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Title: "Imperialism" and "The Tracks of Our Forefathers"
Author: Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915
Language: English
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"The Tracks of Our Forefathers"



_Before the Lexington, Massachusetts, Historical Society_


"In a word, many wise men thought it a time wherein those two miserable
adjuncts, which Nerva was deified for uniting, _imperium et libertas_, were
as well reconciled as is possible."--_Clarendon's History of the Rebellion,
B. 1. § 163._

"I put my foot in the tracks of our forefathers, where I can neither wander
nor stumble."--_Burke's Speech on Conciliation with America._





What the feast of the Passover was to the children of Israel, that the
days between the nineteenth of December and the fourth of January--the
Yuletide--are and will remain to the people of New England. The Passover
began "in the first month on the fourteenth day of the month at even,"
and it lasted one week, "until the one and twentieth day of the month at
even." It was the period of the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, and the
feast of unleavened bread; and of it as a commemoration it is written,
"When your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who
passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote
the Egyptians. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt
in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years." And thus, by their yearly
Passover, were the Jewish congregations of old put in mind what farewell
they took of the land of Egypt.

So our own earliest records tell us that it was on the morning of
Saturday, of what is now the nineteenth of December, that the little
exploring party from the _Mayflower_, then lying at her anchor in
Provincetown Harbor, after a day and night of much trouble and danger,
sorely buffeted by wind and wave in rough New England's December seas,
found themselves on an island in Plymouth Bay. It was a mild, "faire
sunshining day. And this being the last day of the weeke, they prepared
ther to keepe the Sabath. On Munday they sounded the harbor, and marched
into the land, and found a place fitt for situation. So they returned to
their shipp againe [at Provincetown] with this news. On the twenty-fifth
of December they weyed anchor to goe to the place they had discovered,
and came within two leagues of it, but were faine to bear up againe; but
the twenty-sixth day, the winde came faire, and they arrived safe in
this harbor. And after wards tooke better view of the place, and
resolved wher to pitch their dwelling; and the fourth day [of January]
begane to erecte the first house for commone use to receive them and
their goods." Such, in the quaint language of Bradford, is the calendar
of New England's Passover; and, beginning on the nineteenth of December,
it ends on the fourth of January, covering as nearly as may be the
Christmas holyday period.

Is there any better use to which the Passover anniversary can be put
than to retrospection? "And when your children shall say unto you, What
mean you by this service? ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the
Lord's passover, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses."
So the old story is told again, being thus kept ever green in memory;
and, in telling it, the experiences of the past are brought insensibly
to bear on the conditions of the present. Thus, once a year, like the
Israelites of old, we, as a people, may take our bearings and verify our
course, as we plunge on out of the infinite past into the unknowable
future. It is a useful practice; and we are here this first evening of
our Passover period to observe it.

This, too, is an Historical Society,--that of Lexington, "a name," as,
when arraigned before the tribunal of the French Terror, Danton said of
his own, "tolerably known in the Revolution;" and I am invited to
address you because I am President of the Massachusetts Historical
Society, the most venerable organization of the sort in America, perhaps
in the world. Thus, to-night, though we shall necessarily have to touch
on topics of the day, and topics exciting the liveliest interest and
most active discussion, we will in so doing look at them,--not as
politicians or as partisans, nor from the commercial or religious side,
but solely from the historical point of view. We shall judge of the
present in its relations to the past. And, unquestionably, there is
great satisfaction to be derived from so doing; the mere effort seems at
once to take us into another atmosphere,--an atmosphere as foreign to
unctuous cant as it is to what is vulgarly known as "electioneering
taffy." This evening we pass away from the noisy and heated turmoil of
partisan politics, with its appeals to prejudice, passion, and material
interest, into the cool of a quiet academic discussion. It is like going
out of some turbulent caucus, or exciting ward-room debate, and finding
oneself suddenly confronted by the cold, clear light of the December
moon, shining amid the silence of innumerable stars.

Addressing ourselves, therefore, to the subject in hand, the question at
once suggests itself,--What year in recent times has been in a large way
more noteworthy and impressive, when looked at from the purely
historical point of view, than this year of which we are now observing
the close? The first Passover of the Israelites ended a drama of more
than four centuries' duration, for "the sojourning of the children of
Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years; and at
the end of the four hundred and thirty years all the hosts of the Lord
went out from the land of Egypt." So the Passover we now celebrate
commemorates the closing of another world drama of almost precisely the
same length, and one of deepest significance, as well as unsurpassed
historic interest. These world dramas are lengthy affairs; for, while we
men are always in a hurry, the Almighty never is: on the contrary, as
the Psalmist observed, so now, "a thousand years in his sight are but as
yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." The drama I
have referred to as this week brought to its close, is that known in
history as Spanish Domination in America. It began, as we all know, on
the twenty-first of October, 1492; it has been continuous through six
years over four centuries. It now passes into history; the verdict may
be made up.

So far as I personally am concerned,--a matter needless to say of very
trifling consequence,--this verdict was rendered a year ago. It was
somewhat Rhadamanthine; but a twelve-month of further reflection has
shown no cause in any respect to revise it. In referring to what was
then plainly impending, in December, 1897, before the blowing up of the
battleship _Maine_, before a conflict had become inevitable, I used this
language in a paper read to the Massachusetts Historical Society: "When
looking at the vicissitudes of human development, we are apt to assume a
certain air of optimism, and take advancement as the law of being, as a
thing of course, indisputable. We are charitable, too; and to deny to
any given race or people some degree of use in the economy of Nature, or
the plan of Creation, is usually regarded as indicative of narrowness of
view. The fatal, final word "pessimist" is apt to be whispered in
connection with the name of one who ventures to suggest a doubt of this
phase of the doctrine known as Universalism. And yet, at this time when,
before our eyes, it is breathing its last, I want some one to point out
a single good thing in law, or science, or art, or literature,--material,
moral or intellectual,--which has resulted to the race of man upon earth
from Spanish domination in America. I have tried to think of one in
vain. It certainly has not yielded an immortality, an idea, or a
discovery; it has, in fact, been one long record of reaction and
retrogression, than which few pages in the record of mankind have been
more discouraging or less fruitful of good. What is now taking place in
Cuba is historical. It is the dying out of a dominion, the influence of
which will be seen and felt for centuries in the life of two continents;
just as what is taking place in Turkey is the last fierce flickering up
of Asiatic rule in Europe, on the very spot where twenty-four centuries
ago Asiatic rule in Europe was thought to have been averted forever. The
two, Ottoman rule in Europe, and Spanish rule in America, now stand at
the bar of history; and, scanning the long four-century record of each,
I have been unable to see what either has contributed to the accumulated
possessions of the human race, or why both should not be classed among
the many instances of the arrested civilization of a race, developing by
degrees an irresistible tendency to retrogression."

This, one year ago; and while the embers of the last Greco-Turkish
struggle, still white, were scarcely cold on the plain of Marathon. The
time since passed has yielded fresh proof in support of this harsh
judgment; for, if there is one historical law better and more
irreversibly established than another, it is that, in the case of
nations even more than in the case of individuals, their sins will find
them out,--the day of reckoning may not be escaped. Noticeably, has
this proved so in the case of Spain. The year 1500 may be said to have
found that country at the apex of her greatness. America had then been
newly discovered; the Moor was just subdued. Nearly half a century
before (1453) the Roman Empire had fallen, and, with the storming of
Constantinople by the Saracens, disappeared from the earth. That event,
it may be mentioned in passing, closed another world drama continuous
through twenty-two centuries,--upon the whole the most wonderful of the
series. And so, when Roman empire vanished, that of Spain began. It was
ushered in by the landfall of Columbus; and when, just three hundred
years later, in 1792, the subject was discussed in connection with its
third centennial, the general verdict of European thinkers was that the
discovery of America had, upon the whole, been to mankind the reverse of
beneficent. This conclusion has since been commented upon with derision;
yet, when made, it was right. The United States had in 1792 just
struggled into existence, and its influence on the course of human
events had not begun to make itself felt. Those who considered the
subject had before them, therefore, only Spanish domination in America,
and upon that their verdict cannot be gainsaid; for, from the year 1492
down, the history of Spain and Spanish domination has undeniably been
one long series of crimes and violations of natural law, the penalty for
which has not apparently even yet been exacted in full.

