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STATE OF SOCIETY IN AMERICA 1836 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XVIII - Essays on Politics and Society Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XVIII - Essays on Politics and Society Part I, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Alexander Brady (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977).
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STATE OF SOCIETY IN AMERICA
London Review, II (Jan., 1836), 365-89 (equivalent to Westminster Review, XXXI). Headed: “Art V. / State of Society in America. / 1. Marie; ou l’Esclavage aux Etats Unis, Tableau de Mœurs / Américaines; par Gustave de Beaumont, l’un des Auteurs de / l’Ouvrage [sic] intitulé: Du Systême Pénitentiaire aux Etats / Unis. Seconde Edition, revue et corrigée [Paris: Gosselin], 1835. 2 vols. / 2. Journal of a Residence and Tour in the United States of North America, from April, 1833, to October, 1834. By E. / S. Abdy, Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. 1835. 3 vols. [London:] Murray. / 3. The Rambler in North America: 1832-1833. By Charles / Joseph Latrobe, author of the ‘Alpenstock,’ &c. 1835. / 2 vols. [London:] Seeley and Burnside. / 4. The Stranger in America: comprising Sketches of the Manners, Society, and National Peculiarities of the United / States: in a Series of Letters to a Friend in Europe. By / Francis Lieber, Editor of the Encyclopædia Americana. / 1835. 2 vols. [London:] Bentley. / 5. [Alexander Hill Everett,] A Review of Men and Manners in America. By [Thomas Hamilton,] the author of ‘Cyril Thornton.’ Reprinted from the North American Review [XXXVIII]. 1834. [London:] Miller, Henrietta Street.” Signed “A.” Running title: “State of Society in America.” Not republished. Identified in JSM’s bibliography as “An article entitled ‘State of Society in America,’ being a review of works on the United States; in the fourth number of the London Review.” (MacMinn, 46.) The copy of the article in the Somerville College Library has no corrections or emendations. There are no references to the writing of the article in the Autobiography or extant letters.
State of Society in America
two sources of instruction, which, however highly appreciated in name, have remained, till near the present time, almost entirely useless in fact, are beginning at length to be turned to some account: we mean, history and travelling. Intelligent investigation into past ages, and intelligent study of foreign countries, have commenced: both processes being substantially the same—with only this difference, that for the latter we have more ample materials—it was natural that they should commence about the same time. Both are yet in their infancy. Neither historians nor travellers in any former age, and few even in the present, have had a glimmering of what it is to study a people.
We would not exaggerate the value of either of these sources of knowledge. They are useful in aid of a more searching and accurate experience, not in lieu of it. No one learns any thing very valuable either from history or from travelling, who does not come prepared with much that history and travelling can never teach. No one can know other people so well as he may know himself, nor other ages and countries so well as he may know his own age and country: and the wisdom acquired by the study of ourselves, and of the circumstances which surround us, can alone teach us to interpret the comparatively little which we know of other persons and other modes of existence; to make a faithful picture of them in our own minds, and to assign effects to their right causes. Even to the philosopher, the value both of history and of travelling is not so much positive as negative; they teach little, but they are a protection against much error. Nations, as well as individuals, until they have compared themselves with others, are apt to mistake their own idiosyncracies for laws of our common being, and the accidents of their position, for a part of the destiny of our race. The type of human nature and of human life with which they are familiar, is the only one which presents itself to their imagination; and their expectations and endeavours continually presupposes, as an immutable law, something which, perhaps, belongs only to the age and state of society through which they are rapidly passing.
The correction of narrowness is the main benefit derived from the study of various ages and nations: of narrowness, not only in our conceptions of what is, but in our standard of what ought to be. The individualities of nations are serviceable to the general improvement, in the same manner as the individualities of persons: since none is perfect, it is a beneficial arrangement that all are not imperfect in the same way. Each nation, and the same nation in every different age, exhibits a portion of mankind, under a set of influences, different from what have been in operation anywhere else: each, consequently, exemplifies a distinct phasis of humanity; in which the elements which meet and temper one another in a perfect human character are combined in a proportion more or less peculiar. If all nations resembled any one nation, improvement would be apt to take place only within the limits of the peculiar type of imperfection which that nation would be sure to exhibit. But when each nation beholds in some other a model of the excellencies corresponding to its own deficiencies; when all are admonished of what they want, by what others have (as well as made to feel the value of what they have by what others want), they no longer go on confirming themselves in their defects by the consciousness of their excellencies, but betake themselves, however tardily, to profiting by each other’s example.
Omitting former ages, there are in the present age four great nations, England, France, Germany, and the United States. Each of these possesses, either in its social condition, in its national character, or in both, some points of indisputable and pre-eminent superiority over all the others. Each again has some deep-seated and grievous defects from which the others are comparatively exempt. The state of society in each, and the type of human nature which it exhibits, are subjects of most instructive study to the others: and whoever, in the present age, makes up his system of opinions from the contemplation of only one of them, is in imminent danger of falling into narrow and one-sided views.
The tendency, therefore, now manifesting itself on the continent of Europe, towards the philosophic study of past and of foreign civilizations, is one of the encouraging features of the present time. It is a tendency not wholly imperceptible even in this country, the most insular of all the provinces of the republic of letters. In France and Germany it has become a characteristic of the national intellect; and such works as M. Guizot’s Lectures, reviewed in our present, and M. de Tocqueville’s America, in our last Number, are among its results.[*]
The four nations which we have named, have all contributed their part towards the collection of works on America, the titles of which stand prefixed to the present article. They comprise the testimony of one Frenchman, two Englishmen, and one German, respecting the United States, and the reply of an American to the hostile criticisms of another Englishman. All are interesting; and more than one, of distinguished merit.
The first on the list is the most attractive to the general reader. The author, M. Gustave de Beaumont, the friend and fellow-traveller of M. de Tocqueville, has thrown his impressions of America into a form which combines the authenticity of a book of travels with the attractions of a well-conceived and well-executed work of fiction. Out of a few incidents and characters, and those of the simplest description, he has constructed, without affectation or straining, one of the most pathetic stories of our time; which, as a mere novel, would have entitled the author to no small literary reputation, but which is also a highly impressive picture of American life; while the facts and remarks, which are partly interspersed through it, and partly appended in the form of notes and dissertations, superadd to its merits as a pictorial delineation, the value of a formal treatise.
