John J. (John Joseph) Lalor.

Cyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States online

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souls in North America, though it is thought scarce
eighty thousand have been brought over sea."
Whether this estimate be well or ill founded, it
shows the belief at the time that the old English
people had not been transferred to America, but
that a new English people had grown up there
from a small seed. — But, in spite of the compara-
tive smallness of the seed, its peculiar character,
and the reasons for its transfer, were of enormous
weight in the history of the United States, and
have colored all the subsequent order of events.
The original settlers were to frame the institutions
of the new nation, to cast the mould in which
their descendants were to be developed. In doing
the work, they were controlled by the lurking
and generally unconscious feeling of incipient re-
bellion under which they had emigrated. Their
minds naturally reverted to the traditions of their
race ; they rejected most of the forms of class
supremacy which they had found so troublesome
at home ; and in each of the thirteen colonies
they established as near an approach to democracy
as circumstances would allow. It is a mistake to
suppose that the privileges of the people were se-
cure only under the charter governments of New
England. In what might be called the palatine
governments, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
and (at first) New Jersey and North and South
Carolina, in which the crown resigned the domin-
ion of the colony to a palatine, or proprietor, the
patents were very full and liberal in enumerating
the privileges of the people, and the people were
always more ready to assert them against a pro-
prietor than against the king. In the Carolinas
(see NoKTH Carolina) the proprietors attempted
to establish a privileged aristocracy, but were de-
feated by popular opposition. In the royal colonies.
New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Vir-
ginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, in which any
struggle had to be leveled at the king's vicegerent,
the tender plant of popular privilege was effectu-
ally shielded by the distance of the colonies from
the mother country, and by the uniform contempt
of the mother country for the colonies. The for-
mer furnished special safeguards, but the latter
was a general safeguard. A timely creation of a
number of American peerages, with grants of
land, and with hereditary privileges, even if only
in the royal colonies, would have vitally altered
the conditions of the new country, and would
have immensely increased the difficulties of the
final revolution. It must be evident that this



992



UNITED STATES OP AMERICA.



■n-as the only policy which could have prevented
or checked the establishment of democracy in
America, but it had an implacable opponent in
the prejudices of the ruling class in England.
Thus, from various influences the thirteen com-
monwealths which grew up on the Atlantic coast
of North America were of a generally democratic
character. They varied only in degree, from
the highly democratic charter commonwealths,
through the scarcely less democratic palatine com-
monwealths, to the royal commonwealths, in
which democracy maintained itself successfully
against the feeble opposition of a distant king.
There were some limitations on the elective fran-
chise ; there were, in most of the colonies, at-
tempts to establish an ecclesiastical order ; but
hereditary privilege, with all its powerful influ-
ences on politics, was a complete blank in the
colonies. The unwisdom of the English ruling
class, its disdainful refusal to recognize any equal
class in the new country, had resulted in the
spread of democracy over all America. — During
the first period of their development, the colonies
had little or no political connection with one an-
other, but were loosely united by a common alle-
giance to the crown. Each colony lived its own
life, uncontrolled by any or by all of the other
colonies. These are the circumstances on which
has been built the theory of "state sovereignty."
(See that title.) They are admitted, but not the
consequences which are sought to be drawn from
them. On the contrary, it must be evident that
all the materials for a new nation were here pres-
ent in chaos, waiting for the blow which should
crystallize them into permanent form. (See Na-
tion.) So long as there were no controlling com-
mon interests, the repelling force between individ-
ual colonies showed itself rather in inaction than
in action, rather by a negation of union than bj'
positive and individual commonwealth assertion.
Just as rapidly as the importance of public action
increased, just so surely did the signs of union
multiply. They were naturally confined at first
to the homogeneous New England colonies, which
united for a time in 1643. (See New England
Union.) Wlien the French wars fairly opened,
after 1689, the middle colonies began to take part
with the New England colonies in their expedi-
tions against the Canadian strongholds. Finally,
when the great French and Indian war broke out,
common interests brought all the colonies into
something like common action. (See Waks, I.)
South Carolina troops were with Washington at
Fort Necessity ; and wherever troops from differ-
ent colonies came together, as they frequently did
thereafter, they learned to use the common name
"provincials" to distinguish themselves from the
British troops. There was even a promising but
unsuccessful attempt at a formal union of the
colonies in 1754. (See Albany Plan of Union.)
— A more successful attempt to unite the colonies
was made in 1765. (See Stamp Act Congress.)
It was due to the first attempt of the home gov-
ernment to impose internal taxes on the colonies



