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XLV. THE EMPEROR JOSEPH II.
THE OKAVANGA RIVER
82, 197, 331, 443
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE ONCE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
THERE are so many points of interest to attract the attention to what were once the United States of North America, and there are so many social, political, and religious problems involved in its progress, its disruption, and its future destiny, that we shall extend our discussion from Virginia, on this occasion, to the States generally. The manner in which the country was colonised, the peculiarities of the original European inhabitants, and of the emigrant population since superadded, the rupture with the mother country, the war that ensued, the form of government adopted when first independence was declared, the features of the country, the progress of population, the revenue, the vast and rapidly increasing commerce, the manners and customs, the prevailing characteristics of social life, the variety of surface, soil, and climate, the moral character of American progress, education and literature, religion, and the influence of slavery as an institution in the Southern States, have all to be considered before we can arrive at any definite ideas as to the causes of the rapid advancement and prosperity of the United States, before we can form even an approximative opinion as to the dangers of the existing crisis, and still more so before we can thoroughly understand and appreciate in all its bearings the duty of England and America in relation to each other.
Previous to her disruption, the government of the United States exercised dominion over a country which came next to that of Great Britain and Russia, in point of extent and of the number of inhabitants that it was capable of supporting. We place Great Britain before Russia because its colonies are most populous, but accidental populations which may any day detach themselves from the mother country can scarcely be placed in the same category as the system of colonisation and aggrandisement pursued in Russia, and whose only danger is the natural incoherence of wide-spread dominion.
With respect to the United States, from the Atlantic in the east to the Pacific in the west, from the lake countries in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south; her shores thus washed by the great ocean; her lakes, and seas, and rivers, the most majestic that water the earth; her commerce whitening every sea; her railroads and canals, like great arteries, intersecting nearly her whole surface, carrying life and activity to the very borders, and in some places into the nooks and corners of the Great Desert Plains, and then again beyond these into the great valleys of the Rocky Mountains, down to the shores of the Pacific; and whose more densely populated surface is overspread with a network of magnetic wires; this colossal Sept.-VOL. CXXIII. NO. CCCCLXXXIX.
empire, embracing every character of soil and every degree of climate, had extended within the last half century, and filled the untrodden forest, the uninhabited plain, and the bleak hills with commerce, increasing towns, and a numerous population. The sun was four hours in its passage from the time when it first shone on the eastern shores of Maine till it struck the waters of the Pacific, and it was about four months in passing through the degrees of latitude of the once United States, in its northern and southern declination embracing six varieties of climate. (The Climate of the United States, &c. By Samuel Forry, M.D. New York. 1842.)
North America was first really settled in Virginia in the reign of James I.; and at James Town, which occupies a peninsula projecting from the northern shore of James River, may still be seen the ruins of the first church of North America; and this, with the surrounding burial-ground, is now almost the only memorial to be found of the original colony. This town was established two years before the settlement of Canada by the French, seven years before the founding of New York by the Dutch, and thirteen before the landing of the Puritans at Plymouth Rock. Subse→ quently, and at different intervals, the territory was peopled along parts of the coast of the Atlantic, as far as Plymouth, by the English, Dutch, French, Swedes, and Finns. New York was colonised by the Dutch in 1614. The Swedes, Finns, and Germans settled in Delaware and New Jersey in 1683. Plymouth-the general name applied to New England -was established in December, 1620, by the Puritans who arrived in the May Flower. These devoted men-the "Pilgrim Fathers"-found the country a howling wilderness, inhabited by wild and savage beasts, and by men more savage still; in the dead of winter, with no place of abode, their trust was alone in God. Before the opening of the ensuing spring, out of the one hundred and one who landed on the dreary shore, fortysix had died.
These several settlements, as arranged by the British government, consisted of thirteen states, which long existed as provinces of Great Britain, each state containing from ten to twenty thousand inhabitants. But parliament, pushed by the expenses incurred in defending the colony against the French, attempted to tax the colonists without the intervention of their legislative assemblies; and this, added to some irritating circumstances previously existing, such as the refusal of government to sanction an extension of the colonies into the interior, the forcible deportation of the French population of Nova Scotia-commemorated by Longfellow's beautiful poem " Evangeline"-together with other assumptions of power considered equally arbitrary and unjust, all contributed to produce an alienation of the colonies from the English rule. A civil war ensued, which, commenced at Lexington, near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1775, soon raged all over the limits of the States, from Concord, Bunker's Hill, the Lakes, and Saratoga, Lexington, in the Delaware, Schuylkill, the Chesapeak, and other scenes, to Charleston and New York in Virginia, where, the colonists having been powerfully assisted by France, and to some extent by Spain and Holland, the grand termination was effected by the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. The colonists thus successful, Great Britain acknowledged their independence by the peace of 1783, after a calamitous and unnatural struggle of seven years' duration.