Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/278

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274
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

SOCIAL LEGISLATION ON THE PACIFIC COAST
By Professor WILLIAM F. OGBURN

THE Pacific coast states represent a future empire. Nature has marked them off by natural barriers and by climate more distinctly than any other division of the United States. This fact so impressed the distinguished author of the “American Commonwealth” that he speculated upon the development of a Pacific coast type of the human race and pointed out that this region might quite naturally have been the home of a separate nation. Oregon, Washington and California are equivalent in area to France and the British Isles. Their population, however, is only four and a half million, while the population of France and the British Isles is eighty-five million. It can not safely be predicted that these far western states will ultimately hold so dense a population as these European nations; yet, undoubtedly, the future will see an immense population dwelling in these new states. The opening of the Panama Canal has most dramatically forced this fact on the attention of present inhabitants of the Pacific Coast.

Here, then, an empire is being built. To the student of science it suggests several questions. How can a state be scientifically built? What principles do the researches of political science yield? Should state-makers use the experimental method? Will a democracy, in which the common people rule, be sufficiently far-sighted and capable to utilize scientific principles in building their future state? These questions arise when one studies the experiences of the Pacific coast states in state-making. It is the purpose of this paper to present the beginings of empire-building in Washington, Oregon and California as seen through their treatment of social problems. Before such a presentation is made, the viewpoints suggested by these questions need some elaboration.

The first question is: How does political science say a state should be scientifically built? Can a state be built as scientifically as an engineer spans the East River with a suspension bridge? Political science is not as exact a science as engineering, yet it has developed sufficiently to speak definitely about the making of states. The contributions of this science to state-craft may be referred to as the theory of the state.

At the time of the declaration of independence by the American colonies, the theory of the state held that the government which governed least governed best. Organized government as then known in Europe had been achieved primarily by the strong man, as typified by