Thoughts on American Imperialism
|Thoughts on American Imperialism
|The Century Magazine, Vol. LVI, No. 5 (September, 1898), pp. 781-788, as recorded in Frederic Bancroft, ed., Speeches, Correspondence and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, Volume V, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1913, pp. 494-513.|
THE settlement of the results of the war with Spain imposes upon the American people the momentous duty of determining whether they will continue the traditional policy under which they have achieved their present prosperity, greatness and power, or whether they will adopt a new course, the issue of which is, to say the least, highly problematical, and which, if once entered upon, can, according to all human foresight, never be retraced. Under such circumstances they should be specially careful not to permit themselves to be influenced in their decision by high-sounding phrases of indefinite meaning, by vague generalities or by seductive catchwords appealing to unreasoning pride and reckless ambition. More than ever true patriotism now demands the exercise of the soberest possible discernment.
We are told that as we have grown very rich and very powerful the principles of policy embodied in Washington's Farewell Address have become obsolete; that we have "new responsibilities," "new duties" and a peculiar "mission." When we ask what these new responsibilities and duties require this Republic to do, the answer is that it should meddle more than heretofore with the concerns of the outside world for the purpose of "furthering the progress of civilization"; that it must adopt an "imperial policy" and make a beginning by keeping as American possessions the island colonies conquered from Spain. This last proposition has at least the merit of definiteness, and it behooves the American people carefully to examine it in the light of "responsibility," "duty" and "mission."
I am far from denying that this Republic, as one of the great Powers of the world, has its responsibilities. But what is it responsible for? Is it to be held, or to hold itself, responsible for the correction of all wrongs done by strong nations to weak ones, or by powerful oppressors to helpless populations? Is it, in other words, responsible for the general dispensation of righteousness throughout the world? Neither do I deny that this Republic has a "mission"; and I am willing to accept, what we are frequently told, that this mission consists in "furthering the progress of civilization." But does this mean that wherever obstacles to the progress of civilization appear, this Republic should at once step in to remove those obstacles by means of force, if friendly persuasion do not avail? Every sober-minded person will admit that under so tremendous a task any earthly power, however great, would soon break down. Moreover, those are not wrong who maintain that the nation which would assume the office of a general dispenser of justice and righteousness in the world, according to its own judgment, should be held to prove itself as a model of justice and righteousness in its own home concerns as well as in its dealings with others.
When we are asked whether a nation should, in this respect, do nothing for the outside world because it cannot do all, or because it is not perfect itself, the answer is that to be true to its responsibility and its duty, a nation should conscientiously seek to ascertain for itself how it can make its conduct most useful, morally as well as materially, to its own members as well as generally to mankind, and then devote its energies to the task of reaching the highest possible degree of that usefulness.
The peculiar responsibility resting upon the American people cannot be more strikingly and impressively defined than it was by Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg speech:
Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . .
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; . . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
In other words, it is the first and highest duty of the American people, involving their first and gravest responsibility, so to conduct their foreign as well as their domestic concerns that the problem of democratic government on a large scale be successfully solved in this Republic, not only for the benefit of the inhabitants of this country alone, but for the benefit of mankind. If the American people fail in this, they will fail in discharging their gravest responsibility and in fulfilling their highest mission, whatever else they may accomplish.
I do not mean to say that a due regard to that responsibility and fidelity to that mission would preclude any other effort to further the cause of popular government and of civilization outside of our own limits. But it can hardly be questioned that whenever such efforts are made in a manner apt to undermine democratic government at home, such efforts must, as to the true responsibility and mission of the American people, be regarded as dangerous; for they may not only injure the American people themselves, but also weaken the faith of mankind in the worth of democratic institutions, and thus impair their moral influence among men. To be just to their highest responsibility and duty, the American people should therefore avoid as much as possible everything, however splendid it may appear, and however flattering it may be to their ambition, that may be apt to make their democratic government at home less honest, less just, less beneficent and thereby less respectable and less attractive in the eyes of the world. One of the most prolific agencies of evil in this respect is war, for whatever reason it may be undertaken.
