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should surely be regardless of all the teachings of history, we should have watched with but little profit for the controlling motives of the human heart, if we could look to the legislature for reforms, which would involve such a serious sacrifice of authority. To us now, sic notus Ulysses. We have rarely seen the man, who believed that he had more power than he could manage better than any one else, or that the public interest would be served by his transferring any portion of it to another. Still more rarely have we seen the legislature that labored under the oppression of any such self-distrust. On the contrary, we have found that generally they act from the conviction that the public interest rather required an enlargement than a contraction of their authority. Aristotle has somewhere in his politics, very sagaciously observed, that generally, mankind are satisfied with their respective shares of virtue, however scanty they may be, but are extremely dissatisfied with their shares of all other advantages. Without saying anything worse of our legislature than Aristotle said of all mankind, we may be permitted to express our own conviction, that that body are far more anxious to stretch their prerogatives than to be delivered from temptation.
We have long since, therefore, relinquished all hope of relief from the legislature, for as we have before remarked, we have no confidence in the efficacy, or in the purity of reforms emanating from that quarter.
Forasmuch then, as the legislature are not elected to reform the Constitution, but for very distinct purposes, and often entertain opinions quite contrary to those of their constituents upon many questions of constitutional polity: and, Forasmuch, as they have not sufficient time, even though they did fairly and fully represent public sentiment upon those questions, to discuss and present all the required reforms with
out neglecting their other legislative duties; and,
Forasmuch as, admitting that abundant time might be spared them, the political and personal interests of the legislature, which grow out of their official powers, are adverse to prompt and decided action upon the Constitution; and also lead them to make every popular reform the vehicle of more or less impure or unnecessary legislation; and, finally,
Forasmuch, as the legislature always have been, and doubtless will continue to be, unwilling to relinquish any of their powers and restore them to the people, without which restoration, no constitutional reform can be at all complete or satisfactory-we conclude that such a revision of the Constitution as the public interest at present demands can only be undertaken with safety by a convention of delegates to be chosen directly, and for the purpose, by the people. It will have been observed, that the preceding remarks were not intended to be confined in their application to the present exigencies of the State of New York, but that they equally concern every other State in our confederacy; that we have intended to keep before us distinctly the welfare of no particular section or sect in the country, but of the whole country. We have labored at some length, to show the necessity of subjecting all our State Constitutions* to a thorough revision once at least in the life-time of every generation; and that this revision should be conducted by a convention of delegates elected directly from the people, and for that single purpose. And though the recent movement in the State of New York has been made the occasion for these remarks, we are very far from implying that the Constitution of that State is, in any sense, more defective than the Constitution of any other of the United States in America; on the contrary, there are not more than one or two, and those the least considerable, of the defects in the New York
We do not include the Federal Constitution here, not because we think it an exception, but as it has not lain in our way to speak of that instrument in this connection, and as we might be misunderstood, if we included it in the rule we have laid down, without an explanation of our views, we prefer to exclude it until an opportunity shall occur of presenting our reasons at length, for applying the same principles of constitutional reform to it as to the State Constitutions.
Constitution, to which we have alluded, which are provided against in any of the other State Constitutions, and we take leave to say that it is the distinguishing glory of the people of New York, that they have been the first to commence the movement of reform, an example which, we have no doubt, will be ultimately imitated by every state in the Union.
We look to see ample and systematic provision made by every State in the Union for the expansion of constitutional science, and that, too, without much delay. The time has come when we must take heed, that that guard which the citizen has placed to protect him from capricious and immature legislation, be not converted into an agent of tyranny to oppress or constrain him; That the instrument which was intended to embody and preserve the political science of the people, and to define the political boundaries of the Government, be not permitted to perpetuate obsolete
or erroneous doctrines, nor to vest political powers in a mode or degree unsatisfactory to the manifest wishes of those whom the exercise of those powers concerns; and that every Constitution contain within itself an organism for expansion and growth, corresponding to that by which its subjects grow in wisdom and in power.
We are not of those who believe, that every nation is destined to revolve in a single circle of birth, progress and decline; and that the growth of each, like the fulling of the moon, "is but its progress to decay;" least of all do we think such a destiny awaits the institutions of our country. If, however, we should be mistaken, and years should bring with them decrepitude to this nation, we do not hesitate to believe that the cause of her decline will be found in the inflexibility of her Constitutions, and the tyranny which their supremacy must always occasion without adequate facilities for amendment and growth.
THE true Reformer, like the pioneer
Who hews the western forest, must throw by
Yet fields of beauty, by his dauntless hand,
Of Error doth the light of Truth withstand;
Throughout all after time; and those who now
Like the still stars that glow with fadeless light,
Unseen, perchance, in the full glare of day,
And though unnoticed while the sunbeams play Around prosperity, has its holiest sway When dark afflictions come the soul to blight. The loftiest and the lowliest bosom feels Its empire sweet, and brightens in its glow; The proudest spirit to its sceptre kneels, And gentlest hearts its sweetest influence know. Soft to the couch of death it gently steals, And, even through its tears, eternal joy reveals!
