Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

calculated how long they are likely to keep this market? The Southern States are a great market for our manufactures, because they are great staple States; and they are great staple States, because there is a foreign demand for their staples. Suppose this foreign demand to be cut off. Suppose that India, Egypt, South America, and Texas, in case it is not annexed to the Union, should finally be able to supply, or to supply to a very considerable extent, the European cotton market. What would be the effect on the Northern manufacturing interest ? On what depends the ability of the North to sell its manufactured goods to the West and South ? On the ability of the West and South to sell their produce. But to whom? Not to us; for we can consume but a small portion of it. Not to themselves; for they are sellers, not purchasers. To whom, then ? Of course to foreigners. But suppose we exclude foreign manufactures, how shall foreigners be able to buy the surplus produce of the South and West ? If foreigners cannot exchange their produce for the surplus produce of the South and West, the South and West cannot buy of us. What, then, is the necessary result ? Why, the South and West must withdraw a portion of their capital now invested in agriculture, and go to manufacturing for themselves. Now, do not our manufacturers perceive, that the restrictive policy they advocate, by diminishing relatively the foreign demand, must necessarily ere long drive the South and West into manufacturing in self-defence; and that they are raising up a rival at home for the home market, with whom they will find it difficult to compete? And when they have raised up this rival, what then will be their condition? They will have lost their best market, and will find themselves with an immense investment of capital in manufacturing establishments, an overgrown manufacturing population, and little or no demand for their goods. This is the prospect before them, and to this result they are hastening as fast as possible. Mr. Webster seems to have seen this, and in his famous Baltimore speech, a year and a half ago,

[ocr errors]

suggested, as their true friend, the only policy which
could avert or delay it. They rejected that policy, and
he seems to have abandoned it. The time will soon
come, but not till it is too late, when our Northern
manufacturers will open their eyes, and begin to clamor
for free trade, while the mighty West, having also em-
barked in manufacturing, and holding the balance of
power, will insist on protection. Then your Law-
rences and their compeers, who by their wealth have
been enabled to float to the surface of society, and who
are looked upon as directing its current because they
are borne on by it, will be estimated at their true value;
and hundreds and thousands, who have floated after
them in the same direction, will curse the day when
they suffered themselves to aid in fastening the iniqui-
tous restrictive system on the country. It is rare that
avarice fails to overreach itself, and to bring down upon
its own head the punishment it merits. Our manufactu-
rers remind us of a stanza by Southey, in his and Cole-
ridge's Devil's Thoughts : -
“Down a river there plied with wind and tide

A pig with vast celerity;
And the Devil looked wise, as he saw how, the while,
It cut its own throat. There! quoth he, with a smile,

Goes England's commercial prosperity.' And so our manufacturers, swimming with wind and tide down the river, are cutting their own throats; but before they have fairly done it, they will have become so involved in the whole industrial system of the country, and all the other industrial interests of the country will become so mixed up with the manufacturing interest, that their ruin will only make matters worse. It is not yet, perhaps, if we were wise, too late to remedy the evil; but we confess, that we “hope against hope" ; that we see little prospect of the remedy's being applied in season, and that we turn pretty much in despair from the government. The fatal error has been committed, and we do not believe that there remains virtue enough in the community to retrieve it. We are a nation of mammon-worshippers, and there is no good for us till we forsake our idolatry, and return to the worship of God, which we show no signs of being likely to do. In the mean time, hoping always that Providence may interpose to arrest the evil before it is past remedy, nothing remains for those of us who see the evil, and would make our country great, glorious, virtuous, and happy, but to keep on our way, sowing, it may be, in discouragement and grief, but trusting still to Him who permitteth not a sparrow to fall without his notice, that in due time we shall reap if we faint not.

ART. V. - Might and Right. By a Rhode Islander.

Providence : A. H. Stillwell. 1844. 12mo. pp. 324.

