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- NEW YORK - 5/6 -

prevalent opinions of the day, could not endure a twelvemonth. That which is now seen in France rendering real political liberty a mere stalking-horse for the furtherance of the projects of the boldest adventurers, would inevitably be seen here; the bayonet alone would be relied on for the preservation of the nearest and dearest of human rights. There could and would be no other security for the peace of society, and that circle of power which, rising in the masses, ends in the sceptre of the single despot, would once more be made as it might be in derision of all our efforts to be free.

{now seen in France = following the French Revolution of 1848 Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1808-1873), nephew of the first Emperor Napoleon, had been elected as President of France and was consolidating his power--in December 1851, shortly after Cooper's death, he would proclaim himself Emperor Napoleon III}

If the existence of nations resembled that of individuals, it would not be difficult to foretell the consequences of this state of things; but communities may be said to have no lives, and are ever to be found occupying their places, and using the means assigned to them by Providence, whether free or enslaved, prosperous or the reverse. No one can foretell the future of this great country, in consequence of the extent and number of its outlets, each a provision of Providence to put a check on revolutions and violence.

The elements of a monarchy do not exist among us; the habits of the entire country are opposed to the reception of such a form of government. Nor do we know, bad as our condition is rapidly getting to be, strong as are the tendencies to social dissolution, and to the abuses which demand force to subdue, that anything would be gained by the adoption of any substitute for the present polity of the country to be found in Europe. The abuses there are possibly worse than our own, and the only question would seem to be as to the degree of suffering and wrong to which men are compelled to submit through the infirmities of their own nature. There is one great advantage in the monarchical principle, when subdued by liberal institutions, as in the case of the government of that nation from which we are derived, which it would seem a republic cannot possess. We allude to the transmission of a nominal executive power that spares the turmoil, expense, and struggles of an election, and which answers all the purposes of the real authorities of the State in designating those who are to exercise the functions of rulers for the time being. It has often been predicted that the periodical elections of the chief magistrate of this country will, at no distant day, destroy the institutions. It would be idle to deny that the danger manifestly increases with the expedients of factions; and that there are very grave grounds for apprehending the worst consequences from this source of evil. As it now is, the working of the system has already produced a total departure from the original intention of the Government; a scheme, probably, that was radically defective when adopted, and which contained the seeds of its own ruin. Recourse to electors has become an idle form, ponderous and awkward, and in some of its features uselessly hazardous. We are in the habit of comparing the cost of government in this country with that of other nations in the Old World. Beyond a question, the Americans enjoy great advantages in this important particular, owing to their exemption from sources of expenses that weigh so heavily on those who rely for the peace of society solely on the strong hand. But confining the investigation simply to the cost of Executives it may well be questioned if we have not adopted the most expensive mode at present known among civilized nations. We entertain very little doubt that the cost of a presidential election fully equals the expenditures of the empire of Great Britain, liberal as they are known to be, for the maintenance of the dignity of its chief magistracy. Nor is this the worst of it; for while much of the civil list of a monarch is usefully employed in cherishing the arts, and in fostering industry, to say nothing of its boons to the dependent and meritorious in the shape of pensions, not a dollar of the millions that are wasted every fourth year among ourselves in the struggles of parties, can be said to be applied to a purpose that has not a greater tendency to evil than to good. The simple publication of documents, perhaps, may form some exception to these abuses; but even they are so much filled with falsehoods, fallacies, audacious historical misstatements, exaggerations, and every other abuse, naturally connected with such struggles, that we are compelled to yield them our respect and credulity with large allowances for caution and truth. Were this the place, and did our limits permit, we would gladly pursue this subject; for so completely has the hurrah of popular sway looked down everything like real freedom in the discussion of such a topic as to render the voice of dissent almost unknown to us. But our purpose is merely to show what probable effects are to flow from the abuses of the institutions on the growth of the great commercial mart of which we are writing.