M. de Beaumont is no aristocrat, but a warm friend to the American Government, and to popular institutions generally. Nevertheless, we have read no book which has represented American social life in such sombre colours, or which is more calculated to deter persons of highly-cultivated faculties and lofty aspirations, from making that country their abode. A part of this disagreeable impression is, no doubt, a consequence of the melancholy colouring given by that deplorable feature in American life on which the interest of the fictitious narrative chiefly turns—the inhuman antipathy against the negro race. The heroine of the story of Marie is a girl of colour—or at least is reputed such, for the brand of degradation attaches not to colour, but to pedigree. Undistinguishable by any outward mark from women of purely European descent—the daughter of a man of weight and consideration in the State to which he belongs—she grows up to womanhood in ignorance of the defect in her genealogy, and with the feelings of a highly-educated and sensitive girl. At this period, by the malice of an enemy, it is bruited abroad, that, two or three generations before, a drop of negro blood had mingled itself with that of one of her ancestors, and had been transmitted to her. The remainder of the story is occupied with the misery brought upon this unfortunate girl, upon her brave and high-spirited brother, her father, and her lover, by the effects of that direful prejudice, so lamentable that we hardly know how to call it detestable.
Even independently of this dark spot in the character and destiny of the Americans, M. de Beaumont’s representation of them is not flattering. There is, however, a caution to be observed by an English reader, lest he should draw from the terms in which M. de Beaumont expresses himself, inferences never intended by the author. M. de Beaumont’s is a picture of American life as it appears to a Frenchman. But to a Frenchman, English life would, as to many of its features, appear in a light very similar, and not much less unfavourable. In many things which strike M. de Beaumont with the force of novelty, and of which he speaks with strong, and possibly well-grounded, dislike, an Englishman would see merely the peculiarities of his own country and people a little heightened; but being probably unaware of the degree in which things so familiar to him may appear strange and repulsive to foreigners, he will be in danger of measuring the divergence of America from the English standard, by the strong terms in which M. de Beaumont expresses her distance from the French. The picture thus mentally heightened would become a ridiculous caricature. Even a work of a far higher order of philosophy than M. de Beaumont’s, the Democracy in America of M. de Tocqueville, will be apt, if read without this necessary caution, to convey a conception of America, in many respects very wide of the truth.
In Mr. Abdy’s, still more than in M. de Beaumont’s book, the main topic is the condition and treatment of the negro and mixed races; of whose cause Mr. Abdy is an enthusiastic advocate, and of whose wrongs even M. de Beaumont’s fiction scarcely gives so appalling a conception as Mr. Abdy’s accumulation of facts. But into this painful subject, which is almost wholly unconnected with any of the other features of society in America, we shall at this time refrain from entering; and the more willingly, as, in the present state of our knowledge, we are quite unable either to suggest a remedy, or even to hazard a conjecture as to the solution which fate has in reserve for that terrible problem.
Mr. Abdy, in respect of his political opinions, is an enlightened Radical; and in respect of understanding and acquirements, appears a very competent observer and witness, as to the state of things in America. Few books of travels in that country, which have fallen under our notice, have a greater number of useful and interesting facts and observations scattered through them. The real and great interest, however, in Mr. Abdy’s mind, is the condition of the coloured population; and his sympathy with them gives him, in spite of his radicalism, a decided bias against the Americans. The contrary is the case with Mr. Latrobe. This gentleman seems, with respect to his native country, England, to be a Tory, or at least a decided antireformer. But we are acquainted with no traveller whose sentiments as to home politics have less influenced his judgment or feelings respecting foreign countries. Being, as he evidently is, of an amiable and highly sociable disposition; meeting, like all other travellers, not merely with hospitality, but with the most remarkable kindness and sociability throughout the United States, and deriving the keenest enjoyment from the sublime natural objects which he witnessed, and of which he has furnished some of the most attractive descriptions we ever read; Mr. Latrobe has seen all objects illuminated by his own feelings of pleasure: and the impression which he communicates of America and the Americans is highly favourable. In this work, as in the others, we have found some judicious and valuable remarks; but its greatest merit lies in its pictures of scenery, in which department it ranks among the first productions of our day, and may probably engage some further share of our attention in another article.
Dr. Lieber’s work is the least valuable of the set. The author is a German, permanently settled in the United States, where he has acquired, we believe, a respectable position as a man of letters, and is the same who has recently published, in this country, his Reminiscences of Niebuhr the historian.[*] His book contains something about America, with which he is in the highest good humour, and something about every other subject whatsoever, especially about the author himself, of whose adventures in the campaign of Waterloo we have a long, and it must be admitted, interesting narrative, à propos of nothing at all. It is a book of lively and rather clever gossip, which adds something, though not much, to our knowledge of America; and has, for that reason, been deemed worthy of a place at the head of this article.
Our list is closed by a paper reprinted in this country from the North American Review, in which one of the most smooth-tongued of the detractors of America, the author of Cyril Thornton, is gently, but most effectually demolished.[†] The exposure of the incompetency and presumption of the travelling Tory is complete. As to the subject itself, the reviewer endeavours to make out, in behalf of his country, more points than, judging from other authorities, we incline to think he can succeed in; but he is well entitled to a hearing, and we eagerly expect the judgment of the same writer on M. de Tocqueville, and on the various authors reviewed in our present article.
For ourselves, we are less desirous of transferring to our pages (for which, indeed, we have not room) a selection of the most interesting passages from these various works, than of stating the opinion which, from these and from all other sources of information, we have formed as to the manner in which America has usually been judged.
Scarcely any one has looked at the United States with any other apparent purpose than to find arguments for and against popular government. America has been discussed, as if she were nothing but a democracy: a society, differing from other human societies in no essential point, except the popular character of her institutions. The friends or enemies of parliamentary reform have been more or less in the habit of ascribing to democracy whatever of good or evil they have found or dreamed of in the United States. One class of writers, indeed, the political economists, have taken notice of a second circumstance, namely, that population in America does not press upon the means of subsistence—and have traced the consequences of this as far as high wages, but seldom further; while the rest of the world, if their partialities happened to lie that way, have gone on ascribing even high wages to the government; which we are informed is the prevalent opinion among the Americans themselves, of all ranks and parties. But the Government is only one of a dozen causes which have made America what she is. The Americans are a democratic people: granted; but they are also a people without poor; without rich; with a “far west” behind them; so situated as to be in no danger of aggressions from without; sprung mostly from the Puritans; speaking the language of a foreign country; with no established church; with no endowments for the support of a learned class; with boundless facilities to all classes for “raising themselves in the world;” and where a large family is a fortune.
Without analysing minutely the effects of all these causes, let us glance at some few of the numerous considerations which they suggest.
