William Gore Ouseley.

Remarks on the statistics and political institutions of the United States, with some observations on the ecclesiastical system of America, her sources of revenue, &c. To which are added statistical tables, &c online

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Online LibraryWilliam Gore OuseleyRemarks on the statistics and political institutions of the United States, with some observations on the ecclesiastical system of America, her sources of revenue, &c. To which are added statistical tables, &c → online text (page 1 of 18)
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" Elles (les lois) doivent etre tellement proprcs au peuple pour Icquel elles soiit faites, que
c'est un tres-grand liasard si celles d'une nation puuvent convenir a line autre.

" II fa\it qu'elles se rapportent a la nature et au principe du gouvcrnement qui est etabli,
ou qu'on veut etablir." — IMoNTEs<iuiEU, Esprit dea Lois— Liv. I. chap. iii.

Philadelphia :

James Kay, Jun. & Co., Printers,
No. 4, Minor Street.


Englishmen are accused by the Americans of
viewing their country only through a medium of
strong and generally hostile prejudice, or of describ-
ing it with intentional misrepresentation. Those
who are obnoxious to such imputations are little
likely to allow their justice ; men do not readily
confess their prejudices, and bad faith is still less easy
of conviction. In either case, a tu-quoque of mu-
tual recrimination is generally the only result of
unmeasured censure. Of any intention to mislead
the reader of the following remarks, on the subject
of the United States, I need hardly say that I am
utterly unconscious. The statements now pub-
lished are, almost without exception, supported by
the authorities of able writers. Whether I am
liable to the accusation of prejudice must be de-
cided by the judgment of others.

It is allowable, however, to state, that if mycoun-


try men are justly chargeable with sufTering their
opinions to be biassed by the peculiar feelings and
prepossessions of England, on leaving it for the first
time, I am less likely than many others to have
been influenced by such a circumstance. From
early youth the far greater part of my life has
been passed out of England, and in the diplomatic
service of my country ; and before my visit to
America I had seen most of the countries of

Yet still it must be confessed that I did not arrive
in the United States without having imbibed some
of those preconceptions on the subject of the
American political system that are so generally
current in Europe. Judging from what had been
witnessed in this hemisphere, it appeared to me that
whatever might be said of the theory of the political
system of America, yet in practice it could not
succeed for any length of time, and that in
Europe its imitation would be fraught with mis-
chief and anarchy.

Those impressions of the practical inapplica-
bility of the institutions of the United States to
European nations have not been removed by a resi-

(lence in that country; at least, the total unfitness
of a republican government for adoption in England
still appears to me incontrovertible. But the re-
sults produced in Jlmerica^ by her political system,
are very different from those which one is led to
expect by the representations of many, and some
distinguished writers ; and it has been my endeavour
to point out a few of the reasons and facts which,
in my mind, produced a conviction that the proba-
bilities of success to the " great experiment" now
in progress in the trans-atlantic republic w^ere not
to be measured by a scale formed from the circum-
stances of our own country.

It is not possible in the limits of a small volume
like this, to give more than an outline of the va-
rious points touched upon in the following pages ;
many of the subjects mentioned are but incidentally
and remotely connected with the nature of my
profession ; but the notice of them may serve to
direct better qualified observers, in future publica-
tions on the affairs of America.

The communication with the United States is
now so rapid and easy (the voyage often not oc-
cupying more than seventeen or eighteen days),


that travellers may visit the principal cities of the
Union and return to Europe within the space usu-
ally allotted for a summer excursion. The facility
for frequent intercourse betvreen the two countries
must conduce to mutual advantages: it must, at all
events, tend to dispel such prejudices on either side
of the Atlantic as are the result of misconception
or misrepresentation. Between countries the most
dissimilar, and which for centuries have regarded
one another as natural and national enemies, the
facilities of communication have contributed to ren-
der the very term "natural enmity" an almost obso-
lete expression, applicable only to the ignorant and
impolitic barbarism of past ages.

Whatever information may be afforded by this
Essay, or by works of a far higher order, on sub-
jects connected with America, they cannot tend to
remove either wilful prejudice, or mistaken impress-
ions, nearly so well as even a short visit to the
United States:

(" Segnius irritant anitnos demissa peraurem,
Quam quae sunt oculis subjectafidelibus;")

where, whatever deficiencies may be perceived by


those accustomed to the life of an European capi-
tal, it must be allowed that a wide and interesting
field is open to the research and observation of the
statesman, the politician, the philosopher, or the
practical man of business.

Although not immediately connected with the
subject of this publication, I cannot forbear saying
a few words on a topic deserving of the deepest
consideration in this country, and of which the
importance has only of late years been duly appre-
ciated. The North American colonies furnish
England with similar, and almost equivalent, advan-
tages to those which the Americans possess in the
superabundance of fertile territory, and consequent
provision for its population generally, but particu-
larly for the poorer and lower classes of society.