Of those national crimes four stand out in special prominence,
constituting counts in a national indictment than which history shows
few more formidable. These four were: (1) The expulsion, first, of the
Jews, and then of the Moors, or Moriscoes, from Spain, late in the
fifteenth and early in the sixteenth centuries; (2) the annals of "the
Council of Blood" in the Netherlands, and the eighty years of
internecine warfare through which Holland fought its way out from under
Spanish rule; (3) the Inquisition, the most ingenious human machinery
ever invented to root out and destroy whatever a people had that was
intellectually most alert, inquisitive, and progressive; and, finally
(4), the policy of extermination, and, where not of extermination, of
cruel oppression, systematically pursued towards the aborigines of
America. Into the grounds on which the different counts of this
indictment rest it would be impossible now to enter. Were it desirable
so to do, time would not permit. Suffice it to say, the penalty had to
be paid to the uttermost farthing; and one large instalment fell due,
and was mercilessly exacted, during the year now drawing to its close.
Spanish domination in America ceased,--the drama ended as it was
entering on its fifth century,--and it can best be dismissed with the
solemn words of Abraham Lincoln, uttered more than thirty years ago,
when contemplating a similar expiation we were ourselves paying in blood
and grief for a not dissimilar violation of an everlasting law,--"Yet,
if God wills that this mighty scourge continue until all the wealth
piled by the bondsmen's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil
shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be
paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years
ago, so still it must be said, 'The judgments of the Lord are true and
righteous altogether!'"

But not only is this year memorable as witnessing the downfall and
complete extirpation of that Spanish rule in America which began with
Columbus, but the result, when it at last came about, was marked by
incidents more curiously fitting and dramatic than it would have been
possible for a Shakspeare to have conceived. Columbus, as we all know,
stumbled, as it were, on America as he sailed west in search of
Asia,--Cipango he was looking for, and he found Cuba. It is equally well
known that he never discovered his mistake. When fourteen years later he
died, it was in the faith that, through him, Europe had by a westward
movement established itself in the archipelagoes of Asia. And now, at
last, four centuries afterward, the blow which did most to end the
American domination he established was struck in Asiatic waters; and,
through it and the descendants of another race, America seems on the
threshold of realizing the mistaken belief of Columbus, and by a
westward movement establishing the European in that very archipelago
Columbus failed to reach. The ways of Providence are certainly not less
singular than slow in movement.

But the year just ending was veritably one of surprises,--for the
historical student it would, indeed, seem as if 1898 was destined to
pass into the long record as almost the Year of Surprises. We now come
to the consideration of some of these wholly unanticipated results from
the American point of view. And in entering on this aspect of the
question, it is necessary once more to remind you that we are doing it
in the historical spirit, and from the historical point of view. We are
stating facts not supposed to admit of denial. The argument and
inferences to be drawn from those facts do not belong to this occasion.
Some will reach one conclusion as to the future, and the bearing those
facts have upon its probable development, and some will reach another
conclusion; with these conclusions we have nothing to do. Our business
is exclusively with the facts.

Speaking largely, but still with all necessary historical accuracy,
America has been peopled, and its development, up to the present time,
worked out through two great stocks of the European family,--the
Spanish-speaking stock, and the English-speaking stock. In their
development these two have pursued lines, clearly marked, but curiously
divergent. Leaving the Spanish-speaking branch out of the discussion, as
unnecessary to it, it may without exaggeration be said of the
English-speaking branch that, from the beginning down to this year now
ending, its development has been one long protest against, and
divergence from, Old World methods and ideals. In the case of those
descended from the Forefathers,--as we always designate the Plymouth
colony,--this has been most distinctly marked, ethnically, politically,

America was the sphere where the European, as a colonist, a settler,
first came on a large scale in contact with another race. Heretofore, in
the Old World, when one stock had overrun another,--and history
presented many examples of it,--the invading stock, after subduing, and
to a great extent driving out, the stock which had preceded in the
occupancy of a region, settled gradually down into a common possession,
and, in the slow process of years, an amalgamation of stocks, more or
less complete, took place. In America, with the Anglo-Saxon, and
especially those of the New England type, this was not the case. Unlike
the Frenchman at the north, or the Spaniard at the south, the
Anglo-Saxon showed no disposition to ally himself with the
aborigines,--he evinced no faculty of dealing with inferior races, as
they are called, except through a process of extermination. Here in
Massachusetts this was so from the outset. Nearly every one here has
read Longfellow's poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish," and calls to
mind the short, sharp conflict between the Plymouth captain and the
Indian chief, Pecksuot, and how those God-fearing Pilgrims ruthlessly
put to death by stabbing and hanging a sufficient number of the already
plague-stricken and dying aborigines. That episode occurred in April,
1623, only a little more than two years after the landing we to-night
celebrate, and was, so far as New England is concerned, the beginning of
a series of wars which did not end until the Indian ceased to be an
element in our civilization. When John Robinson, the revered pastor of
the Plymouth church, received tidings at Leyden of that killing near
Plymouth,--for Robinson never got across the Atlantic,--he wrote: "Oh,
how happy a thing had it been, if you had converted some before you had
killed any! There is cause to fear that, by occasion, especially of
provocation, there may be wanting that tenderness of the life of man
(made after God's image) which is meet. It is also a thing more glorious
in men's eyes, than pleasing in God's or convenient for Christians, to
be a terror to poor, barbarous people." This all has a very familiar
sound. It is the refrain of nearly three centuries; but, as an
historical fact, it is undeniable that, from 1623 down to the year now
ending, the American Anglo-Saxon has in his dealings with what are known
as the "inferior races" lacked "that tenderness of the life of man which
is meet," and he has made himself "a terror to poor, barbarous people."
How we of Massachusetts carried ourselves towards the aborigines here,
the fearful record of the Pequot war remains everlastingly to tell. How
the country at large has carried itself in turn towards Indian, African,
and Asiatic is matter of history. And yet it is equally matter of
history that this carriage, term it what you will,--unchristian, brutal,
exterminating,--has been the salvation of the race. It has saved the
Anglo-Saxon stock from being a nation of half-breeds,--miscegenates, to
coin a word expressive of an idea. The Canadian half-breed, the
Mexican, the mulatto, say what men may, are not virile or enduring
races; and that the Anglo-Saxon is none of these, and is essentially
virile and enduring, is due to the fact that the less developed races
perished before him. Nature is undeniably often brutal in its methods.