I shall certainly not deny that in the history of the world wars have sometimes done great service to civilization and to human freedom. There have been necessary wars, and there may be more. Our war for the Union may be called one of them. It is hardly denied now, even in the South, that the results of that war have in many respects been of immense benefit to the country. But it will just as little be denied that the civil war developed a degree of social as well as political demoralization which, if the conflict had gone on much longer, would have made the Republic a sink of corruption. It is true that we have since recovered from some of the evil practices bred by the war, and are thus enjoying all its good results without being permanently troubled by all of its bad effects. But while we have to some extent — by no means altogether — recovered during thirty-three years of peace from the mischief done by four years of war, how would it be if, instead of a long period of peace intervening, wars had multiplied during that time, continually withdrawing the attention of the citizens from their home concerns by the exciting reports of campaigns and battles, thus continually paralyzing that vigilance which is "the price of liberty," and giving no end of opportunity to the political jobber and the demagogue? In this way wars are far more dangerous to democracies than to monarchies, for the reason that by the agencies of public demoralization democracies are far more mischievously attacked in the vital conditions of their being.
How far such mischief will be wrought by our war with Spain will depend upon its duration, upon the extent to which it withdraws popular attention from our home concerns, and upon its results as to the future policy of the United States. However justifiable and even praiseworthy this war may appear to us, it is useless to deny that the mere fact of the great American Republic having gone to war without absolutely evident and generally accepted necessity, has hurt the prestige of democratic government in an important respect. Critical observation of the goings on in the United States and in the French Republic has of late years seriously shaken what there was of popular belief that republican government was necessarily the most honest and economical and the wisest imaginable government. But mankind still did believe — especially judging from the fact that the United States, with all their wealth and strength, did not find it necessary to keep up any large armament — that republican government was by its natural tendency a guaranty of peace. That this belief, too, has been, justly or unjustly, shaken by our war with Spain must be considered as a serious hurt to the prestige of republican government generally.
This hurt may be very much aggravated, or it may be greatly lessened, as the American people make this or that use of their victory over Spain. Aside from the question whether the war was necessary even for the avowed purpose of it, the attitude assumed by the United States as to the object to be accomplished by the war was entitled to the respect of mankind. The American people were greatly incensed at the cruel oppression suffered by the Cuban people at the hands of Spain. The Congress of the United States resolved "that the people of Cuba are, and of right ought to be, free and independent"; and it directed the Government of the Republic to make them so, expressly disclaiming any disposition or intention to exercise any control over Cuba, except for the purpose of pacification, and emphatically promising that, such pacification achieved, such control should be left to the Cuban people themselves. It was to be simply a war of liberation, of humanity, undertaken without any selfish motive. This we solemnly promised. The whole world was so to understand it. If a republican nation can undertake any war without injury to the prestige of democracy as an agency of peace, it is such a war of disinterested benevolence.
But how if this war of humanity and disinterested benevolence be turned into a war of conquest? How if Cuba or any other of the conquered islands be kept by the United States as a permanent possession? What then? And here let me remark that, from the moral point of view, it matters nothing whether the conquest be that of Cuba, or of Porto Rico, or of the Philippines, or of all of them. The resolution adopted by Congress was meant to be understood as heralding this war to the world, distinctly and emphatically, as a war of liberation, and not of conquest. Only Cuba was mentioned in the resolution, because only Cuba could be mentioned. To say that we may, without breaking the pledge involved in our proclamation, take and keep Porto Rico or the Philippines because they were not mentioned by name in the resolution, while it was in the nature of things that they could not be so mentioned — would this not be a mean piece of pettifogging to cover up a breach of faith? Can a gentleman do such things? Can a gentleman quibble about his moral obligations and his word?
What, then, will follow if the United States commit this breach of faith? What could our answer be if the world should say of the American people that they are wolves in sheep's clothing, rapacious land-grabbers posing as unselfish champions of freedom and humanity, false pretenders who have proved the truth of all that has been said by their detractors as to their hypocrisy and greed and whose word can never again be trusted? And how will that cause of civilization fare which consists in the credit of democratic institutions, of the government of, by and for the people, for which the American people are above all things responsible, and the maintenance of which is above all things their duty and mission? Will not those appear right who say that democratic government is not only no guaranty of peace, but that it is capable of the worst kind of war, the war of conquest, and of resorting to that kind of war, too, as a hypocrite and false pretender? Such a loss of character, in itself a most deplorable moral calamity, would be followed by political consequences of a very serious nature.
