Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1847: GALLATIN TO EBEN DODGE. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1847: GALLATIN TO EBEN DODGE. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO EBEN DODGE.
New York, 21st January, 1847.
I write at all times with difficulty, and the fluctuating state of my health occasionally compels me to cease attending to any business. The delay in answering your letter is due to this cause. It was not to the Historical Society of New York that I gave some account of the Academy of Geneva, but to a so-called “literary convention” connected with the establishment of our new university. I was unexpectedly called upon to give some account of that academy, which I did at once unprepared and very imperfectly. There was, I think, a publication of the transactions of that literary convention, which I have not or cannot find; and I doubt whether it contains that imperfect notice of the Geneva Academy, which I never committed to writing.
I have never read or seen any account of that academy. I was intimate in Mr. Senebier’s family, he and one of my uncles having married sisters. He was a most worthy man, had much general knowledge, cultivated physical sciences as well as literature. Laborious, erudite, a most capital librarian, he had not a discriminating mind; and his Literary History of Geneva is universally admitted to be a failure. Yet in one respect the book is useful: it contains the most complete list in existence of the works of all the persons whose names he has introduced, and of all the works connected with the subject of his researches. I think, therefore, that to the time when he wrote (1786), the list he gives, in the beginning of his first volume, of the publications relating to the academy is complete. You will perceive that, with the exception of some ephemerous addresses or similar productions, all the published accounts of the academy belong to the sixteenth century. The fact is that in its organization and general outlines it had not, when I left Geneva, in 1780, been materially altered from the original institutions of its founder. Whatever may have been his defects and erroneous views, Calvin had at all events the learning of his age, and, however objectionable some of his religious doctrines, he was a sincere and zealous friend of knowledge and of its wide diffusion amongst the people. Of this he laid the foundation by making the whole education almost altogether gratuitous from the A B C to the time when the student had completed his theological or legal studies. But there was nothing remarkable or new in the organization or forms of the schools. These were on the same plan as colleges were then, and generally continue to be in the old seminaries of learning. The following sketch applies to the year 1780: I was graduated (as it would be called here) in 1779.
In the first place, besides the academy proper, there was a preparatory department intimately connected with it and under its control. This in Geneva was called “the College,” and consisted of nine classes (each taught and governed by a regent, all under the immediate superintendence of an officer, generally a clergyman, called principal, and by virtue of his office a member of the academy in addition to its professors); the three lower of which, for reading, writing, and spelling, were not sufficient for the wants of the people, and had several succursales or substitutes in various parts of the city. But for that which was taught in the six upper classes (or in the academy) there were no other public schools but the college and the academy. In these six classes nothing whatever was taught but Latin and Greek, Latin thoroughly, Greek much neglected. Professor de Saussure used his best endeavors, about 1776, when rector of the academy, to improve the system of education in the college by adding some elementary instruction in history, geography, and natural science, but could not succeed, a great majority of his colleagues opposing him. It is specially in that respect that the original plan of Calvin (his rigid discipline and religious doctrines excepted) was within my own time adhered to. I must observe that a college for teaching Latin and logic had been founded in 1429 by a rich and patriotic citizen named Versonay. For this the new college was substituted, in 1559, on the repeated applications of Calvin, a new site selected, new buildings erected (still subsisting), and the whole new modelled the following year.
At the same time (1559), and under the same impulse and direction, the academy was instituted; but with the progress of science has since been vastly improved. At first there were but five professors, two of theology (Calvin and De Beze), one of Hebrew, one of Greek, and one of philosophy. The first professor of law was appointed in 1565; of belles-lettres (Casaubon) in 1582; of pure mathematics in 1632. The general organization from about the middle of the seventeenth century was as follows:
There were two distinct departments. The upper consisted of two faculties, that of divinity under four professors, two of theology, one of ecclesiastical history, and one of Oriental languages, or rather of Hebrew; and that of law under two professors, one of civil and one of natural law and the law of nations. The term of studies in each was four years, at the end of which they were respectively ordained, or admitted as advocates (lawyers). Almost every young man in independent circumstances, who had not a decided taste for natural sciences, studied law and was thus admitted. Very few ever practised; those who did, only during a few years: it was not a lucrative profession. From causes not connected with our subject, there was hardly any litigation in Geneva. (See Naville’s “Etat Civil de Genève.”) I allude here to the fact of that general study of the law, because it is connected with the academy, and was one of the means through which knowledge and the habit of study were widely disseminated. Although Geneva has produced celebrated physicians (the Bonet, Butini, Tronchin), there was no medical school. The students went either to Montpellier or to Edinburgh; those intended to be surgeons, generally to Paris. The practising physicians were called the faculty of medicine. No student, whatever degree he might have obtained abroad, was permitted to practise in Geneva till after a severe examination by that faculty, of which he then became a member. Theodore Tronchin, pupil of Boerhaave, was admitted without examination, and the nominal title of professor of medicine bestowed on him.
