the question of the tariff he has
supported the claims of the Union with vigor and with skill. I
am, however, of opinion that the conduct of the individual who
now represents the Federal Government may be reckoned as one of
the dangers which threaten its continuance.

Some persons in Europe have formed an opinion of the
possible influence of General Jackson upon the affairs of his
country, which appears highly extravagant to those who have seen
more of the subject. We have been told that General Jackson has
won sundry battles, that he is an energetic man, prone by nature
and by habit to the use of force, covetous of power, and a despot
by taste. All this may perhaps be true; but the inferences which
have been drawn from these truths are exceedingly erroneous. It
has been imagined that General Jackson is bent on establishing a
dictatorship in America, on introducing a military spirit, and on
giving a degree of influence to the central authority which
cannot but be dangerous to provincial liberties. But in America
the time for similar undertakings, and the age for men of this
kind, is not yet come: if General Jackson had entertained a hope
of exercising his authority in this manner, he would infallibly
have forfeited his political station, and compromised his life;
accordingly he has not been so imprudent as to make any such

Far from wishing to extend the federal power, the President
belongs to the party which is desirous of limiting that power to
the bare and precise letter of the Constitution, and which never
puts a construction upon that act favorable to the Government of
the Union; far from standing forth as the champion of
centralization, General Jackson is the agent of all the
jealousies of the States; and he was placed in the lofty station
he occupies by the passions of the people which are most opposed
to the central Government. It is by perpetually flattering these
passions that he maintains his station and his popularity.
General Jackson is the slave of the majority: he yields to its
wishes, its propensities, and its demands; say rather, that he
anticipates and forestalls them.

Whenever the governments of the States come into collision
with that of the Union, the President is generally the first to
question his own rights: he almost always outstrips the
legislature; and when the extent of the federal power is
controverted, he takes part, as it were, against himself; he
conceals his official interests, and extinguishes his own natural
inclinations. Not indeed that he is naturally weak or hostile to
the Union; for when the majority decided against the claims of
the partisans of nullification, he put himself at its head,
asserted the doctrines which the nation held distinctly and
energetically, and was the first to recommend forcible measures;
but General Jackson appears to me, if I may use the American
expressions, to be a Federalist by taste, and a Republican by

General Jackson stoops to gain the favor of the majority,
but when he feels that his popularity is secure, he overthrows
all obstacles in the pursuit of the objects which the community
approves, or of those which it does not look upon with a jealous
eye. He is supported by a power with which his predecessors were
unacquainted; and he tramples on his personal enemies whenever
they cross his path with a facility which no former President
ever enjoyed; he takes upon himself the responsibility of
measures which no one before him would have ventured to attempt:
he even treats the national representatives with disdain
approaching to insult; he puts his veto upon the laws of
Congress, and frequently neglects to reply to that powerful body.
He is a favorite who sometimes treats his master roughly. The
power of General Jackson perpetually increases; but that of the
President declines; in his hands the Federal Government is
strong, but it will pass enfeebled into the hands of his

I am strangely mistaken if the Federal Government of the
United States be not constantly losing strength, retiring
gradually from public affairs, and narrowing its circle of action
more and more. It is naturally feeble, but it now abandons even
its pretensions to strength. On the other hand, I thought that I
remarked a more lively sense of independence, and a more decided
attachment to provincial government in the States. The Union is
to subsist, but to subsist as a shadow; it is to be strong in
certain cases, and weak in all others; in time of warfare, it is
to be able to concentrate all the forces of the nation and all
the resources of the country in its hands; and in time of peace
its existence is to be scarcely perceptible: as if this alternate
debility and vigor were natural or possible.

I do not foresee anything for the present which may be able
to check this general impulse of public opinion; the causes in
which it originated do not cease to operate with the same effect.
The change will therefore go on, and it may be predicted that,
unless some extraordinary event occurs, the Government of the
Union will grow weaker and weaker every day.

I think, however, that the period is still remote at which
the federal power will be entirely extinguished by its inability
to protect itself and to maintain peace in the country. The
Union is sanctioned by the manners and desires of the people; its
results are palpable, its benefits visible. When it is perceived
that the weakness of the Federal Government compromises the
existence of the Union, I do not doubt that a reaction will take
place with a view to increase its strength.

The Government of the United States is, of all the federal
governments which have hitherto been established, the one which
is most naturally destined to act. As long as it is only
indirectly assailed by the interpretation of its laws, and as
long as its substance is not seriously altered, a change of
opinion, an internal crisis, or a war, may restore all the vigor
which it requires. The point which I have been most anxious to
put in a clear light is simply this: Many people, especially in
France, imagine that a change in opinion is going on in the
United States, which is favorable to a centralization of power in
the hands of the President and the Congress. I hold that a
contrary tendency may distinctly be observed. So far is the
Federal Government from acquiring strength, and from threatening
the sovereignty of the States, as it grows older, that I maintain
it to be growing weaker and weaker, and that the sovereignty of
the Union alone is in danger. Such are the facts which the
present time discloses. The future conceals the final result of
this tendency, and the events which may check, retard, or
accelerate the changes I have described; but I do not affect to
be able to remove the veil which hides them from our sight.

Of The Republican Institutions Of The United States, And What
Their Chances Of Duration Are

The Union is accidental - The Republican institutions have more
prospect of permanence - A republic for the present the natural
state of the Anglo-Americans - Reason of this - In order to
destroy it, all the laws must be changed at the same time, and a
great alteration take place in manners -Difficulties experienced
by the Americans in creating an aristocracy.

