Since the first settlement of the British colonies, the number of inhabitants has about doubled every twenty-two years. I perceive no causes which are likely to check this progressive increase of the Anglo-American population for the next hundred years; and before that space of time has elapsed, I believe that the territories and dependencies of the United States will be covered by more than 100,000,000 of inhabitants, and divided into forty States. *i I admit that these 100,000,000 of men have no ho hostile interests. I suppose, on the contrary, that they are all equally interested in the maintenance of the Union; but I am still of opinion that where there are 100,000,000 of men, and forty distinct nations, unequally strong, the continuance of the Federal Government can only be a fortunate accident.
[Footnote i: If the population continues to double every twenty-two years, as it has done for the last two hundred years, the number of inhabitants in the United States in 1852 will be twenty millions; in 1874, forty-eight millions; and in 1896, ninety-six millions. This may still be the case even if the lands on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains should be found to be unfit for cultivation. The territory which is already occupied can easily contain this number of inhabitants. One hundred millions of men disseminated over the surface of the twenty-four States, and the three dependencies, which constitute the Union, would only give 762 inhabitants to the square league; this would be far below the mean population of France, which is 1,063 to the square league; or of England, which is 1,457; and it would even be below the population of Switzerland, for that country, notwithstanding its lakes and mountains, contains 783 inhabitants to the square league. See "Malte Brun," vol. vi. p. 92.
[The actual result has fallen somewhat short of these calculations, in spite of the vast territorial acquisitions of the United States: but in 1899 the population is probably about eighty- seven millions, including the population of the Philippines, Hawaii, and Porto Rico.]]
Whatever faith I may have in the perfectibility of man, until human nature is altered, and men wholly transformed, I shall refuse to believe in the duration of a government which is called upon to hold together forty different peoples, disseminated over a territory equal to one-half of Europe in extent; to avoid all rivalry, ambition, and struggles between them, and to direct their independent activity to the accomplishment of the same designs.
But the greatest peril to which the Union is exposed by its increase arises from the continual changes which take place in the position of its internal strength. The distance from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico extends from the 47th to the 30th degree of latitude, a distance of more than 1,200 miles as the bird flies. The frontier of the United States winds along the whole of this immense line, sometimes falling within its limits, but more frequently extending far beyond it, into the waste. It has been calculated that the whites advance every year a mean distance of seventeen miles along the whole of his vast boundary. *j Obstacles, such as an unproductive district, a lake or an Indian nation unexpectedly encountered, are sometimes met with. The advancing column then halts for a while; its two extremities fall back upon themselves, and as soon as they are reunited they proceed onwards. This gradual and continuous progress of the European race towards the Rocky Mountains has the solemnity of a providential event; it is like a deluge of men rising unabatedly, and daily driven onwards by the hand of God.
[Footnote j: See Legislative Documents, 20th Congress, No. 117, p. 105.]
Within this first line of conquering settlers towns are built, and vast States founded. In 1790 there were only a few thousand pioneers sprinkled along the valleys of the Mississippi; and at the present day these valleys contain as many inhabitants as were to be found in the whole Union in 1790. Their population amounts to nearly 4,000,000. *k The city of Washington was founded in 1800, in the very centre of the Union; but such are the changes which have taken place, that it now stands at one of the extremities; and the delegates of the most remote Western States are already obliged to perform a journey as long as that from Vienna to Paris. *l
[Footnote k: 3,672,317 - Census of 1830.]