What are the Chances of Duration of the American Union, and What Dangers Threaten It

Transcription of Primary Source

It is indeed easy to discover different interests in the different parts of the Union, but I am unacquainted with any that are hostile to one another. The Southern states are almost exclusively agricultural. The Northern states are more peculiarly commercial and manufacturing. The states of the West are at the same time agricultural and manufacturing. In the South the crops consist of tobacco, rice, cotton, and sugar, in the North and the West, of wheat and corn. These are different sources of wealth, but union is the means by which these sources are opened and rendered equally advantageous to all.

The North, which ships the produce of the Anglo-Americans to all parts of the world and brings back the produce of the globe to the Union, is evidently interested in maintaining the confederation in its present condition, in order that the number of American producers and consumers may remain as large as possible. The North is the most natural agent of communication between the South and the West of the Union on the one hand, and the rest of the world on the other; the North is therefore interested in the union and prosperity of the South and the West, in order that they may continue to furnish raw materials for its manufactures, and cargoes for its shipping.

The South and the West, on their side, are still more directly interested in the preservation of the Union and the prosperity of the North. The produce of the South is, for the most part, exported beyond seas; the South and the West consequently stand in need of the commercial resources of the North. They are likewise interested in the maintenance of a powerful fleet by the Union, to protect them efficaciously. The South and the West have no vessels, but willingly contribute to the expense of a navy, for if the fleets of Europe were to blockade the ports of the South and the delta of the Mississippi, what would become of the rice of the Carolinas, the tobacco of Virginia, and the sugar and cotton that grow in the valley of the Mississippi? Every portion of the Federal budget does, therefore, contribute to the maintenance of material interests that are common to all the federated states.

Independently of this commercial utility, the South and the West derive great political advantages from their union with each other and with the North. The South contains an enormous slave population, a population which is already alarming and still more formidable for the future. The states of the West occupy a single valley; the rivers that intersect their territory rise in the Rocky Mountains or in the Alleghenies, and fall into the Mississippi, which bears them onwards to the Gulf of Mexico. The Western states are consequently entirely cut off, by their position, from the traditions of Europe and the civilization of the Old World. The inhabitants of the South, then, are induced to support the Union in order to avail themselves of its protection against the blacks; and the inhabitants of the West, in order not to be excluded from a free communication with the rest of the globe and shut up in the wilds of central America. The North cannot but desire the maintenance of the Union in order to remain, as it now is, the connecting link between that vast body and the other parts of the world.

The material interests of all the parts of the Union are, then, intimately connected; and the same assertion holds true respecting those opinions and sentiments that may be termed the immaterial interests of men.

The inhabitants of the United States talk much of their attachment to their country; but I confess that I do not rely upon that calculating patriotism which is founded upon interest and which a change in the interests may destroy. Nor do I attach much importance to the language of the Americans when they manifest, in their daily conversation, the intention of maintaining the Federal system adopted by their forefathers. A government retains its sway over a great number of citizens far less by the voluntary and rational consent of the multitude than by that instinctive, and to a certain extent involuntary, agreement which results from similarity of feelings and resemblances of opinion. I will never admit that men constitute a social body simply because they obey the same head and the same laws. Society can exist only when a great number of men consider a great number of things under the same aspect, when they hold the same opinions upon many subjects, and when the same occurrences suggest the same thoughts and impressions to their minds.

The observer who examines what is passing in the United States upon this principle will readily discover that their inhabitants, though divided into twenty-four distinct sovereignties, still constitute a single people; and he may perhaps be led to think that the Anglo-American Union is more truly a united society than some nations of Europe which live under the same legislation and the same prince.

Although the Anglo-Americans have several religious sects, they all regard religion in the same manner. They are not always agreed upon the measures that are most conducive to good government, and they vary upon some of the forms of government which it is expedient to adopt; but they are unanimous upon the general principles that ought to rule human society. From Maine to the Floridas, and from the Missouri to the Atlantic Ocean, the people are held to be the source of all legitimate power. The same notions are entertained respecting liberty and equality, the liberty of the press, the right of association, the jury, and the responsibility of the agents of government.

