UNDER the false impression that revolutions can be accomplished only by violence and visible upheaval, the American people are in great danger of passing through a revolution and of finding themselves in the clutches of a new and strange power before they realize that any such thing is going on at all.
It should not be forgotten by any member of the American Republic that the Roman Republic passed through the despotism of two triumvirates, the second far worse than the first, each ending in the despotism of one man: and then passed into the “furious and crushing despotism” of the Roman monarchy; all in the name of the Republic. All this occurred inside of forty years, before the eyes of all the people, while they were pleasing themselves with the fancy and the name that they were still a republic.
Even when Augustus had become emperor this fiction was played by him before the yes of the people; and the people were pleased with it. For, as Gibbon most pointedly remarks, “Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names: nor was he deceived in his expectation that the Senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.” Upon this safe assumption he accordingly deceived “the people by an image of civil liberty, and the armies by an image of civil government.” He was eminently successful, and both people and armies congratulated themselves upon the greatness, and the new and wonderful career, of the Roman Republic
With these facts in mind the following extract from the speech of Ex-Attorney-General Harmon, to the Ohio Bar Association at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, July 12, are intensely suggestive to citizens of the American Republic:—
“Mere expansion is not growth. It is only swelling. We may push across the seas, but we cannot grow there. Elephantiasis is not an unknown form of national malady, and has always proved fatal. There are still chapters of English history to be written.
“We should have to change both the name and the nature of our nation to admit any State out of America, especially if it be populated by alien races. Few, if any, are now bold enough to advocate this. To get dominion over strange peoples for the mere purpose of governing them, not admitting them as equals in a family of States, stretching into permanency for that purpose a power meant to be temporary and occasional only and for that reason left unrestricted, is rightly called an imperial policy. It would belie and discredit the Declaration of Independence, and convict us of hypocrisy. We cannot under  our system govern any people without letting them help govern us. The reaction would be swift and sure. We should see what Patrick Henry meant when he said in his famous resolutions of 1765, that such government of the colonies by Great Britain ‘has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom.’
“An imperial policy will as surely some day lead to an emperor. He may assume some softer name if our sensitiveness survive, as is often the case. But an imperial policy and a republic make a contradiction in terms. The policy must to or the emperor in some new form must come.
“But what are we to do with countries we take? If where our flag is carried in battle it must remain as the emblem of permanent authority, victory will become more perilous than defeat. There is no dishonor in bringing home our victorious banners, as we did from the walls of Mexico. There is dishonor, and danger, too, in pulling down the landmarks of the union. No obligation, legal or moral, prevents our leaving such countries as we find them, or giving their people control of their own affairs if we think best. Desire only, not duty, suggests the assumption of authority over them.
“If we must provide fuel for our ships, we want coal-bins, not provinces nor colonies. We can hold them as property. We need not broaden them into domain. If they must be fortified and guarded so we may fight our way to and from them, let us keep them as England does Gibraltar. She does not have to rule Spain. If we must have purely national property abroad, we can at least keep our politics at home where we can have a close eye on them.
“Congress was authorized merely ‘to regulate commerce.’ Our ancestors knew commerce can be captured and kept, only by better goods and lower prices. Yet it is more than hinted that it would be a proper exercise of this power to conquer foreign nations in order to make them trade with us. Conquest is even suggested as a means of spreading the gospel….
“But who is authorized to abandon the ocean ramparts with which God has surrounded us, because the inventions of men have made them somewhat less effectual. They will always be our chief defences while the earth revolves. Our country can be no further from danger than its nearest part. Where is the right found to expose our national honor, pride and welfare in dominions beyond the seas, when they may abide in safety forever in the home which the kindness of nature and the wisdom of our fathers have provided for them.
“It is not pleasant to play Cassandra. It is easier to join in the shouting and the dancing of those who seem to think the past is dead and the future assured. But one’s duty to his countrymen is to give warning of evil when he believes he detects its approach.”
A. T. J.