Again, and on the other hand, the Anglo-Saxon when he came to America
left behind him, so far as he himself was concerned, feudalism and all
things pertaining to caste, including what was then known in England,
and is still known in Germany, as Divine Right. When he at last
enunciated his political faith he put in the forefront of his
declaration as "self-evident truths," the principles "that all men are
created equal;" that they are endowed with "certain inalienable rights,"
among them "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" and that
governments derived "their just powers from the consent of the
governed." Now what was meant here by the phrase "all men are created
equal?" We know they are not. They are not created equal in physical or
mental endowment; nor are they created with equal opportunity. The world
bristles with inequalities, natural and artificial. This is so; and yet
the declaration is none the less true;--true when made; true now; true
for all future time. The reference was to the inequalities which always
had marked, then did, and still do, mark, the political life of the Old
World,--to Caste, Divine Right, Privilege. It declared that all men were
created equal before the law, as before the Lord;[1] and that, whether
European, American, Asiatic, or African, they were endowed with an
inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And to
this truth, as he saw it, Lincoln referred in those memorable words I
have already cited bearing on our national crime in long forgetfulness
of our own immutable principles. The fundamental, primal principle was
indeed more clearly voiced by Lincoln than it has been voiced before, or
since, in declaring again, and elsewhere that to our nation, dedicated
"to the proposition that all men are created equal," has by Providence
been assigned the momentous task of "testing whether any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure," and "that government of the
people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The next cardinal principle in our policy as a race--that instinctive
policy I have already referred to as divergent from Old World methods
and ideals--was most dearly enunciated by Washington in his Farewell
Address, that "the great rule for us in regard to foreign nations is, in
extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little
political connection as possible;" that it was "unwise in us to
implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of
[Old World] policies, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her
friendships or enmities. Our detached and distant situation invites and
enables us to pursue a different course.... Taking care always to keep
ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture,
we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary

Accepting this as firm ground from which to act, we afterwards put forth
what is known as the Monroe Doctrine. Having announced that our purpose
was, in homely language, to mind our own business, we warned the outer
world that we did not propose to permit by that outer world any
interference in what did not concern it. America was our field,--a field
amply large for our development. It was therefore declared that, while
we had never taken any part, nor did it comport with our policy to do
so, in the wars of European politics, with the movements in this
hemisphere we are, of necessity, more intimately connected. "We owe it,
therefore, to candor to declare that we should consider any attempt [on
the part of European powers] to extend their system to any portion of
this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety."

On these principles of government and of foreign policy we have as a people
now acted for more than seventy years. They have been exemplified and
developed in various directions, and resulted in details--commercial,
economic, and ethnic--which have given rise to political issues, long and
hotly contested, but which, in their result from the purely historical
point of view, do not admit of dispute. Commercially, we have adopted what
is known as a system protective both of our industries and our labor.
Economically, we have carefully eschewed large and costly armaments, and
expensive governmental methods. Ethnically, we have avowed our desire to
have as little contact as possible with less developed races, lamenting the
presence of the African, and severely excluding the Asiatic. These facts,
whether we as individuals and citizens wholly approve--or do not approve at
all--of the course pursued and the results reached, admit of no dispute.
Neither can it be denied that our attitude, whether it in all respects
commanded the respect of foreign nations, or failed to command it, was
accepted, and has prevailed. Striking illustrations of this at once suggest

In one respect especially was our attitude peculiar, and in its
peculiarity we took great pride. It was largely moral; but, though
largely moral, it had behind it the consciousness of strength in
ourselves, and its recognition by others. In great degree, and
relatively, an unarmed people, we looked with amaze, which had in it
something of amusement, at the constantly growing armaments and war
budgets of the nations of Europe. We saw them, like the warriors of the
middle ages, crushed under the weight of their weapons of offence, and
their preparations for defence. Meanwhile, fortunate in our geographical
position,--weak for offence, but, in turn, unassailable,--we went in and
out much as an unarmed man, relying on his character, his recognized
force, position, and peaceful calling, daily moves about in our frontier
settlements and mining camps amid throngs of men armed to the teeth with
revolvers and bowie knives. Yet, evidence was not lacking of the
consideration yielded to us when we were called upon, or felt called
upon, to assert ourselves. I will not refer to the episode of 1866,
when, in accordance with the principles of the Monroe Doctrine, we
intimated to France that her immediate withdrawal from Mexico was
desired; for then we had not laid down the arms we had taken up in the
Rebellion. But, without remonstrance even, France withdrew. In 1891,
under circumstances not without grounds of aggravation against us, a mob
in Valparaiso assaulted some seamen from our ships of war. Instant
apology and redress were demanded; and the demand was complied with. Yet
later, the course pursued by us in the Venezuela matter is too fresh in
memory to call for more than a reference. These are all matters of
history. When did our word fail to carry all desired weight?

Such were our standing, our traditional policy, and our record at the
beginning of the year now ending. No proposition advanced admits, it is
believed, of dispute historically. Into the events of the year 1898 it
is not necessary to enter in any detail. They are in the minds of all.
It is sufficient to say that the primary object for which we entered
upon the late war with Spain was to bring to an end the long and
altogether bad record of Spanish rule in America. In taking the steps
deemed necessary to effect this result, Congress went out of its way,
and publicly and formally put upon record its disclaimer of any
intention to enter upon a war of conquest, asserting its determination,
when Spanish domination was ended, to leave the government of Cuba, and
presumably of any other islands similarly acquired, to the people
thereof. As an incident to our naval operations on the Pacific, the
island of Hawaii was then annexed to the United States as an
extra-territorial possession, or coaling station, this being effected by
a joint resolution of the two Houses of Congress, under the precedent of
1845 established in the case of Texas,--a method of procedure the
constitutionality of which was at the time formally called in question
by the State of Massachusetts, and against which Mr. Webster made
vigorous protest in the Senate. In thus possessing ourselves of Hawaii,
the consent of the native inhabitants was not considered necessary; we
dealt wholly with an oligarchical _de facto_ government, representing
the foreign element, mainly American, there resident.

Shortly after the acquisition of Hawaii, we, as the result of brilliant
naval operations and successes, acquired possession of the harbor of
Manila, in the Philippine archipelago, and finally the city and some
adjacent territory were surrendered to us. A treaty was then negotiated,
the power of Spain being completely broken, under which she abandoned
all claims of sovereignty, not only over the island of Cuba, the
original cause of war, but over various other islands in the Philippine,
as well as in the West Indian, archipelagoes. These islands, in all said
to be some 1,200 to 1,500 in number, are moreover not only inhabited by
both natives and foreigners to the estimated number of ten to twelve
million of souls, but they contain large cities and communities speaking
different tongues, living under other laws, and having customs, manners,
and traditions wholly unlike our own, and which, in the case of the
Philippines, do not admit of assimilation. Situated in the tropics also,
they cannot gradually become colonized by Americans, with or without the
disappearance of the native population. The American can only go there
for temporary residence.

A wholly new problem was thus suddenly presented to the people of the
United States. On the one hand, it is asserted that, by destroying
Spanish government in these islands, the United States has assumed
responsibility for them, both to the inhabitants and to the world. This
is a moral obligation. On the other hand, trade and commercial
inducements are held out which would lead us to treat these islands
simply as a commencement--the first instalment--in a system of unlimited
extra-territorial dependencies and imperial expansion. With these
responsibilities and obligations we here this evening have nothing to
do, any more than we have to do with the expediency or probable results
of the policy of colonial expansion, when once fairly adopted and
finally entered upon. These hereafter will be, but are not yet,
historical questions; and we are merely historical inquirers. We,
therefore, no matter what others may do, must try to confine ourselves
to our own proper business and functions.

My purpose, therefore, is not to argue for or against what is now
proposed, but simply to test historically some of the arguments I have
heard most commonly advanced in favor of the proposed policy of
expansion, and thus see to what they apparently lead in the sequence of
human, and more especially of American, events. Do they indicate an
historic continuity? Or do they result in what is geologically known as
a "fault,"--a movement, as the result of force, through which a stratum,
once continuous, becomes disconnected?

