October 27, 1898
THE early Christian Church, when it went forth to fulfill the divine commission to “preach the gospel to every creature,” met with severe persecution at the hands of Rome. Rome was then pagan, and the measures employed against the Christians were taken in the name of paganism, in the name of the pagan principle which compelled worship of the gods of Rome.
But in spite of persecution, Christianity spread throughout the empire, carrying with it the divine principle of brotherly love and regard for the rights of beings created in the image of God; teaching men to render to Cesar the things that were Cesar’s, and to God the things that were God’s. Toleration came in the place of persecution, and a final acknowledgment of the right of the Christians, and of all men, to worship only the God of their own choice.
But ere long, a professor of the Christian religion sat on the throne of the empire, and the church which held the name and practiced the forms of Christianity became the dominant power in the land. Church and state were united, and the state did the bidding of the church. And then persecution was again waged, more severely than ever, against those who maintained allegiance to the principles of the divine government. The realm of conscience was invaded, religious freedom was swept away, individual rights were denied, on a wider scale than had been done before. But this time it was done in the name of Christianity. In the name of that which had before proclaimed the right of every man to think for himself and to worship as his own conscience might dictate,—in the very name of that which had de- [sic.] demanded this for all men, all this was denied to men. And that produced the worst persecution, the worst state of things in politics and society, that the world ever knew. The very light that was in men became darkness, and how great was that darkness was made known by the long night of the Dark Ages.
And now, in this country, is to be seen a parallel to this retrograde movement which brought darkness and ruin upon the world then, and which can only have a similar result to-day. The United States Government arose to proclaim to the world the principles of civil freedom, the right of men to self-government. Its separation from the monarchy of Great Britain was justified by the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed all men to be created equal and possessed of inalienable rights, to preserve which is the only legitimate object of civil government. Situated in a territory which had become a refuge for the oppressed of other lands, the principles of civil and religious freedom found in this Government the soil for vigorous growth, and the opportunity for a world-wide influence upon man. The right of men to self-government was asserted not only for the citizens of this Government, but for those of all governments on the earth.
But now, the United States Government itself is departing from the principles for which it has hitherto stood. When it arose as a power among the nations, it protested against despotism in the name of the inalienable right of all men to civil and religious freedom. Its policy was that of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But a new policy is coming  to the front; territory is now held under the authority of the United States in which the majority of the people have no voice in the Government. This is the case in Hawaii, which is now under military rule, than which a more despotic form of government does not exist. Porto Rico is another district under the like rule, and Cuba and the Philippines are almost certain to be incorporated into the national domain on a similar footing. The dream of American statesmen is of empire, rather than of “Liberty enlightening the World” with the glory of free government.
And all this is done in the name of liberty,—in the name of the Constitution which is the great charter of free government and of the Declaration of Independence by which the national policy professes to be guided. In the name of liberty a government is set up over a people which holds them in unwilling subjection to a foreign power. Under such a policy the light of free republican government, founded upon the recognition of inalienable rights, must be turned into darkness, and only despotism worse than that against which our forefathers protested can be the final result.
And this is a real and a terrible menace to America to-day and to the world; for the effect of it will be worldwide. As Ex-Secretary Carlisle has said, “Better a thousand times that monarchical Spain should continue to rule a people against their will than that the United States should usurp her place and hold them in subjection in the name of liberty and humanity.”