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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Fruits of the Contest

By Ezra Stiles (1727–1795)

[Born in North Haven, Conn., 1727. Died at New Haven, Conn., 1795. Sermon: The United States Elevated to Glory and Honour. 1783.]

THIS war has decided, not by the jus maritimum of Rhodes, Oleron, or Britain, but on the principles of commercial utility and public right, that the navigation of the Atlantic Ocean shall be free: and so probably will be that of all the oceans of the terraqueous globe. All the European powers will henceforth, from national and commercial interests, naturally become an united and combined guaranty for the free navigation of the Atlantic and free commerce with America. Interest will establish a free access for all nations to our shores, and for us to all nations. The armed neutrality will disarm even war itself of hostilities against trade; will form a new chapter in the laws of nations, and preserve a free commerce among powers at war. Fighting armies will decide the fate of empires by the sword without interrupting the civil, social, and commercial intercourse of subjects. The want of anything to take will prove a natural abolition of privateering when the property shall be covered with neutral protection. Even the navies will, within a century, become useless. A generous and truly liberal system of national connection, in the spirit of the plan conceived and nearly executed by the great Henry IV., of France, will almost annihilate war itself.

We shall have a communication with all nations in commerce, manners, and science, beyond anything heretofore known in the world. Manufacturers and artisans, and men of every description may, perhaps, come and settle among us. They will be few indeed in comparison with the annual thousands of our natural increase, and will be incorporated with the prevailing hereditary complexion of the first settlers. We shall not be assimilated to them, but they to us; especially in the second and third generations. This fermentation and communion of nations will doubtless produce something very new, singular, and glorious. Upon the conquest of Alexander the Great, statuary, painting, architecture, philosophy, and the other fine arts were transplanted in perfection from Athens to Tarsus, from Greece to Syria, where they immediately flourished in even greater perfection than in the parent state. Not in Greece herself are there to be found specimens of a sublime ror more magnificent architecture, even in the Grecian style, than in the ruins of Baalbec and Palmyra. So all the arts may be transplanted from Europe and Asia, and flourish in America with an augmented lustre; not to mention the augment of the sciences from American inventions and discoveries, of which there have been as capital ones here, the last half century, as in all Europe.

The rough, sonorous diction of the English language may here take its Athenian polish, and receive its Attic urbanity; as it will probably become the vernacular tongue of more numerous millions than ever yet spake one language on earth. It may continue for ages to be the prevailing and general language of North America. The intercommunion of the United States with all the world in travels, trade, and politics, and the infusion of letters into our infancy, will probably preserve us from the provincial dialects risen into inexterminable habit before the invention of printing. The Greek never became the language of the Alexandrine, nor the Turkish of the Ottoman conquests, nor yet the Latin that of the Roman empire. The Saracenic conquests have already lost the pure and elegant Arabic of the Koreish tribe, or the family of Ishmael, in the corrupted dialects of Egypt, Syria, Persia, and Hindostan. Different from these, the English language will grow up with the present American population into great purity and elegance, unmutilated by the foreign dialects of foreign conquests.