Obrázky stránek

The whole of Louisiana cost but three times as much, as was paid to quiet the various Mississippi Land Company claimants, or to purchase Florida. And what, in one word, may show the smallness of the sum of money that was paid for it, we need only add, that the poor negroes of St Domingo, to quiet the claims of the ancient proprietors, have paid thirty millions of dollars for the French part of that island, twice as much as the purchase money of Louisiana. It is, bowever, wrong to atteinpt, by a comparison of dollars and cents, to estimate the value of Louisiana to the Union; its acquisition is among the inost important incidents in the history of the world; the silent peaceful extension, to half a continent, of the blessings of republican liberty. Nor does it admit a doubt, that our government, in making this purchase so low, designed that it should forin a fund for the indemnification of those of its citizens, whose claims on France had in the general settlement been renounced.

It would not be difficult to point out, in the history of our politics, both foreign and domestic, the causes which have hitherto prevented this, or any other effectual measures for the relief of the claimants, but we regard this as a superfluous task. We also pass over many minor considerations, that have been or may be urged against any measures for granting this relief, such as the length of time that has elapsed, the large amount of the claim, the doubtful justice of parts of it. If we have succeeded in showing that it is in the main founded in justice ; that the claimants could rightfully bave demanded payment of France, and that our government renounced this claim for them, we have established our point. If we have made it farther apparent, that at the time of renunciation it was understood to be a claim of great value, and was an offset against important claims of France on America ; if we have shown that its recovery from France was not so desperate, as to make its estimated value null; if we have made it clear, that but for this renunciation, the claim would now have stood on the footing of those, which the government is actively prosecuting, and will certainly enforce, we have established, as we conceive, a fair right on the part of the claimants to indemnity from their own government. Meantime we have no distrust of the national councils. It is likely, that when the papers, which have been promised

VOL. XXII.-N0. 50. 21

from the Department of State, shall be communicated, the subject will be fairly and adequately discussed, and that some compromise, satisfactory to the claimants, and not onerous to the country, will take place.

Art. VIII.—Ensayo sobre la Necesidad de una Federacion

Jeneral entre los Estados Hispano-Americanos, y Plan de su Organizacion. Obra Póstuma del H. CORONEL

D. BERNARDO MONTEAGUDO. Lima. 1825. The alliance about to be established hetween the new American republics, by the delegates assembled at the Isthmus of Panamá, may with justice be considered among the most remarkable events of political history. Confederacies between independent states, for the purpose of consulting and supporting the common interest, have existed from early times. The governments of ancient Greece had their mutual compacts, their long sustained council of Amphictyons, and their renowned Achæan league ; some of the minor states of modern Europe have from time to time followed their example; and we behold at this day, the colossal powers of the old world linked together to maintain their dominion, nay, to secure their safety. The influence of these confederacies has been important, in proportion to their extent and their objects, but none of them has existed under circumstances so imposing, or been instituted on principles so broad and just in their political bearings, or been calculated to affect so deeply and widely the destiny of future generations, as that about to be formed by the Congress of Panamá.

Polybius tells us, that it was the boast of the Achæan league, while the wise and politic Aratus was at its head, to be founded on the basis of equality and liberty, and that to this were mainly to be ascribed its strength and its increase. But every one knows what was Grecian liberty, even in the best days of Grecian prosperity. The balance, between the rights of the people, and the power of the rulers, was never well adjusted; the laws of nations were not understood, because practised on a narrow scale ; commerce,

that great

instrument in drawing out the principles, and settling the rules of national intercourse, was hardly known. In short, liberty was too often the watchword of those, who desired freedom from law rather than from tyranny; and the cry of equality was a signal sor levelling the fabric of power, as sustained by an existing government, that the schemes of ambition and misrule might be raised on its ruins. These defects, and others of a collateral nature, interwoven with the very texture of political institutions denominated republican, not only in Greece, but in other countries of Europe at later periods, have presented obstacles to any well organised confederacy in governments of this kind in the old world, which would bring the combined power and wisdom of the whole,