The other department of the academy, which the scholars entered on leaving college, and from which, after four years’ study, they entered, if they thought proper, one of the upper schools of divinity or law, corresponded exactly in its object and studies with our own colleges. The organization differed from, and was, in my humble opinion, not so good as, ours in America. It consisted of two auditoires (so called); the inferior for belles-lettres, the higher for philosophy; the length of study in each two years, and each consisting of two classes, which were taught together. Thus the boy who had just left college studied during his first year in the academy in common with the class next before him, and during his second year in common with those of the class next after him. You will at once perceive the inconvenience of that arrangement, which was still more injurious in the philosophical auditoire than in that of belles-lettres, and became fatal with respect to pure mathematics. For as it was impossible to teach the transcendent to a boy who was not acquainted with the elementary foundation, the result was that the instruction was in that respect purely elementary, and that the same course was repeated every year. Yet one benefit grew out of this. The elements of geometry and algebra were better taught, and, by being repeated twice, better inculcated, than perhaps anywhere else. Now, as the knowledge of the calculus is wanted only by the few, and that of the elements by everybody, it followed that in this way useful and necessary elementary knowledge was better inculcated and more extensively diffused. Another difference consisted in this:
The auditoire of belles-lettres had but one regular professor, who taught two hours every day (Thursday excepted), and to him was generally added an honorary unpaid professor of history, who gave but irregular and occasional lectures. With that exception, nothing was taught in that auditoire but Latin and Greek, with due attention, however, not only to the language but also to literature. Nothing whatever foreign to those purposes was introduced, not the slightest preparatory instruction in mathematics or natural science. On the other hand, the study of the languages was altogether excluded in the auditoire of philosophy. Only, as all the lectures and examinations, save only those of pure mathematics, were in Latin, the habit of speaking fluently, but without any elegance, that language was preserved. In this auditoire there were three professors. The ten regular professors (four divinity, two law, three philosophy, one belles-lettres), the adjunct honorary professors, and the principal of the college constituted “the academy.” They had a “rector,” triannually appointed, and the immediate control of both the college and academy. In the annual distribution of medals or premiums amongst the scholars of the college, they examined the various compositions, &c., and designated the candidates for said prizes, generally twice as many as there were prizes. These scholars were named conférents. Amongst these the Venerable Company of Pastors selected those entitled to the prizes, one of pure mathematics and two of physical and intellectual or moral science, who formally alternated, but who practically taught each its own branch. That of physical science was almost always admirably taught; in the other department nothing was taught but commonplace obsolete logic, which was partly due to the improper (in my time the only one) selection of the professor, who was an excellent classical scholar, but altogether unfit for the station he occupied. These professors taught each but one hour a day. There was an honorary professor of astronomy, a man of merit, who had founded the observatory, and who occasionally delivered some lectures. There were no premiums of any kind, nor any change of places or rank amongst the students; they preserved throughout the whole course of their studies (including divinity and law) the same relative rank which had been adjudged to them when they left the upper class of the above-mentioned department called “college.” The academy granted no degree either of A.B., A.M., D.D., or LL.D. The only form was, “You are permitted to enter a superior auditoire.” The only exception was in favor of the students intended for the medical profession. To these a sort of diploma was given of A.B. or A.M., which was useful, and in France necessary for their free admission in the foreign schools of medicine. The only incentive or stimulus was that of the annual examinations, which were public, fair, severe, and followed, for each student separately, by an oral and impartial address from the rector of the academy expressive of its approbation, animadversions, and advice, as his case deserved or required. Yet it must be admitted that all were almost universally permitted to pass muster; and you know that this is generally the case in our colleges. For reasons, partly derived from experience, which it would take too much time to explain, I think that this course is beneficial.
