It is one of the commonplaces of our time that the world has become small and closely united, but the practical consequences of this fact, as bearing on our own future, we of the United States have not yet appreciated. We are entering with the rest of the world upon a new era of history, in which the conditions that have prevailed in the past will no longer be the determining conditions, and in which our own best and highest interests can no longer be measured by the standard of Washington’s Farewell Address. The drama of international politics has already passed into a new act, whose stage is the world, and whose actors are no longer nations in the sense of a hundred years ago, but great races or nations with a world-position; an act in which the petty questions of European boundary lines or the balance of power—the chief objects of the entangling alliances against which we were warned—will sink, as they are even now sinking, into the most trivial byplay. It is the dawn of this era which gives to the Napoleonic struggle its real significance in the history of the world as distinguished from the history of Europe. It is the consciousness of this fact, as can easily be ascertained, which is behind the desperate efforts of France and of Germany to secure colonial empires before it is finally too late. It is this fact which gives all its peculiar importance to the rise of Japan to the possible headship of the Mongolian world, and to the struggle with Russia for the control of China which seems inevitable; and this the Japanese most clearly recognize. No doubt the mere independence of the small nation has never been so secure as it will be in the future, but it is equally certain that the uncombined or “unexpanded” nation is doomed to sink to a constantly lower depth of provincial insignificance. The fate which has overtaken the peoples of Wales and of Scotland, of Provence and of Aragon, in competition with stronger peoples, lies now before all the smaller nations of the world, and is not to be avoided.
The final result to which this stage of history will lead can be nothing less than the domination of the world, in ideas and arts and institutions, by some one racial type. The conditions of the classical world at the beginning of the second Punic war seem now to be reproduced, but in this later age for the whole globe, and as an introduction to a final epoch of history in which no reversal will be possible. In the year 220 B. C., to any observer of ancient international politics who saw the Mediterranean Sea surrounded by a series of independent and apparently powerful states, and who did not reckon Rome the greatest of these, the prediction would have seemed extremely rash that before the close of another century the whole civilized world would be under the control of the Romans, and would be rapidly learning their language, institutions, and laws. Indeed, the Roman of that date did not have so fair a start for leadership in his world as the Anglo-Saxon has in ours. But leadership speedily followed the victory of Rome in the struggle with Carthage. Yet the world of that time which was united under one rule was practically larger than the whole earth of our day. The strategic points of the Roman Empire, measured by any true standards of distance, — the transmission of news and the concentration of men and supplies, — were as far from Rome as the strategic points of the world to-day are from London or New York. We can understand that a prediction of the result which was so soon to follow would have seemed rash to the men of 220 B. C., but we ought not to find it difficult to realize the strong probability of a similar result which stands before us, — the domination of the earth by some one race, one civilization, one type of ideas and institutions, not to the exclusion or extinction of the others in a greater degree than in the older case, but to their real and increasing subjugation and to their absorption in the dominant type.
The Anglo-Saxon race, if we may consider it a race, now holds the foremost place in the world. This is true not merely because the area of its domination is the largest, all in the best regions of the globe, and likely soon to be filled with the largest population; it is true also because it stands for the best yet reached in ideas and institutions, the highest type of civilization, the fairest chance for every man yet offered in the world. Is it going to be able to maintain this position? It is by no means dear as yet what answer will be given to this question. Geographically the race is widely scattered, and the problem of defending its integrity against any race of equal power and greater concentration of position, in a conflict waged to the bitter end, would be one of extreme difficulty. But a far more serious danger arises from the lack of unity which prevails in the race, and which would make the use of its full power in such a conflict practically impossible. This shows itself not merely in the absence of any organization which would secure unity at the present time (which is comparatively unimportant), but in the absence of the idea of its urgency and value, and in a disposition to throw upon a single member of the race the whole burden of providing for its defense; and these are more serious matters.
