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Art. IV.— Leltres sur Les Etats-Unis. Par Le Prince Achille Murat, fils de L'Ex-Roi de Naples, a un de sea amis D'Europe. Paris. Librairic de Hector Bossange. 1S30.
An acquaintance of ours visited France during the imperial dynasty. On his arrival in Paris, he accepted an invitation to dine with a friend, who, among other distinguished guests, introduced him to one of the Emperor's generals, as "Mr.
P of the United States, recently from Philadelphia." The
general politely expressed his satisfaction at making so valuaable an acquaintance—inquired when he had arrived, and "if he had come a/I the way in the diligence.'" Now it is very probable that such another instance of ignorance in the higher walks of life could scureely be discovered in France, at the present day, but it is true, notwithstanding all that Irving and Cooper have done to diffuse a knowledge of us, that we, and our concerns, are infinitely less known there, and throughout Europe, than our pride is willing to admit. We hail, therefore, with great satisfaction, the appearance of every ray of light that is calculated to assist the European eye in penetrating the darkness that overhangs our hemisphere.
They who understand the spirit ofour government will not, we are satisfied, charge us with inordinate vanity in asserting that the more distinctly our institutions are seen the higher we shall rise in foreign estimation; for it is chiefly here, of all the countries of the world, that philosophy is daily teaching by example. Here it is, that the knowledge and wisdom of all are intended to be made subservient to the benefit of all by the rapid rotation with which the governed and the governors change places. It cannot be denied that error is sometimes mistaken for truth, but its dominion can never long endure when so many are interested in its detection and anxious for its correction. The beauty of our system will be observed to consist in its practical perfectibility ; our fundamental, as well as our ordinary laws, beingainendatory, accordingto the exigencies of society, without a revolution. At least this is the theory of our government, and as yet the practice has corresponded. How long this will be the case, depends upon the due observance of the Constitution of the United States, as that does on the virtue and intelligence of the people. The effect of this system of self-government, in which the sovereign power is equally divided amongst the citizens, will be found worthy of philosophic reflection; for it has created; in a people originally collected from all parts of the earth, a national character, which, though varying in certain sectional features, is identical in its basis, which consists of an energy that spurns all difficulties, a love of liberty that burns unqueuchably, and a lofty independence that bows only to the laws.
We have seen few works, if any, on the subject of the United States, that contained, in so diminutive a compass, so much good sense,and so little cant,as the charming little volume at the head of this article. Though written in 1826, it was not published till last year. The writer, who is a nephew of Napoleon, is a gentleman of excellent education and considerable powers of mind. He is intimately known throughout the States, most of which he has repeatedly visited, and, for several years, he has resided in Florida, universally beloved and respected. After the expiration of the probationary period required by our laws, he presented the novel spectacle of a prince renouncing his title, and requesting admission into a republic as a citizen. Having qualified himself for the practice of the legal profession he was regularly enrolled among the members of the bar. This country, as he has emphatically told us in his answer to a late address by his fellow-citizens, is the land of his adoption— "I was, (says he) among the first pioneers of the middle dis* trtct of Florida. I have seen its many improvements raised 'up, as by magic, in the bosom of the wilderness. I have seen 'the members, composing a delightful society, arrive one by one 'from their distant homes—and it is impossible for me, in what'ever situation I may be placed, to forget the strong feelings 'which all this has excited." He has now left this country for France, where he is called by private affairs, and where we have no doubt he will distinguish himself by his republican principles. He has our warm wishes for the happy accomplishment of his objects, and for his speedy return to this land of his choice.
His object in writing the Letters which appear in this volume, as will be seen from the commencement of the first, is to give to a young friend in Europe, who had some intention to follow the writer's example, and settle in America, a general view of the States, with their respective characteristics, that he might be enabled to determine for himself to which part of this immense continent he should direct his steps. All that this design requires is a sketch, in which the prominent features of each division of the country and its inhabitants, should be faithfully drawn. This we think Colonel Murat has happily accomplished, for though we do not deny that we have met with a few particulars in which we differ from him, yet, upon the whole, we think his correspondent may safely put his trust in his counsels. His first letter is dated at Wascissa, near Tallahassee, Florida, July, 1826.
"Vous me rappelez, mon cher ami, la promesse que je vous fis en quittant 1' Europe, de vous tracer, à tête reposée et sur les lieux, un tableau de mon pays. Auriez-vous encore envie de vous y établir 1 Rien ne pourrait m'etre plus agréable. Je le desire plus que je ne l'espère. N'importe; puisque vous le voulez, je tâcherai de vous satisfaire. Vous connaissez assez mon caractère pour être assuré, que, quoique prévenu favorablement pour ma patrie, je vous parlerai avec franchise, et que je vous peindrai fidèlement nos qualités et nos défauts; car pouvant avoir une influence decisive sur une determination sérieuse de votre part ou de quelqucsuns de nos amis, je serais au désespoir de vous avoir exposé à' des regrets.
"Si je parlais a un homme d'affaires, qui ne voulut que des details sur la maniere de placer ses capitaux, sur l'intérêt de l'argent, je lui dirais: observez notre prospérité croissante, et vous y verrez un gage sûr du bon emploi de votre fortune. Mais ce n'est pas là votre but, du moins, votre but principal. Votre vie a été consacrée en grande partrie aux affaires publiques, et vous viendriez chercher ici des principes de gouvernement plus conformes aux vôtres. C'est donc l'état moral de la société qu'il vous faut connaitre."