From this statement it is obvious that, when not aided and stimulated by enlightened parents or friends, the students, from the time when they entered the academy (on an average when about or rather more than fifteen years old), were left almost to themselves, and studied more or less as they pleased. But almost all had previously passed through at least the upper classes of the college. (I was the only one of my class, and of the two immediately preceding and following me, who had been principally educated at home and had passed only through the first or upper class of the college.) And there their minds had been disciplined and they had acquired the habit of study. For, however limited the course of instruction, and although the Latin they had learned there was in itself of no use to them and soon forgotten when they did not prosecute their studies any farther, yet the study of the classical languages when properly taught (banishing all printed translations or explanatory annotations) is most admirably adapted to the intellect of the young scholars, calculated to develop their faculties, and to give them the habit of exercising these and of that labor and persevering labor of the mind without which talents, even of a high order, become almost useless. I may here state that in the years 1775-1779, the average number of the scholars in the four upper classes of the college was about one hundred, and that of the students in the four first years of the academical course, viz., the auditoires of belles-lettres and philosophy, about fifty, of whom not more than one or two had not passed through at least the three or four upper classes of the college. Very few mechanics, even the watchmakers so numerous in Geneva and noted for their superior intelligence and knowledge, went beyond the fifth and sixth classes, which included about 120 scholars. As to the lower or primary classes or schools, it would have been difficult to find a citizen intra muros who could not read and write. The peasantry or cultivators of the soil in the small Genevese territory were indeed far more intelligent than their Catholic neighbors; but still, as in the other continental parts of Europe, a distinct and inferior class, with some religious instruction, but speaking patois (the great obstacle to the diffusion of knowledge), and almost universally not knowing how to read or to write. The population intra muros was about 24,000 (in 1535, at the epoch of the Reformation and independence, about 13,000), of whom nearly one-third not naturalized, chiefly Germans or Swiss, exercising what were considered as lower trades,—tailors, shoemakers, &c.,—and including almost all the menial servants. I never knew or heard of a male citizen or native of Geneva serving as such. The number of citizens above twenty-five years of age and having a right to vote amounted, exclusively of those residing abroad, to 2000.
It is a certain fact that Geneva has, in proportion to its population, produced its full quota of distinguished men in the various branches of science, literature, and arts (not one poet, and but one, Rousseau, remarkable for eloquence); and, moreover, that there have been, since at least the beginning of the eighteenth century, a greater number of well-informed men in every branch of science, physical or intellectual, than could be found in any provincial town of Europe, with the single exception of Edinburgh, which was far more populous and in some respects a metropolis. Although the college and the academy were the basis on which education rested in Geneva, and although by far the greater portion of those well-informed men were alumni of these schools, yet it is clear from what precedes that there was not any superiority in their organization or outward forms over those of other similar European institutions. The essential difference, as far as the college and academy were directly concerned, consisted in the excellent choice of the regents and professors. From the origin of those institutions to this day the ablest men, in every branch respectively, whose services could be obtained, were always selected. At first, both the regents of the college and the professors of the academy were almost exclusively distinguished and learned French refugees. Nearly a century elapsed before Geneva could supply its wants in that respect out of its own stock; but by that time it was rich enough to send abroad teachers and clergymen. Yet even then, and since, distinguished foreigners were occasionally appointed to those places. And the result was that the professors were often men of superior merit, and always possessed; in their respective branches, of all the learning of their age. At first they were appointed by the Vénérable Compagnie de Pasteurs, and to the time when I left Geneva that body preserved a certain influence in that respect. I am not well acquainted with the precise organization of that company, and can only say that it embraced all the ministers of the gospel who were or had been ministers of any of the parishes within the city, and all the other distinguished clergymen of the republic. But the right to appoint was at an early date vested in the Council of Two Hundred, which consisted of the most notable citizens and a great portion of the most enlightened, clergymen