If we examine the present opinion of the Anglo-Saxon world on this subject, we shall find that no large body of men anywhere regards the existing condition as likely to continue long, and that no large body of men anywhere is united on any policy for the future, but that there are three tendencies which may affect the character of the final result.
The first tendency is the movement for imperial federation. This movement is extremely interesting in its beginning and growth. It is more than interesting as a sign of the awakening of mind to the demands of the future. But it has always been very vague as to practical methods, and it has never taken strong hold anywhere in the British Empire. Imperial federation, could it be secured, would be of great advantage to the whole Anglo-Saxon world, but the hope of its adoption is very remote.
The second tendency is the idea—it can hardly be called a movement—of the independence of the separate parts of the British Empire, or its dissolution into several independent states. This is the idea which Mr. Goldwin Smith has so long and so vigorously proclaimed. The Venezuelan excitement has served him as an opportunity for a reiteration of some of his arguments in a very effective form. There was a time, a quarter of a century ago, when it was the almost openly avowed idea of the home government itself, and it is still the ultimate, though perhaps not avowed conviction of many in England, that some such result will be the only possible outcome of the situation. In every colony there are many individuals who hold this belief strongly, and who urge it whenever occasion offers, but there cannot be said to be anywhere a real party in its support. If the character of the era upon which the world is now entering has been at all correctly suggested in the first part of this article, then the realization of this idea would be a great misfortune. It might not be fatal, because alliance and reunion would still be possible, but the chances against any effective union would be vastly increased, as well as the probability that considerations of narrow and temporary selfishness would come into control. Happily, however, this tendency can be regarded as only very slight. It seems altogether certain, on the contrary, that “schism in Greater Britain” has gone as far as it will ever go.
The third tendency which may decide the future of the Anglo-Saxon world is that toward civil war. We need only to look back over the past few months to see how inflammable the material is, and what a little matter might set it ablaze. Had passion in England been as hot and language as extreme as with us, we should be even now on the verge of war, if not actually engaged in it. A renewal of such conditions is at any moment possible. If war should begin between these two nations, it would be a war to the finish, very likely to the finish of both. It would almost certainly result in the ruin of the empire of the world which now belongs to our race, and of the greater future which we may still command.
These three are the only discernible tendencies in the Anglo-Saxon world looking toward the determination of its future, unless we dignify with the name of a tendency, or policy, the deplorable habit of drifting which seems to belong to the race; the doctrine, very comfortable for the present, that England, at least, has so far consistently followed, of “why not let well enough alone,” which prefers to put off to a moment of supreme danger the task of finding a workable basis of union, and to think that the wisest solution of a great political difficulty can be found under the pressure of a compelling necessity. But the practical result of all these tendencies, if we except the apparently hopeless movement in favor of imperial federation, would be to surrender the position which the race has already attained in the world, — a position in which it comes so near, even in its present uncombined condition, to a command of all the races, and to the power of determining in all its important details the future uniform civilization of the globe, — and to sink into the comfortable security of a dominated and declining race.
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It is in view of this situation of things—the absence of any clear policy for the future held strongly enough anywhere to command for it general support and a prospect of success, and the presence of tendencies which threaten the most signal disasters—that the action of the United States becomes of vital importance in its relation to the future of the race. If our position is such that by hasty or passionate action we can destroy the empire of the race, it may also be such that by judicious action, in the right way and at the right time, we may assume for ourselves that position of leadership in organization which England hesitates to take, and thus to make the world-empire of the Anglo-Saxon a certainty. Never was a people more clearly marked out, by geographical position and by its peculiar institutions, for that world-leadership which, in everything except gunpowder and trade, England seems fatally incapable of taking. Gunpowder and trade have been of immense importance in the past in building the empire and in maintaining it, but something more is needed for the future if the race is not to become stationary and finally to decline. The centre of the race in the coming age, if it is to have the future which it ought to have, can be found only in a people capable of solving the institutional problem of a real union for such a wide and diversified empire. That problem the United States has already solved, to all intents and purposes, and we reached the solution in the midst of difficulties greater than any which now confront the Anglo-Saxon federationist.
