Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/22

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12
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sires and interests of the Mexican people. The government or vice-royalty established by Spain, in Mexico, for the practical application of this policy, accordingly seems to have always regarded the attainment of three things or results as the object for which it was mainly constituted, and to have allowed nothing of sentiment or of humanitarian consideration to stand for one moment in the way of their rigorous prosecution and realization. These were, first, to collect and pay into the royal treasury the largest possible amount of annual revenue; second, to extend and magnify the authority and work of the established Church; third, to protect home (i. e., Spanish) industries.

Starting with the assumption that the country, with all its people and resources, was the absolute property of the crown in virtue of conquest, the accomplishment of the first result was sought through the practical enslavement of the whole native population, and the appropriation of the largest amount of all production that was compatible with the continued existence of productive industries. With the civil power at the command of the Church, the attainment of the second result was from the outset most successful; for, with a profession of belief and the acceptance of baptism, on the one hand, and the vigilance of the Inquisition and a menace of the fires of the auto-da-fe on the other, the number of those who wanted to exemplify in themselves the supremacy of conscience or the freedom of the will, was very soon reduced to a minimum. And, finally, the correctness or expediency of the principle of protection to home (Spanish) industry having been once accepted, it was practically carried out, with such a logical exactness and absence of all subterfuge, as to be worthy of admiration, and without parallel in all economic history. For, in the first instance, with a view of laying the axe directly at the root of the tree of commercial freedom, all foreign trade or commercial intercourse with any country other than Spain was prohibited under pain of death; and that ordinance is believed to have been kept in force until within the present century. No schools or educational institutions save those of an ecclesiastical nature were allowed, and in these instruction in almost every branch of useful learning was prohibited. Certain portions of Mexico were admirably adapted, as they yet are, to the cultivation of the vine, the olive, the mulberry, and of fiber-yielding plants, and also for the keeping and breeding of sheep; but, as a colonial supply of wine, oil, silk, hemp, and wool might interfere with the interests of home producers, the production of any or all of these articles was strictly prohibited; neither was any manufacture whatever allowed which could by any possibility interfere with any similar industry of Old Spain. When Hidalgo, a patriotic Catholic priest, about the year 1810, with a desire to diversify the industries of his country and benefit his countrymen, introduced the silk-worm and promoted the planting of vineyards, the authorities destroyed the one and uprooted the other; and through these acts first