excepted, who were not permitted to make part of that political council. The Consistory, which had cognizance of offences against religion and morals, and which alone could excommunicate, consisted of six clergymen, selected by the Venerable Company, and six laymen, selected by and members of the Council of CC. The prodigious and pernicious power which the Catholic clergy had acquired by the abuse of excommunication, made the Genevese government inflexible in that respect in spite of Calvin’s efforts. In few rare instances, men were appointed without examination who by their previous works had acquired an undisputed preeminence; and this was principally done in the appointment of honorary, unpaid professors. In all other cases the competition was open to all, and the examinations were most thorough and severe, for both professors and regents, continued sometimes for weeks, and testing not only the general capacity and knowledge of the candidates, but also their talent for teaching. All this was done publicly, and the decision of the Council of CC. always fair and almost universally approved. Bad choices were as few as the imperfection of human nature can permit. But how could Geneva command the services of the most eminent men she possessed? and why had the honor of being a professor become such an object of competition for all her citizens? Not, certainly, on account of the salary, which amounted only to 500 dollars a year, paid by government, and not a cent of fees by the students or any perquisites of any kind. Independent of the desire of being useful by devoting their faculties to the national education, the leading motive was the high degree of consideration attached to the office. The professors of the academy stood in their social position at least on a par with the first magistrates of the republic; they were at the head of the social scale. This could have taken place only in an enlightened community and where learning was held in high estimation; and I believe that this was principally due to the special position in which circumstances had placed Geneva.
(February. I had proceeded thus far, though with several interruptions, when a severe cold prostrated me and compelled me to suspend all my mental avocations. I will abridge what I had yet to say.)
The conquest of Pays de Vaud by the Bernese, in 1536, the simultaneous occupation of the dominions of the Duke of Savoy by France, which continued till the Treaty of St. Quentin, and the pacific policy of the Duke Emanuel Philibert (1553-1580), when reinstated by that treaty, gave a long respite to Geneva, which the declaration of independence and the adoption of the Reformation had placed in imminent danger of being subjugated by her powerful neighbor. Though occasionally threatened specially during the religious civil wars of France (about 1560-1590), and imperfectly fortified, it was comparatively a place of safety for the persecuted Protestants of France, and became their city of refuge. There Calvin and Beza lived and died (1537-1605). The paramount influence of both over the Reformed churches of France, of Calvin through the whole of Protestant Europe, gave an unexpected reputation and importance to Geneva. Its college and academy became the resort of the French Protestants, and the nursery of their clergymen; the city their religious metropolis. The study of divinity with a Protestant implied a thorough knowledge of the dead languages, and gradually extended to law and antiquarian researches. Under those auspices the chairs of professors, filled from the beginning by most eminent men, became an object of great competition; and an ardent love of study and consequent diffusion of knowledge pervaded the Genevese community.
There was in Geneva neither nobility nor any hereditary privilege but that of citizenship, and the body of citizens assembled in council general had preserved the power of laying taxes, enacting laws, and ratifying treaties. But they could originate nothing, and a species of artificial aristocracy, composed of the old families which happened to be at the head of affairs when independence was declared, and skilfully strengthened by the successive adoption of the most distinguished citizens and emigrants, had succeeded in engrossing the public employments and concentrating the real power in two self-elected councils of 25 and 200 members respectively. But that power rested on a most frail foundation, since, in a state which consists of a single city, the majority of the inhabitants may in twenty-four hours overset the government. In order to preserve it, a moral, intellectual superiority was absolutely necessary. This could not be otherwise attained than by superior knowledge and education; and the consequence was that it became disgraceful for any young man of decent parentage to be an idler. All were bound to exercise their faculties to the utmost; and although there are always some incapable, yet the number is small of those who, if they persevere, may not by labor become, in some one branch, well-informed men. Nor was that love and habit of learning long confined to that self-created aristocracy. A salutary competition in that respect took place between the two political parties, which had a most happy effect on the general diffusion of knowledge.