This question of the relative fitness of the two greatest of the Anglo-Saxon nations for the leadership of the race is one which the events of the future may very likely push to the front for solution, and it is one for which the events of the past appear to have but one answer. In reaching a conclusion in regard to it, one should notice at the outset the real meaning of the term which is so common in the mouths of us all, and which appears to shut the United States out of court, — I mean “the British Empire.” The term is a convenient one. It is more than two hundred years since it was first applied to England’s colonial system. But whatever else may he thought of Mr. E. A. Freeman’s argument on imperial federation, he was undoubtedly right in saying that there is no British Empire, in any true sense of the word. The term can he used only in the sense of a geographical expansion. There never has been any imperial government. Such government as there is has been obtained by the adaptation of a local government, heavily burdened with domestic concerns, to the settlement of such colonial questions as could not he longer delayed. The result has been a kind of bureaucratic government, confessedly cumbersome and unsatisfactory, — in the words of one of its sharpest critics, thoroughly un-English; a system, indeed, which has given the English at home no experience or training, as a people, in dealing with really imperial difficulties. It has given them abundant opportunity to criticise and hamper, but no opportunity to hear responsibility. Yet, while the English are disposed to admit the clumsy character of the machinery which grew up from small colonial beginnings, it is a very suggestive fact that they have made scarcely any attempt to improve that machinery. They have certainly never attempted to establish an imperial government, nor ever seriously discussed the question, unless we take account of the few who have been recently interested in imperial federation.
But more important still is the fact that England has never had an imperial policy. She never has had a definite plan, — never has had before her any clear purpose to be attained. The interest of the moment, and that chiefly the commercial interest, has always been the deciding consideration. Her colonial expansion has been far more the result of accident than of any intention. She has merely drifted into empire.
This argument must not be understood to mean more than it does mean. I am not criticising the past policy of England in these matters. That has been, probably, the best on the whole which could have been pursued, and England has been so successful in establishing a great series of prosperous colonies because she has followed so consistently the policy of laissez faire. What is meant here is that the time for this policy is past. The next step in advance is that of constructive union.
But in this direction the apparently unavoidable inferences from England’s past colonial management are of the most discouraging character. In every stage of its history her colonial government has exhibited an incapacity for understanding the colonial mind and feeling which seems to be invincible. It is not possible to produce here the full proofs of this assertion, but it is not necessary. They are written at large in the records of every question of importance which has arisen between England and her colonies for more than two hundred years. Has there ever been a difficulty of this sort in which England has really understood her colonies, or seemed to care whether she did or not, until compelled by brute force, or something like it? Nor has the variety of cases been small, from the comic seriousness of the Connecticut charter oak down to the serious comedy of Victoria’s threat to transport her convicts to England. Take the most important possible case. Much has been said of the lesson which England learned from the American Revolution. But when the next case of the sort arose, how much did she seem to have learned? The position of the ministry of the day in the Canadian rebellion of 1837 was closely parallel, as Lord Brougham long ago pointed out, to that taken by Lord North’s ministry in the American Revolution. It had been said in print before that date, in effect, that England had learned the lesson, but the “practical statesman” evidently needed another taste of the colonial spirit before the lesson went home. And when the lesson was learned, observe the striking result: the practical statesman was carried so far in the opposite direction, toward belief in an inevitable colonial independence, that he arrived at an equally profound misunderstanding of the feeling in the colonies, as witness the policy of cutting the colonies adrift practically adopted by Mr. Gladstone’s ministry in 1869. Indeed, the evidence of England’s past is so clear as to her inability to appreciate the feelings of others, and as to her incapacity to learn, that it is almost hopeless to expect her to adapt herself to the demands of the next stage of Anglo-Saxon growth. This defect, however, really reaches much further than merely to make a change of policy hopeless. It is in itself a positive disqualification, for no characteristic will be mere surely demanded of a leader of the nations than the ability to enter into the feelings of others.