The dismemberment of the Union, by the introduction of war
into the heart of those States which are now confederate, with
standing armies, a dictatorship, and a heavy taxation, might,
eventually, compromise the fate of the republican institutions.
But we ought not to confound the future prospects of the republic
with those of the Union. The Union is an accident, which will
only last as long as circumstances are favorable to its
existence; but a republican form of government seems to me to be
the natural state of the Americans; which nothing but the
continued action of hostile causes, always acting in the same
direction, could change into a monarchy. The Union exists
principally in the law which formed it; one revolution, one
change in public opinion, might destroy it forever; but the
republic has a much deeper foundation to rest upon.

What is understood by a republican government in the United
States is the slow and quiet action of society upon itself. It
is a regular state of things really founded upon the enlightened
will of the people. It is a conciliatory government under which
resolutions are allowed time to ripen; and in which they are
deliberately discussed, and executed with mature judgment. The
republicans in the United States set a high value upon morality,
respect religious belief, and acknowledge the existence of
rights. They profess to think that a people ought to be
moral,religious, and temperate, in proportion as it is free.
What is called the republic in the United States, is the tranquil
rule of the majority, which, after having had time to examine
itself, and to give proof of its existence, is the common source
of all the powers of the State. But the power of the majority is
not of itself unlimited. In the moral world humanity, justice,
and reason enjoy an undisputed supremacy; in the political world
vested rights are treated with no less deference. The majority
recognizes these two barriers; and if it now and then overstep
them, it is because, like individuals, it has passions, and, like
them, it is prone to do what is wrong, whilst it discerns what is

But the demagogues of Europe have made strange discoveries.
A republic is not, according to them, the rule of the majority,
as has hitherto been thought, but the rule of those who are
strenuous partisans of the majority. It is not the people who
preponderates in this kind of government, but those who are best
versed in the good qualities of the people. A happy distinction,
which allows men to act in the name of nations without consulting
them, and to claim their gratitude whilst their rights are
spurned. A republican government, moreover, is the only one
which claims the right of doing whatever it chooses, and
despising what men have hitherto respected, from the highest
moral obligations to the vulgar rules of common-sense. It had
been supposed, until our time, that despotism was odious, under
whatever form it appeared. But it is a discovery of modern days
that there are such things as legitimate tyranny and holy
injustice, provided they are exercised in the name of the people.

The ideas which the Americans have adopted respecting the
republican form of government, render it easy for them to live
under it, and insure its duration. If, in their country, this
form be often practically bad, at least it is theoretically good;
and, in the end, the people always acts in conformity to it.

It was impossible at the foundation of the States, and it
would still be difficult, to establish a central administration
in America. The inhabitants are dispersed over too great a
space, and separated by too many natural obstacles, for one man
to undertake to direct the details of their existence. America
is therefore pre-eminently the country of provincial and
municipal government. To this cause, which was plainly felt by
all the Europeans of the New World, the Anglo-Americans added
several others peculiar to themselves.

At the time of the settlement of the North American
colonies, municipal liberty had already penetrated into the laws
as well as the manners of the English; and the emigrants adopted
it, not only as a necessary thing, but as a benefit which they
knew how to appreciate. We have already seen the manner in which
the colonies were founded: every province, and almost every
district, was peopled separately by men who were strangers to
each other, or who associated with very different purposes. The
English settlers in the United States, therefore, early perceived
that they were divided into a great number of small and distinct
communities which belonged to no common centre; and that it was
needful for each of these little communities to take care of its
own affairs, since there did not appear to be any central
authority which was naturally bound and easily enabled to provide
for them. Thus, the nature of the country, the manner in which
the British colonies were founded, the habits of the first
emigrants, in short everything, united to promote, in an
extraordinary degree, municipal and provincial liberties.

In the United States, therefore, the mass of the
institutions of the country is essentially republican; and in
order permanently to destroy the laws which form the basis of the
republic, it would be necessary to abolish all the laws at once.
At the present day it would be even more difficult for a party to
succeed in founding a monarchy in the United States than for a
set of men to proclaim that France should henceforward be a
republic. Royalty would not find a system of legislation
prepared for it beforehand; and a monarchy would then exist,
really surrounded by republican institutions. The monarchical
principle would likewise have great difficulty in penetrating
into the manners of the Americans.

In the United States, the sovereignty of the people is not
an isolated doctrine bearing no relation to the prevailing
manners and ideas of the people: it may, on the contrary, be
regarded as the last link of a chain of opinions which binds the
whole Anglo- American world. That Providence has given to every
human being the degree of reason necessary to direct himself in
the affairs which interest him exclusively - such is the grand
maxim upon which civil and political society rests in the United
States. The father of a family applies it to his children; the
master to his servants; the township to its officers; the
province to its townships; the State to its provinces; the Union
to the States; and when extended to the nation, it becomes the
doctrine of the sovereignty of the people.

Thus, in the United States, the fundamental principle of the
republic is the same which governs the greater part of human
actions; republican notions insinuate themselves into all the
ideas, opinions, and habits of the Americans, whilst they are
formerly recognized by the legislation: and before this
legislation can be altered the whole community must undergo very
serious changes. In the United States, even the religion of most
of the citizens is republican, since it submits the truths of the
other world to private judgment: as in politics the care of its
temporal interests is abandoned to the good sense of the people.
Thus every man is allowed freely to take that road which he
thinks will lead him to heaven; just as the law permits every
citizen to have the right of choosing his government.

