Page images


No event ever proved fo interefting, to mankind in general

and to the inhabitants of Europe in particular, as the discovery of the new world, and the paffage to India by the cape of Good Hope it at once gave rife to a revolution in the commerce and in the power of nations, as well as in the manners, induftry and government of almoft the whole world. At this period new connections were formed by the inhabitants of the most diftant regions, for the fupply of wants they had never before experienced. The productions of climates fituated under the equator were confumed in countries bordering on the pole; the industry of the north was tranfplanted to the fouth; and the inhabitants of the west were clothed with the manufactures of the east; in fhort, a general intercourfe of opinions, laws and customs, difeafes and remedies, virtues and vices, were eftablished amongst men.

In Europe, in particular, every thing has been changed in confequence of its commerce and connection with the American continent; but the changes which took place prior to the late revolution, (which eftablifhed the liberties of the United States, and transformed the dependent colonies of Britain into an independent commonwealth, or rather a fociety of commonwealths) only ferved to increase the mifery of mankind, adding to the power of defpotifm, and rivetting fafter the Thackles of oppreffion; the commerce of Spain, in particular, with the new world, has been supported by a system of rapine,

[blocks in formation]

murder and oppreffion; a system that has spread defolation and distress not only-in America, but in Europe and Africa. She has, however, benefitted but little by it, for her strength, commerce and industry, have evidently declined in proportion to the influx of the gold of the new continent. With GreatBritain, for a confiderable period, things appeared somewhat different; till the epoch of the revolution her commerce with America increased her national strength, and added to her own industry and wealth, while it desolated and ravaged the coaft of Africa.

From the period of the revolution, the influence of America on Europe has been of a different kind: the glorious struggle which the United States fuftained, and the inquiries to which that eventful period gave rise, did much to raise mankind from that state of abject slavery and degradation, to which defpotism, aided by superstition, had funk them : from that period the rights of man began to be understood, and the principles of civil and religious liberty have been canvassed with a freedom before unknown, and their influence has extended itself from the palace to the cottage: in fhort, the revolution in the late British American colonies bids fair ultimately not only to occafion the emancipation of the other European colonies on that continent, but to accomplish a complete revolution in all the old governments of Europe.

We have already seen a patriot king, aided by a hero who fought for the cause of freedom under Washington, struggling to render his people free and happy; and we have witneffed a perjured defpot expiating his crimes on the scaffold, at the.command of a people roused to a fenfe of their injuries and rights, by men who had affifted in establishing the liberties of America.

-In reflecting on those scenes as individuals, we can only la ment the want of fuccefs which has attended the former, and regret the crimes of ambitious and unprincipled individuals, which have certainly tarnished, but not deftroyed, the glory


of the revolution, which has attended the latter. The ftorm will, however, ere long pafs away, and returning peace will leave the other nations of Europe at liberty to contemplate without prejudice, not only their own fituation, but the refources of France drawn forth into action under the influence of an energetic government, founded on the will of the people, and administered at an expenfe far lefs than what the penfioned minions of its former corrupt court alone devoured. Whenever that period arrives, and arrive it will, it needs not a spirit of inspiration to affert, that the other nations of Europe must fubmit to a thorough reformation, or be content to behold their commerce, agriculture, and population decline.

In the mean time the United States are profiting by the convulfed fituation of Europe, and increafing, in a degree hitherto unparalleled in the history of nations, in population and opulence. Their power, commerce and agriculture, are rapidly on the increase, and the wifdóm of the federal government has hitherto been fuch as to render the prospect of a fettlement under its foftering influence truly inviting to the merchant, the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the industrious'labourer: nor have thefe alone found the United States advantageous; the perfecuted in France or England have there found an afylum, where their lives, property and liberty are fecure; where they may almoft fay, the wicked ceafe from troubling, and the weary are at reft. Nor can any doubt be entertained, but in a short period the man of science, as well as the contemplative and experimental philofopher, will find the Thores of Columbia equally propitious to their wishes. Education is fending forth its illuminating rays, and its influence on the rifing generation will aid the Americans in all their other pursuits.

The inhabitants of Europe are not infenfible of these favourable circumftances. The charms of civil and religious liberty, the advantages of an extenfive and fertile, but unculti


sated country, of an increafing commerce, unfhackled and un encumbered by heavy and impolitic duties and impofts, have already invited numbers to leave its bofom-numbers, which the iron hand of perfecution and the awful profpects of intertine divifion or abject flavery, will continue to increase.

The attention of Europe in general, and of Great-Britain in particular, being thus drawn to the new world, the Editor, at the inftigation of fome particular friends, undertook the tafk, which he hopes he has in fome degree accomplished in the following volumes, of affording his countrymen an opportunity of becoming better acquainted with its settlement by Europeans-the events that led to the establishment and independence of the United States-the nature of their government-their present situation and advantages, together with their future prospects in commerce, manufactures and agriculture. This formed the principal design of the work; but he farther wifhed with this to connect a general view of the fituation of the remaining European poffeffions in America and the Weft-India islands; this has been therefore attempted, and nearly a volume is dedicated alone to this fubject. Connected with the above, one object has been constantly kept in view, namely, to afford the emigrator to America a fummary of general information, that may in fome measure serve as a directory to him in the choice of a refidence, as well as in his after purfuits. This fuggefted the propriety of adopting the plan which Mr. Morfe had laid down in his American Geography; and this muft plead in excufe for the mifcellaneous matter introduced in the third volume, at the clofe of the hiftory of the States.

How far the Editor has fucceeded in the accomplishment of this object is not for him to determine; he can only fay, he has fpared no pains, nor neglected any opportunity, which his fituation permitted him to embrace to obtain information; and he has to exprefs his obligations for the obliging communica

tions of many, whofe names the peculiarity of his own fituation will not for obvious reafons permit him to mention, but for whofe friendship he fhall ever retain the most lively fentiments of esteem and gratitude. The Editor's thanks are likewife particularly due to feveral gentlemen of the society of Quakers, for the documents which have enabled him, with thorough conviction, to wipe off the odium which Mr. Chalmers, in his Annals,' and the authors of the Modern Univerfal Hiftory, followed by Mr. Morfe, had thrown on the character of William Penn and the first fettlers of Pennfylvania,** and 'on whofe authority they were by him inferted.

With respect to the printed authorities which the Editor has followed, he has not only borrowed their ideas, but, where he had not the vanity to conceive himfelf capable of correcting it, he has adopted their language, fo that in a long narrative he has often no other claim to merit than what arifes from felection and a few connecting fentences: as, however, by this method it has often become difficult for an author to know his own, the Editor at once begs leave to fay, he has availed himself of the labours and abilities of the Abbé Raynal, Franklin, Robertfon, Clavigero, Jefferson, Belknap, Adams, Catesby, Buffon, Gordon, Ramsey, Bartram, Cox, Rush, Mitchel, Cutler, Imlay, Filfan, Barlow, Briffot, Morfe, Edwards, and a number of others of lefs import, together with the tranfactions of the English and American philofophical focieties, American Mufeum, &c.

* The Editor has particularly to request, that those who have taken this Work in Numbers, will, in juftice to himself, as well as to the character of William Penn, defroy the half-fheet, fignature P p vol. ii. page 289 to 296 inclusive, and substitute the half-fheet of the fame fignature, given in the laft Number, in its ftead-the fame is requested refpectifg the Conftitution of Pennsylvania and the other cancels marked.


« PreviousContinue »