England is in another way equally disqualified for the position of leader by her surprising failure to comprehend federal government. This is the only form of government under which so wide a union can be formed. No American who has followed the recent discussions on Home Rule for Ireland, though he may fully recognize the real and peculiar difficulties of the problem, can fail to perceive that the English have created for themselves other and imaginary difficulties because they do not know what federal government is. Could the people of England, by some miracle, have a real experience of federal government, it would be no longer possible for them to entertain the fears they now so often express, that the granting of Home Rule to Ireland would mean the dissolution of the empire, or that it would be impossible to prevent the local from encroaching upon the general government, — fears which Americans can hardly characterize by any other word than “absurd.” If any one finds this not sufficient proof, let him turn to the discussions which have been aroused by the idea of imperial federation. He will find in them added proof of a failure to understand the federal method of government; and that, too, it may be added, not merely among the opponents of the scheme. As a single example the following from the historian of federal government may suffice. Mr. Freeman says, in his essay on imperial federation, speaking of the position which England would occupy in such a federation: “It will be quite another thing to ask a great power, a ruling power, a mighty and ancient kingdom, which has for ages held its place among the foremost nations of the earth, to give up its dominion, to give up its independence, to sink of its own will to the level of the State of New York and the Canton of Bern.” This point has been repeated by others, and is apparently one of the most serious obstacles in the way of creating a public opinion in England in favor of some practical move towards federation. It is, of course, not necessary to say to Americans that such a deplorable result would not be brought about even by adopting the Constitution of the United States without change, nor to suggest to them that the position of Prussia in the German federation has had no effect on the English mind. This difficulty in the way of English leadership may be set down as fatal, for no state can lead in the formation of such a union which does not understand the only system of union possible in the case.
Turning now from the mere suggestion of the contrasts which the United States may present to English defects, and looking at the positive advantages which we may justly claim as our own, we are naturally led to notice first our geographical position. The advantage of this position can be seen at a glance. With a long coast-line upon each of the two great oceans of the world, the one looking directly to Europe and the other to Asia and Australasia, and with a number of lines of rapid communication between the two coasts, placed at such a distance from one another that it would be practically impossible for any contingency to interfere with them all at once, we occupy a strategic position with reference to the rest of the world which is, on the whole, superior even to that of South Africa, and which is not in the least approached by any other nation, Anglo-Saxon or foreign. The only serious weakness in the case is that created by the situation of Canada, bordering upon a long and exposed frontier; but if some actual plan of union under the lead of the United States were under consideration, this would not be an element of weakness in our case, but of strength. It is hardly too much to say that the admission of Canada into the American union would settle for all time the question of the centre of the English-speaking world.
In the second place, the matter that is fundamental to this whole discussion is the method of union; not merely the method as sketched in a paper constitution, which is indeed of great importance, but the still more essential point of the success with which any given paper constitution can be placed and kept in operation. The paper constitution may show the ability of a people to deal intellectually with a difficult problem of government. The ability to make the constitution work in practice is the only thing which actually solves the problem. In this matter of method, it is impossible to deny that in both directions, theoretical and practical, the United States has made decisive contributions to the solution of the two greatest difficulties in the way of the formation of an Anglo-Saxon union. They are its method of federal government and its method of territorial government. These are decisive contributions, because any workable union of the Anglo-Saxon world must, in these two directions, proceed upon the lines laid down by the United States.