From my own observations in Canada and Nova
Scotia, I have no hesitation in affirming, that to a
moral certainty, — as w^ell ascertained as any circum-
stance can be by human experience, — the moder-
ately industrious and sober, however poor, are sure
of obtaining not only a plentiful subsistence, but


many comforts to which, in the present state of
the commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural
interests, they must in all probability long be stran-
gers in the mother country. There is but one
circumstance that might prevent the emigrant
from realizing these fair prospects, — the loss of
health. But in a climate so very salubrious as that
of British North America, the probability of this
evil is more remote than that to w^hich, under cir-
cumstances of privation, he would be exposed in
England. He will also find, I think, that the
physical and positive advantages are more encour-
aging to the settler in Upper Canada, &c. than in
the United States ; independently of the reluctance
that every right-minded Englishman must feel to
abandon the colours of his country. He may be
said to be nearly at home in the North American

" Coelum non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt."

By facilitating the means of emigration to the
poorer classes of Englishmen, the British govern-
ment would, perhaps, contribute as efficaciously
to their welfare as by the extension of thieir political

IX •

rights ; and would probably find, in the vast re-
sources of the North American colonies, a means
of practically awarding "the greatest share of
happiness to the greatest number" of our coun-

W. G. O.

Maij 7, 1832.

N.B. The works and authorities that have fur-
nished data for these remarks, besides those quoted,
are the Laws of the United States, American Al-
manac (Boston), Register of Department of State,
Sword's Almanac and Ecclesiastical Register, Quar-
terly Register of American Education Society,
Statistical Views by Watterston and Van Zandt,
and American Congressional and State Papers, in
addition to private notes, &c.

The tables in the Appendix do not pretend to
perfect correctness : w^hoever may make an experi-
ment in obtaining precise and accurate returns upon
the subjects here treated, will find that it is neither
an easy, nor very seductive task.




Introductory. Misconceptions on the subject of America in
Europe. Contradictory accounts of travellers. Arguments
suited to European governments not often applicable to the
United States. Government of that country well adapted to
the circumstances of its inhabitants . . . 17


Nature of American Republic generally misunderstood in
Europe. Its dissimilarity to the republics of antiquity, or
to those of more modern times. Contrast between the
American republic and that which succeeded the first French
Revolution. Of a federal union .... 25


Supposed defects of American form of government examined.
Proneness to war. National feelings towards England.
M. de Talleyrand's observations on that subject. M. Politica.
Advice of Washington on the foreign policy to be adopted
by the United States . . . . . . 31


Examination of objections to the political institutions of the
United States continued. Effects of very large constituencies
not such as have been anticipated. Corruption not general.


The representative bodies in America not de facto dele-
gates ......... 45


Supreme Court of the United States. Its judicial indepen-
dence and high character. Diplomatic agents particularly
interested in its proceedings. Has jusisdiction in all cases
touching the law of nations. State "Judiciaries." Asso-
ciate judges ....... 52


Misrepresentations of the domestic manners of the Ameri-
cans. Many of the peculiarities of the social system of the
United States not attributable exclusively to the republican
form of government. Advantages and defects compared of
American and English systems .... 60


Financial and general prosperity of United States. Its pecu-
liar causes considered. Principally attributable to a free and
protecting government. Mexican and South American re-
publics compared with the United States. Report of Mr
M'Lane on the finances of the United States. Opinions of
Revue Britannique and Quarterly Review on economy of
American government ..... 71


Statements of Quarterly Review on the subject of United States
examined. Supposed insecurity of property. Conservative
elements. ........ 86



United States government well suited to the American peo-
ple. Testamentary disposition not interfered with by the
laws. Division of property. Conservative principle of
American government resides in numerical majority. Pub-
lic lands ..... • . . 94


Revue Britannique on Finances of the United States. Letters
of General Bernard and Mr F. Cooper, published by General
Lafayette, containing answers to the statements of Revue
Britannique ...... 102


General Bernard's remarks. Department of state and foreign
affairs. War department. Treasury department. Jidmin-
istration centrale, k.Q. State expenses. Tolls and public
roads. Clergy. Militia. Summary. Mean expense to
each individual in France and America of public charges.
Extract from General Bernard's letter . . .109


Captain Hall's estimate of mean charge to each inhabitant of the
United States. Mr F. Cooper's remarks on the Revue Bri-
tannique. Mr Cooper's estimate of mean public charge



Quarterly's remarks on American statistics. General and
state expenditure. General Bernard's and Mr Cooper's
estimates . ....... 129



Future financial prospects of the United States. Military ex-
penses. Naval expenses. Cost of administration of justice.
Salaries of the clergy . . . . . 136