During the sixteenth and the greater part of the seventeenth century the Genevese were the counterpart of the Puritans of Old and of the Pilgrims of New England,—the same doctrines, the same simplicity in the external forms of worship, the same austerity of morals and severity of manners, the same attention to schools and seminaries of learning, the same virtues, and the same defects,—exclusiveness and intolerance, equally banishing all those who differed on any point from the established creed, putting witches to death, &c., &c. And, with the progress of knowledge, both about at the same time became tolerant and liberal. But here the similitude ends. To the Pilgrims of New England, in common with the other English colonists, the most vast field of enterprise was opened which ever offered itself to civilized man. Their mission was to conquer the wilderness, to multiply indefinitely, to settle and inhabit a whole continent, and to carry their institutions and civilization from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. With what energy and perseverance this has been performed we all know. But to those pursuits all the national energies were directed. Learning was not neglected, but its higher branches were a secondary object; and science was cultivated almost exclusively for practical purposes, and only as far as was requisite for supplying the community with the necessary number of clergymen and members of the other liberal professions. The situation of Geneva was precisely the reverse of this. Confined to a single city and without territory, its inhabitants did all that their position rendered practicable. They created the manufacture of watches, which gave employment to near a fourth part of the population, and carried on commerce to the fullest extent of which their geographical situation was susceptible. But the field of active enterprise was still the narrowest possible. To all those who were ambitious of renown, fame, consideration, scientific pursuits were the only road that could lead to distinction, and to these, or other literary branches, all those who had talent and energy devoted themselves.
All could not be equally successful; few only could attain a distinguished eminence; but, as I have already observed, a far greater number of well educated and informed men were found in that small spot than in almost every other town of Europe which was not the metropolis of an extensive country. This had a most favorable influence on the tone of society, which was not light, frivolous, or insipid, but generally serious and instructive. I was surrounded by that influence from my earliest days, and, as far as I am concerned, derived more benefit from that source than from my attendance on academical lectures. A more general fact deserves notice. At all times, and within my knowledge in the years 1770-1780, a great many distinguished foreigners came to Geneva to finish their education, among whom were nobles and princes from Germany and other northern countries; there were also not a few lords and gentlemen from England (even the Duke of Cambridge, after he had completed his studies at Göttingen); besides these there were some from America, amongst whom I may count before the American Revolution those South Carolinians, Mr. Kinloch, Wm. Smith,—afterwards a distinguished member of Congress, and minister to Portugal,—and Colonel Laurens, one of the last who fell in the war of independence. And when I departed from Geneva I left there, besides the two young Penns, proprietors of Pennsylvania, Franklin Bache, grandson of Dr. Franklin, — Johannot, grandson of Dr. Cooper, of Boston, who died young. Now, amongst all those foreigners I never knew or heard of a single one who attended academical lectures. It was the Genevese society which they cultivated, aided by private teachers in every branch, with whom Geneva was abundantly supplied.
GALLATIN TO GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT.
New York, November 2, 1847.
My dear Sir,—
Though opposed in principle to the Mexican war, I have followed with great interest the series of your military operations, and, as your sincere friend and admirer, I do most heartily congratulate you on the great skill you have displayed, and on your most extraordinary success. The Administration did undoubtedly all that was in its power; but the force with which you were supplied was inadequate to the object in view. It became impossible to keep open your line of communication. Insulated and left to your own resources, you had, with hardly 10,000 effective men, to encounter and conquer all the forces of Mexico, concentrated for the defence of their capital and protected by strong positions and fortifications. Nothing short of your talents, of those of your distinguished officers, and of the unparalleled bravery of your troops could have overcome such obstacles. Yet it is deeply to be regretted that your force was so small; for my part, I am satisfied that to this must be chiefly ascribed the great and most lamentable loss suffered by your army. I am convinced that if you had been enabled to enter the valley of Mexico with 20,000 men you would have attained all the objects in view with an inconsiderable loss; and that, under the circumstances in which you were placed, you did all that could or ought to have been done. Writing to you, I could not help expressing these sentiments, though the object of my letter has no reference to military operations.