I do not propose to raise the question whether our history presents an independent invention of federal government. Whether it does or not, the great service of the United States to the practical politics of the world was to show beyond doubt that federal government furnishes an easy and simple method by which a vast territory—the largest ever occupied in history by a homogeneous and civilized people, containing within itself the widest variations of condition, interest, and feeling—can be united in a real national government, effective within its own borders and powerful in foreign relations, while leaving all local differences free to express themselves. This is the unsolved problem of Anglo-Saxon union, but as an accomplished fact of our own history it needs no proof. Had an especial effort been made to test this quality of federal government experimentally for all time, no better test could have been found than the slavery question; and the attitude of the country toward that question, and particularly the attitude of the Republican party from 1856 to 1864, is equivalent to a demonstration. The position of the Republican party in the matter, as expressed in the platform of 1860 or in Lincoln’s first Inaugural, was the concentrated common sense of the nation awakened by the experience of the preceding generation; and it affords a conclusive proof of the elasticity of the federal system, as the civil war which followed, growing out of a violation, or perhaps we ought to say out of a misunderstanding, of the federal system, is the best conceivable proof of its strength.
We have demonstrated the ability of the federal system to unify an empire nearly twice the size of the Roman Empire at its widest extent; and this demonstration leaves no room to doubt that the federal system will permit the formation of a strong and efficient national government for the whole Anglo-Saxon world, even as at present constituted, preserving all local freedom of development or of idiosyncrasy which any individual member of the union might reasonably desire. Even the actual Constitution of the United States would accomplish this, though it could probably be improved for such a purpose. It is interesting to note the fact that representatives from all the English-speaking world now fitted for admission into our Union in the capacity of states, the British Islands included, could be introduced into our House of Representatives, upon the same ratio of representation to population that is the rule of the present Congress, without increasing that body to the size of the House of Commons. I cannot avoid remarking, in passing, that Melbourne is not farther from Washington now than San Francisco was when California became a State; it is indeed very much nearer in many respects. So far from being a barrier, the sea is a bond of union more useful than continuous territory. Nor would Australia represent conditions differing more widely from the rest of the Union than California did.
One of the local differences which any system of union must take into account—the varying tariff policies of the separate parts of the English-speaking world—has often been referred to as an insuperable obstacle to a common organization. But if this disagreement should, unfortunately, be found irreconcilable, the federal system would allow the most diverse regulations to exist side by side under a common general government, with no more friction than in the present system, and probably with less. This the federal government of Germany has clearly proved; but the principle could be applied to the sharply divided members of an Anglo-Saxon federation with greater ease than to immediate neighbors in the German Empire. If, on the other hand, an Anglo-Saxon union should carry with it internal free trade, it would not be long before this would be considered one of the greatest blessings of such a union, as the internal free trade secured by the Constitution of the United States is now universally regarded.
The problem of forming a workable union for the nations of our race now fitted for union is not, however, the only problem of difficulty which confronts the federationist. One of the questions often asked by the objector, as if it were incapable of answer, is, What are you going to do with the colonies and dependencies which are not yet fitted for admission into a union of states? It is at this point that the United States has made its second important contribution to the political machinery of the world. This was made at the same time with the framing of the Constitution, in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, our fundamental charter of territorial government. This method of government has proved in practice most simple and yet most successful. It has enabled us to make territorial annexations of the widest extent, empires in themselves and inhabited by foreign races, and to govern them effectively, without sacrificing in the least the rights of the individual, but with an ease and a lack of friction which are without example, except possibly in the surface appearance of a strict military despotism. Take as an instance the Mormon colony in Utah, which would not present an easy case to any form of government, and compare the relations of the general government with that community with the English management of the Dutch troubles in South Africa. It seems certain, in this latter case, that under our territorial system no necessity
for the Dutch emigration, which established their present independent republics, would ever have arisen. Even the events which might be considered the most serious impeachment of this proposition, the territorial troubles which followed the Mexican war, are rather examples to the point; for the chief difficulties of that time were occasioned by an attempt, for whatever reasons, to depart from the principles laid down in the Northwest Ordinance.
