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The contest between the provinces of South America and Spain has, from the beginning, been viewed with no ordinary interest in this country. It is impossible, indeed, to exaggerate the importance of the stake for which the parties are contending. The provinces in
question, in spite of the narrow and illiberal policy of Spain, have now attained a sufficient degree of strength to vindicate their right to the uncontrolled enjoyment of the blessings which nature has scattered with so lavish a hand on their country. If they succeed in this great object, a boundless field will be opened to domestic improvement and foreign commerce; if they fail, the power which reduced them to subjection, can never for a moment forget, that every addition to their resources and prosperity must add to the insecurity of her tenure. On the issue of this contest, therefore, will depend the prosperity or devastation of South America.
In the independence and prosperity of South America, two nations are particularly interested - the United States and Great Britain. The United States and Great Britain are the countries which possess the most extensive commerce, and therefore they are the most interested in any extension of the field of commercial activity. Great Britain, however, is also the greatest manufacturing country in the world, and the opening of a continent, abounding in all sorts of raw produce, to her manufacturing industry, gives her a much deeper interest in the issue than the United States, of which the manufacturers will long be unable to stand in competition with the British.
The inhabitants of the United States are not blind to the advantages which the independence of South America will ensure to them. They allow that the chief benefit will be derived by
Britain; but they think that the share which will remain to them will be far from inconsiderable. We are not to wonder then that the inhabitants of the United States, independently of all sympathy which a people engaged in a struggle similar to their own, should take a warm interest in the contest. From their proximity to the countries which are the theatre of hostilities, they have many opportunities of obtaining information with respect to the situation and prospects of the contending parties, that are denied to us. The judgment therefore which that people (who are generally allowed to be no less alive to their interest, than good judges of the best means of advancing it) form on a question like that between Spain and her colonies, ought deservedly to have great weight in this country.
The following pamphlet is the production of an American, and is understood to speak the sentiments, not merely of the people of America in general, but also of the American government. The author of it is a Mr. Brackenridge, the son of the late Judge Brackenridge, an individual of considerable consequence in America. Mr. Brackenridge is now employed by the American government, in the capacity of secretary in the commission recently appointed to proceed to South America in the Congress frigate. This pamphlet must therefore be viewed as in some degree official ; for the American government would never have selected to the important office of secretary to this commission, a man who had espoused so warmly the cause of the South Americans, if his sentiments had not been shared by themselves. Though the name of the author is not affixed to the American edition, yet in the several newspapers of that country, he is alluded to without any reserve; and we think it but justice to the merits of the publication, and the intention which
gave rise to it, that the friends of this cause should know the person to whom they are indebted for it.
Feb. 6, 1818.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
SIR, The discovery of America, the separation of the British colonies, and the present struggle for independence in the colonies of Spain, are three of the most interesting occurrences of the last thousand years. Columbus, in search of a passage which would change the tract of eastern commerce, discovered a new world, possessing greater riches than the East, and capable of sustaining a population nearly equal to all the rest of the globe. Although disappointed in one object, he succeeded in opening sources of wealth to Europe which have changed its condition for the better in every department of life. The discovery of America enabled Europe to reach a point of improvement, which she could not otherwise have arrived at for centuries, if at all. Those who followed Columbus, with little or no scruple, appropriated to themselves whatever was found in the discovered countries, peaceably in some cases, but in most instances, by violence and cruelty. The inhabitants of America, in some districts numerous and far advanced in civilisation, were regarded by the Spaniards with little more respect than the wild beasts of the forest. They were destroyed without mercy, their possessions were seized without compunction, and all the principles of justice and humanity were violated without
The superior skill of the Europeans in the arts, derived from the use of letters, which preserves the discoveries of the ingenious, and enables the human mind to advance towards perfection, necessarily placed the unfortunate Americans in the power of their invaders. The first discovery of America, and the subsequent encroachments, were alike the acts of enterprising individuals, although their respective sovereigns were careful to come in for the lion's share. As to those portions of the country where
vast regions lay waste, (for the possession as hunting gronnds by a few wandering tribes could scarcely be considered an appropriation of the soil,) the laws of God and nature might justify other members of the human family in taking a sufficient portion of the common inheritance for their subsistence. This was the case over · nearly all the country now possessed by us; who, as the first of the colonies in forming an independent government, have become peculiarly entitled to the appellation of Americans. Our conquests were principally over the asperities of the climate and the earth; the axe and the plough were the weapons with which they were effected.
If the natives have been sufferers, we are not to blame; the hunter cannot subsist by the side of the cultivator; the wild animals, which constitute his support, fly the fixed habitations of man. As in the natural progressive stages of society, so in relative position or vicinity, there rnust be a separation between these two states of human existence. The hunter and the cultivator could not be neighbors; the hunter, therefore, retired, and our settlements advanced.
In other parts of the continent the inhabitants were not always found in the hunter's state. Although not possessed of letters, they were as far advanced as men can be without them. They had made no inconsiderable progress in the arts; they had their fixed seats or cities, vying in population with those of Europe or Asia, their cultivation of the soil in a high state of improvement, and they had learned, unfortunately for them, to bestow a factitious value upon
those metals which, in the old world, were regarded as the representatives of wealth, and used as the medium of commerce. Such was the situation of Mexico, of Peru, and parts of Chili.- These unhappy people were assailed by the Spaniards with barbarous cupidity, and every species of violence and injustice practised upon them. This, it is true, was the work of a few audacious and lawless persons; but it met the approbation of the sovereign, who came in when all was quieted for the larger share of the spoil. The sovereign took possession of these countries by the RIGHT OF CONQUEST ; and even after the enterprising and industrious of his own subjects had formed settlements and built cities, the privileges of conquest were never abandoned. Nothing can be more true than that the discovery, settlement, and conquest of America, was the work of private enterprise, but the advantages have been reaped by the different sovereigns. From the first discovery until the present day, they had but one thing in view- to draw the greatest possible
advantage from the colonies, without regard to their prosperity. The colonies have furnished vast sums to be spent abroad, or rather squandered in wars and in the extravagance of courts. Their advancement, further than this object