If we turn from their political and religious opinions to the moral and philosophical principles that regulate the daily actions of life and govern their conduct, we still find the same uniformity. The Anglo-Americans acknowledge the moral authority of the reason of the community as they acknowledge the political authority of the mass of citizens; and they hold that public opinion is the surest arbiter of what is lawful or forbidden, true or false. The majority of them believe that a man by following his own interest, rightly understood, will be led to do what is just and good. They hold that every man is born in possession of the right of self-government, and that no one has the right of constraining his fellow creatures to be happy. They have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man, they judge that the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous, and the consequences of ignorance fatal; they all consider society as a body in a state of improvement, humanity as a changing scene, in which nothing is, or ought to be, permanent; and they admit that what appears to them today to be good, may be superseded by something better tomorrow. I do not give all these opinions as true, but as American opinions.

Not only are the Anglo-Americans united by these common opinions, but they are separated from all other nations by a feeling of pride. For the last fifty years no pains have been spared to convince the inhabitants of the United States that they are the only religious, enlightened, and free people. They perceive that, for the present, their own democratic institutions prosper, while those of other countries fail; hence they conceive a high opinion of their superiority and are not very remote from believing themselves to be a distinct species of mankind.

Thus the dangers that threaten the American Union do not originate in diversity of interests or of opinions, but in the various characters and passions of the Americans. The men who inhabit the vast territory of the United States are almost all the issue of a common stock; but climate, and more especially slavery, have gradually introduced marked differences between the British settler of the Southern states and the British settler of the North. In Europe it is generally believed that slavery has rendered the interests of one part of the Union contrary to those of the other, but I have not found this to be the case. Slavery has not created interests in the South contrary to those of the North, but it has modified the character and changed the habits of the natives of the South.

I have already explained the influence of slavery upon the commercial ability of the Americans in the South; and this same influence equally extends to their manners. The slave is a servant who never remonstrates and who submits to everything without complaint. He may sometimes assassinate his master, but he never withstands him. In the South there are no families so poor as not to have slaves. The citizen of the Southern states becomes a sort of domestic dictator from infancy; the first notion he acquires in life is that he is born to command, and the first habit which he contracts is that of ruling without resistance. His education tends, then, to give him the character of a haughty and hasty man, irascible, violent, ardent in his desires, impatient of obstacles, but easily discouraged if he cannot succeed upon his first attempt.

The American of the North sees no slaves around him in his childhood; he is even unattended by free servants, for he is usually obliged to provide for his own wants. As soon as he enters the world, the idea of necessity assails him on every side; he soon learns to know exactly the natural limits of his power; he never expects to subdue by force those who withstand him; and he knows that the surest means of obtaining the support of his fellow creatures is to win their favor. He therefore becomes patient, reflecting, tolerant, slow to act, and persevering in his designs.

In the Southern states the more pressing wants of life are always supplied; the inhabitants, therefore, are not occupied with the material cares of life, from which they are relieved by others; and their imagination is diverted to more captivating and less definite objects. The American of the South is fond of grandeur, luxury, and renown, of gayety, pleasure, and, above all, of idleness; nothing obliges him to exert himself in order to subsist; and as he has no necessary occupations, he gives way to indolence and does not even attempt what would be useful.

But the equality of fortunes and the absence of slavery in the North plunge the inhabitants in those material cares which are disdained by the white population of the South. They are taught from infancy to combat want and to place wealth above all the pleasures of the intellect or the heart. The imagination is extinguished by the trivial details of life, and the ideas become less numerous and less general, but far more practical, clearer, and more precise. As prosperity is the sole aim of exertion, it is excellently well attained; nature and men are turned to the best pecuniary advantage; and society is dexterously made to contribute to the welfare of each of its members, while individual selfishness is the source of general happiness.

The American of the North has not only experience but knowledge; yet he values science not as an enjoyment, but as a means, and is only anxious to seize its useful applications. The American of the South is more given to act upon impulse; he is more clever, more frank, more generous, more intellectual, and more brilliant. The former, with a greater degree of activity, common sense, information, and general aptitude, has the characteristic good and evil qualities of the middle classes. The latter has the tastes, the prejudices, the weaknesses, and the magnanimity of all aristocracies.

If two men are united in society, who have the same interests, and, to a certain extent, the same opinions, but different characters, different acquirements, and a different style of civilization, it is most probable that these men will not agree. The same remark is applicable to a society of nations.