In the first place, then, as respects the inhabitants of the vastly
greater number of the dependencies already acquired, and, under the
policy of imperialistic expansion, hereafter to be acquired. It is
argued that we, as a people at once dominant and Christian, are under an
obligation to avail ourselves of the opportunity the Almighty, in his
infinite wisdom, has thrust upon us,--some say the plain call he has
uttered to us,--to go forth, and impart to the barbarian and the heathen
the blessings of liberty and the Bible. A mission is imposed upon us.
Viewed in the cold, pitiless light of history,--and that is the only way
we here can view them,--"divine missions" and "providential calls" are
questionable things; things the assumption and fulfilment of which are
apt to be at variance. So far as the American is concerned, as I have
already pointed out, the historic precedents are not encouraging.
Whatever his theories, ethnical, political, or religious, his practice
has been as pronounced as it was masterful. From the earliest days at
Wessagusset and in the Pequot war, down to the very last election held
in North Carolina,--from 1623 to 1898,--the knife and the shotgun have
been far more potent and active instruments in his dealings with the
inferior races than the code of liberty or the output of the Bible
Society. The record speaks for itself. So far as the Indian is
concerned, the story has been told by Mrs. Jackson in her earnest,
eloquent protest, entitled "A Century of Dishonor." It has received
epigrammatic treatment in the saying tersely enunciated by one of our
military commanders, and avowedly accepted by the others, that "the only
good Indian is a dead Indian." So far as the African is concerned, the
similar apothegm once was that "the black man has no rights the white
man is bound to respect;" or, as Stephen A. Douglas defined his position
before an applauding audience, "I am for the white man as against the
black man, and for the black man against the alligator." Recent lynching
and shotgun experiences, too fresh in memory to call for reminder, and
too painful in detail to describe, give us at least reason to pause
before we leave our own hearthstone to seek new and distant fields for
missionary labors. It remains to consider the Asiatic. The racial
antipathy of the American towards him has been more intense than towards
any other species of the human race. This, as an historical fact, has
been recently imbedded in our statute-book, having previously been
illustrated in a series of outrages and massacres, with the sickening
details of some of which it was at one time my misfortune to be
officially familiar. Under these circumstances, so far as the
circulation of the Bible and the extension of the blessings of liberty
are concerned, history affords small encouragement to the American to
assume new obligations. He has been, and now is, more than merely
delinquent in the fulfilment of obligations heretofore thrust upon him,
or knowingly assumed. In this respect his instinct has proved much more
of a controlling factor than his ethics,--the shotgun has unfortunately
been more constantly in evidence than the Bible. As a prominent
"expansionist" New England member of the present Congress has recently
declared in language, brutal perhaps in directness, but withal
commendably free from cant: "China is succumbing to the inevitable, and
the United States, if she would not retire to the background, must
advance along the line with the other great nations. She must acquire
new territory, providing new markets over which she must maintain
control. The Anglo-Saxon advances into the new regions with a Bible in
one hand and a shotgun in the other. The inhabitants of those regions
that he cannot convert with the aid of the Bible and bring into his
markets, he gets rid of with the shotgun. It is but another
demonstration of the survival of the fittest." (Hon. C.A. Sulloway,
Rochester, N.H., Nov. 22, 1898.)

Next as regards our fundamental principles of equality of human rights,
and the consent of the governed as the only just basis of all
government. The presence of the inferior races on our own soil, and our
new problems connected with them in our dependencies, have led to much
questioning of the correctness of those principles, which, for its
outspoken frankness, at least, is greatly to be commended. It is argued
that these, as principles, in the light of modern knowledge and
conditions, are of doubtful general truth and limited application. True,
when confined and carefully applied to citizens of the same blood and
nationality; questionable, when applied to human beings of different
race in one nationality; manifestly false, in the case of races less
developed, and in other, especially tropical, countries.[2] As
fundamental principles, it is admitted, they were excellent for a young
people struggling into recognition and limiting its attention narrowly
to what only concerned itself; but have we not manifestly outgrown them,
now that we ourselves have developed into a great World Power? For such
there was and necessarily always will be, as between the superior and
the inferior races, a manifest common sense foundation in caste, and in
the rule of might when it presents itself in the form of what we are
pleased to call Manifest Destiny. As to government being conditioned on
the consent of the governed, it is obviously the bounden duty of the
superior race to hold the inferior race in peaceful tutelage, and
protect it against itself; and, furthermore, when it comes to deciding
the momentous question of what races are superior and what inferior,
what dominant and what subject, that is of necessity a question to be
settled between the superior race and its own conscience; and one in
regard to the correct settlement of which it indicates a tendency at
once unpatriotic and "pessimistic," to assume that America could by any
chance decide otherwise than correctly. Upon that score we must put
implicit confidence in the sound instincts and Christian spirit of the
dominant, that is, the stronger race.

It is the same with that other fundamental principle with which the name
of Lexington is, from the historical point of view, so closely
associated,--I refer, of course, to the revolutionary contention that
representation is a necessary adjunct to taxation. This principle also,
it is frankly argued, we have outgrown, in presence of our new
responsibilities; and, as between the superior and inferior races, it is
subject to obvious limitations. Here again, as between the policy of the
"Open Door" and the Closed-Colonial-Market policy, the superior race is
amenable to its own conscience only. It will doubtless on all suitable
and convenient occasions bear in mind that it is a "Trustee for

Finally, as respects entangling foreign alliances, and their necessary
consequents, costly and burdensome armaments and large standing armies,
we are again advised that, having ceased to be children, we should put
away childish things. Having become a great World Power we must become a
corresponding War Power. We are assured by high authority that, were
Washington now alive, it cannot be questioned he would in all these
respects modify materially the views expressed in the Farewell Address,
as being obviously inapplicable to existing conditions. Under these
circumstances, and in view of the obligations we have assumed, the
President, and Secretaries of War and the Navy, recommend an
establishment the annual cost of which ($200,000,000), exclusive of
military pensions, is in excess of the largest of those European War
Budgets, over the crushing influence of which we have expressed a
traditional wonder, not unmixed with pity for the unfortunate tax-payer.

Historically speaking, I believe these are all facts, susceptible of
verification. I do not mean to say that the arguments developing obvious
limitations in the application of the principles of the Declaration and
the Constitution have been avowedly accepted by our representatives, or
officially incorporated into our domestic and foreign policy. I do
assert as an historical fact that these arguments have been advanced,
and are meeting, both in Congress and with the press, a large degree of
acceptance. And hence comes a singular and most significant conclusion
from which, historically, there seems to be no escape. It may or it may
not be fortunate and right; it may or it may not lead to beneficent
future results; it may or it may not contribute to the good of mankind.
Those questions belong elsewhere than in the rooms of an historical
society. Upon them we are not called to pass,--they belong to the
politician, the publicist, the philosopher, not to us. But, as
historical investigators, and so observing the sequence of events, it
cannot escape our notice that on every one of the fundamental principles
discussed,--whether ethnic, economical, or political,--we abandon the
traditional and distinctively American grounds and accept those of
Europe, and especially of Great Britain, which heretofore we have made
it the basis of our faith to deny and repudiate.

With this startling proposition in mind, consider again the several
propositions advanced; and first, as regards the so-called inferior
races. Our policy towards them, instinctive and formulated, has been
either to exclude or destroy, or to leave them in the fullness of time
to work out their own destiny, undisturbed by us; fully believing that,
in this way, we in the long run best subserved the interests of mankind.
Europe, and Great Britain especially, adopted the opposite policy. They
held that it was incumbent on the superior to go forth and establish
dominion over the inferior race, and to hold and develop vast imperial
possessions and colonial dependencies. They saw their interest and duty
in developing systems of docile tutelage; we sought our inspirations in
the rough school of self-government. Under this head the result then is
distinct, clean cut, indisputable. To this conclusion have we come at
last. The Old World, Europe and Great Britain, were, after all, right,
and we of the New World have been wrong. From every point of
view,--religious, ethnic, commercial, political,--we cannot, it is now
claimed, too soon abandon our traditional position and assume theirs.
Again, Europe and Great Britain have never admitted that men were
created equal, or that the consent of the governed was a condition of
government. They have, on the contrary, emphatically denied both
propositions. We now concede that, after all, there was great basis for
their denial; that, certainly, it must be admitted, our forefathers were
hasty at least in reaching their conclusions,--they generalized too
broadly. We do not frankly avow error, and we still think the assent of
the governed to a government a thing desirable to be secured, under
suitable circumstances and with proper limitations; but, if it cannot
conveniently be secured, we are advised on New England senatorial
authority that "the consent of some of the governed" will be sufficient,
we ourselves selecting those proper to be consulted. Thus in such cases
as certain islands of the Antilles, Hawaii, and the communities of Asia,
we admit that, so far as the principles at the basis of the Declaration
are concerned, Great Britain was right, and our ancestors were, not
perhaps wrong, but too general, and of the eighteenth century, in their
statements. To that extent, we have outgrown the Declaration of 1776,
and have become as wise now as Great Britain was then. At any rate we
are not above learning. As was long ago said,--"Only dead men and idiots
never change;" and the people of the United States are nothing unless

So, also, as respects the famous Boston "tea-party," and taxation
without representation. Great Britain then affirmed this right in the
case of colonies and dependencies. Taught by the lesson of our War of
Independence, she has since abandoned it. We now take it up, and are
to-day, as one of the new obligations towards the heathen imposed upon
us by Providence, formulating systems of imposts and tariffs for our new
dependencies, wholly distinct from our own, and directly inhibited by
our constitution, in regard to which systems those dependencies have no
representative voice. They are not to be consulted as to the kind of
door, "open" or "closed," behind which they are to exist. In taking this
position it is difficult to see why we must not also incidentally admit
that, in the great contention preceding our War of Independence, the
first armed clash of which resounded here in Lexington, Great Britain
was more nearly right than the exponents of the principles for which
those "embattled farmers" contended.

