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New York James Fenimore Cooper

New York

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Notwithstanding the generally fallacious character of the governing motive of all commercial communities, there is much to mitigate its selfishness. The habit of regarding the entire country and its interests with a friendly eye, and of associating themselves with its fortunes, liberalizes its mind and wishes, and confers a catholic spirit that the capital of a mere province does not possess. Boston, for instance, is leagued with Lowell, and Lawrence, and Cambridge, and seldom acts collectively without betraying its provincial mood; while New York receives her goods and her boasted learning by large transshipments, without any special consciousness of the transactions. This habit of generalizing in interests encourages the catholic spirit mentioned, and will account for the nationality of the great mart of a great and much extended country. The feeling would be apt to endure through many changes, and keep alive the connection of commerce even after that of the political relations may have ceased. New York, at this moment, contributes her full share to the prosperity of London, though she owes no allegiance to St. James.

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The American Union, however, has much more adhesiveness than is commonly imagined. The diversity and complexity of its interests form a network that will be found, like the web of the spider, to possess a power of resistance far exceeding its gossamer appearance--one strong enough to hold all that it was ever intended to inclose. The slave interest is now making its final effort for supremacy, and men are deceived by the throes of a departing power. The institution of domestic slavery cannot last. It is opposed to the spirit of the age; and the figments of Mr. Calhoun[6] , in affirming that the Territories belong to the States, instead of the Government of the United States; and the celebrated doctrine of the equilibrium, for which we look in vain into the Constitution for a single sound argument to sustain it, are merely the expiring efforts of a reasoning that cannot resist the common sense of the nation. As it is healthful to exhaust all such questions, let us turn aside a moment, to give a passing glance at this very material subject.

At the time when the Constitution was adopted, three classes of persons were "held to service" in the country--apprentices, redemptioners, and slaves. The two first classes were by no means insignificant in 1789, and the redemptioners were rapidly increasing in numbers. In that day, it looked as if this speculative importation of laborers from Europe was to form a material part of the domestic policy of the Northern States. Now the negro is a human being, as well as an apprentice or a redemptioner, though the Constitution does not consider him as the equal of either. It is a great mistake to suppose that the Constitution of the United States, as it now exists, recognizes slavery in any manner whatever, unless it be to mark it as an interest that has less than the common claim to the ordinary rights of humanity. In the apportionment, or representation clause, the redemptioner and the apprentice counts each as a man, whereas five slaves are enumerated as only three free men. The free black is counted as a man, in all particulars, and is represented as such, but his fellow in slavery has only three fifths of his political value.

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New York
James Fenimore Cooper

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