by acts of parliament. Against this attempt there-
was one general plea, the original promise of the-
crown to all emigrants to America, that they
should "enjoy all liberties, franchises and immu-
nities," "to all intents and purposes as if they
had been abiding and born within this our realm
of England." Certainly the people of England
had secured, as at least one of their "liberties,
franchises and immunities," the right to be taxed
by their own parliaments, not by a foreign parlia-
ment or by the crown. The colonies accordingly
claimed the same for themselves ; none of them
was able to maintain it individually ; and they
drifted together in common action. — The action
of the congress of 1765 was altogether advisory
and deliberative, not legislative, and had only the
effect of accustoming the colonists to the idea of
union. The case was much the same with the-
first continental congress of 1774. But events
were moving rapidly. It has been stated that the-
rights of the colonists were not guaranteed at all-
in the royal colonies, except by the original prom-
ise of the crown ; that they were considerably
better secured in the palatine, or proprietary, col-
onies ; and that they were best secured in the
charter colonies of New England. When, there-
fore, the crown and parliament chose, or were
forced, to attack the rights of Massachusetts, one
of the charter colonies, the attack was felt by all,
and all united to resist it. When the second con-
tinental congress met, in 1775, the struggle had
taken the shape of force, and the congress was
compelled to resort to action, not to deliberation.
(See Congress, Continental ; Revolution ;
Flag ) — In theory, the second congress was ex-
actly like the first, a meeting of committees from
thirteen independent commonwealths, without
any authority to act except what was formally
given to each delegation by its own common-
wealth. But in practice the case was radically
different. The congress became a revolutionary
national assembly, and seized all the powers of
national government ; and the authority for the
seizure was not in any grant of power by the
states, but in the acquiescence and support of
the people at large. It is true that the people
universally desired the retention of state lines
in the organization of the new nation; but the
retention was due to the will of the mass of
the people, not to the will of any or all of the
states. If the mass of the people had desired
it, congress would have blotted out or ignored
state lines, as it did in the case of Vermont, and
any individual state would have been as power-
less against congress as against the crown. The-
states, then, owe their existence as states, orig-
inally and continuously, to the will of a people
practically unanimous on that subject. It is very
true that this national ^ople can express its will
only with the very greatest difBculty, and then
mainly by acquiescence or resistance; but it is
equally true, that, when it has been necessary, as
in 1775 and 1787-9, when the usual machinery of
state government has failed, the national people



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.