America, then, is a country in which there are no poor. This is not the effect of the government. There are, indeed, governments in the world which would make any people poor; but to such governments, a people as civilized as the Americans never would submit. Where there is sufficient protection of property, and sufficient freedom from arbitrary exaction, to enable capital to accumulate with rapidity, and where population does not increase still more rapidly, no one who is willing to work can possibly be poor. Where there is no poverty, there will be a remarkable freedom from the vices and crimes which are the consequences of it. It is remarkable how much of those national characteristics which are supposed to be peculiarly the result of democracy, flow directly from the superior condition of the people—and would exist under any government, provided the competition of employers for labourers were greater than that of labourers for employment. The personal independence, for example, of the labouring classes; their distaste for menial occupations, and resolute taking of their own way in the manner of performing them, contrasted with that absolute and blind obedience to which European employers are accustomed: what are these but the result of a state of the labour-market, in which to consent to serve another is doing a sort of favour to him, and servants know that they, and not the masters, can dictate the conditions of the contract?* The unpleasant peculiarities which are complained of by travellers, in the manners of the most numerous class in America, along with the substantial kindness to which every traveller bears testimony, would be manifested by the English peasantry if they were in the same circumstances—satisfied with their condition, and therefore evincing the degree of social feeling and mutual good will which a prosperous people always exhibit; but freed from the necessity of servility for bread, and, consequently, at liberty to treat their superiors exactly as they treat one another.
If we add to this, that the original founders of the colonies, from whom the present race of Americans are descended, were of the middle class, were people who could read, and who valued reading as the means of being instructed in their religion, we shall not wonder that this well-paid people are also a reading people; and that this well-paid and reading people are a democratic people. High wages and universal reading are the two elements of democracy; where they co-exist, all government, except the government of public opinion, is impossible. While the thirteen states were dependent colonies of Great Britain, they were, as to internal government, nearly as complete democracies as they now are; and we know what was the consequence of attempting to impose burdens upon them without their own consent.
But, secondly, there are not only no poor, there are scarcely any rich—and no hereditary rich. Here again is a fact over which the government has some indirect influence, but of which it cannot be considered the cause. There are no laws to keep large fortunes together; but neither are there laws, as in France, to divide them. If the rich chose to leave all their property to their eldest sons, there is nothing in the institutions of any of the states of America to prevent them; it is only in case of intestacy that the law interferes, and in most of the states effects an equal distribution. Public opinion seems to enjoin, in most cases, equality of division; but it enforces its mandates only by a moral sanction.*
Here, then, is a circumstance of immense influence on the civilization of any country; an influence on which in our article on M. de Tocqueville’s America we have enlarged, and which is further dwelt upon in the first article of our present Number.[*] That important portion of a people, who are its natural leaders in the higher paths of social improvement—a leisured class, a class educated for leisure—is wanting in America. It is not necessary, it is not even desirable, that this class should possess enormous incomes. The class exists largely in France and Germany, where the standard of incomes is very low. But in America there is no class exempted from the necessity of bestowing the best years of life on the acquisition of a subsistence. To say nothing of the refinements and elegancies of social life—all distinguished eminence in philosophy, and in the nobler kinds of literature, is in a manner denied to America by this single circumstance. There may, indeed, be writers by profession, and these may drive a thriving trade; but, in no state of society ever known, could the writings which were addressed to the highest order of minds, and which were in advance of their age, have afforded a subsistence to their authors. These have been produced by persons who had at least the means of supporting life, independently of their literary labours; and even the few works of a high order, which have been written in the intervals of a life devoted to other business, have commonly been addressed to a leisured class.*
We do not remember to have seen it noticed by any writer except the author of England and America;[*] but it is a most significant fact, that a large majority of all the Americans who are known out of their own country, and five of her seven presidents, including Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, were from the slave states. The reason is manifest: there, and there alone, was there a leisured class.
To the absence of such a class must be added another circumstance, to which due weight has scarcely yet been assigned—this is, that, to all intents except government, the people of America are provincials. Politically, the United States are a great and independent nation; but in all matters social or literary, they are a province of the British empire. This peculiarity of position, to which even their descent contributes, is indissolubly fixed by the identity of language.
The characteristic of provincialism, in society and literature, is imitation: provincials dare not be themselves; they dare do nothing for which they have not, or think they have not, a warrant from the metropolis. In regard to society, this remark is too hacknied to need illustration. It is equally true in respect to literature. In the one, as in the other, the provinces take their tone from the capital. It rarely happens that a book has any success in the provinces, unless a reputation acquired in the capital has preceded its arrival. But, in regard to literature, Boston and New York are as much provincial cities as Norwich or Liverpool, and much more so than Edinburgh (which indeed is a kind of literary and social metropolis in itself, and partakes but partially of the provincial character). There has been a Franklin, and there has been a Burns: there will always be persons of extraordinary genius, or extraordinary energy, capable of making their way against one kind of obstacle as against another. But, of the illustrious men of letters in France and England, though a majority have been provincials by birth, nearly all have spent their best years in the capital, and their works have been written in and for London and Paris. The courage which has made them dare trust to their own inspirations, either in thought or in language, as well as the modesty which has saved them from (what stops the progress of most aspirants in a very early stage) the misfortune of being too easily pleased with their own performances—have been learned in the literary metropolis of the nation, and in contact with the direct influence of its leading minds.
Subtract from the British empire London and Edinburgh, and all or nearly all who are born to independence; leave at the summit of this frustum of the social pyramid the merchants of Liverpool, the manufacturers of Manchester, the bar of London spread over the whole of England, and the physicians, attorneys, and dissenting clergy: then raise the working classes to the enjoyment of ample wages—give them universally the habit of reading, and an active interest in public affairs; and you will have a society constituted almost identically with that of the United States, and the only standard with which this last can either be likened or contrasted.* The present government of France has been called la monarchie des épiciers; America is a republic peopled with a provincial middle class.
The virtues of a middle class are those which conduce to getting rich—integrity, economy, and enterprise—along with family affections, inoffensive conduct between man and man, and a disposition to assist one another, whenever no commercial rivalry intervenes. Of all these virtues the Americans appear to possess a large share.† And the qualities of a more questionable description, which there seems to be most ground for ascribing to them, are the same which are seen to be characteristic of a middle class in other countries: a general indifference to those kinds of knowledge and mental culture which cannot be immediately converted into pounds, shillings, and pence; very little perception or enjoyment of the beautiful, either in nature or in the productions of genius, along with great occasional affection of it; the predominant passion that of money—the passion of those who have no other; indifference to refinements and elegancies for their own sake, but a vehement desire to possess what are accounted such by others.
