“Force vs. Example in Civilization” American Sentinel 14, 39, pp. 609, 610.

THE United States has started out on a career of conferring the blessings of civilization upon other peoples of the earth, by force. In not every case may it be compelled to subjugate such a people by actual war, as in the Philippines; but in every case its policy is to enforce complete submission to its sovereignty, as the first step to the realization of the promise blessings.

In changing to this policy from that heretofore pursued, the United States has exchanged the power of persuasion by example, for the power of compulsion to fear. It has declared that the latter is more potent for lifting people to a higher civilization than is the former. It has declared that people can be unwillingly lifted to this higher plane more readily than they can be willingly. It has declared that the sword is a mightier civilizer than the pen: that the whirlwind and [610] earthquake, rather than the “still small voice,” manifest the working of Providence.

The doctrine which it has thus affirmed is not true. There is no question at all but that the influence of the United States over the world, as a republic based upon the true principles of government, and exemplifying the blessings of free government before all people, is vastly greater than any influence it can exert as a martial figure brandishing its sword before the world and declaring that its civilization must be extended in the earth by its military prowess.

Such an exhibition awakens in the onlooking world scorn and derision, hatred, and some fear, but never any feeling of increased regard for American principles of government and of desire to adopt them in other lands.

The United States has, unquestionably, during this nineteenth century, exerted a great moral influence upon the world. This is a truth which by many seems now to be forgotten or overlooked. It has continually instilled into the minds of all people the aspiration for free government. It has continually dropped into the soil of their hearts the germ of freedom which had power to grow and become a giant tree, rending asunder the institutions of despotism as the clods of earth are rent by the pushing sprout. It has thus continually worked along the line by which the greatest and most complete revolutions among earth’s peoples are brought about; for as all history shows, such revolutions come always from a force generating within the hearts of the people, rather than from a force passing upon them from without.

The United States could not indeed expect to persuade other governments of the earth—the monarchies of the Old World—to abdicate their power and voluntarily step aside in favor of republics; nor was it necessary that its influence upon the nations should take effect in that way. But it could expect to instill the love of free government into the hearts of the people of other lands, until they themselves should rise up and set aside the institutions of monarchy and the principles that had held them in subjection to a ruler, replacing them with the principle of self-rule and the institutions that are based upon it. This is a statement justified not alone by reason but by historical events.

There is in the hearts of all people a natural love of free government: a love which can be awakened and fostered, and which, nourished by a mighty influence streaming continually from the shores of the New World, would grow and in time work wonders for Old World peoples held in governmental bondage. And this would be true not only in Europe, but in the less civilized lands of Asia; in those very lands, indeed, where the United States is now seeking to impose its civilization by fire and sword. With the great Republic standing true to the principles on which it was set up, the leaven of free government would ere long have done for remote and semi-civilized lands all that the same Republic is essaying but will not be able to do by force of arms.

Other lands do not want American civilization, and least of all do they want that civilization imposed on them. American civilization, as it is in the United States, is fitted only for the United States. But the spirit and principles of free government are the same in all lands; and the structure of free government must be reared upon those principles by the people themselves. The civilization of every land should be its own. Free government in one land, cannot mean the establishment there of an alien civilization.

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