Slavery, then, does not attack the American Union directly in its interests, but indirectly in its manners.

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All the states of the Union are carried forward at the same time towards prosperity, but all cannot grow and prosper at the same rate. In the North of the Union the detached branches of the Allegheny chain, extending as far as the Atlantic Ocean, form spacious roads and ports, constantly accessible to the largest vessels. But from the Potomac, following the shore, to the mouth of the Mississippi, the coast is sandy and fiat. In this part of the Union the mouths of almost all the rivers are obstructed; and the few harbors that exist among these inlets do not offer the same depth to vessels and present, for commerce, facilities less extensive than those of the North.

The first and natural cause of inferiority is united to another cause proceeding from the laws. We have seen that slavery, which is abolished in the North, still exists in the South; and I have pointed out its fatal consequences upon the prosperity of the planter himself.

The North is therefore superior to the South both in commerce and in manufacture, the natural consequence of which is the more rapid increase of population and wealth within its borders. The states on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean are already half peopled. Most of the land is held by an owner, and they cannot therefore receive so many immigrants as the Western states, where a boundless field is still open to industry. The valley of the Mississippi is far more fertile than the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. This reason, added to all the others, contributes to drive the Europeans westward, a fact which may be rigorously demonstrated by figures. It is found that the sum total of the population of all the United States has about tripled in the course of forty years. But in the new states adjacent to the Mississippi the population has increased thirty-one-fold within the same time.

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This constant gravitation of the Federal power and influence towards the northwest is shown every ten years, when a general census of the population is made and the number of delegates that each state sends to Congress is settled anew. In 1790 Virginia had nineteen representatives in Congress. This number continued to increase until 1813, when it reached twenty-three; from that time it began to decrease, and in 1833 Virginia elected only twenty-one. During the same period the state of New York followed the contrary direction: in 1790 it had ten representatives in Congress; in 1813, twenty-seven; in 1823, thirty-four; and in 1833, forty. The state of Ohio had only one representative in 1803; and in 1833 it already had nineteen.

It is difficult to imagine a durable union of a nation that is rich and strong with one that is poor and weak, even if it were proved that the strength and wealth of the one are not the causes of the weakness and poverty of the other. But union is still more difficult to maintain at a time when one party is losing strength and the other is gaining it. This rapid and disproportionate increase of certain states threatens the independence of the others. New York might perhaps succeed, with its two million inhabitants and its forty representatives, in dictating to the other states in Congress. But even if the more powerful states make no attempt to oppress the smaller ones, the danger still exists; for there is almost as much in the possibility of the act as in the act itself. The weak generally mistrust the justice and the reason of the strong. The states that increase less rapidly than the others look upon those that are more favored by fortune with envy and suspicion. Hence arise the deep-seated uneasiness and ill-defined agitation which are observable in the South and which form so striking a contrast to the confidence and prosperity which are common to other parts of the Union. I am inclined to think that the hostile attitude taken by the South recently is attributable to no other cause. The inhabitants of the Southern states are, of all the Americans, those who are most interested in the maintenance of the Union; they would assuredly suffer most from being left to themselves; and yet they are the only ones who threaten to break the tie of confederation. It is easy to perceive that the South, which has given four Presidents to the Union, which perceives that it is losing its federal influence and that the number of its representatives in Congress is diminishing from year to year, while those of the Northern and Western states are increasing, the South, which is peopled with ardent and irascible men, is becoming more and more irritated and alarmed. Its inhabitants reflect upon their present position and remember their past influence, with the melancholy uneasiness of men who suspect oppression. If they discover a law of the Union that is not unequivocally favorable to their interests, they protest against it as an abuse of force; and if their ardent remonstrances are not listened to, they threaten to quit an association that loads them with burdens while it deprives them of the profits. "The Tariff," said the inhabitants of Carolina in 1832, "enridhes the North and ruins the South; for, if this were not the case, to what can we attribute the continually increasing power and wealth of the North, with its inclement skies and arid soil; while the South, which may be styled the garden of America, is rapidly declining."

