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"When the future historian shall address himself to the task of portraying the rise, progress, and decline of the American Union, the year 1850 will arrest his attention, as denoting and presenting the first marshalling and arraying of those hostile forces and opposing elements which resulted in dissolution ; and the world will have another illustration of the great truth, that forms and modes of government, however correct in theory, are only valuable as they conduce to the great ends of all government—the peace, quiet, and conscious security of the governed."
Thirty Years' View (of 1820 to 1850) is a very readable history of the rise and fall (yes, fall) of the United States for which Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence.
Senator Benton in his own words:--
"The View which I proposed to take of the Thirty Years’ working of the federal government during the time that I was a part of it—a task undertaken for a useful purpose, and faithfully executed, whether the object of the undertaking has been attained or not. The preservation of what good and wise men gave us, has been the object ; and for that purpose it has been a duty of necessity to show the evil, as well as the good, that I have seen, both of men and measures. The good, I have exultingly exhibited ! happy to show it, for the admiration and imitation of posterity : the evil, I have stintedly exposed, only for correction, and for the warning example.
"I have seen the capacity of the people for self-government tried at many points, and always found equal to the demands of the occasion. Two other trials, now going on, remain to be decided to settle the question of that capacity.
1. The election of President ! and whether that election is to be governed by the virtue and intelligence of the people, or to become the spoil of intrigue and corruption ?
2. The sentiment of political nationality ! and whether it is to remain co-extensive with the Union, leading to harmony and fraternity ; or, divide into sectionalism, ending in hate, alienation, separation and civil war ?
"An irresponsible body (chiefly self-constituted, and mainly dominated by professional office-seekers and office-holders) have usurped the election of President (for the nomination is the election, so far as the party is concerned) ; and always making it with a view to their own profit in the monopoly of office and plunder.
"A sectional question now divides the Union ; arraying one-half against the other, becoming more exasperated daily—which already destroyed the benefits of the Union, and which, unless checked, will also destroy its form.
"Confederate republics are short-lived—the shortest in the whole family of governments. Two diseases beset them—corrupt election of the chief magistrate, when elective ; sectional contention, when interest or ambition are at issue. Our confederacy is now laboring under both diseases : and the body of the people, now as always, remain unconscious of the danger—and even become instruments in the hands of their destroyers.
"If what is written in these chapters shall contribute to open their eyes to these dangers, and rouse them to the resumption of their electoral privileges and the suppression of sectional contention, then this View will not have been written in vain. If not, the writer will still have one consolation—the knowledge of the fact that he has labored in his day and generation, to preserve and perpetuate the blessings of that Union and self-government which wise and good men gave us."
Please read chapters of the book here:--