It is evident that nothing but a long series of events, all
having the same tendency, can substitute for this combination of
laws, opinions, and manners, a mass of opposite opinions,
manners, and laws.

If republican principles are to perish in America, they can
only yield after a laborious social process, often interrupted,
and as often resumed; they will have many apparent revivals, and
will not become totally extinct until an entirely new people
shall have succeeded to that which now exists. Now, it must be
admitted that there is no symptom or presage of the approach of
such a revolution. There is nothing more striking to a person
newly arrived in the United States, than the kind of tumultuous
agitation in which he finds political society. The laws are
incessantly changing, and at first sight it seems impossible that
a people so variable in its desires should avoid adopting, within
a short space of time, a completely new form of government. Such
apprehensions are, however, premature; the instability which
affects political institutions is of two kinds, which ought not
to be confounded: the first, which modifies secondary laws, is
not incompatible with a very settled state of society; the other
shakes the very foundations of the Constitution, and attacks the
fundamental principles of legislation; this species of
instability is always followed by troubles and revolutions, and
the nation which suffers under it is in a state of violent

Experience shows that these two kinds of legislative
instability have no necessary connection; for they have been
found united or separate, according to times and circumstances.
The first is common in the United States, but not the second: the
Americans often change their laws, but the foundation of the
Constitution is respected.

In our days the republican principle rules in America, as
the monarchical principle did in France under Louis XIV. The
French of that period were not only friends of the monarchy, but
they thought it impossible to put anything in its place; they
received it as we receive the rays of the sun and the return of
the seasons. Amongst them the royal power had neither advocates
nor opponents. In like manner does the republican government
exist in America, without contention or opposition; without
proofs and arguments, by a tacit agreement, a sort of consensus
universalis. It is, however, my opinion that by changing their
administrative forms as often as they do, the inhabitants of the
United States compromise the future stability of their

It may be apprehended that men, perpetually thwarted in
their designs by the mutability of the legislation, will learn to
look upon republican institutions as an inconvenient form of
society; the evil resulting from the instability of the secondary
enactments might then raise a doubt as to the nature of the
fundamental principles of the Constitution, and indirectly bring
about a revolution; but this epoch is still very remote.

It may, however, be foreseen even now, that when the
Americans lose their republican institutions they will speedily
arrive at a despotic government, without a long interval of
limited monarchy. Montesquieu remarked, that nothing is more
absolute than the authority of a prince who immediately succeeds
a republic, since the powers which had fearlessly been intrusted
to an elected magistrate are then transferred to a hereditary
sovereign. This is true in general, but it is more peculiarly
applicable to a democratic republic. In the United States, the
magistrates are not elected by a particular class of citizens,
but by the majority of the nation; they are the immediate
representatives of the passions of the multitude; and as they are
wholly dependent upon its pleasure, they excite neither hatred
nor fear: hence, as I have already shown, very little care has
been taken to limit their influence, and they are left in
possession of a vast deal of arbitrary power. This state of
things has engendered habits which would outlive itself; the
American magistrate would retain his power, but he would cease to
be responsible for the exercise of it; and it is impossible to
say what bounds could then be set to tyranny.

Some of our European politicians expect to see an
aristocracy arise in America, and they already predict the exact
period at which it will be able to assume the reins of
government. I have previously observed, and I repeat my
assertion, that the present tendency of American society appears
to me to become more and more democratic. Nevertheless, I do not
assert that the Americans will not, at some future time, restrict
the circle of political rights in their country, or confiscate
those rights to the advantage of a single individual; but I
cannot imagine that they will ever bestow the exclusive exercise
of them upon a privileged class of citizens, or, in other words,
that they will ever found an aristocracy.

An aristocratic body is composed of a certain number of
citizens who, without being very far removed from the mass of the
people, are, nevertheless, permanently stationed above it: a body
which it is easy to touch and difficult to strike; with which the
people are in daily contact, but with which they can never
combine. Nothing can be imagined more contrary to nature and to
the secret propensities of the human heart than a subjection of
this kind; and men who are left to follow their own bent will
always prefer the arbitrary power of a king to the regular
administration of an aristocracy. Aristocratic institutions
cannot subsist without laying down the inequality of men as a
fundamental principle, as a part and parcel of the legislation,
affecting the condition of the human family as much as it affects
that of society; but these are things so repugnant to natural
equity that they can only be extorted from men by constraint.

I do not think a single people can be quoted, since human
society began to exist, which has, by its own free will and by
its own exertions, created an aristocracy within its own bosom.
All the aristocracies of the Middle Ages were founded by military
conquest; the conqueror was the noble, the vanquished became the
serf. Inequality was then imposed by force; and after it had
been introduced into the maners of the country it maintained its
own authority, and was sanctioned by the legislation.
Communities have existed which were aristocratic from their
earliest origin, owing to circumstances anterior to that event,
and which became more democratic in each succeeding age. Such
was the destiny of the Romans, and of the barbarians after them.
But a people, having taken its rise in civilization and
democracy, which should gradually establish an inequality of
conditions, until it arrived at inviolable privileges and
exclusive castes, would be a novelty in the world; and nothing
intimates that America is likely to furnish so singular an

Reflection On The Causes Of The Commercial Prosperity Of The Of
The United States

The Americans destined by Nature to be a great maritime people -
Extent of their coasts - Depth of their ports - Size of their
rivers - The commercial superiority of the Anglo-Americans less
attributable, however, to physical circumstances than to moral
and intellectual causes - Reason of this opinion -Future destiny
of the Anglo-Americans as a commercial nation - The dissolution
of the Union would not check the maritime vigor of the States -
Reason of this - Anglo-Americans will naturally supply the wants
of the inhabitants of South America - They will become, like the
English, the factors of a great portion of the world.