If the changes which I have described were gradual, so that each generation at least might have time to disappear with the order of things under which it had lived, the danger would be less; but the progress of society in America is precipitate and almost revolutionary. The same citizen may have lived to see his state take the lead in the Union and afterwards become powerless in the Federal assemblies; and an Anglo-American republic has been known to grow as rapidly as a man, passing from birth and infancy to maturity in the course of thirty years. It must not be imagined, however, that the states that lose their preponderance also lose their population or their riches; no stop is put to their prosperity, and they even go on to increase more rapidly than any kingdom in Europe.77 But they believe themselves to be impoverished because their wealth does not augment as rapidly as that of their neighbors; and they think that their power is lost because they suddenly come in contact with a power greater than their own.78 Thus they are more hurt in their feelings and their passions than in their interests. But this is amply sufficient to endanger the maintenance of the Union. If kings and peoples had only had their true interests in view ever since the beginning of the world, war would scarcely be known among mankind.

Thus the prosperity of the United States is the source of their most serious dangers, since it tends to create in some of the federated states that intoxication which accompanies a rapid increase of fortune, and to awaken in others those feelings of envy, mistrust, and regret which usually attend the loss of it. The Americans contemplate this extraordinary progress with exultation; but they would be wiser to consider it with sorrow and alarm. The Americans of the United States must inevitably become one of the greatest nations in the world; their offspring will cover almost the whole of North America; the continent that they inhabit is their dominion, and it cannot escape them. What urges them to take possession of it so soon? Riches, power, and renown cannot fail to be theirs at some future time, but they rush upon this immense fortune as if but a moment remained for them to make it their own.

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And yet a careful examination of the history of the United States for the last forty-five years will readily convince us that the Federal power is declining; nor is it difficult to explain the causes of this phenomenon. When the Constitution of 1789 was promulgated, the nation was a prey to anarchy; the Union which succeeded this confusion excited much dread and hatred, but it was warmly supported because it satisfied an imperious want. Although it was then more attacked than it is now, the Federal power soon reached the maximum of its authority, as is usually the case with a government that triumphs after having braced its strength by the struggle. At that time the interpretation of the Constitution seemed to extend rather than to repress the Federal sovereignty; and the Union offered, in several respects, the appearance of a single and undivided people, directed in its foreign and internal policy by a single government. But to attain this point the people had risen, to some extent, above itself.

The Constitution had not destroyed the individuality of the states, and all communities, of whatever nature they may be, are impelled by a secret instinct towards independence. This propensity is still more decided in a country like America, in which every village forms a sort of republic, accustomed to govern itself. It therefore cost the states an effort to submit to the Federal supremacy; and all efforts, however successful, necessarily subside with the causes in which they originated.

As the Federal government consolidated its authority, America resumed its rank among the nations, peace returned to its frontiers, and public credit was restored; confusion was succeeded by a fixed state of things, which permitted the full and free exercise of industrious enterprise. It was this very prosperity that made the Americans forget the cause which had produced it; and when once the danger was passed, the energy and the patriotism that had enabled them to brave it disappeared from among them. Delivered from the cares that oppressed them, they easily returned to their ordinary habits and gave themselves up without resistance to their natural inclinations. When a powerful government no longer appeared to be necessary, they once more began to think it irksome. Everything prospered under the Union, and the states were not inclined to abandon the Union; but they desired to render the action of the power which represented it as light as possible. The general principle of union was adopted, but in every minor detail there was a tendency to independence. The principle of confederation was every day more easily admitted and more rarely applied, so that the Federal government, by creating order and peace, brought about its own decline.

As soon as this tendency of public opinion began to be manifested externally, the leaders of parties, who live by the passions of the people, began to work it to their own advantage. The position of the Federal government then became exceedingly critical. Its enemies were in possession of the popular favor, and they obtained the right of conducting its policy by pledging themselves to lessen its influence. From that time forwards the government of the Union, as often as it has entered the lists with the governments of the states, has almost invariably been obliged to recede. And whenever an interpretation of the terms of the Federal Constitution has been pronounced, that interpretation has generally been opposed to the Union and favorable to the states.

The Constitution gave to the Federal government the right of providing for the national interests; and it had been held that no other authority was so fit to superintend the internal improvements that affected the prosperity of the whole Union, such, for instance, as the cutting of canals. But the states were alarmed at a power that could thus dispose of a portion of their territory; they were afraid that the central government would by this means acquire a formidable patronage within their own limits, and exercise influence which they wished to reserve exclusively to their own agents. The Democratic Party, which has constantly opposed the increase of the Federal authority, accused Congress of usurpation, and the chief magistrate of ambition. The central government was intimidated by these clamors, and it finally acknowledged its error, promising to confine its influence for the future within the circle that was prescribed to it.