I am quite sensible that you have not at present any time to bestow upon literary pursuits and inquiries; but among the civilians attached to the army I hope that there may be some one to whom you may hand the enclosed memorandum, and who will take pleasure in complying with my request. You will perceive that my wish is to obtain grammars and vocabularies of the various languages of Mexico, and, indeed, every information which may throw light on their history and antiquities.
The bearer of this letter is Lieutenant Emory, a distinguished topographical engineer and lately appointed lieutenant-colonel of a regiment of volunteers. I beg leave to recommend him to you. He has in charge to be forwarded to you the first volume of the Transactions of the New York Ethnological Society, of which I am president. I think the volume will not be uninteresting to you, as it contains all we know with certainty of the languages, history, astronomy, and progress in art of the semicivilized nations of Mexico and Central America. And it will show you how far I have already investigated the subject.
I do not wish to expend more than $400 for the objects stated in the memorandum, and I think I may request you to advance the amount, which I will repay in any way and to any person you may please to designate.
As peace must come at last, I wish to obtain some Mexican correspondent, known to be well versed in the languages and antiquities of the country, who should be willing to correspond with me, and afterwards with the Ethnological Society, on those subjects.
I am approaching my eighty-eighth year, write with difficulty, and am obliged to dictate. Accept the assurance of my most distinguished consideration, and believe me to be your faithful friend and servant.
The occupation of the city of Mexico by the American army may afford an opportunity of procuring books and copies of documents which would be highly useful to those who occupy themselves with ethnological, antiquarian, and philological researches.
It is, therefore, my wish to procure as many printed grammars and vocabularies of the several languages spoken within the dominions of Mexico as can be obtained; not exceeding one grammar, however, for each language. And with respect to those languages of which no grammar or vocabulary has been published, it would be desirable, if there be any manuscript one, to obtain a copy, provided the expense be not too great.
Heretofore the only languages of which I could procure grammars were the Mexican proper, or Aztec, the Ottomi, the Maya, and the Huasteca, spoken in the vicinity of Tampico, and which is allied to the Maya.
Besides these, ten or twelve others are said to be spoken south of latitude 25°, within the boundaries of the present Mexican confederacy. The most important are:
Totonaque, the language of the natives of Vera Cruz and its vicinity.
Tarasca, the language of the old kingdom of Michoacan.
The Mizteque and Zapoteque, spoken in Oaxaca.
The Mixe, spoken also (I believe) in Oaxaca.
Next in importance are, the Tlapaneque, spoken at Tlapa, about latitude 17°, longitude 96°-97°.
The Matlazincan, spoken at Toluca, in the vicinity of Mexico.
The Popoluque, spoken at Tlamachalco, situation not known.
Other names have also been mentioned, to wit: Core, Teotihuacan, Cakciquen, of which the situation is not known to me.
And there is also a distinct language spoken at the mouth and on the lower portion of the Rio del Norte, the name of which I do not know.
There are also in the ancient viceroy’s palace some remnants of Boturini’s collection, and among these, or collected from other sources, some chronological Mexican manuscripts representative of their ancient histories or legends, principally of the Toltecs and of the Aztecs. We have a copy of one of these already published in Lord Kingsborough’s collection. As the expense of transcribing any of these would be very great, it is only in case any opportunity should offer to procure one on very reasonable terms that this should be attended to.
Enclosed is the list of the words of which we have a comparative vocabulary in the Mexican, Ottomi, Maya, and Yucatan languages.
GALLATIN TO COMMITTEE FOR SELECTION OF OFFICERS FOR PIUS IX. MEETING.
57 Bleeker St., November 27, 1847.
I had the honor to receive yesterday your letter of 24th instant, requesting my attendance at the meeting to be held on the 29th to express the sympathy with which the American people regard the efforts of Pius IX. and of the Italian people in behalf of constitutional liberty.
No one feels more sympathy for these efforts than I do. No one desires more earnestly that Italy may be released from foreign dominion and from arbitrary rule, and that the Italian people may enjoy the blessings of religious, political, and civil liberty. Nothing can be more gratifying, more worthy of admiration, than the noble and enlightened policy of Pius the Ninth. He has placed confidence in his own people, called them to his aid, and fearlessly restored to them the rights and legitimate powers of free citizens. These sentiments are universally those of the American people.