Again, consider the Monroe Doctrine, entangling foreign alliances, and
the consequent and costly military and naval establishments. The Monroe
Doctrine had two sides, the abstention of the Old World from
interference in American affairs, based on our abstention from
interference in the affairs of the Old World. But it is now argued we
have outgrown the Monroe Doctrine, or at least the latter branch of it.
It is certainly so considered in Europe; for, only a few days ago, so
eminent an authority as Lord Farrar exultingly exclaimed in addressing
the Cobden Club,--"America has burned the swaddling clothes of the
Monroe Doctrine." Indeed we have, in discussion at least, gone far in
advance of the mere burning of cast-off infantile clothing, and
alliances with Great Britain and Japan, as against France and Russia,
are freely mooted, with a view to the forcible partition of China, to
which we are to be a party, and of it a beneficiary. For it is already
avowed that the Philippines are but a "stopping-place" on the way to the
continent of Asia; and China, unlike Poland, is inhabited by an
"inferior race," in regard to whom, as large possible consumers of
surplus products, Providence has imposed on us obvious obligations,
material as well as benevolent and religious, which it would be unlike
ourselves to disregard. It is the mandate of duty, we are told,--the
nations of Europe obey it, and can we do less than they? "Isolation" it
is then argued is but another name for an attention to one's own
business which may well become excessive, and result in selfishness. It
is true that the nations of the Old World have not heretofore erred
conspicuously in this respect; and as the "Balance of Power" was the
word-juggle with which to conjure up wars and armaments in the
eighteenth century, so the "Division of Trade" may not impossibly prove
the similar conjuring word-juggle of the twentieth century.
Nevertheless, "isolation" is not compatible with the policy of a Great
Nation under a call to assert itself as a World Power. Then follows the
familiar argument in favor of costly military and naval establishments.
But, upon this head it is needless to restate our traditional
policy,--our jealousy as a people of militarism and large standing
armies, to be used, if occasion calls, as a reserve police. Our record
thereon is so plain that repetition grows tedious. The record of Europe,
and especially of Great Britain as distinguished from other European
powers, has been equally plain, and is no less indisputable. In this
respect, also, always under compulsion, we now admit our error. Costly
armies are necessary to the maintenance of order, Heaven's first law;
and World Powers cannot maintain peace, and themselves, without powerful
navies and frequent coaling stations.

Finally, even on such matters as the Protective System and the
encouragement of American Labor, as against the "Pauper Labor" of Europe
and of the inferior races, Great Britain has for half a century now
advocated the principle of unrestricted industry and free trade,--that
is the "Open Door" policy logically carried to its final results. We
have denied it, establishing what we in time grew to call the
distinctive American system. It is, however, now asserted that "Trade
follows the Flag," and that, as respects dependencies at least, the
"Open Door" policy is the best policy. If "Trade follows the Flag" in
dependencies, and, by so doing, affords the American producer all
needful protection and every fair advantage in those dependencies, it is
not at once apparent why it fails so to do at home. Is it less docile
to the flag, less in harmony with and subservient to it, in the United
States, within our own limits, than in remote lands under that flag
beyond the seas? And, if so, how is such an apparent anomaly accounted
for? But with this question we are not concerned. That problem is for
the economist to solve, for in character it is commercial, not
historical. The point with us is that again, as regards the "Open
Door,"--free trade and no favor, so far as all outside competition is
concerned, American labor and "pauper" labor being equally outside,--on
this long and hotly contested point, also, England appears on the face
of things to have had after all much the best of the argument.

As regards "Pauper Labor," indeed, the reversal contemplated of
established policy in favor of European methods is specially noteworthy.
The labor of Asia is undeniably less well paid even than that of Europe;
but it is now proposed, by a single act, to introduce into our
industrial system ten millions of Asiatics, either directly, or through
their products sold in open competition with our own; or, if we do not
do that, to hold them, ascribed to the soil in a sort of old Saxon
serfdom, with the function assigned them of consuming our surplus
products, but without in return sending us theirs. The great
counterbalancing consideration will not, of course, be forgotten that,
like the English in India, we also bestow on them the Blessings of
Liberty and the Bible; provided, always, that liberty does not include
freedom to go to the United States, and the Bible does include the
excellent Old Time and Old World precept (Coloss. 3: 22), "Servants,
obey in all things your masters."

It is the same in other respects. It seems to be admitted by the
President, and by the leading authorities on the imperialistic policy,
that it can only be carried to successful results through the agency of
a distinct governing class. Accordingly administration through the
agency of military or naval officers is strongly urged both by the
President and by Captain Mahan. Other advocates of the policy urge its
adoption on the ground, very distinctly avowed, that it will necessitate
an established, recognized Civil Service, modelled, they add, on that of
Great Britain. If, they then argue, Great Britain can extend--as,
indeed, she unquestionably has extended--her system of dependencies all
over the globe, developing them into the most magnificent empire the
world ever saw, it is absurd, unpatriotic, and pessimistic to doubt that
we can do the same. Are we not of the same blood, and the same speech?
This is all historically true. Historically it is equally true that, to
do it, we must employ means similar to those Great Britain has employed.
In other words, modelling ourselves on Great Britain, we must slowly and
methodically develop and build up a recognized and permanent governing
and official class. The heathen and barbarian need to be studied, and
dealt with intelligently and on a system; they cannot be successfully
managed on any principle of rotation in office, much less one which
ascribes the spoils of office to the victors at the polls. What these
advocates of Imperialism say is unquestionably true: The political
methods now in vogue in American cities are not adapted to the
government of dependencies.

The very word "Imperial" is, indeed, borrowed from the Old World. As
applied to a great system of colonial dominion and foreign dependencies
it is English, and very modern English, also, for it was first brought
into vogue by the late Earl of Beaconsfield in 1879, when, by Act of
Parliament introduced by him, the Queen of England was made Empress of
India. It was then he enunciated that doctrine of _imperium et
libertas_, the adoption of which we are now considering. While it may be
wise and sound, it indisputably is British.

Thus, curiously enough, whichever way we turn and however we regard it,
at the close of more than a century of independent existence we find
ourselves, historically speaking, involved in a mesh of contradictions
with our past. Under a sense of obligation, impelled by circumstances,
perhaps to a degree influenced by ambition and commercial greed, we have
one by one abandoned our distinctive national tenets, and accepted in
their place, though in some modified forms, the old-time European tenets
and policies, which we supposed the world, actuated largely by our
example, was about forever to discard. Our whole record as a people is,
of course, then ransacked and subjected to microscopic investigation,
and every petty disregard of principle, any wrong heretofore silently,
perhaps sadly, ignored, each unobserved or disregarded innovation of
the past, is magnified into a precedent justifying anything and
everything in the future. If we formerly on some occasion swallowed a
gnat, why now, is it asked, strain at a camel? Truths once accepted as
"self-evident," since become awkward of acceptance, were ever thus
pettifogged out of the path, and fundamental principles have in this way
prescriptively been tampered with. It is now nearly a century and a
quarter ago, when Great Britain was contemplating the subjection of her
American dependencies, that Edmund Burke denounced "tampering" with the
"ingenuous and noble roughness of truly constitutional materials," as
"the odious vice of restless and unstable minds." Historically speaking
it is not unfair to ask if this is less so in the United States in 1898
than it was in Great Britain in 1775.