Another circumstance which has important consequences, both as to society and national character, is the unrivalled industrial prosperity of the United States. This circumstance enables the country to do with less government than any other country in existence. It is easy to keep the peace among a people all of whom are not only well off, but have unlimited means of making themselves still better off without injury to any one. The facilities of acquiring riches are such, that according to M. de Tocqueville, that is the career which engrosses all the ambitious spirits.[*] But this same industrial prosperity has some undesirable effects. Both wages and profits being higher than in any other part of the world, the temptation is strong to all classes (but especially to those who, as managers of their own capital, can unite both sources of emolument) to enter into life, as it is called, in other words, to plunge into money-getting, at the earliest possible age. It is affirmed that hardly any American remains at a place of general education beyond the age of fifteen. Here again we recognise the habits and ways of thinking of a middle class; the very causes which are accountable for the comparative failure of the London University. Further, the chances of rapid gain, combined with the facility of recovering after a fall, offer a temptation to hazardous speculations greater than in any other country. In Europe, a person who loses his all, falls into beggary; in America, only into a condition from whence, in a few years, he may emerge restored to affluence. A most adventurous spirit may, therefore, be expected to prevail in the conduct of business. Not only does this appear to be the fact, but the sympathy of the public generally with that adventurous spirit, seems to produce extraordinary indulgence even to its ill success. It is a remarkable circumstance, that although the power is expressly reserved to Congress, of framing a general law of bankruptcy for the United States, public opinion has never permitted any such law to be enacted. The laws of some of the states are lenient to excess towards even fraudulent bankruptcy;* and failures inflict no discredit in the opinion of society. One cause of this indulgence towards bankruptcies may be their extreme frequency. “A short time,” says M. de Beaumont (Vol. I, pp. 284-6),
after my arrival in America, as I entered a salon, which contained the élite of the society of one of the principal cities of the Union, a Frenchman, long settled in the country, said to me, “Be sure to say nothing disparaging of bankrupts.” I took his advice, very fortunately as it happened: for, among all the rich personages to whom I was presented, there was not one who had not failed once, or more than once, before making his fortune. All Americans being in business, and all having failed once or oftener, it follows that to have been a bankrupt in the United States is nothing at all. The indulgence towards bankruptcy comes, in the first place, from its being the common case, but principally from the extreme facility with which the insolvent can re-establish his fortunes. If he were ruined for ever, he would perhaps be left to his fate; but mankind are more indulgent to one who is in misfortune, when they know that he will not always be so
M. de Beaumont adds, with discriminating candour. “Because the Americans are tolerant of bankruptcy, it does not follow that they approve of it. Self-interest, observes Chateaubriand, is the greatest vice of the Mussulmans,[*] and yet liberality is the virtue they hold in highest esteem. In like manner, these traders, who continually violate their engagements, applaud and honour good faith.”
It is, in fact, evident that in such bankruptcies the creditor has nothing to complain of; as he loses by others, so others are in constant danger of losing by him; and losses by bankruptcy are counted among the ordinary risks of trade. The proof is, that notwithstanding the frequency of failures, in no country is credit given more profusely and readily. “The system of trading upon credit,” says Mr. Abdy (Vol. II, p. 130), “has been carried to a ruinous extent. The facility with which bills are indorsed, and mutual accommodation procured, has exposed commerce to reverses and expedients unknown in the old world; and the tendency to erect mercantile enterprise on the basis of borrowing, is such as to present the spectacle of a nation, composed in a great degree of individuals who have mortgaged their bones and muscles to the exigencies and speculations of the moment.”*
Another circumstance in American society has been noticed by almost all travellers; and M. de Beaumont, Mr. Latrobe and Dr. Lieber bear strong testimony to it:—the uninfluential position of married women, their seclusion from society, and the housemaid-like drudgery which appears to fill up their lives. There have not been wanting persons who have seen, even in this, one of the “degrading influences of democracy.” It is, however, an obvious consequence of that state of the labour-market, which renders early marriages and numerous families universal. Such a state of society naturally produces what, by rather a pedantic use of the term, is called regularity of morals; but when the boundlessness of the field of employment, compared with the numbers to be employed, renders a large family a fortune instead of a burden, women are likely, in their present relation to men (and while in such matters they have as little of a will of their own as everywhere, except in France, they seem to have), to be little else than machines for bringing forth and nursing multitudes of children. And it is evident, that where such is their destiny as wives, and where they become wives almost before they are women, they are likely to be sufficiently inferior in mental endowments, fully to justify, in the eyes of men, the inferiority of their social position.*
On looking back to the foregoing observations, some readers will perhaps be surprised to find, that nearly all which has ever been complained of as bad in America, and a great part of what is good, are accounted for independently of democracy. This would have been still more obvious, if, instead of confining our attention, as we have hitherto done, to the northern and eastern states, we had extended it to the whole Union. So far as the slave-states are concerned, it is a mere perversion of terms to call the government a democracy. The entire white population of these states are an aristocracy; and from all credible accounts, appear to have a large share of all the personal qualities which belong everywhere to those who rule by force, and are supported by the labour of others.* Little could probably be traced among them of the influences either of democracy or of any other of the general features of American society, were it not for that incessant and rapid communication, which brings into daily contact the inhabitants of all parts of the Union, and has helped to produce throughout its whole extent a similarity of personal character, not, indeed, so complete as is often supposed, but greater than could have been produced by any other circumstance among so diversified a population.
We have equally left out of our consideration the back-woods, and have not thought it necessary to justify democracy from being in any way accessary to “Lynch-law.” We have not forgotten Sir Robert Peel’s Tamworth speech;[*] but (we must say) we think that speech chiefly remarkable as a specimen of what the conservative baronet thought would go down with his Tamworth auditory, or, we may perhaps add, with his party. There are Tories enough, probably, who are ignorant of the difference between the state of Mississippi and the state of New York; but we much doubt his being one of them. Sir Robert Peel is not so ignorant as to suppose, that any government could establish good order and obedience to law, in countries which count nearly as many square miles as inhabitants. He must have read Mr. Crawford’s report;[*] from which he might have learnt that in the back settlements not more than one crime in a hundred either is, or possibly can be, made the subject of legal redress; and each person consequently retains the right of self-defence which belongs to man in a state of nature.* Least of all can Sir Robert Peel be sincere in laying the blame upon democracy, of lawless proceedings which are exclusively confined to the south-western states, where all the bad passions arising from slavery, are blended with the vices natural to a country colonized almost exclusively, as M. de Tocqueville says, by adventurers and speculators.[†] Even Lynch-law, which, though it occasionally sanctions its mandates by death, limits them in the first instance to removal from the neighbourhood, is probably a real improvement upon the state of society previously existing, in which every man’s rifle was his own protector and avenger.