The Constitution confers upon the Union the right of treating with foreign nations. The Indian tribes which border upon the frontiers of the United States had usually been regarded in this light. As long as these savages consented to retire before the civilized settlers, the Federal right was not contested; but as soon as an Indian tribe attempted to fix its residence upon a given spot, the adjacent states claimed possession of the lands and a right of sovereignty over the natives. The central government soon recognized both these claims; and after it had concluded treaties with the Indians as independent nations, it gave them up as subjects to the legislative tyranny of the states.

Some of the states which had been founded on the Atlantic coast extended indefinitely to the West, into wild regions where no European had yet penetrated. The states whose confines were irrevocably fixed looked with a jealous eye upon the unbounded regions that were thus opened to their neighbors. The latter, with a view to conciliate the others and to facilitate the act of union, then agreed to lay down their own boundaries and to abandon all the territory that lay beyond them to the confederation at large. Thenceforward the Federal government became the owner of all the uncultivated lands that lie beyond the borders of the thirteen states first confederated. It had the right of parceling and selling them, and the sums derived from this source were paid into the public treasury to furnish the means of purchasing tracts of land from the Indians, opening roads to the remote settlements, and accelerating the advance of civilization. New states have been formed in the course of time in the midst of those wilds which were formerly ceded by the Atlantic states. Congress has gone on to sell, for the profit of the nation at large, the uncultivated lands which those new states contained. But the latter at length asserted that, as they were now fully constituted, they ought to have the right of converting the produce of these sales exclusively to their own use. As their remonstrances became more and more threatening, Congress thought fit to deprive the Union of a portion of the privileges that it had hitherto enjoyed; and at the end of 1832 it passed a law by which the greatest part of the revenue derived from the sale of lands was made over to the new Western republics, although the lands themselves were not ceded to them.

The slightest observation in the United States enables one to appreciate the advantages that the country derives from the Bank of the United States. These advantages are of several kinds, but one of them is peculiarly striking to the stranger. The notes of the bank are taken upon the borders of the wilderness for the same value as at Philadelphia, where the bank conducts its operations.

But the Bank of the United States is the object of great animosity. Its directors proclaimed their hostility to the President, and they were accused, not without probability, of having abused their influence to thwart his election. The President therefore attacked the establishment with all the warmth of personal enmity; and he was encouraged in the pursuit of his revenge by the conviction that he was supported by the secret inclinations of the majority. The bank may be regarded as the great monetary tie of the Union, just as Congress is the great legislative tie; and the same passions that tend to render the states independent of the central power contributed to the overthrow of the bank.

The Bank of the United States always held a great number of the notes issued by the state banks, which it can at any time oblige them to convert into cash. It has itself nothing to fear from a similar demand, as the extent of its resources enables it to meet all claims. But the existence of the provincial banks is thus threatened and their operations are restricted, since they are able to issue only a quantity of notes duly proportioned to their capital. They submitted with impatience to this salutary control. The newspapers that they bought over, and the President, whose interest rendered him their instrument, attacked the bank with the greatest vehemence. They roused the local passions and the blind democratic instinct of the country to aid their cause; and they asserted that the bank directors formed a permanent aristocratic body, whose influence would ultimately be felt in the government and affect those principles of equality upon which society rests in America.

The contest between the bank and its opponents was only an incident in the great struggle which is going on in America between the states and the central power, between the spirit of democratic independence and that of a proper distribution and subordination of power. I do not mean that the enemies of the bank were identically the same individuals who on other points attacked the Federal government, but I assert that the attacks directed against the Bank of the United States originated in the same propensities that militate against the Federal government, and that the very numerous opponents of the former afford a deplorable symptom of the decreasing strength of the latter.

But the Union has never shown so much weakness as on the celebrated question of the tariff. The wars of the French Revolution and of 1812 had created manufacturing establishments in the North of the Union, by cutting off free communication between America and Europe. When peace was concluded and the channel of intercourse reopened by which the produce of Europe was transmitted to the New World, the Americans thought fit to establish a system of import duties for the twofold purpose of protecting their incipient manufactures and of paying off the amount of the debt contracted during the war. The Southern states, which have no manufactures to encourage and which are exclusively agricultural, soon complained of this measure. I do not pretend to examine here whether their complaints were well or ill founded, but only to recite the facts.