It is generally admitted that the Monroe Doctrine will virtually go overboard when this Republic becomes actively involved in what may be called Old-World interests. The meaning of the Monroe Doctrine is that no Old-World power shall be permitted to found new settlements on American soil over which it is to exercise control, or to interfere with any American state to the detriment of the independence or sovereignty thereof. It made the smaller American republics in that respect look up to the great and strong Republic as their natural friend and protector. How would the turning of this war of liberation and humanity into a war of conquest affect the relations of the United States with their Southern neighbors? It is a significant circumstance that in this war with Spain the sympathies of the other American republics have, to say the least, been doubtful. One might have expected that the memories of their own struggles for independence from Spain would have revived, and that the Spanish-Americans would have been delighted to see the United States achieve for their Cuban brethren what they in times past had at the cost of much blood achieved for themselves. Yet the Southern sister republics not only remained remarkably undemonstrative of such delight, but there has been much to indicate that their sympathies have been rather on the side of Spain. The reason for this may be found partly in race prejudice — the antipathy of the Latin race to the Anglo-Saxon. But there is something more than that.
Various voices have reached us from that part of the world, informing us that many thinking men among the Spanish-Americans see in our war against Spain only the first step in the execution of a vast scheme of conquest embracing first the Spanish West Indies, then all the other adjacent islands that can be got, then Mexico and the other republics down to the inter-oceanic canal that is to be built and a sufficient stretch of land south of that canal to bring it well within the boundaries of the United States, and then nobody knows what more. This may seem a very foolish apprehension, although the scheme is spoken of by some of the new school of American imperialists as a glorious Anglo-Saxon conception. At any rate, will not the Spanish-Americans, who are gifted with a lively fancy, in case the United States, after this boasted war of liberation and disinterested benevolence, really annex Cuba and Porto Rico, or either of them, be apt to regard that act as a verification of such apprehensions? Will they not with a good show of reason argue that a nation capable of turning a war that was solemnly proclaimed as a war of emancipation and humanity into a land-grabbing operation, will be capable of anything in the line of deceit and rapacity; that its appetite will grow with the eating; that having once embarked in a career of conquest, it will be urged from one such enterprise into another, on the plausible plea that new conquests are necessary to make the old ones secure and profitable; that nobody can tell how far this will go; and that therefore none of the sister republics will be safe from the perfidy and grasping ambition of the United States? Nobody will deny that there is logic in this; and being started on this line of thought, the American sister republics will cast about for means of protection; and if to that end they do not find a league among themselves against the United States practical or sufficient, it will not at all be unnatural for them to look for that protection to some of the Old-World Powers.
This is by no means a mere wild conjecture. A little sober reflection will convince every thinking mind that the first step on our part in this new policy of conquest will be very apt to fill the minds of our southern neighbors with that vague dread of some great danger hanging over them which will turn them into secret or open enemies of the United States, capable of throwing themselves into anybody's arms for protection; and this will not at all be unlikely to encourage, among Old-World Powers, schemes of encroachment upon the American continent which, on account of the former relations between the smaller American republics and the United States under the Monroe Doctrine, have so far not ventured forth. This would be to the United States the beginning of incalculable troubles of a new sort. And then these very troubles arising from southern hostility, combining with the ambitious schemes of Old-World Powers, would be used by our imperialists as additional proof of the necessity of further conquests, and of the building up of the grand American empire embracing not only all the conquests made in the Spanish war, but reaching down to the Isthmus of Panama, with the islands within reach, and strong enough to meet all those accumulating difficulties.
To do justice to the subject, we have to face this grand imperial conception in its full development; for when once fairly launched, this is the direction in which we shall drift. Imagine, then, the United States to cover that part of America here described, and, in addition, Hawaii, the Philippines and perhaps the Carolines and the Ladrones, and what not, — immense territories inhabited by white people of Spanish descent, by Indians, negroes, mixed Spanish and Indians, mixed Spanish and negroes, Hawaiians, Hawaiian mixed blood, Spanish Filipinos, Malays, Tagals, various kinds of savages and half-savages, not to mention the Chinese and Japanese — at least twenty-five millions in all and all of them animated with the instincts, impulses and passions bred by the tropical sun; and all those people to become Americans!