What is now proposed, therefore, examined in connection with our
principles and traditional policy as a nation, does apparently indicate
a break in continuity,--historically, it will probably constitute what
is known in geology as a "fault." Indeed, it is almost safe to say that
history hardly records any change of base and system on the part of a
great people at once so sudden, so radical, and so pregnant with
consequences. To the optimist,--he who has no dislike to "Old Jewry," as
the proper receptacle for worn-out garments, personal or political,--the
outlook is inspiring. He insensibly recalls and repeats those fine lines
of Tennyson:

    "To-day I saw the dragon-fly
     Come from the wells where he did lie.

    "An inner impulse rent the veil
     Of his old husk: from head to tail
     Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.

    "He dried his wings: like gauze they grew:
     Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew
     A living flash of light he flew."

To others, older perhaps, but at any rate more deeply impressed with the
difference apt to develop between dreams and actualities, the situation
calls to mind a comparison, more historical it is true, but less
inspiriting so far as a commitment to the new policy is concerned. At
the risk, possibly, of offending some of those present, I will venture
to institute it. In the fourth chapter of the Gospel according to St.
Matthew, I find this incident recorded: "The devil taketh him [the
Saviour] up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the
kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All
these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan. Then the devil leaveth
him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." Now,
historically speaking, and as a matter of scriptural exegesis, that this
passage should be accepted literally is not supposable. Satan, on the
occasion referred to, must not be taken to have presented himself to the
Saviour _in propriâ personâ_ with his attributes of horns, tail, and
cloven hoof, and made an outright proposition of extra-territorial
sovereignty. It was a parable. He who had assumed a lofty moral attitude
was tempted by worldly inducements to adopt a lower attitude,--that, in
a word, common among men. It was a whispering to Christ of what among
nations, is known as "Manifest Destiny;" in that case, however, as
possibly in others, it so chanced that the whispering was not from the
Almighty, but from Satan. Now if, instead of recognizing the source
whence the temptation came, and sternly saying, "Get thee hence, Satan,"
Christ had seen the proposition as a new Mission,--thought, in fact,
that he heard a distinct call to Duty,--and so, accepting a
Responsibility thrust upon him, had hurried down from the "exceeding
high mountain," and proceeded at once to lay in a supply of weapons and
to don defensive armor, renouncing his peaceful mission, he would have
done exactly--what Mohammed did six centuries later!

I do not for a moment mean to suggest that, as respects the voice of
"Manifest Destiny," there is any similarity between the case of the
Saviour and that which we, as a people, are now considering. I am not a
prophet, nor do I claim prophetic insight. We are merely historical
investigators, and, as such, not admitted into the councils of the
Almighty. Others doubtless are, or certainly claim to be. They know
every time, and at once, whether it is the inspiration of God or the
devil; and forthwith proclaim it from the house-tops. We must admit--at
any rate no evidence in our possession enables us to deny--the
confidential relations such claim to have with either or both of the
agencies in question,--the Divine or the Infernal. All I now have in
mind is to call attention to the obvious similarity of the positions. As
compared with the ideals and tenets then in vogue,--principles of
manhood, equality before the law, freedom, peace on earth, and good-will
to men,--the United States, heretofore and seen in a large way, has,
among nations, assumed a peculiar, and, from the moral point of view,
unquestionably a lofty attitude. Speaking historically it might, and
with no charge of levity, be compared with a similar moral attitude
assumed among men eighteen centuries before by the Saviour. It
discountenanced armaments and warfare; it advocated arbitrations, and
bowed to their awards; spreading its arms and protection over the New
World, it refused to embroil itself in the complications of the Old;
above all, it set a not unprofitable example to the nations of benefits
incident to minding one's own business, and did not arrogate to itself
the character of a favorite and inspired instrument in the hands of God.
It even went so far as to assume that, in working out the inscrutable
ways of Providence, character, self-restraint, and moral grandeur were
in the long run as potent in effecting results as iron-clads and

Those who now advocate a continuance of this policy are, as neatly as
wittily, referred to in discussion, "for want of a better name," as
"Little Americans," just as in history the believers in the long-run
efficacy of the doctrines of Christ might be termed "Little Gospellers,"
to distinguish them from the admirers of the later, but more brilliant
and imperial, dispensation of Mohammed. That the earlier, and less
immediately ambitious, doctrine was, in the case of the United States,
only temporary, and is now outgrown, and must, therefore, be abandoned
in favor of Old World methods, especially those pursued with such
striking success by Great Britain, is possible. As historical
investigators we have long since learned that it is the unexpected which
in the development of human affairs is most apt to occur. Who, for
instance, in our own recent history could ever have foreseen that, in
the inscrutable ways of the Almighty, the great triumph of Slavery in
the annexation of Texas, and the spoliation of that inferior race which
inhabited Mexico, was, within fifteen years only, to result in what
Lincoln called that "terrible war" in which every drop of blood ever
drawn by the lash was paid by another drawn by the sword? Again, in May,
1856, a Representative of South Carolina struck down a Senator from
Massachusetts in the Senate-chamber at Washington; in January, 1865,
Massachusetts battalions bivouacked beside the smoking ruins of South
Carolina's capital. Verily, as none know better than we, the ways of
Providence are mysterious, and past finding out. None the less, though
it cannot be positively asserted that the world would not have been
wiser, more advanced, and better ordered had Christ, when on that
"exceeding high mountain," heard in the words then whispered in his ear
a manifest call of Duty, and felt a Responsibility thrust upon him to
secure the kingdoms of the earth for the Blessings of Liberty and the
Bible by so small a sacrifice as making an apparently meaningless
obeisance to Satan, yet we can certainly say that the world would now
have been very different from what it is had He so done. And so in the
case of the United States, though we cannot for a moment assert that its
fate and the future of the world will not be richer, better, and
brighter from its abandonment of New World traditions and policies in
favor of the traditions and policies of the Old World, we can say
without any hesitation that the course of history will be greatly
changed by the so doing.

In any event the experiment will be one of surpassing interest to the
historical observer. Some years ago James Russell Lowell was asked by
the French historian, Guizot, how long the Republic of the United States
might reasonably be expected to endure. Mr. Lowell's reply has always
been considered peculiarly happy. "So long," said he, "as the ideas of
its founders continue dominant." In due course of time we, or those who
follow us, will know whether Mr. Lowell diagnosed the situation
correctly, or otherwise. Meanwhile, I do not know how I can better bring
to an end this somewhat lengthy contribution to the occasion, than by
repeating, as singularly applicable to the conditions in which we find
ourselves, these verses from a recent poem, than which I have heard none
in the days that now are which strike a deeper or a truer chord, or one
more appropriate to this New England Paschal eve:

    "The tumult and the shouting dies,
       The captains and the kings depart;
     Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
       An humble and a contrite heart.
     Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
     Lest we forget--lest we forget!

    "Far-called our navies melt away,
       On dune and headline sinks the fire--
     Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
       Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
     Judge of the nations, spare us yet,
     Lest we forget--lest we forget!

    "If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
       Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
     Such boasting as the Gentiles use
       Or lesser breeds without the law--
     Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
     Lest we forget--lest we forget!

    "For heathen heart that puts her trust
       In reeking tube and iron shard--
     All valiant dust that builds on dust,
       And guarding calls not Thee to guard--
     For frantic boast and foolish word,
     Thy mercy on thy people, Lord!

