“The New World-Power” American Sentinel 13, 25, pp. 386, 387.

BETWEEN Spain and the United States there exists, and there has existed for some time, a state of war. As for the actual element of war, there has been so far very little. Yet from the little that there has been, there have already sprung prospects of possibilities that are of most profound interest to every soul in the United States, whatever his view or his attitude concerning it.

As a matter of fact, the incidents of this controversy are of far more importance to the country than all the actualities put together, so far. It is these things that the AMERICAN SENTINEL is watching and studying with most absorbing interest. We are not, in these things, criticising; we are simply calling attention to important developments.

One of these, which we have pointed out, is the distinct advance made, and point gained, by the papacy in her designs with regard to the United States. More will be heard from that before the controversy shall be ended.

Another is the proposal and prospect of an alliance between Britain and the United States.

And now a third is the proposal and serious prospect of a world career to be seized and followed by the United States all on her own part. This prospect has already become so tangible as to excite the serious attention of leading and thinking men both for it and against it. The most calm and considerate view of the situation as it is, that has yet appeared, is set forth by Col. T. W. Higginson in Harpers Bazar of June 11, under the title “A New World-Power,” the substance of which is as follows:—

“IT startles one a little to turn back to Bacon’s Essays and read there the quiet remark, made three hundred years ago (in the essay on the ‘Greatness of Kingdoms’), that the only two nations of Europe which excelled in arms were the Spaniards and Turks; though he admits ‘great declination’ as to the latter race. He little dreamed that a few hours in the bay of Manila were to reveal the existence of a wholly new power, which in his day had not even been born on the planet, and before which the Spanish race should apparently be destined to yield. It has been given to few men and to few events to construct so much of human history as was accomplished in those few hours by Admiral Dewey. Not only did it seal the downfall of one great world-power, but the arrival of another; and it will cost all the power of resistance on the part of moderate men to keep this country from following the steps of England into an imperial position on the globe. It is a curious fact that the Monroe doctrine—‘let the Western Hemisphere alone and we will let the Eastern Hemisphere alone’—was the attitude held to be radical only so long ago as the days of Cleveland and Olney. Yet those who now hold that same Monroe doctrine, and propose to abide by it, are taunted as conservatives. There have been in political history few greater and more sudden transformations of public opinion. [387]

“When the Athenian general Themistocles was asked to touch a lute at a feast, he said that he could not play on that instrument, yet he could make a small town into a great city. No matter how large the country, the temptation to make it larger is just as strong. Rome means to us the Roman Empire, and England the British Empire. There are none now living who can personally recall the excitement provoked when Jefferson bought the vast Louisiana territory in 1803; but although it was a direct violation of all his political theories, and perhaps actually unconstitutional, it evidently swept the nation and practically annihilated the opposing party. There are many living who uttered the threat, ‘Texas and disunion;’ yet who would now be willing to forego the national possession of Texas? It would certainly be the same with the much distrusted Alaska. It is inevitable that those who have seen, again and again, these successive steps in enlargement of our territory should be tempted to raise the cry of ‘manifest destiny.’ It is inevitable as the temptation, when a man has already enlarged his farm by buying an adjoining lot on the northeast, that he should look with increased favor on the offer of another adjoining strip on the southwest, and so on indefinitely.

“Yet the farmer who yields much to such temptations is pretty sure to come to grief sooner or later, and it is the serverest test of the judgment and self-control of a nation when it knows how to stop. Practically, this nation holds Alaska by the grace of England, just as England holds Canada by the grace of this country; and perhaps this recognized interchange of hostages is a sufficient guarantee. The case is very different when we plan to go far from home and to become occupants of islands which may involve us with all the leading powers of the world. All the entanglements of the older nations become partly ours when we once set foot on their very ground. What is worse, all the safeguard of the Monroe doctrine vanishes, for there is no reason why those nations should not proceed to parcel out South America as they have Africa, the moment we depart from the traditions of Monroe. All this is to bequeath to our children a wholly different world of policy from that which their have dwelt in—a formidable result to follow from a few hours of target-practice at Manila.

There will be involved also the enormous expense and labor of keeping up an army and navy on the scale of European nations. And this, with our vast scale in the payment of pensions—an expense far exceeding that of European nations—will affect all taxation, and consequently our whole habits of living. Nothing that we can do in any foreign waters will be worth half so much to the world as to perpetuate a successful republic on this continent; and to endanger that is to forfeit our chief mission on this planet.

The only republic that ever went over this ground before was the republic of Rome. And when Rome once became imperial in territory, it was but a little while before she became both imperial and imperious in spirit, and then it was but a little while before she became imperial in government.

Anybody who is really acquainted with the course of Rome, can readily appreciate the wisdom of the following words of Harpers Weekly of June 11, 1898:—

“The sound American believes in the genius of the republic and in virtue of its institutions. His government was founded for the benefit of the individual citizen. Its task is the most beneficient of all the tasks performed by government the world over. Its burdens rest so lightly upon its citizens that they hardly realize its existence. It makes mistakes; it is sometimes ignorant; it is often awkward; it exasperates us; it is frequently insufficient as it is: it would be always inefficient if the burdens of large military establishments and of colonial government were imposed upon its executive power. Its virtues lie very largely in this executive weakness. But awkward and mistaken, inefficient and exasperating as it often it, it has worked more lasting good in the world than all the other governments combined. It does not govern colonies. It governs no man against his will, or without his consent expressed as to the smallest detail. Its accomplishments for the human race and its virtues are the consequences of its differences from other governments. Other governments can manage colonies because they possess the machinery for ruling men against their wills, for levying taxes without the consent of those who pay them. In the elements and features of our Government, which differ from those of Europe, lie its Americanism, and those who wish to maintain the government as it was framed and as it has existed until now are the true Americans, while those who want to go abroad in distant oceans for new territory thus express their distrust in our institutions, and their longing for a return to the flesh-pots of Egypt.”

A. T. J.

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