It is no pleasant task to us to review this work, a professed history of the proceedings of the late Suffrage Party in Rhode Island. It is a work written with intense feeling, and very considerable ability, by one for whom we entertain, and always must entertain, a very high personal regard. We find in it the spirit of a high-toned woman, a woman's deep sympathies, just sense of humanity, and, we may add, a woman's reasoning, more perplexing than convincing, and better adapted to touch the heart than to satisfy the understanding. Moreover, we once ventured to call the individual principally concerned in these proceedings our personal friend. We esteemed him as a man of no mean intellectual ability, of firm principles, of ardent devotion to popular rights, a true-hearted patriot, and an honest man. And of him, personally, we have seen no cause to change our opinion. We have delighted to meet him in his office, and felt ourselves honored by his friendship. We should regard his friendship, which unhappily we do not retain, no less now he occupies a prisoner's cell, than formerly. We believe he acted

[ocr errors]

from his convictions of right, that he was sincere in what he attempted, and that his only motive was to benefit the mass of the people of his native State.

And yet we have never for one moment approved the proceedings of the Suffrage Party. We, in common with the great body of the American people, wished to see the elective franchise extended to the great mass of those who could not be electors under the old established freehold qualification. Though not by any means accustomed to rate the elective franchise so high as do the members generally of the political party with which we are associated, and though very far from believing the acquisition of universal suffrage equivalent to the acquisition of liberty, or that universal suffrage affords any considerable guaranty, in a country where inequality of property obtains, of wise or just government, — we have yet believed it essential to the perfection of the political system adopted in this country, and have therefore always advocated its general adoption. Accordingly, we were among those who encouraged the formation of the Suffrage Association, believing, as we did, that its only design was to act on public opinion, and by the force of opinion to compel the Charter government to take measures for the formation and adoption of a more liberal constitution. We willingly accepted an invitation to address the Association, in Providence, early in January, 1841, in favor of an extension of suffrage. We watched the progress of the movement up to the time of calling the Suffrage Convention, when, becoming engrossed with other matters, we paid no more attention to the subject, till about the time when the new government under the People's Constitution was preparing to organize itself. We regarded the whole proceedings under that constitution as illegal and revolutionary; but we were not disposed to condemn them with much severity, because we could not perceive how any amendment could be legally introduced, or the evils complained of legally redressed. We supposed the restriction on suffrage was a provision of the charter, and, if so, it could not be altered by any legal authority in the State, as the charter did not provide for its own amendment.

Taking this view of the question, we argued, that, let the measures for the extension of suffrage or the formation of a new constitution emanate from what source they might, from the Suffrage Association or from the General Assembly, since not authorized by the charter from which existing authorities derive their existence and power, they must needs be, in fact, illegal and revolutionary. The People's Constitution is, we said, confessedly illegal in its origin; but so also must be a constitution framed by a convention called by the General Assembly, for the General Assembly has no authority from the charter to call a convention. Since then, the

, Suffrage Association have called a convention, since that convention has framed a constitution, and since a majority of the people of Rhode Island, as it is alleged, have voted for it, it is decidedly best to let it go peaceably into operation. It is not, it is true, a good constitution ; it contains several very objectionable features; but as it provides for its own amendment, it may hereafter be amended; and, bad as it is, it is better than the old charter. Presuming, from the information we received, that an immense majority of the people were satisfied with it, we concluded that nothing was wanting but a little firmness on the part of Mr. Dorr and his friends in its defence, to induce the Charter Party to yield, and sufler the new government to go quietly into operation; and being also a little indignant at what we regarded the unwarrantable interference of the Federal executive, we wrote to Mr. Dorr a letter, which he has since done us the honor to publish, and which he must have received a day or two before his attack on the Arsenal, detailing the conversation we had had with a Whig member of the Massachusetts legislature, and urging him to firmness in asserting the constitution under which he was elected. That the letter may be construed into the expression of approbation of Mr. Dorr's principle of proceeding is very possible, for it was hastily written for a special purpose ; but it was not intended to express any

a

« AnteriorContinuar »