993



has found a way to express its -will, and Its will
has been obeyed. The statement of conflicting
views in regard to the ultimate "sovereignty" of
the United States is necessarily reserved to a sub-
sequent section of this article : but the reasons
above assigned will explain why this series of
articles holds that the ultimate sovereignty of the
United States is in the mass of the people; and
that state and national governments and constitu-
tions owe their existence to the will of the ulti-
mate sovereignty, and hold from it. This has
seemed to the writer the only theory which can
account in an orderly manner for the successive
changes of national government : it makes the
continental congress a legal, even if revolutionary,
exponent of the general popular will; the articles
of confederation a valid system for its time, even
if unnecessarily ratified by the state legislatures;
and the convention of 1787 a legitimate exponent
of the general popular will to have a change of
government, in spite of the state legislatures, but
without sacrificing the states. Any other theory
makes the continental congress a clique of daring
usurpers, seizing national power in defiance of the
de jure sovereignties, the states ; the articles of
confederation a similar successful usurpation by
the state legislatures, to which their common-
wealths had granted no powers to make any such
league; and the constitution itself a contra usurpa-
tion by an' illegal convention, condoned by the
tardy ratifications of state conventions. (See Con-
GBESs, Continental ; Conpedehation, Arti-
cles OP; Convention op 1787.) Either the sov-
ereignty of the United States is in the mass of
the people, divided into states by its own will; or
the political history of the United (States must
be abandoned as only a labyrinth without a clue.
— II. National History. 1. 1775-89. If we
take the first instance of the use of force in the
struggle between the colonies and the mother
country, the fight at Lexington, April 19, 1775, as
the signal for the transformation of congress into
a revolutionary national assembly, the people of
the " United Colonies " were still nominally under
the rule of George III. for more than a year
thereafter. Congress still addressed them and
spoke of them as "his majesty's most faithful
subjects in these colonies," even while it was ex-
horting them to kill the soldiers sent to America
by his majesty. When the royal proclamation of
Aug. 23, 1775, charged them with "forgetting the
allegiance which they owed to the power that had
protected and sustained them," the congress, in its
answer of the following Dec. 6, defined its position
thus skillfully: " What allegiance is it that we for-
get? Allegiance to parliament? We never owed —
we never owned it. Allegiance to our king ? Our
words have ever avowed it, our conduct has ever
been consistent with it." When, however, it was
found that the king was irrevocably committed to
the enemies of the United Colonies, the congress,
July 4, 1776, abolished the royal authority for-
ever. (See Declaration op Independence,
Allegiance.) In 1778 the new nation was recog-
183 VOL. III. — 63



nized by France, and in 1783, by the definitive
treaty of peace which closed the struggle, it was
recognized by the king of Great Britain. (See
Revolution, American, and, for the terms of
the recognition. State Sovbrbigntt.)— The con-
gress retained its position as a revolutionary gov-
ernment for six years, 1775-81, though its power
was constantly decreasing during the last half of
the period. In 1781 it passed, without a jar, into
the new government under the articles of confed-
eration. This purported to be a pure federation,
a league of sovereign states, and it was soon found
to be useless and dangerous. In 1787 a federal
convention was extorted from the state legisla-
tures and congress by a general concurrence of
the popular will. It framed the constitution,
which was ratified by state conventions and be-
came the basis of a new national government.
(See Congress, Continental; Conpederation,
Articles op, and Territories for the delay in
ratifying them; Convention op 1787; Constitu-
tion.)— 3. The FederalisU, 1789-1801. At the
time of the organization of the new government,
parties had already been developed, though the
line of division was not permanently preserved.
All who had supported the new constitution took
the name of federalists, as those who opposed it
took the name of anti-federalists. The anti-fed-
eralists, as a distinct party, disappeared as soon
as the new government was fairly organized, and
the federalists were left in undisputed control of
national affairs. But the latter party contained
many members, particularly in Virginia, who
were opposed to the growth of national power at
the expense of state power, and to strong govern-
ment or class government at the expense of the
individual. These coalesced into a new party of
constitutional opposition, the democratic-repub-
lican party, which grew stronger all through this
period, until, in 1801, it finally overthrew the fed-
eral party. (See Anti-Pederal Party; Feder-
al Party, I. ; Democratic-Republican Party,
I.,II. ; Construction; Hamilton; Jefferson.)

— In July, 1788, when the ninth state had ratified
the constitution, the congi-ess of the confederation
had named New York city as the place, and March
4, 1789, as the time, for the organization of the
new government. Difficulty of travel, and the
slovenly habits learned under the confederacy,
delayed the organization until April 6, when a
quorum of both houses was obtained to count the
electoral votes. Until 1804 the electors simply
voted for two persons, without specifying the vote
for president and vice-president. (See Electors.)
In this case, Washington was found to have a
unanimous- vote, and became president, and John
Adams, having the next largest vote, became vice-
president. (In all cases under this article, for
electoral votes see the article Electoral Votes;
for cabinets, see Administrations; for brief biog-
raphies, see the names of the persons mentioned.)