He goes on to remark that "the Europeans who visit our 'country, with the exception of some naturalists, who see no'thing but plants and stones, confine their travels within the 'circle of the Atlantic cities, and return home persuaded that 'we are only a nation of merchants. They are generally men 'of business who see no other society than that of their corres4 pondents. They do not feel the presence of the government, 'nor does it occupy their thoughts—indeed, some have even 'denied its existence. Few, who visit the interior, hear any 'thing of politics, not that the people distrust their visiters, in
* this country of publicity, but because they are afraid of annoy'ing them with a subject in which they have no interest. The 'traveller generally returns to Europe persuaded that we are 'very civil and very ingenious, and that the government lasts 'because no one intermeddles with it, as every man is occu'pied with his own business. There are, however, some ex'ceptions. Some English travellers have penetrated into the
* interior with a view to man, but they are persons who, for the 'most part, are connected with certain religious sects, who see 'all things through the prism of their ridiculous illusions. Be'sides, their works abound with English prejudices, which are 'by no means favourable to their conquerors."
This is all true, and, in addition, it should he considered that there are intrinsic difficulties both in our sectional characteristics and in our system of politics, which it is no easy matter for strangers to fathom. There are four and twenty different communities to be studied, some more than a century old, and others yet in their infancy—some possessed of all the lights of modern civilization and improvement, and others working their way in the depths of the wilderness by their own internal energy. We have wheels within wheels. The simple circumstance of each State having a government of its own, distinct from that of the general government, which belongs, in some respects, to all, is calculated to confuse, not only a mind to which so complex a machine is a novelty, but even one familiarized with it from infancy; indeed the notorious fact of differences continually arising among ourselves in the construction of our several constitutional powers, in which the most distinguished names are unhappily opposed, is sufficient to excuse many of the mistakes into which Europeans fall.
To give some idea of the manner in which Colonel Murat imparts to his friend his views of the country, we shall take the liberty of abstracting part of his letters. After stating, what the extent of territory fully justifies, namely that the agricultural interest is vastly greater than the commercial or manufacturing, he divides the union by the northern boundary of Maryland into the slavc-hulding and ntmslave-holding States. The former, situate on the South of the line, are almost entirely agricultural, and the little commerce they have is principally in the hands of citizens of the North. Maryland has only within a few years turned her attention to manufactures, and in this division Baltimore is the only city tothe Cast, and New-Orleans to the West, that have thus employed any part of their capital. In Charleston, Savannah, «fcc. the commercial capital belongs chiefly to the New-York merchants who conduct their business there by agents. To the North-West, the country is entirely agricultural, which is also the case with Pennsylvania, with the exception of Philadelphia. On the North-East, the interests are very nearly divided into equal parts. He then says :—
"Cette, premiere division est tr^s-sensible dans notre politique. Les Etats du nord sont jaloux de nos esclaves et de notre prosp6rite; nous ne leur envions rien; tout ce qu'ils produisent, e'est nous qui le consommons. Us ont phis dc capitaux que nous, mais moins de revenuit Tant qu'ils se borneront k prêcher contre l'csclavage, et a faire des etablissemens sur la cfite d'Afrique, etc, nous ne nous en inquieterons pas; mais si leur esprit de proselvtisme les portait & tenter
VOL. VII.—NO. 13. 14
chez nous I'emancipation des noirs, les legislateurs des Etats y roettraient unfrein; et si le congres voulait faire des lois sur cette matirere, comme il le tenta lors de l'admission 'Etat de Missouri dans l'Union. le plus bel edifice 61eve par les homines, la confederation Americaine, serait dêtruite.' Les Etats du sud seraient obliges de se separer de ceux du nord—un tel evenement du reste est iinaginaire. L'interet hypocrite qu'une certaine classe d'hommes, au nord, affecte pour nos esclaves, n' avancera pas d'un jour leur emancipation, et ne fait que rendre leur situation en quelques cas moins supportable. Cette emancipation que tout homme eclaire desire, ne peut 6tre veritablement attendue que du temps et de l'interet prive des proprietaires. Vouloir precipiter cette mesure, ce serait exposer les Etats du sud a des convulsions interieures, et l'uniou k se dissoudre sans aucun avanlage pour les Etats du nord." pp. 6, 7.
He proceeds to point out another grand division in the character of the people of the South, of theN.irth-East,the Westand the Middle States, which is so marked as to change entirely the aspect of the country. The six New England States, compose a constellation which is very remarkable among the States. Their interests, their politics, their prejudices, their laws, even their absurdities and accent, are the same. These six republics fraternize. Their industry and capital arc immense. They cover the ocean with our flag and fill our shipswith seamen. They have given birth to many of our most distinguished citizens.
"The character of the people is very remarkable, and cannot be compared to that of any other on earth. The most gigantic enterprizes do not alarm them, nor are they disgusted by any details; they carry them on with a spirit of order and minuteness altogether their own. The men seem born to calculate pence and farthings, but by this they rise to a calculation by millions, without losing any thing of the exactness and littleness of their original views. * * * * * * » » • Their capital, Boston, nevertheless, abounds in men of letters: it is the Athens of the Union, and was the cradle of liberty,, producing many of her most zealous defenders, as well in the cabinet as in the field. Education is there much move diffused than in any other part of the world whatsoever. In fine, they have all the constituents of greatness, if tliey could only elevate their views and abandon that sordid spirit of detail which follows them every where. You may always discover a yankee by the cunning way in which he asks ques* tions about what he knows; by the evasive manner in which he answers questions, without even affirming any thing; and above all, by his address in getting off when payment is in question. In politics these six States are united—they vote as one man. It is there that the commercial interest has her seat, though for some years past they have turned their views towards manufactures, with the success which follows all they undertake. The country is well peopled and well culti