Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/56

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46
HISTORY

in California in 1848, and unimagined riches in precious metals, timber, and agricultural resources were later revealed in this vast new empire. But most important of all was the fact that the nation had at last made its lodgment on the shores of the Pacific, where it was to be involved in the destiny of that ocean and its Asiatic shores.

The South, deprived of the benefits of these great acquisitions by the compromise of 1850, tried in vain to find new outlets by Cuban annexation. But the Civil War resulting from the rivalries of the expanding sections engrossed the energies of the nation. At the close of that war, Russia, which had given moral support to the North when England and France were doubtful, offered the United States her Alaskan territory and, not without opposition, Secretary Seward secured the ratification of a treaty[1] in 1867 by which nearly six hundred thousand square miles were added to our domains.

For nearly a third of a century after the Civil War the energies of the Union were poured out in the economic conquest of the vast annexations in its contiguous territory. In 1892 the Superintendent of the Census announced that the maps of population could no longer depict a frontier line bounding the outer edge of advancing settlement. The era of colonization was terminating. The free lands were being rapidly engrossed and the Union was reaching the condition of other settled states.


THE ISLAND POSSESSIONS AND THE PANAMA CANAL

In this era the old expansive movement became manifest in a new form by the Spanish-American War and the acquisition of land oversea. It was the recognition of the independence of Cuba[2] by the United States in 1898 and the intervention to expel Spain which brought about the Spanish-American War; but once involved in that war, the naval exigencies led to the conquest of the Philippines, and Porto Rico as well as Cuba. Considerations of strategy also facilitated the annexation of Hawaii[3] in 1898.

By the treaty of peace[4] in 1898 Spain ceded the Philippines and Porto Rico and withdrew from Cuba, which obtained its autonomy by the recall of the American troops in 1902.

  1. H. C., xliii, 432.
  2. H. C., xliii, 440.
  3. H. C., xliii, 437.
  4. H. C., xliii, 442.