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HE truc object of an Introduction should be to give the reader a correct idea of the book. I will try to do this by hinting the subjects I treat of, and what I meant in writing this work.
With the restoration of peace at home, we have time to look abroad; and while no good citizen desires a conflict with England, there is a universal and settled determination to call her to an account, sooner or later, for the enormous wrongs and depredations she has allowed her subjects to perpetrate upon our Commerce, our Peace, our Union and Prosperity. She was unfriendly to us in our weakness-she can hardly ask us to be friendly to her in our strength.
I intended not only to display the power, resources and grandeur of the British empire, with whatever constitutes its title to enduring glory, but to lift the veil from her crimes, in oppressing the masses of her own people at home; her cruelties to Ireland, and her helpless hundred and fifty millions in Asia; the corruptions of her "Established Church," as a State Religion; and, in a word, the atrocities of her Oligarchical System, which dresses one man in gold and sends him to the House of Lords, and another in rags and sends him to the Workhouse; a system which has only one scope in Foreign Policy, viz.: to oppress and rob nations, to sweep all commerce but her own from the sea, and above all, to break up the Great Republic of the United States.
Since my first work under the same title appeared, many years ago, I have made repeated visits to England, and spent seven years on the continent, chiefly in the Public Service. I have rewritten and greatly enlarged the original work, bringing it down to 1866-thoroughly exposing the conduct of England towards this country during the period of our great trouble, and showing just how she stands to-day before the gaze of the world.
I do not expect much good-will from the British Government, or most of the British aristocracy, for writing this book. I am working for the emancipation of whole nations, and the elevation of all men. England has always been working for the overthrow of rival nationalities, and the political subjection of men. England fights for the few-I for the many. She for Aristocracy-I for Democracy. She for the present—I for the future. No wonder we should not agree any too well. In justice to myself, however, it should be always held in mind, that, in speaking of England, I mean the Government and the ruling classes of the British empire-not the British people, for whom I entertain all the sympathies which spring unbidden from the common fountains of kindred, language, laws and religion.
BY no means wish to inflame a feeling of animosity between my own countrymen and Englishmen. This is the last thing I would attempt, unless provoked to it by acts of wrong which could not be atoned for except by justifiable retaliation. But there has been solid ground for American complaint against the English Government at many periods of our history-especially since our home troubles began. The barometer of British feeling towards us, during our Rebellion, was graduated exactly to the wavering fortunes of our armies in the field. When victory was on our side, the Government and the press of England were partially with us. When the armed
CAUSES OF COMPLAINT AGAINST ENGLAND.
insurgents had the best of it, England and most Englishmen were against us.
It would be wasting time and type to show that England has never treated us with much respect or complacency, except where it was for her immediate interest to do so. She shifts her policy towards all strong nations to suit the hour-towards weak ones, to suit her convenience.
Now, this may do very well in the short run, but will it do in the long run? Individuals are short-lived-they can easily forget; but nations are long-lived, and have a plenty of time to remember. The embers of a bitter war may seem to have smouldered into ashes; but a coming breeze may blow those ashes into thin air, and set the world on fire.
Yes, causes of complaint against Great Britain do exist― provocations have been given; and they are of too serious a nature to be overlooked, or treated with levity. A contest between the British Monarch and the American Republic has begun, and it is too late to arrest it by any policy on our part, which any American statesman or party would dare to propose. How serious this contest may grow, will depend on England alone. The solution of this problem is no longer in our hands. She alone can quiet the disturbed elements-she alone can avert the gathering storm.
These questions must be discussed; the day of mealy-mouthing diplomacy is over; the ground of our complaints must be carefully explored; the causes and nature of British provocations must be clearly stated; the issue cannot be much longer postponed we must get ready to meet it.
It would seem that the politicians who manage the British empire have a chronic complaint, from which few of them ever recover, of dealing with us as "old-fashioned colonies;" as, in some sort, dependencies still of the English crown! They seem to look on us as a kind of tributary-not exactly as an independent nation-but somehow or other, an attaché de l'empire. The Revolution of 1776 ought to have blotted this idea out; but it did not. The war of 1812 should have ended
MAGNA CHARTA FOR THE WHOLE PEOPLE.
it. But this same idea exists to-day; and Englishmen of state must get rid of the foolish fancy before they can deal with us successfully. They must put themselves omnis in hoc with our political system. They are monarchical; we are democratic. We do not bandy words about forms of government; we want substance the real substance of liberty. Englishmen will choose their own forms; they have chosen them; and under these forms they manage to get a plenty of liberty for the privileged classes, while God, and a few good people, take as much care of the poor as they can. What we want, and claim to have in America, is a magna charta for the whole people, which means-First: Suffrage for all duly qualified classes of the people and none others; Second: The vote by ballot, which is the chief guaranty of independent suffrage; Third: A just distribution of paternal estates among all legitimate children, which annihilates the hereditary rights of primogeniture, and thereby lays the axe at the root of this Upas tree of family aristocracy; Fourth: Universal religious (not toleration) protection, thus dissolving the harlot embrace of Church and State, and ending the foul system of a state religion; and last of all, the education of all the people as a public duty as a cardinal maxim of State. When the first civil structures were reared by the infant American Colonies, they put this great thing in: "Our children's education must be provided for, and zealously looked after, as one of the first
* I am fully aware this is no easy work for an English statesman. It is only now and then that it has been achieved. Burke, Fox and a few others understood us during our revolutionary struggle. At a later period such men as Canning and Huskisson did. But in our immediate times, the number of public men and journals in Great Britain that have displayed any adequate comprehension of our political and social system could be counted on the ten fingers. Even so illuminated and liberal a thinker as Macaulay was a dupe to the same English delusion; for English the delusion is. Neither De Tocqueville nor any other great continental writer on the American system, fell into such a delusion. Even Macaulay said that our territory was too vast to be held together by the feeble hands of a Democratic Government, and that our Union would fall asunder by the weight of its component parts.
THE FRIENDS OF AMERICA.
duties of a God-fearing commonwealth; for ignorant children will make bad citizens." Milton, Blackstone, Burke and Brougham never had anything to say against this. This mode of ruling nations England has yet to learn; she will yet pay dearly for not having learned it before.
Do not forget here, nor elsewhere, the great and welcome fact, that we have friends in England: friends of our Government and its perpetuity; friends of its cardinal Democratic principle of the equal political rights of all men ; friends of the Republic which has emerged from the waves of a dreadful civil deluge, stronger than ever; and which is now ready on all proper occasions to vindicate throughout the world, if need be, the right of men to govern themselves. It is all bootless now to make out a case against the British Government. Our case is made out. England herself has made it out. Events have helped her. It is now summed up. She must be friendly to us, or she will be sorry for it. This is no threat-for threats are mean things at best; not fit for men nor nations. But England must be ready to answer the People of the United States these questions: Why did you take the first chance you had to turn the cold shoulder on us? Why did you not do it in the day of our strength, when we were a united nation; when we were too formidable for your assaults? Why secretly build, and then clandestinely despatch your pirate steamers to sink our honest merchantmen on all seas, from the Equator to the Poles?
THE BLOW LEVELED AGAINST AMERICAN COMMERCE by British cruisers, was far more complete than it could have been had war actually existed between England and the United States. Then, all seas would have swarmed with our privateers, and it would have been the same straightforward game the two nations played in their contest of 1812. In making up, therefore, any sort of an estimate of the commercial losses this Country