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The number of vessels built in the United States, in the same time, was 1547. Their tonnage was 256,577. .
From the relative strength of parties in Congress, and the temper already manifested by them in the house of representatives in the election of a speaker, the prospect of the present session is a gloomy one; and threatens to realize the worst anticipations formed of it. But we see no advantage in shutting our eyes to it. By watching the signs of the approaching tempest, we neither increase nor lessen its force, but we may be better able to elude or resist it.
It is now clear that there is a majority in both houses of Congress opposed to the administration, by which its action may be impeded and even embarrassed: this, however, is but a small part of the evil with which we are threatened. The principal questions on which the parties are likely to be divided, are, 1. That of protecting manufactures. 2. The adoption of specific in preference to ad valorem duties. 3. The warehousing system. 4. The sub-treasury. 5. The admission or exclusion of slaves in the newly acquired territories; and 6. The abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.
On all these questions, except the two last, the defeated party will acquiesce with that loyal deference which the people of the United States habitually show to the will of the majority; but on the questions relative to slavery, the case is different. On these the parties disagree about those first principles which are equally independent of majorities and minorities; and that course which the majority feel themselves bound to pursue, the minority regard as an infraction of their rights. With this radical difference of parties, who have no umpire to refer to, the union of these states, and, perhaps, the practicability of self-government, will be subjected to their severest test. If no plan of compromise can be adopted, either expressly or silently, and both parties obstinately adhere to the ground they have taken, we can see no alternative but an open rupture, to be terminated either forcibly by the power of the strongest, or quietly by separation; which, it may be remarked, will only defer, but not prevent the same contests by violence.
Against this reckless conflict of the passions, there are some conservative influences which may be sufficient to preserve to these states the blessings of union, peace, safety, and happiness. In the first place, every reflecting mind is aware that all we most dearly prize in our political institutions is dependent on the union; that the natural and inevitable consequences of its dissolution must be perpetual disputes and . occasional wars between neighbouring states; increased taxation to build fortifications and support standing armies, and, finally, a great diminution of civil freedom, and the subjection of the weaker states to the stronger. These considerations will induce men of both parties, who have influence as well as patriotism, to surrender the pride of opinion, and even to make some concession of right, to avert the greatest of national calamities. Then again, of the several questions which
divide the two great parties of the country, the majority on one does not consist of the same individuals as the majority of another, so that the political sympathies on one question may be counteracted by the political antipathies on another, and the parties, on the most delicate and dangerous questions, be thus brought more nearly to that equilibrium which is most fayourable to compromise. May they prove sufficient instruments to continue that unmatched course of prosperity which Providence has hitherto bestowed on us.
MEXICO, &c. Notwithstanding the encouraging view taken of the Mexican finances by President Herrera in July last, the general government still has its pecuniary difficulties, to which, indeed, now that money is the great instrument of political power, as well as works of utility, all modern states are more or less exposed, whether they be rich or poor, weak or strong, despotic or free; and to avoid which is often the most onerous duty of their statesmen. In the case of Mexico, the late war naturally lessened her resources, and increased her public debt. October last, Señor Elorriago, the minister of state, submitted to the legislature a plan of improving the public credit, of which the principal features are as follows:
The government will proceed to ascertain the amount of the public debt-excluding all claims which are not brought forward by a given time.
The debts, foreign and doinestic, shall be reduced to 110 millions of dollars, bearing an interest not exceeding 6 per cent.
The government will proceed to make retrenchments and ameliorations.
It will aim to secure an income of $1,500,000, besides the interest of the debt: a system of taxation will be forth with adopted to meet any deficiency that may arise.
It shall discharge no debt with any particular funds, or in any other respect different from the arrangement made with all the creditors of the state.
It shall create no office, make sale of no public function, or assign any higher salary than that provided by law.
It shall pay no higher interest than one-half of one per cent. monthly, and this only for sums received in specie.
The government shall report to the legislature the result of this plan, in case of its adoption, in the session of 1851 or before.
The plan was substantially adopted, and in pursuance of one of its provisions, the pay and salaries of the public officers have been generally reduced. The executive has also been permitted to anticipate as much of the next instalment of the debt due from the United States, as would be necessary to meet the deficit, estimated at $3,000,000.
It is understood that the insurgents in Sierra Madre have been entirely quelled, the troops sent against them disbanded, and that a restoration of the authority of government is nearly effected throughout the Mexican States. The more recent disorders in the States of Durango and Coahuila have been comparatively insignificant. As crime so often goes unpunished in Mexico, they are disposed to try the penitentiary system as a remedy.
The war between the whites and the Indians in Yucatan still continues. The invincible repugnance manifested by the Indians to submit to the Yucatecos, has suggested the plan of dividing Yucatan into two States, the capitals of which would be Merida and Campeache: which plan is now agitated. The Indians who now desire this division, will, it is supposed, put themselves, like the Mosquitos, under the protection of Great Britain.
HAYTI... In Hayti, the new dignity of the Emperor Soulouque seems to have inspired no awe in his neighbours of the Dominican republic, whatever it may have done on his own subjects. In a grandiloquent proclamation issued in November by the Dominican government, it avows the purpose no longer to carry on a war of defence, but to seek the enemy “ at their own threshold;" and they notice some small successes, both on sea and land, since they decided on offensive war. They have burnt one town, put the inhabitants of another to flight, and have captured a schooner, a sloop, and six boats.