The coast of the United States, from the Bay of Fundy to the
Sabine River in the Gulf of Mexico, is more than two thousand
miles in extent. These shores form an unbroken line, and they are
all subject to the same government. No nation in the world
possesses vaster, deeper, or more secure ports for shipping than
the Americans.

The inhabitants of the United States constitute a great
civilized people, which fortune has placed in the midst of an
uncultivated country at a distance of three thousand miles from
the central point of civilization. America consequently stands in
daily need of European trade. The Americans will, no doubt,
ultimately succeed in producing or manufacturing at home most of
the articles which they require; but the two continents can never
be independent of each other, so numerous are the natural ties
which exist between their wants, their ideas, their habits, and
their manners.

The Union produces peculiar commodities which are now become
necessary to us, but which cannot be cultivated, or can only be
raised at an enormous expense, upon the soil of Europe. The
Americans only consume a small portion of this produce, and they
are willing to sell us the rest. Europe is therefore the market
of America, as America is the market of Europe; and maritime
commerce is no less necessary to enable the inhabitants of the
United States to transport their raw materials to the ports of
Europe, than it is to enable us to supply them with our
manufactured produce. The United States were therefore
necessarily reduced to the alternative of increasing the business
of other maritime nations to a great extent, if they had
themselves declined to enter into commerce, as the Spaniards of
Mexico have hitherto done; or, in the second place, of becoming
one of the first trading powers of the globe.

The Anglo-Americans have always displayed a very decided
taste for the sea. The Declaration of Independence broke the
commercial restrictions which united them to England, and gave a
fresh and powerful stimulus to their maritime genius. Ever since
that time, the shipping of the Union has increased in almost the
same rapid proportion as the number of its inhabitants. The
Americans themselves now transport to their own shores
nine-tenths of the European produce which they consume. *g And
they also bring three- quarters of the exports of the New World
to the European consumer. *h The ships of the United States fill
the docks of Havre and of Liverpool; whilst the number of English
and French vessels which are to be seen at New York is
comparatively small. *i

[Footnote g: The total value of goods imported during the year
which ended on September 30, 1832, was $101,129,266. The value
of the cargoes of foreign vessels did not amount to $10,731,039,
or about one-tenth of the entire sum.]

[Footnote h: The value of goods exported during the same year
amounted to $87,176,943; the value of goods exported by foreign
vessels amounted to $21,036,183, or about one quarter of the
whole sum. (Williams's "Register," 1833, p. 398.)]

[Footnote i: The tonnage of the vessels which entered all the
ports of the Union in the years 1829, 1830, and 1831, amounted to
3,307,719 tons, of which 544,571 tons were foreign vessels; they
stood, therefore, to the American vessels in a ratio of about 16
to 100. ("National Calendar," 1833, p. 304.) The tonnage of the
English vessels which entered the ports of London, Liverpool, and
Hull, in the years 1820, 1826, and 1831, amounted to 443,800
tons. The foreign vessels which entered the same ports during
the same years amounted to 159,431 tons. The ratio between them
was, therefore, about 36 to 100. ("Companion to the Almanac,"
1834, p. 169.) In the year 1832 the ratio between the foreign and
British ships which entered the ports of Great Britain was 29 to
100. [These statements relate to a condition of affairs which has
ceased to exist; the Civil War and the heavy taxation of the
United States entirely altered the trade and navigation of the

Thus, not only does the American merchant face the
competition of his own countrymen, but he even supports that of
foreign nations in their own ports with success. This is readily
explained by the fact that the vessels of the United States can
cross the seas at a cheaper rate than any other vessels in the
world. As long as the mercantile shipping of the United States
preserves this superiority, it will not only retain what it has
acquired, but it will constantly increase in prosperity.

Chapter XVIII: Future Condition Of Three Races - Part X

It is difficult to say for what reason the Americans can
trade at a lower rate than other nations; and one is at first led
to attribute this circumstance to the physical or natural
advantages which are within their reach; but this supposition is
erroneous. The American vessels cost almost as much to build as
our own; *j they are not better built, and they generally last
for a shorter time. The pay of the American sailor is more
considerable than the pay on board European ships; which is
proved by the great number of Europeans who are to be met with in
the merchant vessels of the United States. But I am of opinion
that the true cause of their superiority must not be sought for
in physical advantages, but that it is wholly attributable to
their moral and intellectual

[Footnote j: Materials are, generally speaking, less expensive in
America than in Europe, but the price of labor is much higher.]

