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be rendered too hazardous for an enemy. By the first of these channels, vessels outward bound, within a few hours after casting off from their moorings, gain the open sea. By the second, those which arrive can, with common prudence, reach safe anchorage without a pilot; and the distance from the mouth of the one to that of the other is such that both cannot easily be blockaded by the same squadron. These circumstances alone point out New York as a commercial emporium.
But there are others which contribute largely to the same effect. Beside many small streams, the great Connecticut River pours its waters into the eastern channel; and the western shore of Manhattan Island is washed by the Hudson, navigable fifty leagues by large vessels; and what is peculiar to this noble canal, ships take with them a favouring tide beyond all the ranges of mountain east of that great valley already mentioned, which stretches upward of fourteen hundred miles in a southwestern direction from the island of Orleans, in the St. Lawrence, to the city of Orleans, on the Mississippi. To this valley an inland navigation from the Hudson can easily be extended northward to the St. Lawrence, and westward to the great lakes, whose depth, whose extent, whose pellucid water, and whose fertile shores, are unparalleled. It is probable, that if our western hemisphere had been known to antiquity, those immortal bards who crowned their thundering Jove on the peak of Olympus, would have reared to commerce a golden throne on the granite rock of Manhattan. They might have pictured her as receiving, in a vast range of magazines from Haerlem village round to Haerlem cove (a distance of twenty miles) the willing tribute of mankind; as fostering industry in the remotest regions; scattering on barren shores that plenty which nature had denied; dispensing to millions the multiplied means of enjoyment, and pouring the flood-tide of wealth on this her favoured land. Not, indeed, that wealth, which, the plunder of war and the wages of vice, exalts a rapacious head over a servile crowd; but that honest wealth, which, accompanied by freedom and justice, comforts the needy, raises the abject, instructs the ignorant, and fosters the arts. Such are the outlines of a picture which, adorned by classic colouring, might, with the Iliad, have been recommended to his royal pupil by that sage whose mind, acute and profound, was equally skilled in moral, physical, and political science.
The first settlement of this state coincided with its natural advantages. While Englishmen came to America, either flying from ecclesiastical intolerance, or pursuing the treasure its savages were supposed to possess; Dutchmen, inspired with the spirit of trade, instead of sitting down on the skirts of the new world, boldly penetrated to the head navigation of the Hudson. They built there a fort, in the year 1614, and gave it the name of that august family, whose talents and labours, in the cabinet and the field, secured the liberty of England, as well as of Holland, and established the independence of Europe.
The Dutch exhibited a new and interesting spectacle. Near half a century had elapsed since, confederated with the other ten provinces of the low countries, they took up arms to oppose the establishment of the inquisition. After a struggle of thirteen years, abandoned by their associates, they had to contend for civil as well as for religious liberty, not only against their bigoted and bloody foe, but against their former friends also ; then submitted to his power. They had, for many preceding ages, been free. The supreme authority belonged to the states, who met on their own adjournment, and
without whose consent neither laws could be passed, nor taxes raised, nor war declared.* These privileges, which every sovereign had sworn to defend, were respected by Charles V. but formed no obstacle to the ambition of his unfeeling son. Thus the revolutions (if without the violation of language that term can be so applied) of Holland, of England, and of America, bear a striking resemblance to each other. Each was a contest to maintain the liberty already enjoyed, and defend it against usurpation. In England, a powerful nation, surrounded by the sea, dismissed their prince, and placed on his throne the husband of his daughter. This work was easy and effectual. In America, the inhabitants of a great continent, separated from the invader by the Atlantic ocean, faroured at first by the wishes and at last by the arms of other nations, were successful after a short, though severe struggle. But in the case of Holland, seven poor provinces, whose surface (about eight and a half million of acres) does not exceed one of our senatorial districts, f whose population, a century after establishing their independence, and when they had reached to the highest point of prosperity, was but two million; about double our present number. These poor provinces sustained a conflict of thirty years with the most powerful nation in Europe. They opposed the ablest generals, at the head of the best troops of that most warlike age. An awful scene! interrupted, not closed, in April, 1609, by a truce of twelve years. When that expired, another contest ensued of seven-and-twenty years. At length, on the 24th October, 1648, almost a century (eighty two years)
* Grotius de Anti. Repub. Bat. cap. 5.
Busching's Geography, Introd. to the Netherlands, sec. 3. and 5. The Germans divide the degrees into 15 geographical miles, which gives, in round numbers, about 13,600 acres to the square geographical mile: of which he gives to the Netherlands 625.
from the time they first took up arms, their independence was acknowledged by the treaty of Westphalia.
It is natural here to ask, by what miracle did these feeble provinces resist that mighty empire? The sufficient, and only sufficient answer, is, by the will of Him who holds in his hand the destinies of mankind. He bade their gloomy climate produce a persevering people, whose industry no toil could abate, whose fortitude no danger could dismay. He gave them leaders sagacious, intrepid, active, unwearied, incorruptible. He, as of old, from the eater brought forth meat, and from the strong, sweetness. He gave them food from a tempestuous ocean, and treasure from the jaws of devouring despotism. But if, with reverence, we seek those causes to which reason may trace events, we shall find the miracle we adınire to have been the work of commerce. From the sea they gathered means to defend the land against hostile armies on one side, and against the sea itself on the other : for the singularity of their situation exposed them, alike to be inundated and to be subdued. The sea, which threatened, and still threatens to overwhelm them, gave access to the riches of both the Indias. They pursued, along that perilous road, the persecutors of mankind, and wrested from their grasp the unrighteous plunder of Mexico and Peru. Thus, surrounded by danger, impelled by want, inured to toil, animated by exertion, strengthened by faith, stimulated by hope, and exalted by religion, a few miserable fishermen, scattered on a sterile coast, were converted into a race of heroes. They acquired power in the struggle for existence, and wealth under the weight of taxation,
Such, gentlemen, were our Dutch ancestors, who immediately after concluding the twelve years truce, came hither and brought with them their skill,
their integrity, their liberty, and their courage. From a sense of justice, that animating soul of commerce, without which it is a dead, and must soon become a corrupt and stinking carcass, they entered into a treaty with the natives; in whom they found patience, fortitude, and a love of liberty like their own. While the seven United Provinces, by their steady perseverance, astonished the nations of the east, our six confederate tribes, by their military prowess, subdued those of the west. The first treaty formed between the Dutch and the Maquaas, or Mohawks, has been frequently renewed; and few treaties have been better observed. The 'excellent discourse* delivered to you last year, leaves me nothing to say of those tribes. Permit me, however, to express the astonishment, , in which you will doubtless participate, that men, reputed to be wise and learned, should suppose the people of this state, born, brought up, and situated as they are, can be restrained from commercial pursuits.
Half a century after fort Orange was built, Charles II. of England, within three years from his restoration, granted this state to his brother, the Duke of York; and in that year (1664) it was conquered by the British arms. England, which Elizabeth (after reigning near five-and-forty years) had left in the possession of peace, wealth, and glory, passed two-and-twenty more under a conceited pedant, powerful in words, and poor in act. He had neither the courage to establish, nor the magnanimity to abandon prerogatives, which, inconsistent with the spirit of his age and country, hecame every day more and more intolerable. Thus the scholastic imbecility of a projector prepared the tragic scene in which his son was doomed
By the Hon. De Witt Clinton. ED.