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ferent from that which they have exercised towards their colonios and subject states.
In the social organization of a nation, the policy should be to unite, in a certain degree, all its inhabitants; so that all should be moved by the same general sentiment of loyalty, nationality, or patriotism. Different orders may exist in a well-constituted state; but the distinctions should be softened by some religious communion, some moral influence, some common interest, some national sympathy. The barriers between the orders should not be insu. perable. The inferior classes should not be precluded from rising in the state. The hope of advancement would gratify and animate them: it would excite their zeal and promote their useful. ness: it would give satisfaction to the lower, and security to the higher ranks: it would be the moral tie by which all the orders of society would be connected and harmonized.
In the organization of most modern colonies, a very different policy has prevailed. This has been to separate the different classes of their inhabitants by insuperable barriers; to maintain strong prejudices between them, and thus by preventing their union to preserve the dominion of the mother country.
The principal Spanish colonies are organized after this manner; partly from the unavoidable consequences of the conquest, and partly from the provisions of your colonial laws. To your excellencies, who know these laws so well, details on the subject would be superfluous. Certain it is, that in all your great settlements, there are several classes of persons strongly distinguished from each other by birth, colour, and condition; and that these distinctions, supported by opinion, and sometimes sanctioned by law, have produced jealousies and antipathies which it will be exceed ingly difficult to eradicate.
The chief of these classes are,
In the circumstances in which you will be placed after the fall and entire subjugation of Spain, a very different system of society will be requisite. You must then endeavour to form, not divided and feeble dependencies, but an united and powerful nation. The prejudices you have hitherto countenanced, you should then counteract. But this must be done with great circumspection: public opinion should be well prepared for the change: no class should be forced out of its relative position. The condition of all should be meliorated, but all should be kept in their proper places. The European Spaniard ought to be the most zealous in promoting this reformation. He holds at present the first rank: but he should consider the Americans as his equals--his brothers. They ought to have their full share of all lucrative and honourable employ ments. In the disastrous event we contemplate, the loyal Spaniard will have no country but America.
The national organization will be requisite more especially in your metropolis. It ought to be introduced also in the other states, as far and as fast as their circumstances will permit. They ought to be rendered capable of defending themselves without delay. The metropolis may not be able to spare its troops, and the kingdom cannot, for a long time, have a navy of its own, adequate to the protection of its dependencies.
In the states of New Grenada, Caraccas, Cuba, and Porto Rico, the national organization will be much impeded and retarded by their numerous population of slaves. Any sudden change in the condition of this class might produce evils far greater than those intended to be removed. In fact, the Spanish laws concerning slavery, are so wise, mild, and protecting, that little more seems requisite than vigilance and firmness in executing them. Permit me, however, to suggest an improvement in the system: it is to attach the field slaves to their respective plantations, as vassals of the soil; to prohibit the sale or alienation of them, except together with the estate to which they belong, and to secure to each family, as peculium, the usufruct of a small portion of land. Thus habituated to the enjoyment of property, one of the strongest ties by which men are attached to society and to government, and assured of not being separated from their homes or families, they might gradually acquire those local and domestic attachments which con
tribute so much to form industrious, peaceable, and obedient subjects.
The importation of slaves should be strictly prohibited. You don't now want sugar and coffee; but men, citizens, soldiers.
In the actual state of the slaves in most of the European colonies, it would be highly dangerous to entrust them with arms: they are not only useless, but even worse than nothing for defence; a minus quantity in the estimation of the public strength: part of the forces which should be united against an invader, must be reserved to maintain order among them.
Your enemy will refrain from no means, however nefarious, to accomplish his purposes. Let his machinations be defeated by your beneficence: let every class be placed in a better condition than they could expect from a change of government; and if you can so far meliorate the state of your society as that every hand may be allowed to wield a sword for its support, your empire may bid defiance to the world.
To promote the union of your subjects, you have means of admirable efficacy in the Christian religion:-a religion which commands the rich to be generous, and the poor to be contented; the mighty to be merciful, and the weak to be submissive;-which forms the prosperous to moderation, and the wretched to patience, and diffuses over all ranks a spirit of mutual forbearance, kindness, and compassion.