The following comparison will illustrate my meaning. During
the campaigns of the Revolution the French introduced a new
system of tactics into the art of war, which perplexed the oldest
generals, and very nearly destroyed the most ancient monarchies
in Europe. They undertook (what had never before been attempted)
to make shift without a number of things which had always been
held to be indispensable in warfare; they required novel
exertions on the part of their troops which no civilized nations
had ever thought of; they achieved great actions in an incredibly
short space of time; and they risked human life without
hesitation to obtain the object in view. The French had less
money and fewer men than their enemies; their resources were
infinitely inferior; nevertheless they were constantly
victorious, until their adversaries chose to imitate their

The Americans have introduced a similar system into their
commercial speculations; and they do for cheapness what the
French did for conquest. The European sailor navigates with
prudence; he only sets sail when the weather is favorable; if an
unforseen accident befalls him, he puts into port; at night he
furls a portion of his canvas; and when the whitening billows
intimate the vicinity of land, he checks his way, and takes an
observation of the sun. But the American neglects these
precautions and braves these dangers. He weighs anchor in the
midst of tempestuous gales; by night and by day he spreads his
sheets to the wind; he repairs as he goes along such damage as
his vessel may have sustained from the storm; and when he at last
approaches the term of his voyage, he darts onward to the shore
as if he already descried a port. The Americans are often
shipwrecked, but no trader crosses the seas so rapidly. And as
they perform the same distance in a shorter time, they can
perform it at a cheaper rate.

The European touches several times at different ports in the
course of a long voyage; he loses a good deal of precious time in
making the harbor, or in waiting for a favorable wind to leave
it; and he pays daily dues to be allowed to remain there. The
American starts from Boston to go to purchase tea in China; he
arrives at Canton, stays there a few days, and then returns. In
less than two years he has sailed as far as the entire
circumference of the globe, and he has seen land but once. It is
true that during a voyage of eight or ten months he has drunk
brackish water and lived upon salt meat; that he has been in a
continual contest with the sea, with disease, and with a tedious
existence; but upon his return he can sell a pound of his tea for
a half-penny less than the English merchant, and his purpose is

I cannot better explain my meaning than by saying that the
Americans affect a sort of heroism in their manner of trading.
But the European merchant will always find it very difficult to
imitate his American competitor, who, in adopting the system
which I have just described, follows not only a calculation of
his gain, but an impulse of his nature.

The inhabitants of the United States are subject to all the
wants and all the desires which result from an advanced stage of
civilization; but as they are not surrounded by a community
admirably adapted, like that of Europe, to satisfy their wants,
they are often obliged to procure for themselves the various
articles which education and habit have rendered necessaries. In
America it sometimes happens that the same individual tills his
field, builds his dwelling, contrives his tools, makes his shoes,
and weaves the coarse stuff of which his dress is composed. This
circumstance is prejudicial to the excellence of the work; but it
powerfully contributes to awaken the intelligence of the workman.
Nothing tends to materialize man, and to deprive his work of the
faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labor. In a
country like America, where men devoted to special occupations
are rare, a long apprenticeship cannot be required from anyone
who embraces a profession. The Americans, therefore, change
their means of gaining a livelihood very readily; and they suit
their occupations to the exigencies of the moment, in the manner
most profitable to themselves. Men are to be met with who have
successively been barristers, farmers, merchants, ministers of
the gospel, and physicians. If the American be less perfect in
each craft than the European, at least there is scarcely any
trade with which he is utterly unacquainted. His capacity is
more general, and the circle of his intelligence is enlarged.

The inhabitants of the United States are never fettered by
the axioms of their profession; they escape from all the
prejudices of their present station; they are not more attached
to one line of operation than to another; they are not more prone
to employ an old method than a new one; they have no rooted
habits, and they easily shake off the influence which the habits
of other nations might exercise upon their minds from a
conviction that their country is unlike any other, and that its
situation is without a precedent in the world. America is a land
of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion, and every
movement seems an improvement. The idea of novelty is there
indissolubly connected with the idea of amelioration. No natural
boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and what is not
yet done is only what he has not yet attempted to do.

This perpetual change which goes on in the United States,
these frequent vicissitudes of fortune, accompanied by such
unforeseen fluctuations in private and in public wealth, serve to
keep the minds of the citizens in a perpetual state of feverish
agitation, which admirably invigorates their exertions, and keeps
them in a state of excitement above the ordinary level of
mankind. The whole life of an American is passed like a game of
chance, a revolutionary crisis, or a battle. As the same causes
are continually in operation throughout the country, they
ultimately impart an irresistible impulse to the national
character. The American, taken as a chance specimen of his
countrymen, must then be a man of singular warmth in his desires,
enterprising, fond of adventure, and, above all, of innovation.
The same bent is manifest in all that he does; he introduces it
into his political laws, his religious doctrines, his theories of
social economy, and his domestic occupations; he bears it with
him in the depths of the backwoods, as well as in the business of
the city. It is this same passion, applied to maritime commerce,
which makes him the cheapest and the quickest trader in the

As long as the sailors of the United States retain these
inspiriting advantages, and the practical superiority which they
derive from them, they will not only continue to supply the wants
of the producers and consumers of their own country, but they
will tend more and more to become, like the English, the factors
of all other peoples. *k This prediction has already begun to be
realized; we perceive that the American traders are introducing
themselves as intermediate agents in the commerce of several
European nations; *l and America will offer a still wider field
to their enterprise.

[Footnote k: It must not be supposed that English vessels are
exclusively employed in transporting foreign produce into
England, or British produce to foreign countries; at the present
day the merchant shipping of England may be regarded in the light
of a vast system of public conveyances, ready to serve all the
producers of the world, and to open communications between all
peoples. The maritime genius of the Americans prompts them to
enter into competition with the English.]

