Slike strani
PDF
ePub

originally proposed, the history of the year, according to the legal division, from one national anniversary to the succeeding one in 1826, has been given. This plan, however, has not been rigidly adhered to, when it was necessary to give unity to a historical statement, either by tracing it back to its origin, or by bringing it when practicable, to a conclusion.

Among other matters, biographical sketches of such eminent men as have died within the year, have been inserted. In doing this, the materials have been collected from other publications; and in the European biographies, the language has been preserved.

This publication will be conducted upon strictly national principles; and it is contemplated, that a volume will make its appearance in the spring of each year.

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.

Retrospective view-Independence of the United States-Abolition of Colonial System-Views of Great Britain-Independence of Spanish America-Policy of the United States-Dissolution of PartiesVisit of La Fayette-National Jubilee-Deaths of Adams and Jefferson.

The 50th year of the national ty, and its gradual emancipation independence of the United States, from European sway. will be long regarded as marking an important epoch in the history of the western hemisphere. A common prejudice, founded upon associations connected with our religious faith, had imparted to this era an interest, growing out of the recollections of the revolution, and the important consequences of that event. The attention of the American people was naturally directed to it, as the jubilee of national independence, and a comparison was instituted between the infancy and maturity of the country; between the condition of the United States, when as thirteen colonies, thinly scattered along a narrow strip of the Atlantic coast, they asserted their claim to independence, and vindicated it by a recital of their wrongs, and now, when reposing in conscious strength on the bosom of the continent, they are witnessing the progressive triumph of their principles to its southern extremi

The interest, however, which was derived from a recurrence to past events, was soon absorbed in the important occurrences that were crowded within the year. Although the revolution, which was to produce an entire change in the condition of America, had previously commenced, and had already advanced to that point, from which (experience teaches) it could not retrograde; it was reserved for this year to witness those signal events, which have forever separated the greatest part of the western hemisphere from Europe.

On the 25th of August, 1825, the extensive empire of Brazil was finally severed from the mother country, by the formal recognition of its independence by the king of Portugal, and afterwards, when, by the death of his father, the Portuguese crown devolved upon Don Pedro, the emperor of Brazil, the inconvenience of such a connection was so strongly impressed

upon his mind, that he abdicated her forces might invade their terin favor of his daughter, who was proclaimed queen of Portugal, while the emperor declared his intention of remaining in Brazil, which was thereafter to be regarded as a separate empire. This event alone was a great step in the dissolution of the colonial system. The independence of Brazil, a country of almost boundless territory and inexhaustible resources, would, at any period, have been regarded as an occurrence of vast importance to the inhabitants of all commercial states, and especially to those of America. This event, how ever, was accompanied and followed by others of still greater interest and higher importance. The protracted struggle, between the forces of Spain and her former colonies, was at last terminated by the overthrow and capture at Ayacucho, of the only Spanish army on the continent; and this victory was shortly followed by the surrender of Callao, St. Juan De Ulloa, and Chiloe, the last fortresses held by Spain in the Americas. The interest which that power, upon whose empire, as was formerly boasted, the sun never set, possessed in the western world, was now reduced to a feeble hold upon the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico. Her former colonies had driven her from the continent, and reduced every fortress, from which

ritories.

They now enjoyed a temporary repose from the horrors of war, and improved the opportunity, by consolidating their strength, and establishing their political institutions upon a more permanent basis than that of military force.

Their situation now became highly interesting to the rest of the world.. They were about to form their political and commercial ties with other nations, and much depended upon the direction which was, in the first instance, given to their trade. They were not yet recognized by any government, except by that of the United States, and Spain still persisted in considering them as colonies in a state of rebellion, though she did not venture to enforce these pretensions against the citizens of other countries. Her own situation at home, her government in a tottering condition, and only sustained by the troops of France, as the representative of the Holy Alliance, rendered the prosecution of the contest, on her part, an act of madness; but the pertinacity with which she adhered to claims, that she did not even attempt to enforce, induced the belief, that she expected from her holy allies, some aid in re-establishing her sovereignty over her former colonies. This opinion was strengthened by the

interest which the members of that alliance took in the affairs of Spain, and the promulgation of the principles by which they justified their interference.

the threatening aspect of the Holy Alliance, had induced them to seek strength in union; but the peculiarity of their situation, when first emerging from the colonial state, caused them to extend their views to other points than those connected with their defence against open hostilities. As they assumed the rank, and, from time to time, claimed a participation in the privileges of independent nations, they felt, that though their particular wrongs had proceeded from the government of Spain, the whole continent had been injured by the principles, which had been adopted in regard to it by the European governments, and that the full enjoyment of the benefits attendant upon their new state, depended upon the dissolution of all colonial connection between America and Europe; in short, the entire abolition of the colonial system, and all the novel principles which, as its legitimate consequences, have been engrafted upon the law of nations.

The experience of the United States, the vanguard in the march of a new world to independence, strongly inculcated upon them this fundamental maxim of American policy.

As the guardians of that monarchy, they appeared to consider themselves bound to prosecute its claims, while it remained under their tutelage, and it was with great reason apprehended, that they were about to apply their principles to the governments of the American

continent.

Apprehensions of danger from this quarter had, at an early period, induced these governments to regard their cause as common, and to devise some mode by which their efforts might be combined in its behalf. A meeting of the representatives of the American states at Panama was contemplated, and negotiations had been for some time carried on between the Spanish American governments, for the purpose of accomplishing this desirable object. The entire expulsion of Spain from their territories, now left them at liberty to agree upon the time of meeting, and the spring of 1826 was to witness the opening of this congress, whose deliberations and resolutions, from the nature of things, must be directed to effect the complete emancipation of America from European sway.

They saw that the whole history of this republic, was but the record of a constant struggle against the The contest with Spain, and colonial system. All its wars had

grown out of attempts on the part of the great colonial powers to extend the principles of that system, so as to circumscribe the freedom, which a portion of the western world had succeeded in obtaining. The grasping spirit of European monopoly had felt injured by the emancipation of a part of America, and displayed itself in continual efforts to cripple the commerce it could not prohibit, and to arrest the growth of the prosperity it had no longer the power to crush.

A short view of the colonial system, will show that it was founded upon maxims inherently unjust, and destructive of the best interests of this continent, and that it was intended to serve merely as a justification to European powers in their systematic design, of appropriating a new world to the use of the old.

Upon its discovery, the whole continent, with its inhabitants, were claimed by Spain. This claim it was finally compelled to abridge, so as to permit the other great powers of Europe to participate in the advantages to be derived from America. In those bigotted ages, this claim to appropriate the possessions, and enslave the persons of the aborigines, as destitute of the light of the gospel, was considered valid, and with the view of establishing it, and to gra

tify the adventurous spirits of their subjects, the monarchs of Europe authorised them to conquer the native powers, and to establish colonies within certain limits.

At first, these expeditions were made without reference to trade, but afterwards, when the advantages of a commercial intercourse were perceived, they were undertaken with the view of trading with the natives. In some instances, these establishments were made at the public expense, and sustained by the power of the state. In others, they were the efforts of private enterprise; but whether private or public, they were all subjected to a novel principle of national law, which extended the jurisdiction of the crown over the colonies, and made them, at the same time, an integral and a subordinate part of the empire. Integral, when the power of the government was to be exercised over them, but separate and subordinate for all other purposes.

The duty which a private citizen owes to the community in which he lives, and by whose power and laws he is protected from unjust violence, was perverted into the doctrine of perpetual and unalienable allegiance, and the maxim, that a subject could not expatriate himself, was made the corner stone of the colonial system.

Upon these two principles, the

« PrejšnjaNaprej »