Some of the most prominent imperialists, by the way, have been in a great flurry about a few thousand immigrants from Italy, Russia and Hungary, because their becoming part of the American people would depress American labor and lower the standards of American citizenship. Now they would take in Spanish- Americans, with all the mixtures of Indian and negro blood, and Malays and other unspeakable Asiatics, by the tens of millions! What will become of American labor and the standards of American citizenship then?
We are vexed by a very troublesome race problem in the United States now. That race problem is still unsolved, and it would be very sanguine to say that there is a satisfactory solution in near prospect. Cool-headed men think that we have enough of that. What will be the consequence if we indefinitely add to it by bringing under this Republican Government big lots of other incompatible races — races far more intractable, too, than those with which we have so far had to deal?
But more. Owing to the multiplicity of churches, sects and denominations, and to their being mixed together in every part of the country and their pretty well balancing one another, there have been so far hardly any very serious difficulties of a religious nature in the United States. But if the imperial policy prevails, and all those countries, with their populations, are annexed, there will be for the first time in the history of the Republic, large territories inhabited by many millions of people who, with few exceptions, all belong to one church, and who, if they become a political force, may cause conflicts of influences from which the American people have so far been happily exempt.
I mention these things in order to indicate some of the difficulties we have to meet in considering the question how such countries and populations are to be fitted into our system of government. It is hard to see how the Spanish-American republics which are to be annexed could in the long run be refused admission as States, having, nominally at least, been governing themselves for many years. The Spanish-American islands would soon follow. Ambitious partisans, looking out for party votes in Congress and in the Electoral College, would certainly contrive to lug them in. There would then be a large lot of Spanish-Americans in the Senate and in the House and among the Presidential electors — more than enough of them to hold, occasionally at least, the balance of power in making laws not only for themselves, but for the whole American people, and in giving the Republic its Presidents. There would be "the Spanish-American vote" — being occasionally the decisive vote — to be bargained with. Who will doubt that of all the so-called "foreign votes" this country has ever had, this would be by far the most dangerous? It is useless to hope that this population would gradually assimilate itself to the American people as they now are. It might assimilate itself under the influence of our northern climate, but not in the tropics. In the tropics the Anglo-Saxon race is in the long run more apt to assimilate itself to the Spanish-American than the Spanish-American to the Anglo-Saxon. This is common experience.
The admission as States of the Philippines, the Carolines and so on, — that is, the transformation of "the United States of America" into "the United States of America and Asia," — would, I suppose, appear too monstrous to be seriously thought of even by the wildest imperialist. Those countries, with an aggregate of about ten million inhabitants, would have to be governed as subject provinces, with no expectation of their becoming self-governing States. This means government without the consent of the governed. It means taxation without representation. It means the very things against which the Declaration of Independence remonstrated, and against which the Fathers rose in revolution. It means that the American people would carry on over large subject populations a kind of rule against which their own government is the most solemn protest. It may be said that those countries and populations cannot be governed in any other way; but is not that the most conclusive reason why this Republic should not attempt to govern them at all?
Against such an attempt there are other reasons hardly less vital. No candid observer of current events in this Republic will deny that the exercise of more or less arbitrary rule over distant countries will be apt to produce most pernicious effects upon our public morals. The farther away those subject countries are from close public observation, the richer and more tempting their natural resources, the more unfit their populations for self-government and the more pronounced the race antagonisms, the more unrestrained will be the cupidity of the governing race, the less respect will there be for the rights and interests of the subject races and the more unscrupulous and rapacious the rule over them — and this in spite of laws for their protection which may be fair on their face and well intended in their meaning. There has been much complaint of the influence wielded in our Government by rich and powerful corporations such as the Sugar Trust. The more or less arbitrary control exercised by our Government over distant countries with great resources will inevitably stimulate the multiplication of speculative enterprises with much money behind them, subjecting the Government in all its branches to constant pressure and manipulation which cannot fail to produce a most baneful effect upon our politics. Of such things we have experience enough to warn us.