[Footnote l: Part of the commerce of the Mediterranean is already
carried on by American vessels.]

The great colonies which were founded in South America by
the Spaniards and the Portuguese have since become empires.
Civil war and oppression now lay waste those extensive regions.
Population does not increase, and the thinly scattered
inhabitants are too much absorbed in the cares of self-defense
even to attempt any amelioration of their condition. Such,
however, will not always be the case. Europe has succeeded by
her own efforts in piercing the gloom of the Middle Ages; South
America has the same Christian laws and Christian manners as we
have; she contains all the germs of civilization which have grown
amidst the nations of Europe or their offsets, added to the
advantages to be derived from our example: why then should she
always remain uncivilized? It is clear that the question is
simply one of time; at some future period, which may be more or
less remote, the inhabitants of South America will constitute
flourishing and enlightened nations.

But when the Spaniards and Portuguese of South America begin
to feel the wants common to all civilized nations, they will
still be unable to satisfy those wants for themselves; as the
youngest children of civilization, they must perforce admit the
superiority of their elder brethren. They will be agriculturists
long before they succeed in manufactures or commerce, and they
will require the mediation of strangers to exchange their produce
beyond seas for those articles for which a demand will begin to
be felt.

It is unquestionable that the Americans of the North will
one day supply the wants of the Americans of the South. Nature
has placed them in contiguity, and has furnished the former with
every means of knowing and appreciating those demands, of
establishing a permanent connection with those States, and of
gradually filling their markets. The merchants of the United
States could only forfeit these natural advantages if he were
very inferior to the merchant of Europe; to whom he is, on the
contrary, superior in several respects. The Americans of the
United States already exercise a very considerable moral
influence upon all the peoples of the New World. They are the
source of intelligence, and all the nations which inhabit the
same continent are already accustomed to consider them as the
most enlightened, the most powerful, and the most wealthy members
of the great American family. All eyes are therefore turned
towards the Union; and the States of which that body is composed
are the models which the other communities try to imitate to the
best of their power; it is from the United States that they
borrow their political principles and their laws.

The Americans of the United States stand in precisely the
same position with regard to the peoples of South America as
their fathers, the English, occupy with regard to the Italians,
the Spaniards, the Portuguese, and all those nations of Europe
which receive their articles of daily consumption from England,
because they are less advanced in civilization and trade. England
is at this time the natural emporium of almost all the nations
which are within its reach; the American Union will perform the
same part in the other hemisphere; and every community which is
founded, or which prospers in the New World, is founded and
prospers to the advantage of the Anglo-Americans.

If the Union were to be dissolved, the commerce of the
States which now compose it would undoubtedly be checked for a
time; but this consequence would be less perceptible than is
generally supposed. It is evident that, whatever may happen, the
commercial States will remain united. They are all contiguous to
each other; they have identically the same opinions, interests,
and manners; and they are alone competent to form a very great
maritime power. Even if the South of the Union were to become
independent of the North, it would still require the services of
those States. I have already observed that the South is not a
commercial country, and nothing intimates that it is likely to
become so. The Americans of the South of the United States will
therefore be obliged, for a long time to come, to have recourse
to strangers to export their produce, and to supply them with the
commodities which are requisite to satisfy their wants. But the
Northern States are undoubtedly able to act as their intermediate
agents cheaper than any other merchants. They will therefore
retain that employment, for cheapness is the sovereign law of
commerce. National claims and national prejudices cannot resist
the influence of cheapness. Nothing can be more virulent than
the hatred which exists between the Americans of the United
States and the English. But notwithstanding these inimical
feelings, the Americans derive the greater part of their
manufactured commodities from England, because England supplies
them at a cheaper rate than any other nation. Thus the
increasing prosperity of America turns, notwithstanding the
grudges of the Americans, to the advantage of British

Reason shows and experience proves that no commercial
prosperity can be durable if it cannot be united, in case of
need, to naval force. This truth is as well understood in the
United States as it can be anywhere else: the Americans are
already able to make their flag respected; in a few years they
will be able to make it feared. I am convinced that the
dismemberment of the Union would not have the effect of
diminishing the naval power of the Americans, but that it would
powerfully contribute to increase it. At the present time the
commercial States are connected with others which have not the
same interests, and which frequently yield an unwilling consent
to the increase of a maritime power by which they are only
indirectly benefited. If, on the contrary, the commercial States
of the Union formed one independent nation, commerce would become
the foremost of their national interests; they would consequently
be willing to make very great sacrifices to protect their
shipping, and nothing would prevent them from pursuing their
designs upon this point.

Nations, as well as men, almost always betray the most
prominent features of their future destiny in their earliest
years. When I contemplate the ardor with which the
Anglo-Americans prosecute commercial enterprise, the advantages
which befriend them, and the success of their undertakings, I
cannot refrain from believing that they will one day become the
first maritime power of the globe. They are born to rule the
seas, as the Romans were to conquer the world.


