OF the zeal for the spread of slavery, in his day, Abraham Lincoln said:—
“I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world; … and especially because it forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticising the Declaration of Independence.”
This exactly describes the new American policy of imperialism. This also is causing many to “criticise the Declaration of Independence.” Leading men and leading papers, of the country, who would naturally be thought ready to keep silent when the Declaration speaks, actually criticise it, and in fact repudiate it.
The statement that is now so glibly and suerpciliously made that the people of the newly-acquired territory “are not fit for self government” and must therefore be held in subjection and governed by force “until they shall become qualified for self-government,” plainly cannot stand a moment in the presence of the great principles of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And simply because such views cannot stand in the presence of the Declaration, the Declaration is criticised and set aside.
But who is it that decides for the people of the new island possessions, that they “are not fit for self-government”?—Not themselves; for they have been fighting and struggling for years against that very claim put forth by Spain and others. Has the statement any more truth when put forth by Americans, contrary to their own Declaration and fundamental principles? What right have Americans, any more than Spaniards or Russians, to decide for other people that they are not fit for self-government? Wherein is America different from Russia or Spain when she decides for these people that they are not fit for self-government, and then counts them rebels, and fights them and oppresses them, when they do not accept the decision?
Plainly enough this whole thing, being in open  disregard of the Declaration of Independence, is an “open war with the fundamental principles of civil liberty,” and positively “deprives republican example of its just influence in the world.” And as that which did all this in Lincoln’s day was hated by that great lover of liberty, why should not this which does the same things n our day be hated by every lover of liberty now?
In his day Lincoln said that the Declaration of Independence was “assailed and sneered at, and construed and hawked at, and torn, till if its framers could rise from their graves they could not at all recognize it.” That thing is being done again. At that time it was done in the interests of the spread of slavery; now it is done, and has to be done, in the interests of imperialism. At that time Lincoln said, “If that Declaration is not the truth, let us get the statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it? If it is not true, let us tear it out!” And when, at such a suggestion, his audience cried out, “No, no!” Lincoln answered, “Let us stick to it then; let us stand firmly by it then.” And so it is time to say again.
For ten years it has been written that the United States would yet “repudiate every principle of a republican government.” If we are not just now in the time when this thing is being done, how much further will things have to be carried in this direction before we shall be in the time of the doing of that thing?
A. T. J.