As early as 1820 South Carolina declared in a petition to Congress that the tariff was "unconstitutional, oppressive, and unjust.¯ And the states of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi subsequently remonstrated against it with more or less vigor. But Congress, far from lending an ear to these complaints, raised the scale of tariff duties in the years 1824 and 1828 and recognized anew the principle on which it was founded. A doctrine was then proclaimed, or rather revived, in the South, which took the name of Nullification.

I have shown in the proper place that the object of the Federal Constitution was not to form a league, but to create a national government. The Americans of the United States form one and the same people, in all the cases which are specified by that Constitution; and upon these points the will of the nation is expressed, as it is in all constitutional nations, by the voice of the majority. When the majority has once spoken, it is the duty of the minority to submit. Such is the sound legal doctrine, and the only one that agrees with the text of the Constitution and the known intention of those who framed it.

The partisans of Nullification in the South maintain, on the contrary, that the intention of the Americans in uniting was not to combine themselves into one and the same people, but that they meant only to form a league of independent states; and that each state, consequently, retains its entire sovereignty, if not de facto, at least de jure, and has the right of putting its own construction upon the laws of Congress and of suspending their execution within the limits of its own territory if they seem unconstitutional and unjust.

The entire doctrine of Nullification is comprised in a sentence uttered by Vice President Calhoun, the head of that party in the South, before the Senate of the United States, in 1833: "The Constitution is a compact to which the States were parties in their sovereign capacity: now, whenever a compact is entered into by parties which acknowledge no common arbiter to decide in the last resort, each of them has a right to judge for itself in relation to the nature, extent, and obligations of the instrument." It is evident that such a doctrine destroys the very basis of the Federal Constitution and brings back the anarchy from which the Americans were delivered by the act of 1789.

When South Carolina perceived that Congress turned a deaf ear to its remonstrances, it threatened to apply the doctrine of Nullification to the Federal tariff law. Congress persisted in its system, and at length the storm broke out. In the course of 1832 the people of South Carolina named a national convention to consult upon the extraordinary measures that remained to be taken; and on the 24th of November of the same year this convention promulgated a law, under the form of a decree, which annulled the Federal tariff law, forbade the levy of the duties which that law commands, and refused to recognize the appeal that might be made to the Federal courts of law. This decree was only to be put in execution in the ensuing month of February, and it was intimated that if Congress modified the tariff before that period, South Carolina might be induced to proceed no further with her menaces; and a vague desire was afterwards expressed of submitting the question to an extraordinary assembly of all the federated states. In the meantime South Carolina armed her militia and prepared for war.

But Congress, which had slighted its suppliant subjects, listened to their complaints as soon as they appeared with arms in their hands. A law was passed by which the tariff duties were to be gradually reduced for ten years, until they were brought so low as not to exceed the supplies necessary to the government. Thus Congress completely abandoned the principle of the tariff and substituted a mere fiscal impost for a system of protective duties. The government of the Union, to conceal its defeat, had recourse to an expedient that is much in vogue with feeble governments. It yielded the point de facto, but remained inflexible upon the principles; and while it was altering the tariff law, it passed another bill by which the President was invested with extraordinary powers enabling him to overcome by force a resistance which was then no longer to be feared.

But South Carolina did not consent to leave the Union in the enjoyment of these scanty appearances of success: the same national convention that had annulled the tariff bill met again and accepted the proffered concession; but at the same time it declared its unabated perseverance in the doctrine of Nullification; and to prove what it said, it annulled the law investing the President with extraordinary powers, although it was very certain that the law would never be carried into effect.

Almost all the controversies of which I have been speaking have taken place under the Presidency of General Jackson; and it cannot be denied that in the question of the tariff he has supported the rights of the Union with energy and skill. I think, however, that the conduct of this President of the Federal government may be reckoned as one of the dangers that threaten its continuance.