for the mutual and equal benefit of the parts. If we look at confederated despotisms, we find things in a still worse condition. Who has ever dreamt, that it was the aim of the present allied sovereigns of Europe, to list a finger towards aiding the progress of the mind, or human improvement in anything, which implies freedom of thought, or scope of inquiry? All their acts declare the contrary, and prove this alliance to be a conspiracy against the liberty, as it is an outrage upon the rights of mankind. It is a combination to perpetuate ignorance, delusion, and slavery; to stop the current of public opinion, and let in upon the miod anew the Stygian waters of the dark ages; to make men bigots in the false creed of legitimacy, and infidels to the pure faith of reason and truth, liberty and right. Let public opinion be brought to this standard, and it is wisely judged, that it can be moulded to any shape, and impelled in any direction. Teach men to forget their rights, and abandon self respect, and you have no more to do to make them fit subjects for dragging the chains of slavery. The sovereigns of Europe are allied to prop up half a dozen tottering thrones, whose gothic structure is the mockery of an enlightened age like this, and to aggrandise half a dozen crowned heads, not merely at the expense of the independence of a hundred millions of the human race, but at the immensely greater sacrifice of retarding the progress of nations in those arts of self government, of which the human character and condition are susceptible, which afford the broadest foundation for all the advantages to be derived from the social compact, and

which are advancing so rapidly in every part of the world, where the shackles of antiquated forms are not felt.

The confederacy of Panamá is formed under auspices totally different from any, which have before existed. It has no prototype in the anuals either of ancient or modern story. A hemisphere of the globe has become freed from the yoke of bondage, by hard struggles and by an energy, which only the spirit of freedom could inspire. The soil, which for three centuries was made sterile by the poisoned breath of tyranny, now gives growth and vigor to six great republics, as well organised as the circumstances of each will admit, and having for their basis the genuine principles of political liberty and justice. To give stability to these institutions; to remedy the numerous defects, which in their present stage they must necessarily possess ; to consult and advance the common interests of twenty millions of people; to provide means of defence against aggression from without, and commotion from within; to secure peace and prosperity at home, and importance and respect abroad; to settle on definite

l grounds those political maxims, which for ages unnumbered will regulate the intercourse of nations, whose infancy will soon grow into a powerful manhood; to concert all the plans, in short, which wisdom can devise, and union execute, for increasing the strength and prosperity of every branch of the confederacy; these are some of the points to be considered at the Congress of Panamá. The spectacle of such a body, assembled for such a purpose, is not more novel than imposing; its members are literally the legislators of a continent; and it was a just rernark of Bolivar, that this event will form a memorable era in the diplomatic history of America, and a hundred ages hence, when posterity seeks the origin of the international law of the southern republics, she will consult the records of the proceedings in the Isthmus. Viewed in this light, and it is certainly the true light, the Congress of Panamá is an object of deep interest to all parts of the American continent, and although our own government is at present widely separated from the sphere of its action, yet it must necessarily, at a future day, participate largely of the influence of its measures.

In touching on this subject at present, we aim at nothing more, than to state a few historical facts, with very brief remarks on the general purposes of the Congress of Panamá, reserving for a future occasion a discussion of its direct policy and designs, as these may be more fully developed. The project of a union between the new governments of the south, seems to have been early conceived by some of the leaders of the revolutionary contest, as a step highly important and desirable, but the first who undertook the business of carrying it into execution was Bolivar. If it succeeds, as its friends anticipate, he must be regarded the Aratus of the league. Till Peru had shaken off the yoke of the Royalists in 1821, so far at least as to set up a nominally independent government under San Martin, which it has since confirmed and maintained, and until Mexico had escaped from the folly and tyranny of her mock emperor Iturbide, it was obvious that any plan of confederacy between the other states could not be accomplished, with a prospect of permanency or advantage. But in 1823, when the power of Old Spain was virtually destroyed in South America, and each republic began to stand firm on its own basis, Bolivar, as President of Colombia, formally invited the governments of Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Buenos Ayres, to send delegates to the Isthmus of Panamá, or to any other place that might be agreed on, with the express design of establishing the confederacy, and proceeding in their deliberations, as the instructions and united wisdom of the parties might dictate. This invitation was promptly accepted by Mexico and Peru, and an agreement, in the nature of a treaty, was entered into by each with the plenipotentiaries from Colombia, containing a mutual pledge to send delegates to the confederate Congress. Chile and Buenos Ayres delayed joining the compact, for reasons not well known, nor does it appear, that they have yet determined to take a part by their representatives in the convention. The obstacles to their union are probably of a local and transient nature, which will in due time be removed, and the way be left open for them to come into the compact.

In this stage of the undertaking, as it was necessary for some one government to take the lead in its surther prosecution, Bolivar sent a circular to all the republics, dated at Lima, December 7, 1924, recapitulating what had been done, and proposing, that delegates should immediately be


« PředchozíPokračovat »