— The federalists, with very little opposition, pro-
ceeded to organize the new government by acts
defining the powers of the various departments,



994



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.



and organizing inferior courts and territories.
Tlieir work was so well done that it still forms
the skeleton of the government of the United
States. Two other measures, involving the first
broad construction of the powers of congress,
provoked a warmer opposition. The organization
of a national bank (see Bakk Controversies,
II.), and the assumption of state debts (see Fi-
nance; Capital, National), resulted in the rise
of the republican party, under Jefferson. Never-
theless, the result of the presidential election of
1793 was the same as that of 1789. — Foreign
affairs now began to control American politics,
for the French revolution had begun its destruc-
tive course, and the republicans, and still more
the democrats, were in pronounced sympathy with
it. (See Genet, Citizen; Democratic Clubs.)
England had begun a systematic effort to drive
American commerce into her own harbors, and
the republicans were anxious to begin a war of
commercial restrictions against her (see Embargo,
I.); but this question was put to rest for ten years
by a treaty concluded in 1794r-5. (See Jay's
Treaty.) French agents, however, continued to
interfere in American politics, and diplomatic
difficulties with France continued through the
following term. — Vermont was admitted as a state
in 1791, Kentucky in 1792, and Tennessee in 1796.
(See their names.) The rest of the western border
was the occasion of more difficulty. Travel was
exceedingly difficult, for the roads were so bad
as to be almost worse than no roads; internal mi-
gration was slow; the Indian title to lands west
of Pennsylvania was not extinguished; and bor-
der lawlessness was as ready to oppose national
laws as to attack the Indians. In 1794 it became
necessary to march a militia force into western
Pennsylvania to suppress disorders. (See Whis-
ky Insdrrbction.) a war with the Miamis re-
sulted in their defeat and their cession of nearly
the whole of Ohio in 1795; and in the same year,
by Jay's treaty, the British gave up the forts in
the northwest territory, which they had held for
twelve years in violation of the tceaty of 1783.
Emigration to Ohio increased at once, and the
movement of American population was turned
finally toward the northwest territory. — During
Washington's second term, party division ad-
vanced so far that the republican members of the
cabinet successively retired, and the administra-
tion became altogether federalist. In 1796 Wash-
ington refused to be a candidate for a third term
(see Farewell Addresses), and John Adams
was elected president. Jefferson, however, ran
ahead of the other federalists, and became vice-
president. Adams' single term was one of great
difficulty at home and abroad. The United States
came to the verge of war with France (see X Y Z
Mission), and the federal majority in congress
seized the opportunity to enact dangerous laws
for their own partisan advantage. (See Alien
and Sedition Laws.) Opposition in congress
was so evidently hopeless that the republican lead-
ers at first attempted to use the state legislatures



as instruments of resistance. (See Kentdckt
and Virginla Resolutions, Nullification.)
But the presidential election of 1800 proved to be
a surer instrument: the federal party was defeated,
and fell, never to rise again. There were some
points which were settled with great difficulty
(see Disputed Elections, I. ; Electors, VL),
but the main question had been settled for the
time: the people, as yet, preferred that power
should not be granted to the federal government
at the expense of the states. (In general, see
Federal Party, I., Democratic-Republican
Party, I., II.). — 3. The Bepublicans, 1801-29.
The methods of the government of the United
States were altogether the same after 1801 as be-
fore: the constructive skill of the federalists had
planned them so wisely that it would have been
worse than folly to drop them. But its spirit had
changed, and the change was quickly reflected by
the states. Democracy had got the bit in its teeth;
the hand of the federalists had not been heavy
enough to control it. In every state outside of
New England, all restrictions upon the right of
white males over the age of twenty-one to vote
were gradually swept away, with the exception of
residence qualifications; and all connection be-
tween state and church was severed. It became
the fashion to think, talk and act more freely, and
with less subservience to the prejudices of the in-
dividual's class or creed. In this senfe the " rev-
olution of 1800" has never gone backward; every
party, court, church and person in the United
States feels the infiuence of the force which was
then loosed. — In foreign affairs, Jefferson's ad-
ministrations were marked by a war with Tripol;
(see Alqerine War), and a revival of the com-
mercial difficulties with Great Britain. (See Em-
bargo.) These latter continued through Jeffer
son's administrations, and into those of his suc-
cessor, and culminated in the war of 1812. (See
Wars, IV. ; Convention, Hartford.) No part
of the political history of the United States is so
weak as this period, for the negation of national
sovereignty in internal affairs carried with it im-
potence in foreign intercourse. (See Nation.)
In 1807 the British frigate "Leopard" stopped
and searched the Uilited States frigate "Chesa-
peake," and took from her four seamen, claimed
to be deserters; and the only retaliation was a
proclamation ordering British armed vessels to
quit the waters of the United States. — In domes-
tic affairs, Jefferson's first administration was
marked by the annexation of Louisiana, in 1803
(see Annexations, I.), which more than doubled
the territory of the United States. Four years
afterward, in 1807, Fulton produced a usable
steamboat, and within four years the building of
steamboats on western waters had begun. Ful-
ton's invention carried emigration far more rap-
idly into the northwest territory, and through it
to Louisiana. But Jefferson's second term, said
John Randolph, was like the lean kine, and ate
up the fatness of the first. It was disturbed, to a
dangerous extent, by the distress and discontent