Nothing is farther from our intention than to say that the experience of America throws no light upon principles of government, or that America is not a proper theatre in which to study the tendencies of democracy. Whoever has read our review of M. de Tocqueville’s book,[‡] knows that we think the contrary. Democracy may be studied in America—but studied it must be; its effects are not apparent on the mere surface of the facts; a greater power of discriminating essentials from non-essentials than travellers or politicians usually possess, is required for deducing from the phenomena of American society inferences of any kind with respect to democracy. The facts themselves must first be sifted, more carefully than they ever are by any but a most highly-qualified observer. Next, we have to strike off all such of the facts as, from the laws of human nature, democracy can have nothing to do with, and all those which are sufficiently accounted for by other causes. The residuum alone can, by even a plausible conjecture, be traced home to democracy.
One truth, at least, we think, sufficiently manifest. The Tory writers have said, and said truly, that tranquillity and prosperity, in a country placed in the peculiar physical circumstances of America, proves little for the safety of democratic institutions among the crowded population, the innumerable complications and causes of dissatisfaction, which exist in older countries. Had they stopped there, every rational person would have been of their opinion. But when they proceed to argue as if the experiment of democracy had been tried in America under circumstances wholly favourable, they are totally mistaken. America is, in many important points, nearly the most unfavourable field in which democracy could have been tried. With regard, indeed, to the vulgar apprehensions which haunt vulgar minds, of agrarian laws, and schemes of sweeping confiscation, the circumstances of the experiment are undoubtedly as favourable as could be desired. But these are the fears only of those to whom omne ignotum is terrible. In everything which concerns the influences of democracy on intellect and social life, its virtues could nowhere be put upon a harder trial than in America; for no civilized country is placed in circumstances tending more to produce mediocrity in the one, or dullness and inelegance in the other. Everything in the position of America tends to foster the spirit of trade, the passion of money-getting, and that almost alone.
We should not wonder if it were found that, in point of fact, the Americans exhibit, not more, but less, of these undesirable characteristics, than is the natural result of circumstances independent of their government: and that, instead of evidence against democracy, there is a balance to be set down in its favour, as an actual counteractive of many of the unfavourable influences to which some other circumstances in the position of America tend to subject her.
If so, unquestionably the condition of America must be regarded as highly promising and hopeful: for, of all the circumstances in her position which have appeared to us calculated to produce unfavourable effects upon her national character, there is not one which has not a tendency to disappear. Her greatest deficiency—the absence of a leisured class—the mere progress of accumulation must be gradually supplying. If indeed the deleterious influence in America were democracy, her case would be hopeless, for that is an influence which must be strengthened, and not weakened, by the natural course of events. But of every other element of evil she will in time get rid. Accordingly there is valuable testimony to the existence of a tendency to improvement in those very points in which it seems to be most needed. The North American Review, January, 1833, p. 47, a work attached to the federalist, not the democratic party, says, “We rejoice to have it in our power to assure the friends of liberty in England, that they have nothing to fear for the charities and ornaments of life in the progress of reform. Improvement was never in any country or age more active, more visibly diffusing itself, than in the United States at this time. Schools of all kinds are multiplying, sound learning in all its branches is more and more cultivated, the polite arts are in a state of creditable progress, and all these good influences are producing their natural good effects.”[*]
The same Review, in the article on Colonel Hamilton’s Men and Manners in America, contains the following passages, which it is but justice in us to insert, having so recently extracted from M. de Tocqueville the expression of opinions directly contrary on the points alluded to. Future observers must decide which statement is nearest to the truth.
The devotion to literary—or to speak more generally—intellectual power, that prevails in this country, is, in fact, one of the remarkable traits in the national character, and is much more deep and fervent,—whatever our author may think of it,—than that which is paid to wealth. Mere wealth commands in this country,—as it must, and when tolerably well administered, ought to command every where,—consideration and respect, but creates no feeling of interest in its owner. Intellectual eminence, especially when accompanied by high moral qualities, seems to operate like a charm upon the hearts of the whole community. This effect is much more perceptible here than in Europe, where the intellectual men are overshadowed by an hereditary privileged class, who regard them every where as inferior, and in some countries refuse to associate with them at all. The highest professional or literary distinction gives no admission to most of the courts of Europe, and only on a very unequal footing to the fashionable circles. A lawyer or a clergyman of talent is occasionally allowed a seat at the foot of a nobleman’s table, but to aspire to the hand of his daughter would be the height of presumption. At the close of a long life of labour he takes his seat, too late to receive any great satisfaction from his new position, in the House of Lords, as Chancellor, Chief-Justice, or Bishop. Through the whole active period of his life he has moved, as a matter of course, in a secondary sphere. With us, on the contrary, great wealth, the only accidental circumstance that confers distinction, is commonly the result of a life of labour. The intellectual men assume at once, and maintain through life, a commanding position among their contemporaries,—give the tone in the first social circles,—and, at the maturity of their powers and influence, receive from their fellow-citizens demonstrations of attachment and respect, which have rarely, if ever, been shown before to the eminent men of any other country. The Presidentships and the Governorships, the places in the cabinet, and on the bench of justice, in Congress and in the State Legislatures,—the commissions in the Army and Navy,—the foreign embassies,—elsewhere the monopoly of a few privileged families,—are here the rewards of intellectual preeminence. Lord Brougham, though certainly in every way one of the most illustrious and truly deserving public characters that have appeared in England in modern times, has never received from his countrymen any proof of approbation half so flattering, as the sort of civic triumph with which Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster were lately welcomed on their respective visits to the East and the West Mr. Irving, since his late return from Europe, has been the object of more attention of a public kind, than was shown through the whole course of his life to Sir Walter Scott, undoubtedly the most popular British writer of the last century.
This respect for intellectual power, which forms so remarkable a feature in the national character, ought not to have escaped the attention of a traveller, whose pretensions to notice are founded entirely upon that basis, and who had experienced the operation of it so favourably in his own person. It has often been evinced, in a very pleasing way, in the testimonials of regard shown to the memory of distinguished literary men, even of foreign countries. At the late lamented decease of the illustrious British poet just alluded to, the public feeling of regret was evidently quite as strong in this country as in England. Subscriptions were raised at New York, to aid in the purchase of Abbotsford for his family; and a monument to his memory is now in preparation at Albany. We regret to learn that the object, in which the New York subscriptions were intended to aid, is not likely to be effected. The marble tablet that covers the remains of Henry Kirke White, in the churchyard of Nottingham in England, was placed there by a gentleman of this city, no otherwise interested in his memory, than by the pleasure he had taken in reading his poems.[*]
This view of the matter receives confirmation from the hostile testimony of Colonel Hamilton himself. If the Americans are so vain of their distinguished intellectual characters, as that gentleman affirms, most assuredly they must be anything but indifferent to the value of intellect itself.
On the capacity and disposition of the people to make a good selection of persons to fill the highest offices, the American reviewer, though attached to what is esteemed the aristocratic party, is so far from agreeing with M. de Tocqueville, that he considers the experience of his country to be not only favourable, but decisively so.