I have now nearly reached the close of my inquiry; hitherto,
in speaking of the future destiny of the United States, I have
endeavored to divide my subject into distinct portions, in order
to study each of them with more attention. My present object is
to embrace the whole from one single point; the remarks I shall
make will be less detailed, but they will be more sure. I shall
perceive each object less distinctly, but I shall descry the
principal facts with more certainty. A traveller who has just
left the walls of an immense city, climbs the neighboring hill;
as he goes father off he loses sight of the men whom he has so
recently quitted; their dwellings are confused in a dense mass;
he can no longer distinguish the public squares, and he can
scarcely trace out the great thoroughfares; but his eye has less
difficulty in following the boundaries of the city, and for the
first time he sees the shape of the vast whole. Such is the
future destiny of the British race in North America to my eye;
the details of the stupendous picture are overhung with shade,
but I conceive a clear idea of the entire subject.

The territory now occupied or possessed by the United States
of America forms about one-twentieth part of the habitable earth.
But extensive as these confines are, it must not be supposed that
the Anglo-American race will always remain within them; indeed,
it has already far overstepped them.

There was once a time at which we also might have created a
great French nation in the American wilds, to counterbalance the
influence of the English upon the destinies of the New World.
France formerly possessed a territory in North America, scarcely
less extensive than the whole of Europe. The three greatest
rivers of that continent then flowed within her dominions. The
Indian tribes which dwelt between the mouth of the St. Lawrence
and the delta of the Mississippi were unaccustomed to any other
tongue but ours; and all the European settlements scattered over
that immense region recalled the traditions of our country.
Louisbourg, Montmorency, Duquesne, St. Louis, Vincennes, New
Orleans (for such were the names they bore) are words dear to
France and familiar to our ears.

But a concourse of circumstances, which it would be tedious
to enumerate, *m have deprived us of this magnificent
inheritance. Wherever the French settlers were numerically weak
and partially established, they have disappeared: those who
remain are collected on a small extent of country, and are now
subject to other laws. The 400,000 French inhabitants of Lower
Canada constitute, at the present time, the remnant of an old
nation lost in the midst of a new people. A foreign population
is increasing around them unceasingly and on all sides, which
already penetrates amongst the ancient masters of the country,
predominates in their cities and corrupts their language. This
population is identical with that of the United States; it is
therefore with truth that I asserted that the British race is not
confined within the frontiers of the Union, since it already
extends to the northeast.

[Footnote m: The foremost of these circumstances is, that nations
which are accustomed to free institutions and municipal
government are better able than any others to found prosperous
colonies. The habit of thinking and governing for oneself is
indispensable in a new country, where success necessarily
depends, in a great measure, upon the individual exertions of the

To the northwest nothing is to be met with but a few
insignificant Russian settlements; but to the southwest, Mexico
presents a barrier to the Anglo-Americans. Thus, the Spaniards
and the Anglo-Americans are, properly speaking, the only two
races which divide the possession of the New World. The limits of
separation between them have been settled by a treaty; but
although the conditions of that treaty are exceedingly favorable
to the Anglo-Americans, I do not doubt that they will shortly
infringe this arrangement. Vast provinces, extending beyond the
frontiers of the Union towards Mexico, are still destitute of
inhabitants. The natives of the United States will forestall the
rightful occupants of these solitary regions. They will take
possession of the soil, and establish social institutions, so
that when the legal owner arrives at length, he will find the
wilderness under cultivation, and strangers quietly settled in
the midst of his inheritance. *n

[Footnote n: [This was speedily accomplished, and ere long both
Texas and California formed part of the United States. The
Russian settlements were acquired by purchase.]]

The lands of the New World belong to the first occupant, and
they are the natural reward of the swiftest pioneer. Even the
countries which are already peopled will have some difficulty in
securing themselves from this invasion. I have already alluded to
what is taking place in the province of Texas. The inhabitants
of the United States are perpetually migrating to Texas, where
they purchase land; and although they conform to the laws of the
country, they are gradually founding the empire of their own
language and their own manners. The province of Texas is still
part of the Mexican dominions, but it will soon contain no
Mexicans; the same thing has occurred whenever the
Anglo-Americans have come into contact with populations of a
different origin.

It cannot be denied that the British race has acquired an
amazing preponderance over all the other European races in the
New World; and that it is very superior to them in civilization,
in industry, and in power. As long as it is only surrounded by
desert or thinly peopled countries, as long as it encounters no
dense populations upon its route, through which it cannot work
its way, it will assuredly continue to spread. The lines marked
out by treaties will not stop it; but it will everywhere
transgress these imaginary barriers.

The geographical position of the British race in the New
World is peculiarly favorable to its rapid increase. Above its
northern frontiers the icy regions of the Pole extend; and a few
degrees below its southern confines lies the burning climate of
the Equator. The Anglo-Americans are, therefore, placed in the
most temperate and habitable zone of the continent.

It is generally supposed that the prodigious increase of
population in the United States is posterior to their Declaration
of Independence. But this is an error: the population increased
as rapidly under the colonial system as it does at the present
day; that is to say, it doubled in about twenty-two years. But
this proportion which is now applied to millions, was then
applied to thousands of inhabitants; and the same fact which was
scarcely noticeable a century ago, is now evident to every

The British subjects in Canada, who are dependent on a king,
augment and spread almost as rapidly as the British settlers of
the United States, who live under a republican government.
During the war of independence, which lasted eight years, the
population continued to increase without intermission in the same
ratio. Although powerful Indian nations allied with the English
existed at that time upon the western frontiers, the emigration
westward was never checked. Whilst the enemy laid waste the
shores of the Atlantic, Kentucky, the western parts of
Pennsylvania, and the States of Vermont and of Maine were filling
with inhabitants. Nor did the unsettled state of the
Constitution, which succeeded the war, prevent the increase of
the population, or stop its progress across the wilds. Thus, the
difference of laws, the various conditions of peace and war, of
order and of anarchy, have exercised no perceptible influence
upon the gradual development of the Anglo-Americans. This may be
readily understood; for the fact is, that no causes are
sufficiently general to exercise a simultaneous influence over
the whole of so extensive a territory. One portion of the
country always offers a sure retreat from the calamities which
afflict another part; and however great may be the evil, the
remedy which is at hand is greater still.

