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still held to the doctrine that "all men are created equal,” and never lost his faith in those ideals of popular government and republican virtue, of the innate goodness of man, of the regenerative power of simple and genuinely democratic institutions, which were proclaimed by the generous minds of the eighteenth century, and which furnished the driving force of the American and French revolutions. In spite of the failure of both revolutions to realize these ideals in any perfect way, in spite of the disillusionment which swept so many honest men into reaction, Jefferson remained a democrat. He believed in government of the people, for the people, and by the people.
The Republicans were those who on the whole followed Jefferson. They retained their early republican faith. They looked at the question of government from the point of view of the pursuit of happiness rather than from the point of view of the maintenance of security, and were more concerned for the rights of men than for the protection of property. Accordingly, they would have government frankly responsive to the popular will, freed from the control of any “upper class, either of birth or wealth or education. They would have government as simple as possible, limited to the protection of life and property.
For all of these reasons they had mostly opposed the new Constitution, and when it was once adopted they wished to restrict the functions and powers of the federal government as much as possible, and to preserve to the people of each state all the essential powers of sovereignty. In those days of difficult communication, the Jeffersonian Republican felt that only a government that was close at hand could be properly watched, and only a government that was limited to a small territory could retain a primitive and arcadian simplicity; a government in the distant city of New York or Washington, with extensive jurisdiction over the whole country, was likely to develop into a complicated bureaucracy as open to intrigue and as difficult to control as the most hateful monarchy of Europe.
Monarchy! This, after all, so the Republicans professed to believe, was what the Federalists secretly wanted. They were aim
. ing at the destruction of republican liberty. Did they not openly denounce the French Republic and all its works? Did they not openly sympathize with the British government, that very power which had so long endeavored to enslave America? Did they not openly profess a contempt for the “mob,” the hearts aristocrats, monarchists in disguise, who were waiting for the day when with the aid of British gold they could proclaim the Kingdom of America and have themselves made Dukes of New York and Earls of Boston? The imagination of the Republican journalists was as active as that of Theodore Dwight, and in their vilification of Hamilton and Adams, and of Washington himself, they exhausted the rich sources of the English language. No human motive was too low or sordid or cowardly to be imputed to these onetime patriots and heroes.
canaille”? What could this mean except that these so-called Federalists were in their
The profound gulf which separated the two groups of the American people in the early years of the Republic is a point of first-rate importance. It is true that the vile names which Federalists and Republicans flung at each other were often enough no more than the engaging amenities of party politics. But the mutual hatred of the two parties had also its solid foundation in a genuine fear. Each party feared that the other was un-American. Each party feared that the other was so entangled with certain European influences that its success would destroy American institutions. The Republicans feared that the Federalists were so tied to Great Britain that they were ready to undo the work of the Revolution; the Federalists feared that the Repub
licans were so infected with French Jacobinism that they were ready to proclaim the Terror and plunge America into the confusion created by Robespierre and exploited by Napoleon. The profound and apparently irreconcilable hostility which threatened to shipwreck the New World experiment in democratic government was primarily due to the connection which still existed, or was supposed to exist, between American and European politics. Able men on both sides of the ocean believed that the United States must surrender either its independence or its free government; that its feeble government must either give place to a strong monarchy or in self-defense be drawn into the system of European alliances and so lose the better part of independence. For a generation the history of the United States centered in this issue. The future of the American experiment in democracy depended upon its being freed from the entanglements of European politics and the danger of European intervention.
For a hundred years before the Colonies won their independence from Great Britain they had been drawn into every European war, with or without their consent, whether or not their essential interests were involved. In his famous pamphlet entitled Common Sense Thomas Paine pointed out that one advantage of independence from Great Britain would be the consequent freedom from European quarrels and conflicts.
We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering that her motive was interest, not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our own account, but from her enemies on her own account, and from those who have no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account. [Therefore] our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependence upon, Great Britain tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels, and sets us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint.
This was certainly true in part, and might conceivably have proved altogether true had peace prevailed in Europe for another generation. But, as it turned out, the French Revolution followed hard upon the American War of Independence; and the French Revolution gave rise to a series of general European wars which began in 1792 and lasted almost without cessation until 1815. In these wars France, first under the Republic and afterward under the leadership of Napoleon, was pitted against all the great powers of Europe. The immediate causes of these wars were vari