So far as the office of President of the United States is concerned, which our author appears to have had particularly in view, we had supposed it to be generally acknowledged, not that the experiment had failed, but that it had succeeded a good deal better than perhaps could reasonably have been expected. Of the seven Presidents who have been elected under it, the six first, viz. Washington, the two Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe,—though certainly far from being on a level in point of qualifications for the office,—were all, by general acknowledgment, among the most eminent and best qualified persons in the country. Mr. Monroe, the least conspicuous of the number, is yet spoken of by our author, deservedly, in very handsome terms, and was as much superior to the hereditary rulers of the ordinary European standard, as Washington was to him. As to the qualifications of the present incumbent, which are still the subject of party controversy, there would no doubt be a difference of opinion. A large and respectable portion of the citizens who opposed his election would probably say, that in his case, the system has in fact failed. But were this even admitted, it might still be pertinently asked, whether any system can be expected to produce the best possible results oftener than six times out of seven. On the other hand, the large majority of the citizens who elected General Jackson look upon him as the very Phœnix of Presidents, and from the tone of our author’s remarks upon the subject, we should have supposed that he inclined to this opinion. He certainly, if his account may be believed, “retired from the interview he had with General Jackson, with sentiments of very sincere respect for the intellectual and moral qualities of the American President.” We doubt whether he could have said as much as this of a majority of the hereditary rulers of Europe. Add to this, that in the innumerable instances in which the same system has been applied in the several States, it has brought out, almost uniformly, men of great respectability,—often the very first men in the country, such as Jefferson, Dewitt Clinton, and Jay,—and in no one case, as far as we are informed, any person notoriously incapable. We cannot but think, that instead of having grossly failed, it must be regarded, on the whole, as having in a remarkable manner succeeded. In fact, the capacity of the people at large to elect the principal political functionaries, is considered, by competent judges, as one of the least questionable points in the theory of government. Montesquieu, at least as high an authority on a political question as the author of Cyril Thornton, tells us that “the people are admirably well qualified to elect those who are to be intrusted with any portion of their power. If there were a doubt of this, we need only to recollect the continual succession of astonishing elections that were made by the Athenians and the Romans, which certainly cannot be attributed to chance.”[*] The history of the United States, so far as we have proceeded, will be regarded by future political philosophers, as furnishing another example, not less striking than those of Athens and Rome.[†]
There are two or three obvious mistakes in this reasoning. Athens and Rome were not democracies, but altogether, and exclusively, governments by a leisured class: their experience, therefore, though it throws light upon many of the effects of free institutions in general, cannot be quoted as evidence on the subject of democracy. The Presidents of America, too, should have been contrasted, not with the hereditary kings of the various countries of Europe, who generally have little to do in the government of those countries, but with the prime ministers. That comparison, however, is anything but unfavourable to America; and the reviewer is warranted in his triumphant appeal to the distinguished merit of the seven Presidents who have been elected by the people of the United States.
A question to which we should be more anxious to have the reviewer’s answer, would be, why the Washingtons and Jeffersons have left no successors? Why, in an age so far superior in intellectual facilities and resources to that in which those eminent men were educated, the man whom common opinion even now apparently places at the head of the public men of the United States, is the survivor of President Jefferson’s cabinet, Mr. Albert Gallatin?*
We are the more desirous to have this question answered by the reviewer, as we can ourselves suggest an answer for his consideration. The great men alluded to were sprung from a leisured class. The families which gave birth to Washington and Jefferson, and, we believe, to Madison and Monroe, belonged to a class of proprietors maintained by the labour of slaves, and enjoying hereditary landed possessions in the then flourishing and opulent state of Virginia. From causes not satisfactorily explained in any of the works before us, but which are apparently connected with vicissitudes of cultivation and markets, the prosperity of that state has greatly declined, and nearly the whole of these families are bankrupt.† We are much mistaken if this be not part of the solution of the mystery. The stream has ceased to flow, because its fountain is dried up. Why a corresponding number of examples of like excellence have not been produced in the other slave states we cannot pretend to say. Were we perfectly versed in the history and local circumstances of those states, the fact might admit of explanation. We do not affirm that wherever there is a leisured class there will be high mental culture. But we contend that the existence of such a class is a necessary condition of it.
As to the general standard of mental cultivation and acquirements in the United States, the testimony of all travellers confirms the assertion of M. de Tocqueville, that a certain “niveau mitoyen” has established itself, which few either fall below or soar above.[*] “It is probable,” says Mr. Abdy, (Vol. I, p. 13.) “that the average of literary accomplishments is higher among our brethren in the new world, than among ourselves, while the extremes at either end are less distant from the middle point of the scale.” “The instruction given to children,” says M. de Beaumont,
is purely practical; it does not aim at the cultivation of the higher moral and intellectual faculties, but seeks only to form men fitted for the business of social life: all are able to speak and write, but without talent, though not without pretension. . . . That purely intellectual existence which withdraws from the trivialities of outward life, and feeds upon ideas—for which meditation is a want, science a duty, and literary creation a delightful enjoyment—is unknown in America. That country is ignorant of the very existence of the modest man of science, who keeping aloof from political life and the struggle to rise, devotes himself to study, loving it for its own sake, and enjoys, in silence, its honourable leisure. . . . Europeans, who admire Cooper, fancy that the Americans must adore him; but the fact is not so. The Walter Scott of America finds in his own country neither fortune nor renown. He earns less by his writings than a dealer in stuffs; the latter therefore is a greater man than the dealer in ideas. This reasoning is unanswerable.
(Vol. I, pp. 252-3, 261-3.)
There is one topic on which we desire to say a few words, particularly as it is one on which the testimony of travellers is not uniform—the inordinate national vanity of which the Americans are accused, and their imputed excess of sensitiveness to criticism. On these points the testimony of M. de Tocqueville, M. de Beaumont, and Mr. Abdy, is extremely unfavourable. They all agree in representing the mass of Americans as not only offended by any disparagement of their country, even in the most unessential particular, but dissatisfied with any moderate praise; and as nourishing the most extravagant ideas of the superiority of their country over all others. All these authors agree also in ascribing this national weakness to the fulsome flattery heaped on the nation en masse by nearly all their politicians and writers: flattery, of which Mr. Abdy (who excels almost any traveller we remember in the abundance of specific facts with which he usually substantiates his general observations) produces a number of very ludicrous instances.