It must not, then, be imagined that the impulse of the
British race in the New World can be arrested. The dismemberment
of the Union, and the hostilities which might ensure, the
abolition of republican institutions, and the tyrannical
government which might succeed it, may retard this impulse, but
they cannot prevent it from ultimately fulfilling the destinies
to which that race is reserved. No power upon earth can close
upon the emigrants that fertile wilderness which offers resources
to all industry, and a refuge from all want. Future events, of
whatever nature they may be, will not deprive the Americans of
their climate or of their inland seas, of their great rivers or
of their exuberant soil. Nor will bad laws, revolutions, and
anarchy be able to obliterate that love of prosperity and that
spirit of enterprise which seem to be the distinctive
characteristics of their race, or to extinguish that knowledge
which guides them on their way.

Thus, in the midst of the uncertain future, one event at
least is sure. At a period which may be said to be near (for we
are speaking of the life of a nation), the Anglo-Americans will
alone cover the immense space contained between the polar regions
and the tropics, extending from the coasts of the Atlantic to the
shores of the Pacific Ocean. The territory which will probably
be occupied by the Anglo-Americans at some future time, may be
computed to equal three-quarters of Europe in extent. *o The
climate of the Union is upon the whole preferable to that of
Europe, and its natural advantages are not less great; it is
therefore evident that its population will at some future time be
proportionate to our own. Europe, divided as it is between so
many different nations, and torn as it has been by incessant wars
and the barbarous manners of the Middle Ages, has notwithstanding
attained a population of 410 inhabitants to the square league. *p
What cause can prevent the United States from having as numerous
a population in time?

[Footnote o: The United States already extend over a territory
equal to one-half of Europe. The area of Europe is 500,000
square leagues, and its population 205,000,000 of inhabitants.
("Malte Brun," liv. 114. vol. vi. p. 4.)

[This computation is given in French leagues, which were in
use when the author wrote. Twenty years later, in 1850, the
superficial area of the United States had been extended to
3,306,865 square miles of territory, which is about the area of

[Footnote p: See "Malte Brun," liv. 116, vol. vi. p. 92.]

Many ages must elapse before the divers offsets of the
British race in America cease to present the same homogeneous
characteristics: and the time cannot be foreseen at which a
permanent inequality of conditions will be established in the New
World. Whatever differences may arise, from peace or from war,
from freedom or oppression, from prosperity or want, between the
destinies of the different descendants of the great
Anglo-American family, they will at least preserve an analogous
social condition, and they will hold in common the customs and
the opinions to which that social condition has given birth.

In the Middle Ages, the tie of religion was sufficiently
powerful to imbue all the different populations of Europe with
the same civilization. The British of the New World have a
thousand other reciprocal ties; and they live at a time when the
tendency to equality is general amongst mankind. The Middle Ages
were a period when everything was broken up; when each people,
each province, each city, and each family, had a strong tendency
to maintain its distinct individuality. At the present time an
opposite tendency seems to prevail, and the nations seem to be
advancing to unity. Our means of intellectual intercourse unite
the most remote parts of the earth; and it is impossible for men
to remain strangers to each other, or to be ignorant of the
events which are taking place in any corner of the globe. The
consequence is that there is less difference, at the present day,
between the Europeans and their descendants in the New World,
than there was between certain towns in the thirteenth century
which were only separated by a river. If this tendency to
assimilation brings foreign nations closer to each other, it must
a fortiori prevent the descendants of the same people from
becoming aliens to each other.

The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty
millions of men will be living in North America, *q equal in
condition, the progeny of one race, owing their origin to the
same cause, and preserving the same civilization, the same
language, the same religion, the same habits, the same manners,
and imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the same
forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a
fact new to the world - a fact fraught with such portentous
consequences as to baffle the efforts even of the imagination.

[Footnote q: This would be a population proportionate to that of
Europe, taken at a mean rate of 410 inhabitants to the square

There are, at the present time, two great nations in the
world which seem to tend towards the same end, although they
started from different points: I allude to the Russians and the
Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the
attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly
assumed a most prominent place amongst the nations; and the world
learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural
limits, and only to be charged with the maintenance of their
power; but these are still in the act of growth; *r all the
others are stopped, or continue to advance with extreme
difficulty; these are proceeding with ease and with celerity
along a path to which the human eye can assign no term. The
American struggles against the natural obstacles which oppose
him; the adversaries of the Russian are men; the former combats
the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all
its weapons and its arts: the conquests of the one are therefore
gained by the ploughshare; those of the other by the sword. The
Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his
ends, and gives free scope to the unguided exertions and
common-sense of the citizens; the Russian centres all the
authority of society in a single arm: the principal instrument of
the former is freedom; of the latter servitude. Their
starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same;
yet each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to
sway the destinies of half the globe.

[Footnote r: Russia is the country in the Old World in which
population increases most rapidly in proportion.]

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