Christianity is productive of great temporal advantage in every state; but its influence is peculiarly beneficial in a commonwealth composed of privileged and degraded classes. Estimating all human beings as the offspring of the same Creator, it inspires an opinion of their equality in His eyes, which diminishes pride on the one hand, and envy on the other: it introduces, besides, a general similarity of sentiments, opinions and habits of life, highly favourable to social union, and to the formation of a marked and decided national character, without which no nation ever yet was great.
With this religion to restrain at once and protect all classes of your people, they may form, in spite of all their prejudices, a powerful and happy nation: without religion they would soon consist but of two classes, the oppressors and the oppressed--the tormenting and the tormented: their state would present an image of hell upon earth.
In the proposed system of government, the right of political suffrage is confined to those, whose qualifications may afford a pledge that none of the evils of democracy will result from its exercise. The qualification of property being regulated by special laws, the legislature will of course take such precautions as the commonwealth may require.
There are few countries in which popular suffrage, very widely extended, is not productive of mischief. It tends towards the formation of a government wholly democratic. But in a state, cut up and divided like yours into several heterogeneous and discordant classes, universal democracy would be perdition. If, as would probably soon happen, the authority fell into the hands of some fortunate or enterprising class, they would oppress the inferior classes. If all descriptions of the various classes were allowed to send deputies to your councils and your congress, this would be to embody the elements of discord-to array the materials for civil war. The final result of such a system would be, that the most powerful class would exterminate all the others.
These explanatory remarks apply but to a few of the articles of the proposed constitution. To explain them all fully, would require a volume; for each article is founded either upon some circumstance peculiar to your actual situation;—or upon the experience of the effect of a similar provision in some other government. But circumstances press, and seem to admit of no delay. Your excellencies are, therefore, presented with this brief communication.
The plan of government respectfully submitted to you, is not copied from any model. The object has been to form a convenient, practicable constitution, having monarchy for the trunk; and to engraft upon it so much of the tried and approved institutions of other modes of government, as the soil can nourish and the tree support. I shall never forget a remark, made on a subject of this kind, by the late right honourable Edmund Burke, an illustrious member of his Britannic majesty's councils, and a man of profound wisdom, extensive knowledge, and transcendant genius. He was told that M. Lally Tollendal proposed to adopt for
France, the constitution of England. “ That's enough for me,” said Mr. Burke, “ I see the fellow's depth at once.”
The reflections here submitted to your excellencies, are, perhaps, founded on erroneous information; or they may be rather the effusion of zeal than the result of sound judgment: they may serve, however, to suggest some useful ideas: and the subject is of such importance, that if but a single valuable hint concerning it be found in this memorial, all the rest may be excused. In the calamitous event we anticipate, you will have a task at once the most arduous and honourable that ever men were called upon to perform. Your difficulties will be great, but, let it be hoped, not insurmountable. Not to contend is certain ruin; but if you succeed in that course of duty and glory which God and man invite you to pursue, you will win an immortal and unfading prize:--you will be the preservers of a noble nation, the founders of a mighty empire, and eventually, perhaps, the deliverers of the civilized world.
Plan of a Constitution of Government proposed for the Spanish
Colonies, in the event of the fall of Spain.
THE CENTRAL JUNTA, &c. &c. &c. CONSIDERING that the subjugation of Spain leaves his majesty's American dominions without a metropolis or a permanent general government, round which to rally for their defence, and at the same time more than ever exposed to the attacks and machinations of the common enemy; considering also that we owe as sacred duties to our God, our king, and our country
To maintain inviolate our holy religion
To establish for our illustrious and beloved sovereign a new kingdom, which, with the favour of Heaven, may one day enable him to recover that which he hath lost, and re-unite all the states of the crown of Spain
To provide an asylum for all the loyal Spaniards who may escape from the enemy's intolerable yoke
To preserve and perpetuate our name, our language, and our renowned nation, and to transmit untarnished to our posterity that glory which we inherit from our valiant ancestors:
Considering further that the most effectual means of attaining those just and noble objects will be the union of all the remaining