But the combinations formed for distant adventure will be the most dangerous of all. Never having enough, their greed constantly grasping for more, they will seek to drive this country into new enterprises of conquest. Opportunities will not be lacking when this Republic is once in the race for colonial acquisitions in which the European Powers are now engaged, and which keeps them incessantly increasing their expensive armaments. And the more such enterprises there are, the greater will be the danger of new wars, with all their demoralizing effects upon our democratic government. It is, therefore, not too much to say — indeed, it is rather stating the fact very mildly — that the governing of distant countries as subject provinces would result in a fearful increase of the elements of profligacy and corruption in our political life.
We are told by imperialists of a very optimistic disposition that the British have carried on a policy of territorial aggrandizement on the grandest scale but have succeeded in maintaining an honest and decent government; that the very necessity of providing for good methods of governing their distant possessions brought on the reform of their civil service, and that we can do the same. The fact is, however, that under the policy of conquest and territorial aggrandizement the British Government did fall into a very grievous state of profligacy and corruption, from which it emerged only after a long period of effort. Whether, or how, our democratic government would emerge from such a state is, to say the least, an open question. In speculating upon what we may be capable of in comparison with other nations, we should never forget that monarchies or aristocracies can do certain things which democracies cannot do as well, and that democracies can do certain things which monarchies or aristocracies cannot do at all. A monarchy or an aristocracy can govern subject populations — it sometimes does it badly, sometimes well — in perfect harmony with its reasons of being, without going beyond the vital conditions of its existence. In doing so it exercises a function suited to its nature. But it cannot institute and maintain among its people complete self-government on the basis of equal rights without breaking itself down. A democracy can maintain complete self-government on the basis of equal rights, for that is its natural function; but it cannot exercise arbitrary rule over subject populations without doing a thing utterly incompatible with the fundamental reason of its own being, without giving up its most vital principle and faith. It will be like a man who has lost the sense of right and wrong. This is in itself utter demoralization, which cannot fail to breed corruption and decay. It never has failed, as history proves. Recovery from this sort of corruption, which in a monarchy or an aristocracy is not easy, is therefore far more difficult in a democracy. Owing to its constitutional peculiarity, a democracy is far less capable of enduring and of overcoming wide-spread and deep-seated corruption than is a monarchy or an aristocracy.
But suppose we are sanguine and call this not a certainty, but only a danger, what reason have the American people for exposing themselves to a danger so awful? We are told that we produce more than this country can consume, and must have foreign markets in which to sell our surplus products. Well, must we own the countries with which we wish to trade? Is not this a notion ludicrously barbarous? And as to more open markets which we want, will it not, when after this war we make our final peace arrangements, be easy to stipulate for open ports?
It is also pretended that if we liberate the Spanish West Indies and the Philippines from Spanish misrule, we shall be responsible for their future welfare, and shall have to keep them, because we shall not be able to make other satisfactory arrangements for them. This is "pleading the baby act" to justify the keeping of the islands in spite of the most conclusive reasons against keeping them. As soon as this Republic shows itself firmly and irrevocably resolved not to keep the islands, the minds of the imperialists will be relieved of their principal difficulty in finding suitable provision for their future. If there is a will, there will be a way. If there is no will, it is not honest to pretend that there is no way.
It remains to survey the alternative possibilities. Here is what the policy of Imperialism puts in prospect: the annexation to the United States of all the territory conquered from Spain — Cuba, Porto Rico, the Philippines and perhaps the Carolines and the Ladrones. This at once. Then the enlargement of the boundaries of the United States so as to embrace the inter-oceanic canal, and hence the annexation of the Spanish-American republics down to the Isthmus, and of as many of the West Indian and Caribbean islands as possible, for the sake of safety. These annexations bring on the problem of determining the status in the Republic of large masses of tropical people — perhaps some twenty-five millions of them — who are utterly different from the Americans in origin, language, traditions, habits, ways of thinking and feeling, — in short, in everything that is of importance in human intercourse, with no hope of essential assimilation, owing to their tropical home. A large number of seats in Congress will be filled with Senators and Representatives from the Spanish-American countries, who will take part in making laws and in determining the character of the government for all of us. The Presidential elections will largely depend upon the Spanish-American vote, which will become a great force in our politics, and not seldom hold the balance of power. The Philippines and other islands, inhabited by many millions of Asiatics, will have to be governed as subject provinces. Our old democratic principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed will have to go overboard. Greedy speculation will inevitably seek to seize upon those new possessions, and as inevitably invade the politics of the whole country with its corrupting influence. That spirit of speculation will strive to push the Republic into new adventures, and, the United States being then entangled in the jealousies and quarrels of the Old-World powers, and in the struggles for colonial acquisition, new wars will be threatening. Very large armies and navies will be needed to maintain what has been won by conquest and to win more. Enormous expenditures will be a matter of course. As has been said of the army-and-navy-ridden countries of Europe, every American worker, when at his toil, will have to carry a soldier or sailor on his back. There will be glorious chances for speculative adventure to accumulate colossal fortunes, huge corruption funds and no end of spoil for the politicians and grinding taxation for the people who have to pay the bills.