Some persons in Europe have formed an opinion of the influence of General Jackson upon the affairs of his country which appears highly extravagant to those who have seen the subject nearer at hand. We have been told that General Jackson has won battles; that he is an energetic man, prone by nature and habit to the use of force, covetous of power, and a despot by inclination. All this may be true; but the inferences which have been drawn from these truths are very erroneous. It has been imagined that General Jackson is bent on establishing a dictatorship in America, introducing a military spirit, and giving a degree of influence to the central authority that cannot but be dangerous to provincial liberties. But in America the time for similar undertakings, and the age for men of this kind, has not yet come; if General Jackson had thought of exercising his authority in this manner, he would infallibly have forfeited his political station and compromised his life; he has not been so imprudent as to attempt anything of the kind.

Far from wishing to extend the Federal power, the President belongs to the party which is desirous of limiting that power to the clear and precise letter of the Constitution, and which never puts a construction upon that act favorable to the government of the Union; far from standing forth as the champion of centralization, General Jackson is the agent of the state jealousies; and he was placed in his lofty station by the passions that are most opposed to the central government. It is by perpetually flattering these passions that he maintains his station and his popularity. General Jackson is the slave of the majority: he yields to its wishes, its propensities, and its demands--say, rather, anticipates and forestalls them.

Whenever the governments of the states come into collision with that of the Union, the President is generally the first to question his own rights; he almost always outstrips the legislature; and when the extent of the Federal power is controverted, he takes part, as it were, against himself; he conceals his official interests, and labors to diminish his own dignity. Not, indeed, that he is naturally weak or hostile to the Union; for when the majority decided against the claims of Nullification, he put himself at their head, asserted distinctly and energetically the doctrines which the nation held, and was the first to recommend force; but General Jackson appears to me, if I may use the American expression, to be a Federalist by taste and a Republican by calculation.

General Jackson stoops to gain the favor of the majority; but when he feels that his popularity is secure, he overthrows all obstacles in the pursuit of the objects which the community approves or of those which it does not regard with jealousy. Supported by a power that his predecessors never had, he tramples on his personal enemies, whenever they cross his path, with a facility without example; he takes upon himself the responsibility of measures that no one before him would have ventured to attempt. He even treats the national representatives with a disdain approaching to insult; he puts his veto on the laws of Congress and frequently neglects even to reply to that powerful body. He is a favorite who sometimes treats his master roughly. The power of General Jackson perpetually increases, but that of the President declines; in his hands the Federal government is strong, but it will pass enfeebled into the hands of his successor.

I am strangely mistaken if the Federal government of the United States is not constantly losing strength, retiring gradually from public affairs, and narrowing its circle of action. It is naturally feeble, but it now abandons even the appearance of strength. On the other hand, I thought that I noticed a more lively sense of independence and a more decided attachment to their separate governments in the states. The Union is desired, but only as a shadow; they wish it to be strong in certain cases and weak in all others; in time of warfare it is to be able to concentrate all the forces of the nation and all the resources of the country in its hands, and in time of peace its existence is to be scarcely perceptible, as if this alternate debility and vigor were natural or possible.

I do not see anything for the present that can check this general tendency of opinion; the causes in which it originated do not cease to operate in the same direction. The change will therefore go on, and it may be predicted that unless some extraordinary event occurs, the government of the Union will grow weaker and weaker every day.

I think, however, that the period is still remote at which the Federal power will be entirely extinguished by its inability to protect itself and to maintain peace in the country. The Union is sanctioned by the manners and desires of the people; its results are palpable, its benefits visible. When it is perceived that the weakness of the Federal government compromises the existence of the Union, I do not doubt that a reaction will take place with a view to increase its strength.

The government of the United States is, of all the federal governments which have hitherto been established, the one that is most naturally destined to act. As long as it is only indirectly assailed by the interpretation of its laws and as long as its substance is not seriously impaired, a change of opinion, an internal crisis, or a war may restore all the vigor that it requires. What I have been most anxious to establish is simply this: Many people in France imagine that a change of opinion is going on in the United States which is favorable to a centralization of power in the hands of the President and the Congress. I hold that a contrary tendency may distinctly be observed. So far is the Federal government, as it grows old, from acquiring strength and from threatening the sovereignty of the states that I maintain it to be growing weaker and the sovereignty of the Union alone to be in danger. Such are the facts that the present time discloses. The future conceals the final result of this tendency and the events which may check, retard, or accelerate the changes I have described; I do not pretend to be able to remove the veil that hides them.