Page:Frontiers.djvu/22

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Frontiers

but is beyond it and at a lower elevation. Another parent of much controversy is the ambiguous phrase 'foot of the hills', the different interpretations of which in fixing the Indian Frontier almost produced a rupture between the Indian Government and the late Amir of Afghanistan.

We now come to the important category of Rivers. As the creation of nature, in contradistinction to the creation of man, no Frontiers are more natural. But in another sense, namely, that which is in accord with the natural habits of man, rivers are not natural divisions, because people of the same race are apt to reside on both banks. Thus the Germans are found living on both banks of the Upper Danube, and the Slavs on both banks of the Lower Danube; the Turks or Tartars live on both banks of the Oxus, though to the north they are in Russian (i.e. Bokharan) territory and to the south under Afghanistan; the Indus was not a natural frontier to the Punjab, because Indian peoples, as distinct from Pathans or border men, inhabit the further as well as the nearer bank of the river. So many of the peoples of Laos lived astride the Mekong that the French soon found it to be an impracticable Frontier. The long contest between America, France, and Great Britain over the Mississippi valley, arising out of the French policy of shutting in the United States behind the Alleghanies, and using the Indians as a barrier between the mountains and the river, abundantly illustrated the futility of a river as a permanent boundary. As soon as the Americans broke through the Alleghanies with railroads there was no stopping them by the Mississippi or any other natural Frontier until they reached the sea. In fact the