Ecclesiastical revenues of the United States. Valuations of the
Quarterly of church of England revenues, and those of the
clergy of America. Probable real amount of church emolu-
ments in the United States . . . - 143


Expenses of administration of justice. Of state judiciaries.
Some account of public lands, and future intentions with re-
gard to them . . . . . . .154


Gold Mines. Mint 169


Cultivation of sugar in Louisiana. Florida. Slavery 178

Summary . . ..... 195


Extract from " Review of Captain B. Hall's Travels" 199

General Table of all religious denominations throughout the

United States, specifying the number of ministers, churches,

communicants, and individuals .... 207

General Bernard's comparative statement of the French and
American budgets ...... 208

Table showing the number of clergymen and churches of dif-
ferent denominations in each state of the union, as far as they
have been ascertained ..... 212

Table showing the governor's term and salary, the number of
senators and representatives, with their respective terms and
pay in the different states . . . . . 214

Statement, showing the aggregate number of persons in each of
the states, according to the fifth census, and distinguishing
the slave from the free population in each state, according to
the corrections made in the returns of the marshals and their
assistants by the Secretary of State . . . 215
Steam-boat navigation from St Louis . . . 216

Whole number of steam-boats built on the western waters 217
Expenses to each state of its judiciary, including the territo-
ries and district of Columbia .... 218

Colleges in the United States . . . . 219

Texas 220

Payment of the debt of the United States . . 222

Rates of postage ...... 223

Newspapers in New York ..... 225

Copyright . 225

Number of bishops in the United States, and their residences,
or diocesses ....... 226







Introductory. — Misconceptions on the subject of America in Eu-
I'ope. — Contradictory accounts of travellers. — Arguments suit-
ed to European governments not often applicable to the United
States. — Government of that country well adapted to the cir-
cumstances of its inhabitants.

Although the attention of Europeans, since the
conclusion of the treaty of Ghent in 1814, has
been directed to the progress of the United States
of North America with more interest than at former
periods, and although the rapidly increasing popula-
tion and resources of the federal union have been
of late years more justly appreciated than here-
tofore, yet there is perhaps no country of equal
importance that is in fact so little known in Europe
generally. No better proof can be wanting of this


ignorance in our country, on the subject of
America, than the conflicting and contradictory
opinions and reports concerning it that are con-
tinually made public. Not only the allusions fre-
quently made in either house of parliament to the
theoretic tendency and practical effects of her politi-
cal institutions, but the observations of the daily and
periodical press furnish ample evidence of the great
difference of opinion that exists on the advantages or
defects of her form of government, and its influence
on the social system in some measure its conse-

That many misconceptions as to the real situation
of the Americans should be entertained by those
who have never visited their country is the less
surprising, when we observe that, even among
the numerous travellers in the United States who
have published their impressions of its present con-
dition, or their views of its future prospects, there
should be such diversity of opinion, that one is
sometimes inclined to doubt that the different writers
are describing the self-same country. This may
doubtless be said of accounts of other countries ; but,
where intercourse is frequent, and distance from
our homes not great, vulgar errors are rectified, or
prejudiced mistatements contradicted, with greater
facility and certainty than where that serious


obstacle to an intimate acquaintance between two
nations intervenes, viz. some thousand miles of the

Even those rapid improvements in the means
of communication anticipated by some* sanguine
authors will not so speedily overcome this natural
bar to an intimate acquaintance with the American
continent, as not to allow for many years to come
a wide field for speculation and theoretical discussion,
founded on partial and exaggerated statements, and
unintentional or wilful misrepresentation.

While one party, zealously admiring the system of
America, represents the United States as a political
Utopia, and would wish to transplant her institutions
and particularly her financial economy to England,
forgetful of the many circumstances rendering such
a form of government or any such practical adoption
of her scale of expenditure undesirable or im-
possible in this country^ — another set of men are
unceasing in their condemnation of every thing
American, describing manifold evils as the present
effects, and predicting convulsion and ruin as the
future results, of the mode of government which the
people of the United States have adopted. In either
case the ignotum pro magnifico accounts for the

* Vide M'Gregor's British America, M'Taggart's work, &.c.


exaggerated opinions so frequently, and often con-
scientiously, expressed on the subject.

