The Washington Union, in noticing the merits of the Courrier des Etats Unis and the Franco Americain observes: “The Courrier may be considered the organ of M. Guizot’s policy, while the Franco-Americain represents the Republicans of France. M. Rene Masson, editor of the latter, is a Republican to his fingers’ ends; he combats, with all his force, the doctrines and tendencies of M. Guizot.—It cannot even be said that he represents M. Thiers, but is a pure Republican.”
M. Rene-Masson makes this comment on the notice:
“We have said, and must repeat, we are partisans only of America and the political institutions of America; we wish, so far as it may depend on us, to cement an intimacy between France and the United States, because it is manifestly for the interest of both nations, and, indeed, all things conspire to make such an intimacy easy and durable. But in reference to the account which has been given of our political opinions we would say,
We are not Republicans, or rather we are more than Republican, we are Democrat. If the writer reads our prospects he will find that we have abstained from assuming the title with which he has decorated us. It is easy to see whence his error proceeds: in the United States, as elsewhere, many words have lost their true and primitive meaning, in assuming another that is conventional. Thus the term Democrat, in America, is but a subdivision of Republican, while, according to us, the Republic is only a mode of applying Democracy. Some brief explanations may develope our idea.
If we revert to the origin of the word Democracy, we find it from two Greek words, demos, the people, crates, power. It means power of the people but wisely and reasonably established, so as to respect the rights and secure the happiness of the greatest number. The two principles on which Democracy rests are the sovereignty of the people and equality before the law. These principles are those to whose healthy application we wish to devote ourselves. Are we then Republicans? No; because it may happen, and there are frequent examples of its having happened, that a Republic may not be Democratic. The Republic of Rome had its Patricians and Plebeians.
The Republican government of Venice was a powerful and jealous Aristocracy. The names of its nobles, who alone were empowered to administer its affairs, were inscribed in a register called The Golden Book.
In our own time, does not the Helvetic Republic comprehend three aristocratic cantons, Berne, Lucerne, Fribourg? It is true that Democracy gains ground there daily, but much remains to do.
What is the Argentine Republic, under Rosas? What are the other Republics of Central or South America? Nothing but focuses of military despotism.
Republican is not then a synonym of Democrat; one of these words represents the form, the other the principle. Here, in America, indeed, we are Republican, because we find the two in harmony; but we would be as good Monarchists under a Monarchical government that should give us the same guarantees of Democracy as the United States.
In a word, we attach ourselves rather to ideas than expressions. There may be hundreds of forms of government, but they include only three fundamental ideas: Democracy, Aristocracy and Despotism. We have said what Democracy is; Aristocracy is the power of a privileged class, Despotism is that of one alone. But the title of Democrat is the one we choose in preference to Republican.*
“Le Franco-Americain,” New-York Daily Tribune, 23 May 1846, p. 2.