Mr. Latrobe does not appear to have seen these peculiarities (except, indeed, the sensitiveness) in quite so strong a light. The North American Review altogether denies them. “We aver upon our consciences,” says the reviewer of Mrs. Trollope,[*]
that we do not remember an occasion on which a good-natured joke, from any quarter, on any part of America, has been taken amiss. By whom has Mr. Irving’s Knickerbocker,[†] two entire volumes of satire on the Dutch of New York, been more keenly relished than by his countrymen; and where is Mr. Hacket more warmly greeted than at Boston? But we go farther than this. Not only has no offence, that we know of, been taken at well-meant pleasantry, but that which was not well-meant, the ribaldry, the exaggerations, the falsehoods of the score of tourists in this country, who have published their journals, seasoned to the taste for detraction prevailing in England, [among the English aristocracy, he should have said,] and in order to find reimbursement in the sale for the expense of the tour; we say the abuse of this race of travellers has never, that we recollect, in itself, moved the ire of the public press in this country. Not one of these travellers has been noticed, till his libels had been endorsed by the Quarterly, and, we are grieved to add, sometimes by the Edinburgh Review, or by some other responsible authority. Then, when the leading journals in Europe had done their best to authenticate the slander, we have thought it sometimes deserving refutation.
([Edward Everett, “Prince Pückler Muscau and Mrs. Trollope,”] North American Review for January, 1833, p. 42.)
Dr. Lieber is of the same opinion.
You may little expect to hear an assertion of this kind, after having read so many charges to the contrary; yet I must be permitted to state, that I consider the Americans eminently good-natured, and disposed to allow any one to speak with perfect freedom of America and her institutions. Of such a thing as taking amiss, as it is termed, they hardly know. That those of them who have seen little of the world are often conceited in regard to their country is natural; every villager, all over the world, thinks his steeple the highest, and assures you that the bottom of his pond has never been found yet. But even such as these among the Americans will allow you freely to make your remarks upon their country, laugh heartily with you, and never get angry on account of your free remarks. I have found this so constantly, and in so striking instances, that I do not hesitate to state it as a fact. If a man in the west asks you, “How do you like our country?” or a Bostonian. “Don’t you think, after all, our climate very fine?” you must not forget that, perhaps, the remark is made from a kind disposition, and that, in this, as in all similar cases, it is but one that bothers you, while a hundred others remain silent, and you remember only the one who may have troubled you, if you are so sensitive as to call this troubling. It is certainly a fact worth notice, that the severest books against the United States sell rapidly, and often run through several editions: and when I once conversed with one of the first publishers as to a work on the United States, he said, “Any one who writes on this country ought to know, that the severer he is, the better his book will sell. I am convinced of this fact by repeated experience.”* Which is no encouraging prospect for all those who wish to say what they think and know, that eagles soar high, and geese cackle loud all over the world.
That this good-natured equanimity of the Americans may be somewhat disturbed when a gentleman travels tout le temps en maître d’école, all the time pronouncing his opinion ex cathedrâ, finding fault and ridiculing, might be supposed; though I have, even then, seen the Americans, almost without exception, pertinaciously good-natured.
(Vol. II, pp. 77-9.)
This is the testimony of a trustworthy witness, who, during a far longer residence in the country than that of Mr. Abdy, or MM de Tocqueville and de Beaumont, has enjoyed ample opportunities of observation. The discrepancy may be easily reconciled. It is but natural to suppose that the Americans, like all other people, will bear more from one person than from another; and that so warm an admirer as Dr. Lieber may have met with a more good-humoured reception for his small criticisms, than is given to the strictures of men who, like the other three gentlemen, have opinions which place them at direct variance with some of the strongest prejudices and most prominent characteristics of the American people.
As for their inordinate conceit of the superiority of their country, all the nations of Europe had the like, until they began to know one another; and the cure for it, in America as elsewhere, is greater intercourse with foreigners. Nor must it be forgotten that, to a stranger, both the conceit and the sensitiveness to criticism are likely to appear greater than they are. He sees the Americans in their awkwardest aspect—when they are attempting to do the honours of their country to a foreigner. They are not at their ease with him. They have the feelings as a nation, which we usually see in an individual whose position in society is not fixed. Their place in the estimation of the civilized world is not yet settled. They have but recently come to their importance, and they cannot yet afford to despise affronts. On this subject the liberal remarks of Mr. Latrobe deserve attention. He says, (Vol. I, p. 68.)—
The English have not, as a nation, whatever may be supposed by those who gather their estimate of national feeling from the Reviews, much sympathy with this kind of sensitiveness. We have arrived at that happy pitch of national self-esteem, and our national pride is so little disturbed by unwelcome surmises or suspicions that in this or that particular we are really emulated or surpassed by our neighbours, that we calmly set down any one who comes amongst us, and tells us that, in certain matters. John Bull is surpassed by other nations, or an object of ridicule to them, as an ignorant or spiteful twaddler at once, and do not suffer the national temper to be ruffled. Having now, for so many years, been accustomed to have justice done to us by our neighbours on all main points, however unwillingly, we can even afford to be satirized, or, as we would say, caricatured in some minor particulars, and can magnanimously laugh at the same. But not so with America. She feels, and with reason, that justice has not always been done her in essentials, and by Britain in particular. She knows that there has been a spirit abroad having a tendency to keep the truth and her real praise away from the eye of the world, shrouded behind a vein of coarse ribaldry, and detail of vulgarities which, if not positively untrue, were at least so invidiously chosen, and so confirmatory of prejudice, and so far caricature, when applied to the people as a mass, as almost to bear the stigma of untruth. She has felt that the progress made in a very limited period of time, and amidst many disadvantages, in reclaiming an immense continent from the wilderness, in covering it with innumerable flourishing settlements; her success in the mechanic arts; her noble institutions in aid of charitable purposes; the public spirit of her citizens; their gigantic undertakings to facilitate interior communication; their growing commerce in every quarter of the globe; the indomitable perseverance of her sons; the general attention to education, and the reverence for religion, wherever the population has become permanently fixed; and the generally mild and successful operation of their government, have been overlooked, or only casually mentioned: while the failings, rawness of character, and ill-harmonised state of society in many parts; the acts of lawless individuals, and the slang and language of the vulgar, have been held prominently forward to excite scorn, provoke satire, and strengthen prejudice. In short, she has felt that her true claims upon respect and admiration have been either unknown or undervalued in Europe; and that especially that nation with whom she had the greatest national affinity, was inclined to be the most perseveringly unjust.—Hence partly arises, it may be surmised, the querulous state of sensitiveness, to which allusion has been made, and also that disposition to swagger and exaggerate, which has been laid to the charge of many Americans, not without reason.
It must be said, to the honour of the Quarterly Review, that these and similar remarks of Mr. Latrobe have extorted from that journal (or perhaps only afforded it an opportunity for) an acknowledgment of error, accompanied with expressions of regret for the tone of former articles;[*] an example of candour which, though it does not cancel the turpitude of the previous offence, is highly laudable, and almost new in the morality of the periodical press.
