We have all along entertained serious fears for the safety of our new but extensive country—have looked upon the chances of a war with Great Britain with great alarm and exceeding much trembling, and upon the consequences of such war as nothing more nor less than a continued train of destruction and devastation ending in total and irretrievable ruin. Our minds, by day, have been filled with dire speculations of downfall—by night we could hardly close our eyes without visions of immense fleets of steam ships and sail ships, cruising—in our troubled imaginations—off our ports, creeks, harbors and havens. The release of McLeod afforded us a temporary relief, to be sure, and the settlement of the Boundary Question gave us a short respite : but soon Oregon rose into a point at issue, and again we were made perfectly miserable with the thought of our country’s annihilation. We knew that we had achieved our independence [1] in the revolution, and had gained laurels imperishable at the same time ; we felt aware that in our last war with the mistress of the ocean we not only held our own, but, in common back-woods parlance, “ broke winner in the long run ;” but then the vaunting stories of the increase of the British navy staggered our faith in the probability that we could play the same game a second time, and we were led to hope that every thing might be sacrificed, Oregon, and all, rather than that we should be involved in another war which must only end in carnage and obliteration.

Such were our gloomy thoughts—such our dreadful forebodings—until the dark cloud of defeat was dispelled and the bright sky of victory was spread out before us. We can see our way clear now—the country is safe. Paixhan guns, in foreign hands, are even like unto pop guns in children’s hands—bomb shells are as harmless as egg shells—batteries not half as dangerous as buckwheat cakes. We have heard a Western war speech, and we are reconciled—England had better sell out her navy at once. Read, all ye of little faith, and take comfort ye who have waxed fearful that the day of our national annihilation was at hand—read and rejoice. Hear what a “ howling tiger” from the “ great west” has to say upon the subject of Oregon and a war with Great Britain :

“ Whar, I say whar is the individual who would give up the first foot, the first outside shadow of a foot, of the great Oregon ? There aint no such individual. Talk about treaty occupations to a country over which the great American eagle has flown ! I scorn treaty occupation—d—n treaty occupation. Who wants a parcel of low flung, “ outside barbarians” to go in cahoot with us, and share alike a piece of land that always was and always will be ours ? Nobody. Some people talk as though they were affeerd of England. Who’s affeerd ? Hav’nt we licked her twice, and can’t we lick her agin ? Lick her ? yes ; just as easy as a bar can slip down a fresh-peeled saplin. Some skeery folks talk about the navy of England ; but who cares for the navy ? Others say that she is the mistress of the ocean. Supposin she is—aint we the masters of it ? Can’t we cut a canal from the Mississippi to the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, turn all the water into it, and dry up the d—d ocean in three weeks ! Whar, then, would be the navy ? It would be no whar ! There never would have been any Atlantic ocean if it had’nt been for the Mississippi, nor never will be after we’ve turned the waters of that big drink into the Mammoth Cave ! When that’s done, you’ll see all their steam ships and their sail ships they spluge so much about lying high and dry, flounderin’ like so many turkles left ashore at low tide. That’s the way we’ll fix ‘em. Who’s affeerd !”

There, we think the country is safe now—perfectly safe. Messrs. Trollope, Hall, Dickens, Marryat & Co. will please give the above three insertions in their next, and charge to the board of water works.

The above is from the “ Picayune.” Here is another specimen of Western Eloquence from another source :––[2]


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 14.7 (13 April 1844): 81. (University of Virginia Alderman Library).

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text inverts second “e” in independence.

[2] This second selection, “Stump Speaking in Arkansas,” has also been transcribed.

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