THE PRESENT CRISIS WILL REGENERATE THE INSTITUTIONS
OF THE UNITED STATES.
It remains for me to inquire what influence the present crisis may exert on the institutions of the United States. It is at the expense of these institutions that the slave States, inferior in strength, in numbers, in progress of every kind, would reestablish their fatal and growing preponderance. Here again, therefore, my thesis subsists: the victories of the South had compromised every thing, the resistance of the North is about to save every thing; the election of Mr. Lincoln is a painful but salutary crisis, it is the first effort of a great people rising.
The party of slavery had introduced into the heart of American democracy, a permanent cause of debasement and corruption. In this respect, also, it was leading the Confederation to its death by the most direct and speedy way. I wish to show how it developed the worst sides of the democratic system. I hope to be impartial towards this system; although persuaded that the government of which England offers us the model is better suited to guaranty public liberties and to second true progress in every thing, I am not of those who place the shadow before the substance, and who condemn democracy without appeal. Are we destined some day to pass into its hands? Have we already begun to glide down the descent that leads to it? It is possible. In any case, it would be unjust to hate America on account of it, as is too often done. America has had no choice; in virtue of its origin and its history, it could be nothing else than a democracy. If it has the faults of democracy, the unamiable rudeness, the violent proceedings, the levelling passions, I am scarcely surprised at it. I ask myself rather if it has known how to find a basis of support against the temptations of such a system, if it has prevented the subjugation of individuals by the mass, the absorption of consciences by the State, the substitution of the sovereignty of the end for that of the people. These are the shoals of democracy; have they been shunned by the United States? Have they been able to avoid transforming it either into tyranny or socialism? We shall see that, if it has not succumbed to the temptation, this has not been the fault of the party of slavery. Thanks to it, the corruption of democratic institutions was rapidly advancing; a single adversary, constantly the same, has combated the progress of this work of destruction. We shall encounter again, upon the ground of political institutions, the fundamental antagonism of the Gospel and slavery.