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.



995



produced in New England by the restrictive sys-
tem. (See Embargo, II. ; Secession, I. ; Henet
Documents.) The newly acquired Mississippi
river became the route of a mysterious expedition,
under the late vice-president. Burr, which excited
general fears for the safety of Louisiana. (See
BuRK.) Jefferson's second term ended unhappily,
with a general suspension of commerce, discon-
tent, distrust and uncertainty, and he was suc-
ceeded by Madison. — During Madison's first terra
the embargo system passed by successive stages
into open war against Great Britain. (See Em-
bargo, III.-V. ; Wars, IV.) The war achieved
none of the objects for which it was begun, but
it served a greater purpose by hardening the gristle
of the young nation into something like bone.
No test could be so severe, for a nation which
still considered itself a "voluntary confedera-
tion," as a war to which one of its most influen-
tial sections was conscientiously and angrily op-
posed ; but the test was endured successfully.
(See Convention, Hartford; Drafts, I.; Na-
tion, III.) With the close of the war a new era
began, which only waited for the introduction of
the railroad in 1830 to develop into the full life of
the United States. Commerce revived. Manu-
factures, fostered by the restrictive system and the
war, demanded and received protection; and in
the process they destroyed the remnants of the
federal party. (See Tariff; Federal Party,
II.) The war, especially on the northern and
southwestern frontier, had forced upon the atten-
tion of the people the danger of their shocking
lack of good roads, and there was a general move-
ment toward an improvement in some shape. The
energies of the national government were at first
turned to the construction of roads. (See Cttm-
BERLAND RoAD.) But the State of New York
had the enterprise to open a new vein by the con-
struction of the Erie canal, and this turned other
states and the national government to a general sys-
tem of public improvements. (See New York, In-
ternal Improvements.) A new national bank
wascreated. (See Bank Controversies, IV.) All
these measures were opposed to that strict construc-
tion of the constitution, and that complete suprem-
acy of state life and action, which were the formal
basis of the dominant party; but the drift of the
party to their support could not be checked. It
was aided by the supreme court, whose influence
as a nationalizing factor now first became appar-
ent. (See Judiciary, II.) The whole change
reconciled the federalists to their absorption into
the republican party. Indeed, they claimed, with
considerable show of justice, that the absorption
was in the other direction; that the republicans
had recanted; and that the " Washington-Monroe
policy," as they termed it after 1820, was all that
federalists had ever desired. — This was an era of
state making. Louisiana was admitted in 1812,
Indiana in 1816, Mississippi in 1817, Illinois in
1818, Alabama in 1819, Maine in 1820, and Mis-
souri in 1831. (See their names.) In the admis-
sion of Missouri there was a series of diflSculties



which showed that the two sections, the north and
the south, were drifting dangerously far apart on
the subject of slavery; but these difficulties were



Online LibraryJohn J. (John Joseph) LalorCyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States → online text (page 254 of 290)