Taken in connection with the foregoing paper, the following-letter,
addressed to the Hon. Carl Schurz, is self-explanatory:

BOSTON, December 21, 1898.


In a recent letter you kindly suggest that I submit to you a sketch of
what, I think, should be said in an address such as it is proposed
should now be put forth by the Anti-Imperialist League to the people of
the United States.

I last evening read a paper before the Lexington Historical Society, in
which I discussed the question of extra-territorial expansion from the
historical point of view. A copy of this paper I hope soon to forward
you. Meanwhile, there is one aspect, and, to my mind, the all-important
aspect of the question, which, in addressing an historical society, was
not germane. I refer to the question of a practical policy to be pursued
by us, as a nation, under existing conditions. That Spain has abandoned
all claim of sovereignty over the Philippine islands admits of no
question. Whether the United States has accepted the sovereignty thus
abandoned is still an open question; but this I do not regard as
material. Nevertheless, we are confronted by a fact; and, whenever we
criticise the policy up to this time pursued; we are met with an inquiry
as to what we have to propose in place of it. We are invited to stop
finding fault with others, and to suggest some feasible alternative
policy ourselves.

To this we must, therefore, in fairness, address ourselves. It is, in my
judgment, useless to attempt to carry on the discussion merely in the
negative form. As opponents of an inchoate policy we must, in place of
what we object to, propose something positive, or we must abandon the
field. Accepting the alternative, I now want to suggest a positive
policy for the consideration of those who feel as we feel. I wish your
judgment upon it.

There has, it seems to me, been a great deal of idle "Duty," "Mission,"
and "Call" talk on the subject of our recent acquisition of "Islands
beyond the Sea," and the necessity of adopting some policy, commonly
described as "Imperial," in dealing with them. This policy is, in the
minds of most people who favor it, to be indirectly modelled on the
policy heretofore so successfully pursued under somewhat similar
conditions by Great Britain. It involves, as I tried to point out in the
Lexington paper I have referred to, the abandonment or reversal of all
the fundamental principles of our government since its origin, and of
the foreign policy we have heretofore pursued. This, I submit, is
absolutely unnecessary. Another and substitute policy, purely American,
as contradistinguished from the European or British, known as
"Imperial," policy, can readily be formulated.

This essentially American policy would be based both upon our cardinal
political principles, and our recent foreign experiences. It is commonly
argued that, having destroyed the existing government in Cuba, Porto
Rico, and the Philippines, we have assumed a political responsibility,
and are under a moral obligation to provide another government in place
of that which by our action has ceased to exist. What has been our
course heretofore under similar circumstances? Precedents, I submit, at
once suggest themselves. Precedents, too, directly in point, and within
your and my easy recollection.

I refer to the course pursued by us towards Mexico in the year 1848, and
again in 1866; towards Hayti for seventy years back; and towards
Venezuela as recently as three years ago. It is said that the
inhabitants of the islands of the Antilles, and much more those of the
Philippine archipelago, are as yet unfitted to maintain a government;
and that they should be kept in a condition of "tutelage" until they are
fitted so to do. It is further argued that a stable government is
necessary, and that it is out of the question for us to permit a
condition of chronic disturbance and scandalous unrest to exist so near
our own borders as Cuba and Porto Rico. Yet how long, I would ask, did
that condition exist in Mexico? And with what results? How long has it
existed in Hayti? Has the government of Venezuela ever been "stable"?
Have we found it necessary or thought it best to establish a
governmental protectorate in any of those immediately adjacent regions?

What has been, historically, our policy--the American, as distinguished
from the European and British policy--towards those communities,--two
of them Spanish, one African? So far as foreign powers are concerned, we
have laid down the principle of "Hands-off." So far as their own
government was concerned, we insisted that the only way to learn to walk
was to try to walk, and that the history of mankind did not show that
nations placed under systems of "tutelage,"--taught to lean for support
on a superior power,--ever acquired the faculty of independent action.

Of this, with us, fundamental truth, the British race itself furnishes a
very notable example. In the forty-fourth year of the Christian era the
island of Great Britain was occupied by what the "Imperial" Romans
adjudged to be an inferior race. To the Romans the Britons
unquestionably were inferior. Every child's history contains an account
of the course then pursued by the superior towards that inferior race,
and its results. The Romans occupied Great Britain, and they occupied it
hard upon four centuries, holding the people in "tutelage," and
protecting them against themselves, as well as against their enemies.
With what result? So emasculated and incapable of self-government did
the people of England become during their "tutelage" that, when Rome at
last withdrew, they found themselves totally unfitted for
self-government, much more for facing a foreign enemy. As the last, and
best, historian of the English people tells us, the purely despotic
system of the imperial government "by crushing all local independence,
crushed all local vigor. Men forgot how to fight for their country when
they forgot how to govern it."[3] The end was that, through six
centuries more, England was overrun, first by those of one race, and
then by those of another, until the Normans established themselves in it
as conquerors; and then, and not until then, the deteriorating effect of
a system of long continued "tutelage" ceased to be felt, and the
islanders became by degrees the most energetic, virile, and
self-sustaining of races. As nearly, therefore, as can be historically
stated, it took eight centuries for the people of England to overcome
the injurious influence of four centuries of just such a system as it is
now proposed by us to inflict on the Philippines.[4] Hindostan would
furnish another highly suggestive example of the educational effects of
"tutelage" on a race. After a century and a half of that British
"tutelage," what progress has India made towards fitness for
self-government? Is the end in sight?

From the historical point of view, it is instructive to note the exactly
different results reached through the truly American policy we have
pursued in the not dissimilar cases of Hayti and Mexico. While Hayti, it
is true, has failed to make great progress in one century, it has made
quite as much progress as England made during any equal period
immediately after Rome withdrew from it. And that degree of slowness in
growth, which with equanimity has been endured by us in Hayti, could
certainly be endured by us in islands on the coast of Asia. It cannot be
gainsaid that, through our insisting on the policy of non-interference
ourselves, and of non-interference by European nations, Hayti has been
brought into a position where it is on the high road to better things in
future. That has been the result of the prescriptive American policy.
With Mexico, the case is far stronger. We all know that in 1848, after
our war of spoliation, we had to bolster up a semblance of a government
for Mexico, with which to negotiate a treaty of peace. Mexico at that
time was reduced by us to a condition of utter anarchy. Under the theory
now gaining in vogue, it would then have been our plain duty to make of
Mexico an extra-territorial dependency, and protect it against itself.
We wisely took a different course. Like other Spanish communities in
America, Mexico than passed through a succession of revolutions, from
which it became apparent the people were not in a fit condition for
self-government. Nevertheless, sternly insisting on non-interference by
outside powers, we ourselves wisely left that country to work out its
own salvation in its own way.

In 1862, when the United States was involved in the War of the
Rebellion, the Europeans took advantage of the situation to invade
Mexico, and to establish there a "stable government." They undertook to
protect that people against themselves, and to erect for them a species
of protectorate, such as we now propose for the Philippines. As soon as
our war was over, we insisted upon the withdrawal of Europe from Mexico.
What followed is matter of recent history. It is unnecessary to recall
it. We did not reduce Mexico into a condition of "tutelage," or
establish over it a "protectorate" of our own. We, on the contrary,
insisted that it should stand on its own legs; and, by so doing, learn
to stand firmly on them, just as a child learns to walk, by being
compelled to try to walk, not by being kept everlastingly in "leading
strings." This was the American, as contradistinguished from the
European policy; and Mexico to-day walks firmly.

Finally take the case of Venezuela in 1895. I believe I am not mistaken
when I say that, during the twenty-five preceding years, Venezuela had
undergone almost as many revolutions. It certainly had not enjoyed a
stable government. Through disputes over questions of boundary, Great
Britain proposed to confer that indisputable blessing upon a
considerable region. We interfered under a most questionable extension
of the Monroe Doctrine, and asserted the principle of "Hands-off."
Having done this,--having in so far perpetuated what we now call the
scandal of anarchy,--we did not establish "tutelage," or a protectorate,
ourselves. We wisely left Venezuela to work out its destiny in its own
way, and in the fullness of time. That policy was far-seeing,
beneficent, and strictly American in 1895. Why, then, make almost
indecent haste to abandon it in 1898?