But the opinions of travellers in the United States,
however speculative, deserve more attention than
those of men who write by their firesides strictures
upon countries of which they have no practical
knowledge, and whose impressions are coloured by
the prejudices of a party, or their own misappre-
hensions. Unfortunately, those who have published
descriptions of America have not generally remained
there long enough to be enabled to use their judg-
ment uninfluenced by prepossessions against or in
favour of the theory or practice of the American
system; they consequently apply a scale of their own,
adapted to a country widely different in circumstan-
ces, manners, and institutions, in forming opinions
of the government and people of the United States.
The traveller who on first arriving in any foreign
country should unreservedly commit to paper his im-
pressions and opinions of its usages or political insti-
tutions, and endeavour to explain and account for its
peculiar customs, from his own observations and
knowledge, and then lay aside his notes during a
year's residence in the same place, would probably be
surprised on a reperusal of them at the mistaken
views that he had in many instances taken; at least I
have found it so. And if this be true of European


countries, having generally many features of resem-
blance, it is particularly so in the judgments passed
by Europeans on the United States. I am speaking
now more especially of the political institutions of
America, but the same remarks are even more strik-
ingly applicable to the social system of that country.
It should be recollected that many provisions of the
constitution of the United States, which to an Eng-
lishman appear at first sight fraught with danger, will
perhaps on a nearer examination be found well adap-
ted to the American Union; for we are prone uncon-
sciously to apply the arguments that would be good
in England to a country extremely dissimilar; and
thus contemplating, with views and ideas suited to
a very different state of things, particular measures
or modes of government, it is not surprising that
our judgments and predictions of their consequences
should be erroneous. Americans say that we look
at their republican institutions through our " mon-
archical spectacles," and that it requires some ap-
prenticeship to so different a state of things to see
them in their true light.

Let us look at the converse of this proposition.
When an American arrives in England for the first
time, he is apt to jump at conclusions equally un-
founded respecting our country. I know what
were the impressions of some individuals from the


United States, and men of sagacity and experience,
on first witnessing the practical workings of our con-
stitutional monarchy, and the results of our social
system. And if most Americans were honestly to
confess their real opinions (formed after only a short
residence in England) at any period during the last
thirty years, I am convinced that there are few^ who
would not avow a conviction of their astonishment
at the possibility of our government having con-
tinued to work with any success for five years
together; but after a residence of greater duration,
they perceive the existence of counteracting causes
preventing many of the bad effects which they anti-
cipated, and even begin to think that the transition to
a form of government like their own would neither
be so easy nor so advantageous as they previously
believed. Americans are eminently practical men;
all their undertakings, and generally all the measures,
whether of governments or individuals in that coun-
try, are stamped w ith utility as their object, and
dicated by sound practical good sense and prudence.
They consequently quickly detect the wildness and
absurdity of many of the republican theories of
those Europeans, who w^ould seek to adopt forms of
government totally unfitted for the circumstances of
their country; — and soon adapt their views to the
peculiarities of the political atmosphere in which
they find themselves.



Englishmen do not, I think, so readily divest them-
selves of their preconceived ideas when reflecting on
the situation of America, and are apt to continue
bigoted in their own hypotheses, notwithstanding
the frequent contradictions from facts and practical
results to which they are continually subjected. It
would be difficult otherwise to account for the
erroneous views that are so often taken of the
American republic ; and for the condemnation of a
system pursued with such remarkable success in one
country, because it is not adapted to the circum-
stances of another.

As all human institutions carry with them from
the first moment of their origin the seeds of their
own decay or dissolution, it would be folly to expect
that the American constitution should not share in
the general imperfection of our nature. But so far
from considering the political system of the United
States as peculiarly fraught with danger to its own
existence, and built upon imprudently slight founda-
tions, I conceive it to be better adapted for the
security, good government, and welfare of the
American people, than any which could perhaps,
under their peculiar circumstances, have been con-
ceived; indeed this opinion is supported by the
authority of writers by no means friendly to popular


governments.* The constitution of America was
the work of the combined talent and experience of
men of sagacity and information, well acquainted
with the wants and habits of their own country, and
not ill versed in the theories or practices of others ;
and they constructed their institutions upon a foun-
dation of experience and practical ability, to suit the
peculiar circumstances of their countrymen. Hither-
to their system has w^orked wonderfully for the pros-
perity of the United States, and it is not one of its least
advantages that any necessary change or amelioration
is foreseen and provided for with such careful pre-
cautions and restrictions, as prospectively secure a
remedy for future wants or changes of circumstance.
It appears, I think, likely to last, and adapt itself to
the mutations brought on by the lapse of years, with
at least as fair a prospect of success as the nature
of most human institutions can promise.

* Vide Quarterly Review, No. XCII. p. 585. " It is a scheme,
indeed, with which the Americans may well be content ; for one
better fitted to their situation it might not have been very easy, if
possible, to devise."



Nature of American republic generally misunderstood in Europe.
— Its dissimilarity to the republics of antiquity, or to those of
more modern times. — Contrasts between the American repub-
lic and that which succeeded the first French revolution. — Of
a federal union.

The name of republic^ or rather the associations

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryWilliam Gore OuseleyRemarks on the statistics and political institutions of the United States, with some observations on the ecclesiastical system of America, her sources of revenue, &c. To which are added statistical tables, &c → online text (page 1 of 18)