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- The American Republic - 49/49 -


narrow and superficial thinking, of partial and one-sided views, and are sectarian, sophistical, and hostile to all real progress, and tend, as far as they go, to throw society back into the barbarism from which, after centuries of toil and struggle, it is just beginning to emerge. The Holy Father has condemned nothing that real philosophy, real science does not also condemn; nothing, in fact, that is not at war with the American system itself. For the mass of the people, it were desirable that fuller explanations should be given of the sense in which the various propositions censured are condemned, for some of them are not, in every sense, false; but the explanations needed were expected by the Holy Father to be given by the bishops and prelates, to whom, not to the people, save through them, the Encyclical was addressed. Little is to be hoped, and much is to be feared, for liberty, science, and civilization from European Liberalism, which has no real affinity with American territorial democracy and real civil and religious freedom. But God and reality are present in the Old World as, well as in the New, and it will never do to restrict their power or freedom.

Whether the American people will prove faithful to their mission, and realize their destiny, or not, is known only to Him from whom nothing is hidden. Providence is free, and leaves always a space for human free-will. The American people can fail, and will fail if they neglect the appointed means and conditions of success; but there is nothing in their present state or in their past history to render their failure probable. They have in their internal constitution what Rome wanted, and they are in no danger of being crushed by exterior barbarism. Their success as feeble colonies of Great Britain in achieving their national independence, and especially in maintaining, unaided, and against the real hostility of Great Britain and France, their national unity and integrity against a rebellion which, probably, no other people could have survived, gives reasonable assurance for their future. The leaders of the rebellion, than whom none better knew or more nicely calculated the strength and resources of the Union, counted with certainty on success, and the ablest, the most experienced, and best informed statesmen of the Old World felt sure that the Republic was gone, and spoke of it as the late United States. Not a few, even in the loyal States, who had no sympathy with the rebellion, believed it idle to think of suppressing it by force, and advised peace on the best terms that could be obtained. But Ilium fuit was chanted too soon; the American people were equal to the emergency, and falsified the calculations and predictions of their enemies, and surpassed the expectations of their friends.

The attitude of the real American people during the fearful struggle affords additional confidence in their destiny. With larger armies on foot than Napoleon ever commanded, with their line of battle stretching from ocean to ocean, across the whole breadth of the continent, they never, during four long years of alternate victories and defeats--and both unprecedentedly bloody--for a moment lost their equanimity, or appeared less calm, collected, tranquil, than in the ordinary times of peace. They not for a moment interrupted their ordinary routine of business or pleasure, or seemed conscious of being engaged in any serious struggle which required an effort. There was no hurry, no bustle, no excitement, no fear, no misgiving. They seemed to regard the war as a mere bagatelle, not worth being in earnest about. The on-looker was almost angry with their apparent indifference, apparent insensibility, and doubted if they moved at all, Yet move they did: guided by an unerring instinct, they moved quietly on with an elemental force, in spite of a timid and hesitating administration, in spite of inexperienced, over-cautious, incompetent, or blundering military commanders, whom they gently brushed aside, and desisted not till their object was gained, and they saw the flag of the Union floating anew in the breeze from the capitol of every State that dared secede. No man could contemplate them without feeling that there was in them a latent power vastly superior to any which they judged it necessary to put forth. Their success proves to all that what, prior to the war, was treated as American arrogance or self-conceit, was only the outspoken confidence in their destiny as a Providential people, conscious that to them is reserved the hegemony of the world.

Count de Maistre predicted early in the century the failure of the United States, because they have no proper name; but his prediction assumed what is not the fact. The United States have a proper name by which all the world knows and calls them. The proper name of the country is America: that of the people is Americans. Speak of Americans simply, and nobody understands you to mean the people of Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, but everybody understands you to mean the people of the United States. The fact is significant, and foretells for the people of the United States a continental destiny, as is also foreshadowed in the so-called "Monroe doctrine," which France, during our domestic troubles, was permitted, on condition of not intervening in our civil war in favor of the rebellion, to violate.

There was no statesmanship in proclaiming the "Monroe doctrine," for the statesman keeps always, as far as possible, his government free to act according to the exigencies of the case when it comes up, unembarrassed by previous declarations of principles. Yet the doctrine only expresses the destiny of the American people, and which nothing but their own fault can prevent them from realizing in its own good time. Napoleon will not succeed in his Mexican policy, and Mexico will add some fifteen or twenty new States to the American Union as soon as it is clearly for the interests of all parties that it should be done, and it can be done by mutual consent, without war or violence. The Union will fight to maintain the integrity of her domain and the supremacy of her laws within it, but she can never, consistently with her principles or her interests, enter upon a career of war and conquest. Her system is violated, endangered, not extended, by subjugating her neighbors, for subjugation and liberty go not together. Annexation, when it takes place, must be on terms of perfect equality and by the free act of the state annexed. The Union can admit of no inequality of rights and franchises between the States of which it is composed. The Canadian Provinces and the Mexican and Central American States, when annexed, must be as free as the original States of the Union, sharing alike in the power and the protection of the Republic--alike in its authority, its freedom, its grandeur, and its glory, as one free, independent, self-governing people. They may gain much, but must lose nothing by annexation.

The Emperor Napoleon and his very respectable protege, Maximilian, an able man and a liberal-minded prince, can change nothing in the destiny of the United States, or of Mexico herself; no imperial government can be permanent beside the American Republic, no longer liable, since the abolition of slavery, to be distracted by sectional dissensions. The States that seceded will soon, in some way, be restored to their rights and franchises in the Union, forming not the least patriotic portion of the American people; the negro question will be settled, or settle itself, as is most likely, by the melting away of the negro population before the influx of white laborers; all traces of the late contest in a very few years will be wiped out, the national debt paid, or greatly reduced, and the prosperity and strength of the Republic be greater than ever. Its moral force will sweep away every imperial throne on the continent, without any effort or action on the part of the government. There can be no stable government in Mexico till every trace of the ecclesiastical policy established by the Council of the Indies is obliterated, and the church placed there on the same footing as in the United States; and that can hardly be done without annexation. Maximilian cannot divest the church of her temporal possessions and place Protestants and Catholics on the same footing, without offending the present church party and deeply injuring religion, and that too without winning the confidence of the republican party. In all Spanish and Portuguese America the relations between the church and state are abnormal, and exceedingly hurtful to both. Religion is in a wretched condition, and politics in a worse condition still. There is no effectual remedy for either but in religious freedom, now impracticable, and to be rendered practicable by no European intervention, for that subjects religion to the state, the very source of the evils that now exist, instead of emancipating it from the state, and leaving it to act according to its own constitution and laws, as under the American system.

But the American people need not trouble themselves about their exterior expansion. That will come of itself as fast as desirable. Let them devote their attention to their internal destiny, to the realization of their mission within, and they will gradually see the Whole continent coming under their system, forming one grand nation, a really catholic nation, great, glorious, and free.


The American Republic - 49/49

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