The conclusion seems inevitable, that, both by points of contrast to England and by positive excellencies, the United States is better fitted for leadership in the formation of an Anglo-Saxon union than England.
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But however true it may be that the United States is better fitted than England for leadership in this work of organization, it must be admitted that at least three most serious obstacles stand in the way of any practical realization of such a leadership.
The first of these is the lack of opportunity. The United States has at present no standing-ground from which to exercise such a leadership, and, under ordinary circumstances, can do nothing directly to secure it. The cordial invitation of any one of the great quarters of the Anglo-Saxon world would secure it to us, or, still more, the admission of any one of them into the Union. But these are hardly to be expected in the present condition of things, although there have been indications enough, during the past twenty-five years, that in times of trial there would be a strong current of feeling in the colonies in favor of turning to the United States for assistance, which might be withheld by England. In the mean time, something can be done by way of preparation, in the creation of public opinion, in an increased participation in international affairs wherever a natural occasion offers, and in the improvement of our navy and of our mercantile marine. These last, indeed, not merely look to the future, but are most obvious present duties. But there is little else we can do except to wait secure in the conviction that if England continues her traditional policy of thoughtless drifting, our opportunity must come, and with it the duty of action.
The second obstacle is the fact that England would not be willing to join a union of which the United States was the acknowledged centre. In the present stage of the discussion, this unwillingness must be regarded as a serious obstacle, chiefly because it will render it difficult for the colonies to accept the leadership of the United States; but when the time for action has at last come, it will probably be found no longer serious. It is by no means necessary, either for her own advantage or for results of the best sort from such a union, that England should enter it. If matters had progressed so far that a union was actually formed, England could hardly fail to be in close alliance with it, and in that case her position would be stronger than it is now and her burdens lighter, while the two indispensable requisites of the future would be met, the smaller Anglo-Saxon nations would undertake their full share of burdens and responsibilities, and the United States would be brought permanently into the Anglo-Saxon system. Expressed in another form, these two results would mean that the Anglo-Saxon race, even with England in form outside the union, would henceforth present a united front to the world, with all its beneficent consequences. One beneficent consequence, for example, might follow, which has been often suggested in the discussion of this subject, — that such a united power might be able to prevent any further warfare among civilized nations.
The third obstacle is the prevalent feeling concerning the traditional policy of the United States against “entangling alliances.” While this must be admitted to stand in the way at present, it will certainly be only a temporary obstacle. It is indeed already high time for us to get rid of this now completely obsolete notion. It was the wisest possible policy for the conditions of 1797, but those conditions have entirely disappeared and can never return. Then the politics of continental Europe controlled the world. Now they have sunk almost to the rank of provincial questions, and the issues of wider world politics are beginning to control everything, continental Europe included. In a short time the United States will be forced to become an active participant in these affairs, whether it may wish to do so or not. It has already begun to step outside the traditional limits, and it must do so more and more. It is the part of folly not to recognize the changed conditions and be prepared for the necessary consequences.
I am not arguing for the adoption by the United States of what I understand to be a “jingo” policy. In the first place, as said above, our present position must be one of waiting. A bumptious or overbearing policy abroad would be the best method which could be chosen of destroying our fair prospect. But more important still, one of the most essential conditions of any future leadership among the nations of the world will be that the leading state shall be righteous, shall serve justice and obey the regulations of international law. An overriding of the rights of others, a selfish seeking of immediate advantage, a disregard of the principles, or even of the forms, prescribed in the laws of nations, might all be useful in the establishment of a tyranny. But the leadership of the future cannot be based upon force; it must be the result of reasonable conviction. The United States has far more to gain by occasionally sacrificing some of its rights for the benefit of others, and by convincing weaker nations that they may be sure of justice and of honest treatment, that they may expect even more than really belongs to them rather than less, than it has to gain by any policy of aggression.