I am confined by a severe cold, and will not be able to attend the meeting; permit me to say that it would be inconsistent with my sense of propriety that I should appear to be vice-president of a meeting at which I was not present.
I beg leave to observe that my name has no weight abroad. If I was treated with consideration whilst employed in foreign missions, this was due to my official character and to the confidence with which I had been honored on these and other occasions by the people of the United States.
GALLATIN TO THOS. W. WARD.
New York, 10th December, 1847.
My dear Sir,—
Your letter approving my peace pamphlet was extremely gratifying to me; and if you think it of any practical use, means must be adopted for its extensive circulation, either in the pamphlet form, or through newspapers and other periodicals. We have already circulated 4000 copies of the pamphlet gratuitously. I supplied the funds, and we are now organizing a plan of subscription for this State, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. But beyond these we must be assisted. I have had the pamphlet stereotyped, and we can supply any demand at 20 dollars per thousand copies.
We have to contend against tremendous odds. Every newspaper in the Union will publish the President’s message, which will be read by one to two millions of individuals. The pamphlet will not be published entire in twenty newspapers (as yet in four,—Washington, New York, Utica, and Hartford).
The approximate number of white males above twenty-one years of age was, according to the census of 1840, about as follows:
Texas is not included; and, though but an approximation, the above is sufficient for ascertaining how the copies of the pamphlet should be distributed among the various sections of the country. The ratio of increase since 1840 is undoubtedly much greater in the West; but they have a much smaller number of readers in proportion to their population.
Now, supposing 90,000 copies of the pamphlet to be put in circulation and distributed gratuitously, they will cost but 1800 dollars; and the share of New England would be, in round numbers, 15 thousand copies, costing 300 dollars. But there will be other expenses to be incurred, such as transportation, compensation to religious periodicals, &c., and the desirable sum for New England would be 600 dollars. Now, what I have to ask is this: 1st, can you raise by subscription in Boston the said sum of $600 for that purpose? 2dly, will there be found, in Boston or its vicinity, persons who will undertake to distribute in a proper manner the said 15,000 copies throughout the six New England States? of which, under existing circumstances, Maine is perhaps the most important.
If this be practicable, you will, in Boston and its vicinity, understand much better than I can the mode of distribution that will be most effective. As we are now organized in this city for the same general purpose, I may say that our object has been to select those who have most intelligence and influence.
We have accordingly concluded to send one copy to each clergyman of every denomination whatever (and I suppose that there must be at least 6000 in the six New England States); to each theological seminary, and to each seminary of learning, whether college or academy, a number of copies proportioned to their respective importance; to each member of the Legislature of every State, to each editor of newspapers or other periodical, and to each deputy postmaster, a copy.
You may have perceived that in my essay I have confined myself to moral feelings and arguments, and that I have abstained from making any allusion to fiscal considerations and money matters. I think that, if at peace, we should have nothing serious to apprehend in that respect. But if the war with Mexico is to be continued six months longer, at the same rate of expense and on the same principles as heretofore and as now recommended by the President; if, in consequence of this, the revenue on imports, of which nine-tenths are collected in four or five Atlantic seaports (after having been paid immediately on the landing of the merchandise, or on its being withdrawn from the public warehouses), after having been thus advanced, shall, instead of being distributed according to the natural laws of trade, continue to be immediately transferred to New Orleans, Mexico, or the other few places where the expenses are incurred, I do seriously apprehend the consequences. This may be still further aggravated if specie continues to be exported to Europe. I wish to have your opinion on those matters; but, in the mean while, do not mention my name as connected with such apprehensions. I have some weight in that respect, particularly as relates to the maintaining of specie payments; and creating an alarm might hasten a catastrophe, which it is my earnest wish may be prevented. Yet, as material and tangible practical considerations have far more influence than appeals to justice and elevated feelings, some mode must be devised to make the people, and principally the members of Congress, aware of the dangers, not at all remote, to which they will be exposed by complying with the views and recommendations of the Executive. Reflect well upon this, and communicate your views to me.
I will thank you to let me know, as soon as possible, whether my wishes for the circulation and distribution of my peace essay can be fulfilled.