R. H. BACON.
FLEETS VERSUS FORTS.*
ON the 9th April, 1840, a resolution was passed by the House of Representatives, requesting the Secretary of War" to lay before the House, as soon as practicable, a report of a full and connected system of national defence," &c. In compliance with this request, the Secretary (Mr. Poinsett) submitted, on the 12th May, the first of the two documents mentioned below, drawn up by an able board of army officers (from the pen of the present accomplished_and excellent head of the Engineer Bureau, Col. Totten), the views expressed in which were sanctioned in the most emphatic manner by the Secretary, and are, in the main, the same which have been submitted by boards composed of distinguished military officers, for the last twenty-five years.
The system which has been so frequently recommended, and which, up to the present time, has been acted on, is, that, wherever practicable, the entrance to our harbors must be closed by fortifications; which means, that the forts defending these entrances must be able to resist any naval attack which would probably be directed against them, and that the injury which hostile vessels would sustain in endeavoring to pass them, would be such, that the object to be attained would not compensate them for this injury. Whenever the object should be so great that its attainment would compensate an enemy for any injury which would probably be inflicted by the forts-such, for instance, as the destruction of New York, its Navy Yard, &c.-then the passage is to be closed by a line of floating obstructions, which would, to an enemy, hermetically seal the harbor, and the removal of which would be effectually prevented by batteries placed at the extremities of the line. The history of naval warfare, for the last two hundred years,
presents us with numerous instances of batteries which have been taken by the crews of ships landed for the purpose. All of our forts, then, must be strong enough to resist a land attack of this kind, and this is precisely the degree of strength which has been given to nearly all of them. In some few instances the importance of certain works and the advantages which the localities offer towards attempting their capture, are so great that an enemy might be induced to land a force sufficient to besiege them. In such cases, it is evident that the fortifications should be so strong as to enable them to hold out un-til they could be reached by a force large enough to oblige the enemy to raise the siege.
The second document referred to at the head of this Article, was published by order of the House of Representatives on the 26th of April, 1842, after having passed through the Navy Department. These circumstances give it a weight which it does not possess intrinsically, and consequently increase its power of doing harm. On this account we have deemed it worth while to endeavor to point out some of its errors. Some parts of the Report are exceedingly contradictory of each other, and would seem to show that the author had written it with very indistinct ideas of what he was to prove or disprove. For instance, he says, at page 9th: "We agree that the means of defence shall be by neither the fortifications nor the navy exclusively;" while at page 26 he says: "It is clear that whatever policy (fortifications or the navy) we shall adopt, must and ought to be nearly exclusive in its application;" and again at page 27: “We have shown that fortifications do not resist the attack of fleets successfully, and that the system should be abandoned." In one place he speaks of our fortifications as so
* Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting a copy of the Report of Lieutenant L. M. Powell, of the Survey of the Coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from Apalachicola to the mouth of the Mississippi River. 27th Congress, 2d Session. House of Representatives. Doc. No. 220, pp. 34.
Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting a System of National Defence, and the Establishment of National Foundries. 56th Congress, 1st Session. House of Representatives. Doc. No. 206, pp. 148.
VOL. XIII.-NO. LXVI.
A great part of the Report is taken up with a repetition of the arguments advanced in 1836 by a high officer of the government, which arguments have been ably answered in the Report of the Military Board referred to at the head of this Article. It is to be regretted that this Report is so voluminous. Members of Congress and others interested in the subjects discussed in it, on finding that it contained 148 pages, have been deterred from reading it, whereas the most important part, treating of and rebutting the erroneous ideas which had been advanced respecting our system of fortifications, occupies not more than 40 pages. The views laid down in this able document might perhaps be dwelt upon with advantage, but the fear of too much lengthening this paper would alone prevent us from making the attempt. We will confine ourselves in this Article to one branch of the many which would be included in a complete discussion of the subject of the fortifications of our sea-board; and this branch, the relative value of ships of war in contests with batteries on shore, occupies the most conspicuous place in the Report of Lieutenant Powell, and gives it indeed its character.
We proceed at once to examine what Lieutenant Powell styles his enumeration of works which have fallen before the broadsides of fleets ;" and will take up each instance enumerated, merely changing the order so as to make it nearly chronological.
The first paragraph we take up states, that Admiral Drake took Carthagen in 1565; that it was again taken by the French in 1697, and once more by the English in 1706. It is true that Drake took Carthagena in 1585 (not 65), but it was taken by troops who were landed and stormed the entrenchments. The broadsides of a fleet had nothing to do with it. (See Southey's Lives of the Admirals, vol. iii., page 187.) In 1697 it was taken by the French under the
Sieur Pointis, but also by a land attack. (See Campbell's Naval History, vol. iii., page 32.) The above attacks refer to Carthagena in South America. It was not taken by the English in 1706. Carthagena in Spain was surrendered to the English fleet in this year, and perhaps our author mistook this for Carthagena in South America. The capture, however, was not owing to the broadsides of a fleet; but the English Admiral understanding that the inhabitants were disposed to declare themselves in favor of the Archduke Charles, whose claims to the throne England supported, sailed there with his fleet, upon the arrival of which the town at once surrendered and embraced the cause of Charles. (See Ledyard's Naval History, vol. iii., page 432.)