[[*] ]François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, Cours d’histoire moderne, 6 vols. (Paris: Pichon and Didier, 1828-32); reviewed by Joseph Blanco White and J. S. Mill, “Guizot’s Lectures on European Civilization,” London Review, II (Jan., 1836), 306-36. Alexis de Tocqueville, De la Démocratie en Amérique; reviewed by J. S. Mill, “De Tocqueville on Democracy in America [I]” (see 47-90 above).
[[*] ]Francis Lieber, Reminiscences of an intercourse with George Berthold Niebuhr (London: Bentley, 1835).
[[†] ]The review, by Alexander Hill Everett, is of Thomas Hamilton, Men and Manners in America, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1833); the other work referred to is Hamilton’s The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1827).
[* ]Mr. Abdy has some sensible observations on this point, Vol. I, p. 88.
[* ]The beneficial effects of the absence of a law and custom of primogeniture, in producing union in families—a fact so strongly felt in France, as to be matter of general remark and acknowledgment among French politicians and writers—appear to be almost equally conspicuous in America (See Abdy, Vol. I, p. 2, also p. 70.)
[[*] ]Mill, “De Tocqueville [I],” pp. 47-90 above, and James Mill, “Aristocracy,” London Review, II (Jan., 1836), 283-306.
[* ]An interesting description of American authorship is given by M. de Beaumont, Chap. xii. [Vol. I, pp. 262-3.] He describes it as a mere trade; a means of earning a livelihood; a profession—a branch of industry, and one of the lower, not the higher, branches.
[[*] ]Edward Gibbon Wakefield, England and America, 2 vols. (London: Bentley, 1833).
[* ]“I find,” says Dr. Lieber, “that people often compare America with Europe, when they mean London, Paris, or Rome.” (Vol. I, p. 16.)
[† ]All the worksbefore us bear the strongest testimony to the degree in which these qualities are diffused through the whole people of America. We would instance particularly M. de Beaumont’s note on the “Sociability of the Americans” (Vol. I, p. 301); meaning by sociability, their disposition to aid and oblige all who come in their way.
[[*] ]See De la Démocratie en Amérique, Vol. II, p. 58.
[* ]See Abdy, Vol. III, pp. 69-70, as to the state of the law on this subject, in the highly prosperous and industrious state of Ohio.
[[*] ]François René de Chateaubriand, Itinéraire de Paris à Jerusalem et de Jerusalem à Paris, 3 vols. (Paris: Le Normant, 1811), Vol. II, p. 44.
[* ]The following observation by Dr. Lieber (Vol. II, p. 184) is “germane to the matter” [see Hamlet, V, ii, 152-4]. “General Moreau, when residing in this country (so said a French gentleman, an acquaintance of mine), believed that no soldier would be equal to an American if well and thoroughly disciplined (to be sure the present militia would require some ‘rubbings’); because, said he, ‘an American doubts of nothing.’ It was true what Moreau observed, that an American doubts of nothing; sometimes owing to enterprising boldness: sometimes to want of knowledge or to self-confidence: always, in a measure, to the fact, that want of success in an enterprise is not followed in the United States by obloquy or ridicule, even though the undertaking may have been injudicious.”
[* ]Yet even these disadvantages are, in the opinion of M. de Beaumont, more than compensated, so far as respects the intelligence of the American women, by the single fact, that their education continues to the day of their marriage, which, early though it be, is not so early as the period at which the boys of America enter into the pursuits of money-getting. The women of America are, in his opinion, superior in mental culture to the men.
[* ]See M. de Beaumont, Vol. I, p. 303n, for an instructive sketch of the difference in manners and social life between the southern, or slave-states, and the northern. The parallel throws much light upon many important questions.
[[*] ]See The Times, 5 Sept., 1835, p. 4, cols. 1-3.
[[*] ]“Report of William Crawford, Esq., on the Penitentiaries of the United States, addressed to His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department,” Parliamentary Papers, 1834, XLVI, 349-669.
[* ]“You may see in the farthest west, beyond the boundaries of organized society, the incipient stages of political relations, of law and justice laid bare, as if prepared for the student of history, and of the gradual development of man as a member of political society. Perhaps all this would become clearer to you, should I write you about the ‘regulators,’ and the manner in which communities, beyond the limits of established law, meet the imperious necessity of dealing out justice. Of this kind was one of the most interesting cases that ever came to my knowledge, when, lately, the assembled men of a district arrested, tried, and executed a murderer. By what right? By the right to punish crime, natural, indispensable, and inalienable to every society, and growing out of the necessity, both physical and moral, of punishment,” (Lieber, Vol. I, pp. 16-17.)
[[†] ]See De la Démocratie en Amérique, Vol. II, p. 50.
[[‡] ]See pp. 47-90 above.
[[*] ]Edward Everett, “Prince Pückler Muscau and Mrs. Trollope,” North American Review, XXXVI (Jan., 1833), p. 47.
[[*] ]Alexander Hill Everett, “Men and Manners in America,” North American Review, XXXVIII (Jan., 1834), 241-3. Mill gives the reference to the reprint, pp. 33-4. The “gentleman of this city” was Francis Boott.
[[*] ]Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, De l’Esprit des loix, 2 vols. (Geneva: Barillot, 1748), Vol. I, pp. 14-15.
[[†] ]A. H. Everett, “Men and Manners in America,” pp. 262-4. Mill’s reference is to the reprint, pp. 54-5.
[* ]The federalist reviewer might possibly deny our fact, and claim the palm of superiority for Mr. Webster: but, viewing that gentleman as one of the leaders of the absurd Tariff party, we scruple to allow the claim.
[† ]Mr. Abdy ascribes the ruin of a large proportion of the planters in the older slave states to the spirit of reckless speculation fostered by slavery. For the fact itself, see pp. 227 and 247 of the second volume of his work.
[[*] ]De la Démocratie en Amérique, Vol. I, p. 85, cf. p. 84 above.
[[*] ]Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans, 2 vols. (London: Whittaker, Treacher and Co., 1832).
[[†] ]Washington Irving, History of New York from the beginning of the world to the end of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker (London: Sharpe, 1821).
[* ]Mr. Shirreff, the intelligent author of a recent agricultural tour through Canada and the United States, mentions that even a work so obviously malignant as that of Mrs. Trollope has had a salutary influence in correcting many of the minor absurdities which it holds up to ridicule [Patrick Shirreff, A Tour through North America (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1835),] pp. 9-10. [JSM’s footnote.]
[[*] ]Anon., “Tours in America, by Latrobe, Abdy, &c.,” Quarterly Review, LIV (Sept., 1835), 408.