Nationality -- By: Alpheus S. Packard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:49 (Jan 1856)
Article: Nationality
Author: Alpheus S. Packard


Alpheus S. Packard

We propose to offer some remarks on the subject of Nationality. The attention of the civilized world has, within a short period, been directed to inquiries suggested by this topic. The subject has claims on the ear of every citizen of the Republic.

We cannot but notice, in regard to this spirit of nationality, that it is an all-pervading and most sensitive element of national character. It pervades the body politic like the life-blood in the human *body, and is quick to feel, like the tissue of nerves, which is spread over the whole human frame. How was this illustrated, a few years since, when the spirit of both American and English nationality was kindled into a flame in consequence of the burning of the Caroline, in our western waters, by a party of Canadians, and the death of two or three individuals in the affair, and the arrest, subsequently, of a worthless British subject, and his trial before our courts for his participation in that matter! Thus a transaction, really paltry in itself, but touching as it did the nerve of the two nations already in an irritable state, came near involving them in the most formidable of national calamities. A more striking illustration of this point has, more recently, attracted the notice of the civilized world: an individual who, but for his part in the affair, would probably never have been heard of, a Hungarian by birth, was forcibly seized, in the harbor of Smyrna, taken on board an Austrian vessel of war, with the design, on the part of his captors, of conveying him to Austria as a State criminal. Two or three years before, he had taken refuge in this country, had declared his intention to become a citizen, and had taken the preliminary measures for naturalization. It was but an inchoate citizenship, not a full and perfect title, which he could maintain;

and yet enough to insure him the protection of this Government. The Government, in the person of its only representative on that distant shore, reached forth its arms for his rescue, and, in justification of that novel and bold act, there was aroused, from one end of the land to the other, a fervid, exulting national spirit, which the proudest absolutism of Europe was compelled to respect. It was the boast of Cicero, that “the body of every Roman citizen was inviolable” (Pro Rabirio, § 4). It was guarded by a most sensitive and jealous spirit of nationality, which pervaded the whole Roman empire. In two instances, the apostle Paul alarmed the magistrates who had scourged him in Judea, more by an appeal to his rights as a Roman citizen, which they had outraged, than if he had summoned a legion of armed men to his rescue. The spirit of Roman nationality had been wronged, and they t...

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