I remain, with great regard, your friend and servant.
GALLATIN TO EDWARD EVERETT.
New York, December 16, 1847.
I send you a copy of my pamphlet on peace with Mexico, and hope that your views on that subject coincide substantially with mine. If it be so, I earnestly wish your co-operation in having it properly distributed.
I am persuaded that the only moral element which can successfully counteract the spirit of conquest, cupidity, and false glory which has taken possession of the people of the United States, is the deep religious feeling which providentially still pervades the whole country. We are accordingly sustained almost universally by the clergy of every denomination in this city and its vicinity, and there is reason to hope that they will assist in promoting the object in view as far as is consistent with their profession and position.
Thus encouraged, a plan has been organized, in concert with some distinguished citizens, for a special distribution of 90,000 copies of the pamphlet, and a subscription has been made which will enable us to supply gratuitously the States of New York and New Jersey, and partly Pennsylvania and Delaware. Beyond these limits we must be assisted; but, as the pamphlet has been stereotyped, we can supply any demand at the rate of $20 per 1000.
The approximate number of white male citizens of the United States above twenty-one years of age, as deduced from the census of 1840, may be estimated as follows:
The 90,000 copies would cost $1800, and the share of New England would be, in round numbers, 15,000, costing 300 dollars.
Now, what I have to ask is, 1st, can a sum be raised by subscription for that purpose? 2dly, will there be found, in Boston or its vicinity, persons who will undertake to distribute in a proper manner the said 15,000 copies throughout the six New England States? Under existing circumstances, Maine is, perhaps, the most important.
If this be practicable, you will, in Boston and its vicinity, understand much better than I can the mode of distribution that will be most effective. We have to contend against tremendous odds. Every newspaper in the Union will publish the President’s message, and it will be read by one or two millions of people. The pamphlet will not be published entire in twenty newspapers. It is only by a special distribution, and by selecting those who have most intelligence and influence, that we can hope for success.
We have accordingly concluded here to send one copy to each clergyman of every denomination whatever; one copy also to each member of the Legislature of every State, to each editor of a newspaper or other periodical, and to each village deputy postmaster; and to each theological seminary, as well as to every seminary of learning, whether college or academy, a number of copies proportioned to their respective importance. But I repeat that you understand, much better than I do, what may be the most effective mode for the New England States.
I am not vain enough to attach much importance to my essay, or to suppose that it will produce by itself any immediate or considerable effect; but I had two objects in view: 1st, to encourage, by coming fearlessly out, the numerous timid men who, though agreeing entirely with me, were afraid to incur by the avowal of their sentiments the charge of wanting patriotism; 2d, and principally, to call the attention of the virtuous and intelligent part of the community to the importance of the subject, to awaken them to the necessity of taking an active part and of using their influence in order to arrest by the force of public opinion (and of votes also) the mad, dangerous, and iniquitous plans of the President and his adherents.
I am quite aware that no immediate impression can be made on active party politicians, and still less on the members of Congress. But though I have confined myself to moral feelings and arguments, and have abstained from making any allusion to fiscal considerations and money matters, I well know that there will be a revulsion of public sentiment even among politicians whenever the evils of the war shall be felt by the people. It is most lamentable that we should be indebted for a considerable portion of our prosperity, for an immense influx of specie and great increase of revenue, to the dreadful calamity which afflicts Europe and principally the British Isles. Yet, if the war continues much longer, its evils will be most sensibly felt. Nine-tenths of the revenue derived from imports are collected in four or five Atlantic seaports, and must be paid immediately on the landing of the merchandise or on its being withdrawn from the public warehouses. And then, instead of being distributed with some equality through the several sections of the country, they are immediately transferred to Mexico, New Orleans, and the other few places where the expenses are incurred. The proceeds of the large loans which are required take the same course. And the greater part of this transferred capital never returns, being in fact destroyed by the unproductive war expenses. The pressure on our merchants is already most severe, and, if the war continues only one year longer, will become intolerable.
I submit these considerations to you, and pray you to favor me with an early answer.
I embrace with pleasure this opportunity of reiterating the assurances of my most distinguished consideration and personal regard.
Your obedient and faithful servant.