« AnteriorContinuar »
rect and control the separate States; the composition of Congress and the Legislatures; the difference between the two parties, into which the whole country is divided, the Whigs and the Democrats; the nature of the popular vote; of the administration of justice; juridical and congressional eloquence, &c. But upon one point I must add at least a few words, namely, upon Slavery, which prevails indeed only in the Southern States, yet, in consequence of their connection with the northern States as a political corporation, it becomes a national affair; and lately, especially by the unexampled spread of “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” substantially a tolerably true representation of life in the slave States, has also awakened the attention of Europe in a high degree.
Slavery is without question the greatest political and social difficulty in the Union, which gives occasion to continued agitation in Congress, and throws the apple of discord from year to year into the Church itself, and in 1850 brought us to the brink of a formal dissolution of the Union.
The leaders of the two great political parties, Clay and Webster on the side of the Whigs, Cass and Buchanan on the side of the Democrats, at that time employed all the power of their eloquence and statesmanship to carry through the so-called Compromise Measures, and thereby save the Union. But the agitation respecting it continues yet in both Church and State, and broke out again last winter in stormy debates in Congress upon the Nebraska bill, and will only come to a quietus with the removal of the evil itself. That there should exist in the United States over three millions of negro slaves, who can be bought and sold as dead merchandize, stands certainly in palpable contradiction to their fundamental maxim, that all men are free and equal, or as one might better express it, are created for freedom. But how and in what manner this evil, which was not created by them, but inherited, which has rooted itself into the very heart of the country, and become interwoven with all the material interests of the South, is to be gotten rid of, is one of the most difficult questions that has ever been presented to the skill of the Statesman for solution.
There are, generally speaking, upon this subject, three parties in the Union. 1.) The Abolitionist of the North, especially of New England, who regards slavery as sinful per se, and urges its immediate abolition, which is again separated into two quite distinct branches, the one proceeding upon scriptural grounds, the other, in the most radical excess, upon other grounds, such as the emanicipation of women, and losing itself in open infidelity, therefore does far more injury than good to the cause. 2.) The Secessionists of the South, particularly of South Carolina, who, embittered by the overbearing attacks of the Abolitionists, threaten Congress with a separation from the confederacy, and the formation of separate southern rcpublics. Many of these defend Slavery as a necessary social offset to the democracy of the north, as a conservative element, with an appeal to the insurmountable difference between the African and Caucasian race; to the miserable condition of the emancipated negro, and even to the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, and to the Epistle of Paul to Philemon. 3.) The Union party, by far the most influential, composed of Whigs and Democrats together, who hold up the Union at all hazards from patriotic and material considerations, and prefer to give slavery over to the legislation of its own States, and leave them decide their own fate. The most of its advocates believe that slavery will gradually die out of itself, and that an immediate emancipation, without a previous education on the part of the slave, would rather operate for their injury than for their advantage. indeed it will, in the course of time, as it has already done in the Northern States, which would perhaps already have taken place in Maryland and Kentucky, had not the Abolitionists in their overbearing judgment of the slaveholder called forth a re-action. But so much appears clear to me from the standpoint of religion and of humanity, that it is the duty of the State and the Church, in a quiet way, and without prejudice to the rights of the slaveholder, to prepare for the gradual emancipation of the slaves, by presenting this as the most reasonable demand of freedom, and by the enactment of laws,
which may hold forth the prospect of the freedom of the rising generation at a certain age of life.
But in the event of a general abolition of Slavery, the great difficulty still remains, whether the African race upon the whole can stand beside the Caucasian in the full enjoyment of equal rights, mingle with them and wholly fulfill their destiny. As is known, there exists in the free States an insurmountable barrier between the whites and emancipated negroes, and even the most zealous Abolionist with all his loud talk about absolute equality of all men, would scarely at any price allow himself to unite his fortune for life with a negro woman. I doubt whether an Englander or a German would do it. The condition of the free negro in America is upon the whole a pitiable
one, and not seldom worse than that of their enslaved brethren at the South, at least in cases where piously disposed masters—and of these, thank God, there are not a few-s0 carefully attend to, and kindly treat them, that often they are quite unwilling to accept of proffered freedom. It therefore seems to me, that the same urgent duty rests upon the Northern States, by wise laws to better the social condition of the free negroes, and to raise them to the true dignity of human beings, as it rests upon the Southern States to promote the gradual emancipation of the slaves.