{recourse to electors = the Electoral College}

We certainly think that even the looseness of law, legislation, and justice, that is so widely spreading itself over the land, is not exactly unsuited to sustain the rapid settlement of a country. No doubt men accomplish more in the earlier stages of society when perfectly unfettered, than when brought under the control of those principles and regulations which alone can render society permanently secure or happy. In this sense even the abuses to which we have slightly alluded may be tolerated, which it would be impossible to endure when the class of the needy become formidable from its numbers, and they who had no other stake in society than their naked assistance, could combine to transfer the fruits of the labors of the more industrious and successful to themselves by a simple recurrence to the use of the ballot box. We do not say that such is to be the fate of this country, for the great results that seem to be dependent on its settlement raise a hope that the hand of Providence may yet guide us in safety through the period of delusion, and the reign of political fallacies, which is fast drawing around us. Evil is so much mixed with good in all the interests of life, that it would be bold to pretend to predict consequences of such magnitude in the history of any nation. But we feel persuaded that radical changes must speedily come, either from the powerful but invisible control of that Being who effects his own purposes in his own wise ways, or the time is much nearer than is ordinarily supposed when the very existence of the political institutions of this country are to be brought to the test of the severest practical experiment. The downward tendency can hardly proceed much further with the smallest necessary security to the rights of civilized men. When a legislative body can be brought solemnly to decide by its vote that because the principles of law leave them the control of the rules for the descent of property, therefore, whenever a landlord may happen to die, his tenant shall have the privilege of converting his leasehold estate into a fee on which the debt is secured in the shape of mortgage, there is little left in the way of security to the affluent and unrepresented. They must unite their means to prevent destruction; and woe to that land which gives so plausible an excuse to the rich and intelligent for combining their means to overturn the liberties of a nation, as is to be found in abuses like those just named. We very well know that the idea is prevalent among us of the irresistible power of popular sway; but he has lived in vain who has seen the course of events in other nations for the last half century, and has not made the discovery that men in political matters become the servants of money as certainly and almost as actively as the spirits of the lamp were made to do the bidding of Aladdin. To us, it would seem that the future of this country holds out but three possible solutions of the tendencies of the present time--viz. the bayonet, a return to the true principles of the original government, or the sway of money. For the first it may be too soon; the pressure of society is scarcely sufficient to elevate a successful soldier to the height of despotism, though the ladder has been raised more than once against the citadel of the Constitution by adventurers of this character, through the folly and heedless impulses of the masses. Fifty years hence, and a condition of society will probably exist among us that would effectually have carried out the principle of despotic rule which is beginning to show itself in the bud amongst us, and which is nothing more than the shadowing out of coming events.

{legislative body can be brought = the New York State legislature had enacted laws giving certain tenant farmers the right to purchase the land they occupied, thus ending one of the causes of the so-called "anti-rent wars" of the 1840s in upstate New York}

Notwithstanding all these obvious tendencies and the manifest dangers that beset the real liberties of the country, we do not see that any material influence will be brought by them to bear upon the fortunes and ascendancy of the particular place of which we are writing. Even political despotism in this age would necessarily respect the ordinary rights of commerce, and quite probably the greater security that would be given to property, the increased dignity and authority of the courts of justice, and the visible control of a vigilant and efficient government might rather have a tendency to build up than to check the progress of the capital of any country.

Civil war, in our view, can alone produce any material checks to the prosperity of these towns of Manhattan. Against the malign influence of so great a source of evil no one can with discretion venture to predict the consequences. But we do not think that it enters into the spirit of the true American character, so remarkable for its mildness and disposition to mercy, in carrying out the powers of government, to permit such a struggle as would be likely to produce long-continued, or very withering local distress. Compromises in some form or other would be resorted to, to restore the course of the commerce of the country; and although it might be, and probably would be, that this could only be accomplished in the midst of the triumph of disorder, irresponsibility, and the derangement of most that is necessary to permanent security and quiet, a set of laws would arise for the control of the affairs of the towns that would exercise their sway, without any appeal to regularly constituted authority, beyond that of the law of necessity. At this very moment, when we have all the machinery of an efficient government around us, and one has a right to look to the courts for the protection of his rights, a thousand dollars of debt are secured and paid in a place like that of New York, by the sole influence of commercial opinion, where one dollar is secured and paid by the process of law. Trade issues its own edicts, and they are ordinarily found to be too powerful for resistance, wherever there are the concentrated means of rendering them formidable by the magnitude of the interests they control.

We see, then, nothing in the future that is very likely seriously to disturb the continued growth and increasing ascendancy of the great mart of the country. A trading people will pursue its interests under any conceivable or tolerable condition of things. It would require a generation or two, indeed, to obliterate, or

NEW YORK - 5/6

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