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- NEW YORK - 2/6 -


residence in Europe, during which he had dwelt for years in many of the largest towns of that quarter of the world. At a convivial party in one of the most considerable dwellings in Broadway, the conversation turned on the great improvements that had then been made in the town, with sundry allusions that were intended to draw out the opinions of a traveller on a subject that justly ever has an interest with the Manhattanese. In that conversation the writer--his memory impressed with the objects with which he had been familiar in London and Paris, and Rome, Venice, Naples, etc., and feeling how very provincial was the place where he was, as well as its great need of change to raise it to the level of European improvement--ventured to say that, in his opinion, speaking of Broadway, "There was not a building in the whole street, a few special cases excepted, that would probably be standing thirty years hence." The writer has reason to know that this opinion was deemed extravagant, and was regarded as a consequence of European rather than of American reasoning. If the same opinion were uttered to-day, it would meet with more respect. Buildings now stand in Broadway that may go down to another century, for they are on a level with the wants and tastes of a capital; but none such, with a single exception, existed at the time of which we are writing.

{seventeen years since = Cooper had returned to New York in November 1833, after a seven year sojourn in Europe}

In these facts are to be found the explanation of the want of ancient edifices in America. Two centuries and a half are no very remote antiquity, but we should regard buildings of that, or even of a much less age, with greater interest, did the country possess them. But nothing was constructed a century since that was worth preserving on account of its intrinsic merits; and, before time can throw its interest around them, edifice after edifice comes down, to make way for a successor better suited to the wants and tastes of the age. In this respect New York is even worse off than the other ancient places of the country--ancient as things can be regarded in America--its great growth and commercial spirit demanding sacrifices that Philadelphia and Boston have as yet escaped. It is quite within the scope of probable things, that, in a very few years, there should not be standing in the old town a single structure of any sort, that was there previously to the Revolution. As for the new towns, Brooklyn, Williamsburgh, etc., they had no existence worth alluding to anterior to the commencement of the present century. If any dwelling is to be found within the limits of either, that can claim a more remote origin, it is some farmhouse that has been swallowed up by the modern improvements.

That which is true of the towns, in this respect, is equally true of the whole country. A dwelling that has stood half a century is regarded as a sort of specimen of antiquity, and one that has seen twice that number of years, of which a few are to be found, especially among the descendants of the Dutch, is looked upon with some such reverence as is felt by the modern traveller in gazing at the tomb of Cecilia Metella, or the amphitheatre of Verona.

{tomb of Cecilia Metella = the most famous monument on the Appian Way outside Rome, commemorating the wife of Crassus (d. 53 BC), who as member of the First Triumvirate, joined with Caesar and Pompey to end the Roman Republic; amphitheatre of Verona = built by the Emperor Diocletian about 290 A.D. to stage gladiator combats, it is one of the largest surviving Roman amphitheaters}

The world has had a striking example of the potency of commerce as opposed to that of even the sword, in the abortive policy of Napoleon to exclude England from the trade of the Continent. At the very moment that this potentate of unequalled means and iron rule was doing all he could to achieve his object, the goods of Manchester found their way into half of his dependent provinces, and the Thames was crowded with shipping which belonged to states that the emperor supposed to be under his control.

{abortive policy = in the early years of the 19th century the French Emperor Napoleon had sought, largely unsuccessfully, to blockade England from trade with Europe}

As to the notion of there arising any rival ports, south, to compete with New York, it strikes us as a chimera. New Orleans will always maintain a qualified competition with every place not washed by the waters of the great valley; but New Orleans is nothing but a local port, after all--of great wealth and importance, beyond a doubt, but not the mart of America.

New York is essentially national in interests, position, and pursuits. No one thinks of the place as belonging to a particular State, but to the United States. The revenue paid into the treasury, at this point, comes in reality, from the pockets of the whole country, and belongs to the whole country. The same is true of her sales and their proceeds. Indeed, there is very little political sympathy between the places at the mouth of the Hudson, and the interior--the vulgar prejudice of envy, and the jealousy of the power of collected capital, causing the country to distrust the town.