Paragraph 7th of the "enumeration," states, that Jamaica was taken by the British fleet in Cromwell's time. It was taken by a British army under General Venables; the fleet having had nothing to do with the capture. (Campbell, vol. ii., page 101.)
Paragraph 13th states, that Rio Janeiro was taken by Du Guay Trouin with a small fleet. In 1711, Du Guay Trouin forced his passage into the harbor of Rio Janeiro, sustaining in the act a loss of three hundred men out of his small fleet. The troops on board were then landed and batteries were erected. Several days after, when all the arrangements for an assault had been made, it was understood that the garrison and the inhabitants had fled from the city during the previous night, whereupon the French entered and took possion. (See the life of Du Guay Trouin by himself.) What does this account prove? Du Guay Trouin did not pretend to combat with the batteries defending the entrance; he merely passed them. That fleets may sometimes force their way through passes defended by batteries, is plainly admitted in the report of the Military Eoard which Lieutenant Powell attempts to criticise; and it is there laid down that, when the object to be attained will compensate for the loss which must be sustained in forcing the passage, a line of floating obstructions should be placed across the channel, which line an enemy will not be able to break under the fire of batteries placed at its extremities.
The next instance, in point of time,
cited is, "Porto Bello taken by Admiral Vernon in 1740." Here we have at length one of the few instances which deserved mention. But what were the facts? On the 21st November, 1739, Admiral Vernon made his attack on Porto Bello. The harbor was defended by a castle called the Gloria, and two forts, one called the Iron Fort, and the other St. Jeronimo. The attack was made by six ships of the line mounting three hundred and seventy guns upon the Iron Fort alone; which fort, with an advanced battery, mounted one hundred guns; a number amply sufficient, if they had been properly served, to have destroyed the fleet opposed to them. A short time after the attack commenced, the men defending the fort fled from their guns, and almost all abandoned the fort. The sailors of the fleet then landed in boats, and, having no scaling ladders, got into the embrasures by some climb. ing on the shoulders of others. The next day the Gloria and St. Jeronimo surrendered without having been attacked. The loss in killed and wounded on the part of the English, out of a fleet of six ships of the line, was only twenty. Now what does this instance prove? Nothing, it is evident, beyond a total want of courage on the part of the Spaniards in question. The English authors from whom the above account is taken, who are naval historians, and therefore not disposed to detract in the least from the merit of their fleet, say: "It must be confessed that their easy conquest must be in part attributed to the cowardice of the Spaniards in surrendering the fort attacked before a breach was made, and the other two before they were attacked;" and, "The Spaniards became panic-struck and fled further up the castle. They no longer listened to the commands of their officers; some fled to the town, and others hung out the white flag, wishing to capitulate." (Campbell, vol. iv., pages 265 and 486; and Beatson, vol. i., page 49.)
The next instances in point of time mentioned, are, "Chagres in 1741 and Carthagena again." The only attack on Carthagena in 1741 was made by an English army landed from the fleet, which attack failed, and the army was obliged to re-embark. (Campbell, vol. iv., page 276.)
As to the attack on Chagres, the
attack on Fort St. Lorenzo, at the mouth of the river, is no doubt alluded to. This was made in 1740 by Admiral Vernon. The fort, mounting only eleven cannon and eleven small mortars for throwing stones called pattareroes, was attacked by four ships of the line mounting 220 guns, besides bomb-vessels, fire-ships, &c., and sustained a furious cannonade for thirty-six hours before it surrendered. (Campbell, vol. iv., pages 272 and 489.) If hot shot had been used by the fort, the destruction of the bombarding ships at Gibraltar shows what would have been the fate of the fleet at the end of thirty-six hours. The ships of the line alone had on one broadside 110 guns to contend against the eleven guns of the fort, for, the pattareroes, being small mortars for throwing stones, must, from their short range, have been useless against shipping; and of the eleven guns it is not probable that more than seven or eight could have been brought to bear against the squadron.
The next instance is that of Louisburg, which Mr. Powell says was attacked and taken by a naval force." Louisburg was attacked and taken twice, but at neither time by a naval force. The first expedition against the place in 1745 was undertaken by troops to the number of 4000, raised in New England and commanded by General Pepperel. The place was invested on the 30th of April, and was not surrendered until the 17th of June. The squadron merely blockaded the harbor during the siege. (Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. iii., p. 458.) The second attack was made in 1758 by an English army commanded by General Amherst. The place was invested on the 8th of June, and did not surrender until the 26th of July. During this siege the fleet did nothing but blockade the harbor and cut out two ships of war which lay there. (Campbell, vol. v., page 106.)
Paragraph 8th of the enumeration states, that "Madras, Calcutta, Pondichery, and Ceylon, were all taken by the British fleets." Madras was never captured by the English, and Pondichery and Ceylon were taken by British armies. Calcutta, when attacked in 1756, was garrisoned by the native troops, who scarcely knew the use of artillery, 40,000 and 50,000 of whom were frequently defeated by 4000 or