Instead, therefore, of finding our precedents in the experience of
England, or that of any other European power, I would suggest that the
true course for this country now to pursue is exactly the course we have
heretofore pursued under similar conditions. Let us be true to our own
traditions, and follow our own precedents. Having relieved the Spanish
islands from the dominion of Spain, we should declare concerning them a
policy of "Hands-off," both on our own part and on the part of other
powers. We should say that the independence of those islands is morally
guaranteed by us as a consequence of the treaty of Paris, and then leave
them just as we have left Hayti, and just as we left Mexico and
Venezuela, to adopt for themselves such form of government as the people
thereof are ripe for. In the cases of Mexico and Venezuela, and in the
case of Hayti, we have not found it necessary to interfere ever or at
all. It is not yet apparent why we should find it necessary to interfere
with islands so much more remote from us than Hayti, and than Mexico and
Venezuela, as are the Philippines.

In this matter we can thus well afford to be consistent, as well as
logical. Our fundamental principles, those of the Declaration, the
Constitution, and the Monroe Doctrine, have not yet been shown to be
unsound--why should we be in such a hurry to abandon them? Our
precedents are close at hand, and satisfactory--why look away from them
to follow those of Great Britain? Why need we, all of a sudden, be so
very English and so altogether French, even borrowing their nomenclature
of "imperialism?" Why can not we, too, in the language of Burke, be
content to set our feet "in the tracks of our forefathers, where we can
neither wander nor stumble?" The only difficulty in the way of our so
doing seems to be that we are in such a desperate hurry; while natural
influences and methods, though in the great end indisputably the wisest
and best, always require time in which to work themselves out to their
results. Wiser than the Almighty in our own conceit, we think to get
there at once; the "there" in this case being everlasting "tutelage," as
in India, instead of ultimate self-government, as in Mexico.

The policy heretofore pursued by us in such cases,--the policy of
"Hands-off," and "Walk alone," is distinctly American; it is not
European, not even British. It recognizes the principles of our
Declaration of Independence. It recognizes the truth that all just
government exists by the consent of the governed. It recognizes the
existence of the Monroe Doctrine. In a word, it recognizes every
principle and precedent, whether natural or historical, which has from
the beginning lain at the foundation of our American polity. It does not
attempt the hypocritical contradiction in terms, of pretending to
elevate a people into a self-sustaining condition through the
leading-string process of "tutelage." It appeals to our historical
experience, applying to present conditions the lessons of Hayti, Mexico,
and Venezuela. In dealing with those cases, we did not find a great
standing army or an enormous navy necessary; and, if not then, why now?
Why such a difference between the Philippines and Hayti? Is Cuba larger
or nearer to us than Mexico? When, therefore, in future they ask us what
course and policy we Anti-Imperialists propose, our answer should be
that we propose to pursue towards the islands of Antilles and the
Philippines the same common-sense course and truly American policy which
were by us heretofore pursued with such signal success in the cases of
Hayti, Mexico, and Venezuela, all inhabited by people equally unfit for
self-government, and geographically much closer to ourselves. We propose
to guarantee them against outside meddling, and, above all, from
"tutelage," and make them, by walking, learn to walk alone.

This, I submit, is not only an answer to the question so frequently put
to us, but a positive policy following established precedents, and, what
is more, purely American, as distinguished from a European or British,
policy and precedents.

I remain, etc.,


_Hon. Carl Schurz,
16 E. 64th Street, New York City._


[1] "Obviously, men are not born equal in physical strength or in mental
capacity, in beauty of form or health of body. Diversity or inequality
in these respects is the law of creation. But this inequality is in no
particular inconsistent with complete civil or political equality.

"The equality declared by our fathers in 1776 and made the fundamental
law of Massachusetts in 1780, was _Equality before the Law_. Its object
was to efface all political or civil distinctions, and to abolish all
institutions founded upon _birth_. 'All men are _created_ equal,' says
the Declaration of Independence. 'All men are _born_ free and equal,'
says the Massachusetts Bill of Rights. These are not vain words. Within
the sphere of their influence, no person can be _created_, no person can
be _born_, with civil or political privileges not enjoyed equally by all
his fellow-citizens; nor can any institutions be established,
recognizing distinctions of birth. Here is the Great Charter of every
human being drawing vital breath upon this soil, whatever may be his
conditions, and whoever may be his parents. He may be poor, weak,
humble, or black,--he may be of Caucasian, Jewish, Indian, or Ethiopian
race,--he may be born of French, German, English, or Irish extraction;
but before the Constitution of Massachusetts all these distinctions
disappear. He is not poor, weak, humble, or black; nor is he Caucasian,
Jew, Indian, or Ethiopian; nor is he French, German, English, or Irish;
he is a MAN, the equal of all his fellow-men. He is one of the children
of the State, which, like an impartial parent, regards all its offspring
with an equal care. To some it may justly allot higher duties, according
to higher capacities; but it welcomes all to its equal hospitable board.
The State, imitating the divine Justice, is no respecter of
persons."--_Works of Charles Sumner, Vol. II., pp. 341-2_.

[2] Historically speaking, the assertion in the Declaration of
Independence has been fruitful of dispute. The very evening the present
paper was read at Lexington the Mayor of Boston, in a public address
elsewhere, alluded to the "imprudent generalizations of our
forefathers," referring, doubtless, to what Rufus Choate, forty-two
years before, described as "the glittering and sounding generalities of
natural right" to be found in the Declaration, "that passionate and
eloquent manifesto." Mr. Calhoun declared (1848) that the claim of human
equality set forth in the Declaration was "the most false and dangerous
of all political errors," which, after resting a long time "dormant,"
had, in the process of time, begun "to germinate and produce its
poisonous fruits." Mr. Pettit, a Senator from Indiana, pronounced it in
1854, "a self-evident lie." In the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate in
Illinois (1860) the question reappeared, Mr. Douglas contending that the
Declaration applied only to "the white people of the United States;"
while Mr. Lincoln, in reply, asserted that "the entire records of the
world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence up to within
three years ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation,
from one single man, that the negro was not included in the
Declaration." The contention of Mr. Douglas had recently again made its
appearance in the press as something too indisputable to admit of
discussion. It is asserted that, in penning the Declaration, Mr.
Jefferson could not possibly have intended to include those then
actually held as slaves. On this point Mr. Jefferson himself should, it
would seem, be accepted as a competent witness. Referring to the denial
of his "inalienable rights" to the African, he declared at a later day,
"I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just." What he
meant will, however, probably continue matter for confident newspaper
assertions just so long as anybody in this country wants to make out, as
did Stephen A. Douglas in 1860, a plausible pretext for subjugating
somebody else,--Indian, African, or Asiatic. As Mr. Lincoln expressed
it, "The assertion that all men are created equal was of no practical
use in effecting our separation from Great Britain, and it was placed in
the Declaration, not for that but for future use. Its author meant it to
be, as, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to all
those who, in after times, might seek to turn a free people back into
the paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed
tyrants, and they meant, when such should reappear in this fair land,
and commence their vocation, they should find left for them at least one
hard nut to crack."--_Works_, Vol. I., p. 233.

[3] Green's Short History (Ill. Ed.). Vol. I. p. 9.

[4] The Roman legions were withdrawn from Great Britain in 410; Magna
Charta was signed in June, 1215, and the reign of French kings over
England came to a close in 1217. It is a striking illustration of the
deliberation with which natural processes work themselves out, that the
period which elapsed between the withdrawal of Rome from England, and
the recovery of England by the English, should have exceeded by more
than a century the time which has as yet elapsed since England was thus

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