Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

waters, and also the opportunities of external commerce afforded by the Atlantic Ocean. On the former he dwells, in a Memorial drawn up in 1756 for the Duke of Cumberland. Nobody in our own day, after the experience of more than a century, has portrayed more vividly the two vast aqueous masses, one composed of the Great Lakes and their dependencies, and the other of the Mississippi and its tributaries. The Great Lakes are described as “a wilderness of waters, spreading over the country by an infinite number and variety of branchings, bays, straits, &c.”? The Mississippi, with its eastern branch, called the Ohio, is described as having, “as far as we know, but two falls, - one at a place called by the French St. Antoine, high up on the west or main branch ”; and all its waters “run to the ocean with a still, easy, and gentle current.” 3 The picture is completed by exhibiting the two masses in combination:

“ The waters of each respective mass not only the lesser streams, but the main general body of each going through this continent in every course and direction — have, by their approach to each other, by their interlacing with each other, by their communication to every quarter and in every direction, an alliance and unity, and form one mass, a one whole.”4

And he remarks, that it is thus seen “how the watery element claims and holds dominion over this extent of land : that the great lakes which lie upon its bosom on one hand, and the great river Mississippi and the multitude of waters which run into it, form there a communication, an alliance or dominion of the watery element, that commands throughout the whole; that these great lakes appear to be the throne, the centre of a dominion, whose influ

1 Administration of the Colonies, (4th edit., London, 1768,) Appendix, pp. 2, seqq. 2 Ibid., pp. 6, 7.

8 Ibid, p. 6.

4 Ibid., p. 7.

ence, by an infinite number of rivers, creeks, and streams, extends itself through all and every part of the continent, supported by the communication of, and alliance with, the waters of Mississippi.” 1

If these means of internal commerce were vast, those afforded by the Atlantic Ocean were not less extensive. The latter were developed in the treatise on “The Administration of the Colonies," the fourth edition of which, published in 1768, is now before me. This was after the differences between the Colonies and the mother country had begun, but before the idea of independence had shown itself. Pownall insisted that the Colonies ought to be considered as parts of the realm, entitled to representation in Parliament. This was a constitutional unity. But he portrayed a commercial unity also, which he represented in attractive forms. The British Isles, and the British possessions in the Atlantic and in America, were, according to him, "a grand marine dominion,” and ought, therefore, by policy, to be united into one empire, with one centre. On this he dwells at length, and the picture is presented repeatedly. It was incident to the crisis in the world produced by the predominance of the commercial spirit already beginning to rule the powers of Europe. It was the duty of England to place herself at the head of this great movement:

“As the rising of this crisis above described forms precisely the object on which Government should be employed, so the taking leading measures towards the forming all those Atlantic and American possessions into one empire, of which Great Britain should be the commercial and political centre, is the precise duty of Government at this crisis." 3

1 Administration of the Colonies, (4th edit.,) Appendix, p. 9. 2 Administration of the Colonies, pp. 9, 10, 164. 3 Ibid., p. 10.

This was his desire. But he saw clearly the resources as well as the rights of the Colonies, and was satisfied, that, if power were not consolidated under the constitutional auspices of England, it would be transferred to the other side of the Atlantic. Here his words are prophetic:

“ The whole train of events, the whole course of business, must perpetually bring forward into practice, and necessarily in the end into establishment, either an American or a British union. There is no other alternative.”

"1

[ocr errors]

The necessity for union is enforced in a manner which foreshadows our National Union :

“The Colonial Legislature does certainly not answer all purposes, — is incompetent and inadequate to many purposes. Something, therefore, more is necessary, - either a common union amongst themselves, or a one common union of subordination under the one general legislature of the state."

" 2

Then, again, in another place of the same work, after representing the declarations of power over the Colonies as little better than mockery, he prophesies:

“ Such is the actual state of the really existing system of our dominions, that neither the power of government over these various parts can long continue under the present mode of administration, nor the great interest of commerce extended throughout the whole long subsist under the present system of the laws of trade." 3

Recent events may give present interest to his views, in this same work, on the nature and necessity of a paper currency, where he follows Franklin. The prin

1 Administration of the Colonies, Dedication, p. xviii. 2 Ibid., p. 165.

3 Ibid., p. 164.

cipal points of his plan were : That bills of credit, to a certain amount, should be printed in England for the use of the Colonies; that a loan-office should be established in each Colony, to issue bills, take securities, and receive the payments; that the bills should be issued for ten years, bearing interest at five per cent., - one tenth part of the sum borrowed to be paid annually, with the interest; and that they should be a legal tender.1

When the differences had flamed forth in war, then the prophet became more earnest. His utterances deserve to be rescued from oblivion. He was open, almost defiant. As early as 2d December, 1777, some months before our treaty with France, he declared, from his place in Parliament, that “the sovereignty of this country over America is abolished and gone forever"; that " they are determined at all events to be independent, and they will be so”; and that “all the treaty that this country can ever expect with America is federal, and that, probably, only commercial.” In this spirit he said to the House: “ Until

you

shall be convinced that you are no longer sovereigns over America, but that the United States are an independent, sovereign people, - until you are prepared to treat with them as such, — it is of no consequence at all what schemes or plans of conciliation this side the House or that may adopt." 2

The position taken in Parliament he maintained by writings; and here he depicted the great destinies of

1 Administration of the Colonies, pp. 240, 241. See also Franklin's Works, ed. Sparks, Vol. II. pp. 353, 354, note.

2 Hansard's Parliamentary History, Vol. XIX. col. 527, 528. See also col. 1137.

our country. He began with "A Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe,” published early in 1780, and afterwards, through the influence of John Adams, while at the Hague, abridged and translated into French. In this remarkable production independence was the least that he claimed for us. Thus he foretells our future:

“North America is become a new primary planet in the system of the world, which, while it takes its own course, in its own orbit, must have effect on the orbit of every other planet, and shift the common centre of gravity of the whole system of the European world. North America is de facto an independent power, which has taken its equal station with other powers, and must be so de jure. .... The independence of America is fixed as Fate. She is mistress of her own fortune, knows that she is so, and will actuate that power which she feels she hath, so as to establish her own system and to change the system of Europe." 1

Not only is the new power to take an independent place, but it is “to change the system of Europe.” For all this its people are amply prepared. Standing on that high ground of improvement up to which the most enlightened parts of Europe have advanced, like eaglets they commence the first efforts of their pinions from a towering advantage.” 2 This same conviction appears in another form :

“ North America has advanced and is every day advancing to growth of state with a steady and continually accelerating motion, of which there has never yet been any example in Europe." “ It is a vitality, liable indeed to many disorders, many dangerous diseases ; but it is young and strong, and will struggle, by the vigor of internal healing principles of

1 Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, ( London, 1780, 2d edit.,) pp. 4,5. 3 Ibid., p. 43.

8 Ibid., p. 56.

« VorigeDoorgaan »