The new Emperor proposes to protect the industry and the purses of his subjects by assuming the monopoly of coffee, their principal article of export, and by a tariff of prices on the principal articles of import, which no one can exceed on pain of imprisonment. The limited prices are, however, exorbitantly high, and perhaps his majesty expects to make a greater profit on the coffee he monopolizes, by reason of the very large profits he has allowed to importers. It is said that the price he pays for coffee to the grower, is 14 of a cent per pound.
CENTRAL AMERICA. In the States of Central America, since the long-projected communication between the Atlantic and Pacific through their country seems about to be effected, there has been a suspension of the civil wars and commotions from which they have never before been free since their separation from Spain. The treatment which some of them have received from the British authorities on the Isthmus, which those States believe to be lawless and unjust, and which certainly was contemptuous, have, by exciting a common sympathy, conduced to the same end. The completion of the proposed canal would not only give a new importance to their country in the eyes of the world, but would add greatly to the value of their lands, and the extension of their commerce. They all appear to be very friendly to the United States, which both their hopes and their fears induce them to cherish as their natural protectors. It seems highly probable that the collisions between the Nicaraguans and the Mosquito Indians about the right to the navigation of the San Juan, and the hostile proceedings of the British at Greytown or San Juan de Nicaragua, on the Atlantic, and at Tigre Island on the Pacific, will soon be settled, and after awhile forgotten, in consequence of the negotiations now going on between the American government and the British minister at Washington.
SOUTH AMERICA. In Venezuela, though Monagas is in the undisputed authority of the government, and now holds his ancient rival and opponent, Gen. Paez, a close prisoner, the latter still appears to have many friends, and, judging from past experience, it is not at all improbable that the civil commotions which have so frequently and so long agitated this country, will be renewed.
In the South Pacific American States, there have been lately intestine troubles as usual, but in Peru the contest for the presidency was settled by an appeal to arms. In November, the Congress confirmed an arrangement made between their envoy in London and their creditors, by which the debts of 1822 and 1823 are to bear an interest of 4 per cent., which is to be annually increased half of one per cent. until 1853, from which time it is to be 6 per cent.; and a subsequent debt, payable in 1848, is to bear one per cent. interest until 1852, and increasing as before until 1856, it is then to bear an interest of three per cent.
In the Argentine republic, the chief subject of public interest recently has been the offer of General Rosas to resign the supreme authority, and the vehement opposition made to his proposal by the Buenos Ayreans. Whether he was sincere in his purpose or not, there seems to be little doubt thatshe will retain the power he has so long and so energetically wielded.
It is rumoured that a part of the Emperor of Brazil's wide-spread domain is to be allotted to his son-in-law, the Prince de Joinville, and that in this way a Jarge debt due from his Brazilian majesty to Louis Philippe is to be cancelled. There has been an insurrection at Pernambuco, the second town in Brazil, and the insurgents refusing the terms of the amnesty offered, the governor of the province was preparing to attack them.
EUROPE. The year being about to close let us take a coup d'ail at the European continent.
When we recollect the political condition of Europe but a year since, and compare it with its present state, we can scarcely believe that the same countries can present such a contrast within that brief term; and the commotions of 1848, which shook almost every state of Europe, seem to us like the scenes of a troubled dream. As soon as a Parisian mob had overturned monarchy in France, backed as it apparently was, by consummate arts of state policy, and an obsequious army of more than 200,000 men, the people almost every where else determined to assert their rights, and to restrict the power of their sovereigns within the narrowest limits, if they did not deprive them of it altogether. Then we saw these same sovereigns, whose will had been the law to their people, trembling with apprehension; glad to surrender one half of their power for the sake of retaining the rest; affecting to yield willingly what they could no longer withhold; and every where sanctioning, sometimes even tendering constitutions in which the rights of conscience, the freedom of the press, the rights of self-legislation and self-taxation and universal suffrage were recognised as unquestionable rights of the people. In this upheaving of society, power and its ordinary attendants so shifted hands that the haughty tyrant and the cowering slave seemed to have changed places.
When the storm of popular enthusiasm, to which every thing at first gave way, had spent much of its force, and men found that their new-born liberty had not realized their fond expectations—that poverty, and crime, and the bad passions of man's nature, must be ever productive of his misery; and that the very love of civil freedom, which in itself is so elevated a sentiment, and has really produced so much that is pure, and noble, and useful, may lead its reckless votaries to the most barefaced injustice and the most atrocious crimes—a reaction took place. It then seemed that, in the frantic spirit of innovation engendered by civil revolution, the approved rules of law, order, and morality, were about to be subverted; and that the rights of property, which sets all the machinery of civil society in motion, and gives it endurance as well as life, were about to be abrogated. Then it was that the mass of the French nation out of the cities, and not a small number within their limits, became alarmed, and doubting the practicability of the liberal schemes of policy they had aimed at, they determined on retracing their steps to a certain point. It was thus that they preferred for their chief magistrate, one who was connected by blood and name with him by whom the glory of France had been raised to a higher point than it had ever before reached, and who was known to have inherited some of the influence of his uncle's great name. The very ambition his early life had exhibited, which so far exceeded his talents or his circumstances, and which tended to alienate the more ardent friends of republicanism, recommended him to the holders of property. Around him, therefore, they determined to rally; and the same fears of the wild excesses of the Socialists and Red Republicans—the one as unhesitating in their ends, as the other was unscrupulous in their meansthat made them elect him, made them uphold him after he was elected. In his constant reference to the necessity of law and order, he aims to