But, still further, if we are ever to be called to such a position of leadership as this, we must first be able to meet one indispensable condition. We must learn to realize, as we do not yet, the true identity of interest between ourselves and the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world. England stands for everything for which we stand or of which we boast. We all know that every English colony is a democratic republic. The political institutions in which we most firmly believe, and which we hope in some vague way—by the force of our example, perhaps—to make the possession of all men, she is actually planting and maintaining throughout large regions of every continent. Our easiest way to make these institutions prevail in the world is by alliance with her. Our surest way to hinder their spread is to join the alliance of her enemies.
But this is not all. This identity of interest may well be argued on a lower ground. The warnings which we have heard now and then in the past few years, from very competent observers, of a coming struggle for commercial and industrial supremacy with races whose rivalry we have never yet felt may prove well founded. The Oriental, whose keenness of mind and talent for business, whose faculty of patience and frugal standard of living, make him a most formidable competitor, and who has already begun to exploit the world in his own interest, may soon gain all that the West has to teach him; and in learning the lessons of our civilization he may learn the greatness of his own advantage. For in a struggle of this kind, if it should come, the odds would not be so clearly on our side as we should like to believe. In numbers and in economy the odds would be against us, and the most that we could claim in mental gifts would be an even balance.1 Such a struggle would not be one for supremacy only, but for existence itself. If there should prove to be a situation like this before us, isolation would mean defeat. The close alliance of the Anglo-Saxon world—a world, indeed, furnishing every diversity of commercial condition—would alone provide the requisites of safety in a common policy of defense.
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The possibility of this leadership for us may be remote. The opportunity may never come. Very likely England may arouse herself, as it is to be hoped that she will, to a realization of the necessity of union and to a solution of the difficulties which it presents. If this should be so, there can be no question, if we are willing to look toward the future, and not the past, that we ought to stand in close alliance with such a union. We ought, even in the immediate present, to be able to see that our own best interests imperatively demand that we should maintain the Anglo-Saxon race in the occupation of every foot of land which it now justly holds anywhere on the globe, and that, wherever we can do so righteously, we should endeavor to increase its influence and its possessions. It is the worst conceivable policy, at the opening of this stage of history, to stop to inquire whether it is England or the United States which seems to be immediately interested. This is a question of no importance if we look at it aright. If, for example, we should stand by indifferently, and allow, if it were possible, the Anglo-Saxon possessions in Africa to be broken up, where almost as great a future is opening before our race as opened before it in North America at the close of the struggle with the French, and where can be found that room for the expansion of the race which will be a vital necessity of the not distant future, it would not be many years before we should bitterly regret the mistaken policy.
Many have been tempted to say, in view of the vain rumors of wars of the past few months which have affected four continents, that we have seen the last great war. It might indeed he so if all nations were on the same level of civilization. But with the great races of the world, those which will inevitably be the leading actors in the coming drama, still in such different stages of advancement, who will dare predict that we have yet entered upon a millennium of perpetual peace? The odds are altogether in favor of at least one more great struggle of physical force, compared with which, very likely, the greatest struggles of the past will seem but child’s play, before we enter upon the era of the peaceful competition of ideas and institutions and racial types which will introduce the real millennium when it comes. If such a conflict of force should come, there is only one place for us. We must be on the side of our own ideas and institutions and race, and we cannot afford in the mean time to be training ourselves to consider our natural allies our natural enemies, or to weaken the sum of our resources by any civil strife that can be honorably avoided.
The purpose of this article is not so much to go into details as to suggest a text for thinking. The propositions that I have advanced may be trusted to prove themselves surely enough, if they are once carefully thought upon. The thing that is now most of all demanded is to give some heed to considerations of this kind; it is, if I may say so, to face the future in our foreign relations, and to come to a consciousness of the fact that we should be no longer bound by obsolete conditions and waning interests.
- For an elaboration of these points see the very suggestive article by Mr. Lafcadio Hearn in the Atlantic Monthly for April of the present year. ↩