As yet I see but one bright spot in the dark tragical picture of slavery, that is the American Colonization Society, with its established negro-republic in Liberia upon the western coast of Africa. In this Colony whose progress has hitherto been fortunate beyond all expectation, and which has some of its warmest and most liberal patrons among the slaveholders themselves in the Southern States, there is made at least a beginning of a thorough bettering of the condition of the negro, and the foundation laid at the same time for the general christianization and civilization of the native wild negro tribes, in a land whose climate the Caucasian race could as little endure, as the negro could hitherto, whilst in contact with the whites, raise himself to an equal social signification and dignity. And it would seem in this case, that God designs anew to reveal his
wonderful wisdom, by which he knows how to bring good even out of evil, in that He designs by means of the christianized and civilized negro to kindle the light of the everlasting Gogpel in the heart of that consecrated terra incognita, and so to turn the fearful curse of American slavery, that heavy guilt of European and American Christendom--for it was introduced into the new world under Spanish, French, Danish and English influence—into an inestimable blessing for the heathen and barbarous people of Africa.
3. NATIONAL CHARACTER AND SOCIAL CONDITION. The United States presents, in the next place, a wonderful mixture of nations from every quarter of the heavens, and a journey through it is in a certain sense a journey through the world, and in so far one of the most interesting and instructive that can be made. For there Englishmen, Scotchmen, Irishmen, Germans from all districts, Swiss, Hollanders, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians, Swedes, Norwegians, Poles, Magyars, with their well known national prejudices and weaknesses have peaceably settled down together in an equality of social and political rights. To these European nationalities must be added also the red aborigines of the country, who retire continually deeper into the forests and prairies of the west, and, in spite of every attempt to christianize and civilize them, approach, by the means of internal wars, epidemics and poisonous liquors, continually nearer to their tragical fate of entire extinction ; further, the swarthy sons of Africa rejoicing in the childlike serenity of their existence, and even in the condition of freedom, bowing instinctively before the superiority of the whites; finally, also the emigrant from the celestial empire, with his oblong-drawn eyes, his complacency of mind, his mechanical culture, liis industry and love of money, drawn thither by the yellow gold of California.
We have also in America an ethnographical panorama, which one may see pass before his eyes even in a walk of a few hours upon Broadway, New York, Chesnut street, Philadelphia, or upon the markets of San Francisco. But not only
nationalities of the old world, but sectional peculiarities, manners and customs, which have outlived themselves in their primitive situations, are propagated yet in part with the most remarkable tenacity. In Virginia, you meet with the English gentlemen of the age of Elizabeth and the later Stuarts; in Philadelphia, with the Quaker from the days of George Fox and William Penn; in East Pennsylvania, with the Palatine and the Suabian from the beginning of the last century; in New England, with the Puritan from the times of Cromwell and Baxter; on the banks of the Hudson and in New Jersey, with the genuine Hollanders ; in South Carolina, with the Huguenots and the French noblemen of the seventeenth century, or at least very characteristic remains of them, which in Europe have already become much more defaced. From this it may appear, with what cautiousness and limitation the descriptions of so many European travellers must be taken, who take up a particular phase and make it the measure of their judgment for the whole. By this treatment one may trace out their contradictory statements.
But what is most remarkable, over this bundle of diversities there prevails yet a higher unity, and that in this mixture of people there are seen already the fundamental outlines of a peculiarly American national character. err very much who see in the United States merely the faint echo of European nationalities, and allow themselves to deny to that country a self-existent, historical future. Whoever with open eyes steps upon the soil of the new world will soon come in contact with the impulse of a powerful, fresh and thoroughly national life, which immediately takes up all foreign elements and assimilates them into its own organism. The digestive faculty of the American is truly wonderful. How many thousands and millions of Europeans has his stomach already taken up, and yet he has only become the more firm and healthy.
The main trunk of American nationality is undoubtedly English, but certainly furnished with a peculiar modification, and a great facility of working up foreign elements. One