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قراءة كتاب The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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‏اللغة: English
The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863
Devoted to Literature and National Policy

The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

want, changing merchant princes to beggars, and spreading ruin far and wide, have owed their origin, not to a wild spirit of speculation, but to the over inflation of bank issues, which is itself the cause of that reckless speculation. This evil, too, will be done away with in the future, for the issue must and will be regulated by the demands of the community. The Government, in whose hands are the securities, and who furnish the circulation based thereon, will control this matter and restrain the issue to its proper bounds. And even if it should run beyond that point, there will be less danger, since there can be no spurious basis, every dollar being secured by a tangible deposit in the Government vaults. The only escape from this view is in open and barefaced fraud, which will be easy of conviction, and no more to be feared than the ordinary operations of counterfeiters, and which will be effectually provided against. So carefully drawn are the provisions of the bill that no loophole is left for speculation; and he who shall hereafter succeed in flooding the country with a 'wildcat' currency, will be a shrewder financier and a more accomplished villain than the world has yet seen. The people, too, will repose such a confidence in the banks as they have never done before. We shall hear little hereafter of 'runs upon the banks;' for the currency holders, well knowing that the Government holds in its hands the wherewithal to redeem the greater portion of the circulation of every bank in the land in the event of the closing of its doors, the only 'runs' will be upon the deposits, and this only in cases of the grossest and most patent fraud and mismanagement on the part of the banks themselves. Hence, in times of financial peril we shall see the people combining to sustain the banks of their own locality, rather than, as is the case to-day, hastening to accelerate the ruin of perfectly solvent institutions which, but for their ill-timed fright, might weather the storm. Again I say, there could be no greater element of union and strength than this, which has grown out of our necessities and tribulations. In spite of all the confusion and ruin and bloodshed, in spite of all the mourning, and suffering, and sundering of ties, and upheaving of the very foundations and apparent total disruption of American society, no greater blessing could have befallen us than this same war, which has roused us to a new life, to the consciousness of defects and determination of reform, thereby planting us firmly on the true road to prosperity and happiness and power.

The wonderful display of our power and resources has given a reputation—call it notoriety, if you will—among the middle and lower classes of the old world, which in long years of peace we could not have attained. And our success in withstanding the terrible tempest which has assailed us, in maintaining the integrity of our political system, will spread that reputation far and wide, and give us a prestige whose effect will be seen in the increased tide of immigration that will flow in upon us upon the reëstablishment of peace. The teeming soil and salubrious climate of the far West, together with the prospect it affords, not only of wealth, but of social advancement, both of which are forever denied them in their own country, and extremely difficult of attainment even in our own Eastern States, where the population is dense and every branch of industry crowded to repletion, will allure the hardy laborers of Europe by thousands and tens of thousands to the prairie land. In the immense unsettled tracts west of the Mississippi there is room for the action of men inured to toil, and promise of quick and abundant returns for their labor. There they will be free from the disastrous competition of their superiors in education and enlightenment, and have opportunities such as no other portion of the earth presents, for the founding of communities of their own, and the practical realization of their own ideas of social progress. Comparatively few years will pass after the restoration of peace before the West will be peopled by the very bone and sinew of all civilized nations. And these men will come to our shores imbued with the bitterest hatred of monarchical institutions, and an unbounded admiration and love of our own. Hence the new country will be intensely republican in its tendencies, and this will be another strong bond of union—another mighty element of strength and perpetuity to republicanism. For, as the movement goes steadily on, in time the balance of political power will rest with them. And it will be ours to see that the strong bias in favor of antiquated customs, laws, and usages, the result of centuries of unopposed tyranny, is eradicated from the minds of these men. They must be properly instructed in the principles of true liberty and self-government. They must be familiarized with the workings of free institutions and put to school in the experience of our century of experiment. Our very safety requires it; for so great is the field and so quickly will it be filled, that if we are not alive to the work, a mighty nation will soon have sprung up on our borders, and almost in our midst, which will be entirely beyond our control, and threaten the very existence of our race, and of the principles we most cherish. For the danger is that, suddenly released from all the restrictions of their own feudal climes, they will fly to the other extreme, and become lawless, reckless, and turbulent. For many years to come all legislation must have an eye to the possible and probable capacities and immense importance of the yet unsettled West, and to the exigencies arising from causes which at present we know not of save by conjecture. We have a future before us such as the past has never known, and an incentive, nay, rather a necessity, for more vigorous action than we have yet been called upon to display, and for a deeper and more far-sighted wisdom than has ever yet pervaded our councils.

The religious future of this portion of our country is veiled in the deepest obscurity. Here we shall have the free-thinking German, the bigoted Roman Catholic, the atheistic Frenchman, and the latitudinarian Yankee, in one grand heterogeneous conglomeration of nations and ideas such as the world has never seen. Whether these diverse peculiarities will by close contact and mutual attrition, by the advancing light of education and refinement as well as by the progress of intellect, be in time softened down, assimilated, and fused into a pure, elevating religion, or aggravated till they result in a godless, materialistic race, God only knows. For no man was ever yet able to prognosticate of religion, or prophecy with the remotest degree of its future action. For it is a thing of God, under his exclusive care, and subject to none of the influences of human action. In His hands we must leave it, in the earnest hope and belief that He will not suffer His divine purposes to be thwarted, and this people, to whom He has intrusted the task of the world's regeneration, to forget and deny their God, who has led them on to power and prosperity and happiness, to go back upon the scale of the soul's eternal progress, and become a race of wicked, corrupt, and God-defying sensualists.

Yet there is no maxim more true than that 'the gods help those who help themselves,' and in this great work of religious advancement we have nevertheless a part to act, a duty to perform. And the day is not far distant when the work of the missionary in our own land will overshadow that of the teacher in African climes. Here will be an ample field for all our exertions, all our contributions; and if we do our duty by our own people, we shall be forced, for a time at least, to leave the task of instructing the heathen of foreign lands to the Christian nations of the Old World. Our greatest responsibility is here, and it behooves us to look well to the religious culture of our own rapidly increasing