We are aware that the governing motive of commerce, all over the world, is the love of gain. It differs from the love of gain in its lower aspects, merely in its greater importance and its greater activity. These cause it to be more engrossing among merchants than among the tillers of the soil: still, facts prove that this state of things has many relieving shades. The man who is accustomed to deal in large sums is usually raised above the more sordid vices of covetousness and avarice in detail. There are rich misers, certainly, but they are exceptions. We do not believe that the merchant is one tittle more mercenary than the husbandman in his motives, while he is certainly much more liberal of his gains. One deals in thousands, the other in tens and twenties. It is seldom, however, that a failing market, or a sterile season, drives the owner of the plough to desperation, and his principles, if he have any, may be preserved; while the losses or risks of an investment involving more than the merchant really owns, suspend him for a time on the tenter-hooks of commercial doubt. The man thus placed must have more than a common share of integrity, to reason right when interest tempts him to do wrong.

Notwithstanding the generally fallacious character of the governing motive of all commercial communities, there is much to mitigate its selfishness. The habit of regarding the entire country and its interests with a friendly eye, and of associating themselves with its fortunes, liberalizes its mind and wishes, and confers a catholic spirit that the capital of a mere province does not possess. Boston, for instance, is leagued with Lowell, and Lawrence, and Cambridge, and seldom acts collectively without betraying its provincial mood; while New York receives her goods and her boasted learning by large tran{s}shipments, without any special consciousness of the transactions. This habit of generalizing in interests encourages the catholic spirit mentioned, and will account for the nationality of the great mart of a great and much extended country. The feeling would be apt to endure through many changes, and keep alive the connection of commerce even after that of the political relations may have ceased. New York, at this moment, contributes her full share to the prosperity of London, though she owes no allegiance to St. James.

The American Union, however, has much more adhesiveness than is commonly imagined. The diversity and complexity of its interests form a network that will be found, like the web of the spider, to possess a power of resistance far exceeding its gossamer appearance--one strong enough to hold all that it was ever intended to inclose. The slave interest is now making its final effort for supremacy, and men are deceived by the throes of a departing power. The institution of domestic slavery cannot last. It is opposed to the spirit of the age; and the figments of Mr. Calhoun, in affirming that the Territories belong to the States, instead of the Government of the United States; and the celebrated doctrine of the equilibrium, for which we look in vain into the Constitution for a single sound argument to sustain it, are merely the expiring efforts of a reasoning that cannot resist the common sense of the nation. As it is healthful to exhaust all such questions, let us turn aside a moment, to give a passing glance at this very material subject.

{Calhoun = Senator John C. Calhoun (1782-1850} of South Carolina}

At the time when the Constitution was adopted, three classes of persons were "held to service" in the country--apprentices, redemptioners, and slaves. The two first classes were by no means insignificant in 1789, and the redemptioners were rapidly increasing in numbers. In that day, it looked as if this speculative importation of laborers from Europe was to form a material part of the domestic policy of the Northern States. Now the negro is a human being, as well as an apprentice or a redemptioner, though the Constitution does not consider him as the equal of either. It is a great mistake to suppose that the Constitution of the United States, as it now exists, recognizes slavery in any manner whatever, unless it be to mark it as an interest that has less than the common claim to the ordinary rights of humanity. In the apportionment, or representation clause, the redemptioner and the apprentice counts each as a man, whereas five slaves are enumerated as only three free men. The free black is counted as a man, in all particulars, and is represented as such, but his fellow in slavery has only three fifths of his political value.

This is the celebrated clause in which the Constitution is said to recognize slavery. To our view the clause is perfectly immaterial in this sense, making the simple provision that so long as a State shall choose to keep a portion of her people in this subordinate condition, she shall enjoy only this limited degree of representation. To us, it appears to be a concession made to freedom, and not to slavery. There is no obligation, unless self-imposed, to admit any but a minority of her whites to the enjoyment of political power, aristocracy being, in truth, more closely assimilated to republicanism than democracy. Republicanism means the sovereignty of public THINGS instead of that of PERSONS; or the representation of the COMMON interests, in lieu of those of a monarch. There is no common principle of popular sway recognized in the Constitution. In the government of the several States monarchy is denounced, but democracy is nowhere proclaimed or insisted on. Marked differences in the degrees of popular control existed in the country in 1789; and though time is lessening them, are still to be found among us.

The close consideration of all these facts, we feel persuaded will give a coloring to some of the most important interests of the country, differing essentially from those that have been loosely adopted in the conflicts of parties, and many heresies appear to us to have crept into the political creed of the


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