Meanwhile, by turning the war advertised so loudly as a war of liberation and humanity into a war of conquest, a land-grabbing foray, the American democracy will have lost its honor. It will stand before the world as a self-convicted hypocrite. It will have verified all that has been said in this respect by its detractors. Nobody will ever trust its most solemn declarations or promises again. Our American sister republics will, after so glaring a breach of faith, be alarmed for their own safety, feeling themselves threatened by the unscrupulous and grasping ambition of the American people, and become the open or secret enemies of the United States, ready to intrigue against this Republic with European powers — a source of more warlike troubles.
And what will become, with all this, of the responsibility of the American people for the maintenance of "the government of the people, by the people, for the people," and of our great mission to further the progress of civilization by enhancing the prestige of democratic institutions? It will be only the old tale of a free people seduced by false ambitions and running headlong after riches and luxuries and military glory, and then down the fatal slope into vice, corruption, decay and disgrace. The tale will be more ignominious and mournful this time, because the opportunities had been more magnificent, the fall more rapid and the failure more shameful and discouraging than ever before in history.
This may seem an exaggerated picture. I admit that it is lurid. But I ask any candid man to examine it, touch by touch, and then to answer the question whether it does not fairly represent the possibilities — nay, the probabilities — which will come forth if the imperialistic program be fully carried out; and also whether that program is not likely to be carried out if the first steps in its realization are taken.
Now contemplate, on the other hand, that which is not merely possible, but certain to follow if the Republic remains true to itself, its responsibility and its mission. The war with Spain is carried to a successful issue. In concluding peace the victorious Republic keeps in clear view its solemn declaration and promise that this was to be a war of liberation and humanity, and not of conquest. Firmly discountenancing the thought of annexing any of the conquered countries, it makes the best attainable arrangements to secure the liberated populations in their rights and welfare. It also uses its victory, as much as circumstances may permit, in opening the ports of the countries in question to the commerce of the world. Having conscientiously resisted all temptations of territorial aggrandizement in the hour of triumph, and having proved itself absolutely faithful to its word against the most seductive promptings of ambition, it will enjoy the respect of mankind in a far higher degree than ever before. It will have silenced forever its detractors who accused it of hypocrisy and impure motives. The American sister republics will look up to it with renewed and absolute confidence in the sincerity of its professions, and gladly recognize its primacy in this hemisphere. Having set an unsurpassed example of uprightness and magnanimity in the exercise of great and victorious power, its voice will be listened to in the councils of nations with more than ordinary deference; and although international arrangements are seldom governed by sentimental reasons, a nation so strong and at the same time so just and generous will easily obtain all the accommodations for its commerce it can decently claim. Its counsel will be sought, and the position so gained will enable it to exercise a potent influence for the maintenance of the world's peace. It will have given "the government of the people, by the people, for the people" the greatest triumph in its history. It will have commended republican government and democratic institutions to the respect and confidence of mankind as they have never been commended before. It will thus have gloriously recognized its responsibility and served its mission as the great republican power of the world. There will be no prouder title than that of being an American — far prouder than the most powerful and costly armaments and the largest conquests can make it.
And now we are told that not this, but the other course is imposed upon this Republic by "manifest destiny" and "the decree of Providence, against which it is useless to struggle." The American people may well pause before accepting a counsel which, in seeking to unload upon Providence the responsibility for schemes of reckless ambition involving a palpable breach of faith, falls little short of downright blasphemy.
This is not the first time that such catchwords have resounded in this country. Some of us are old enough to remember the days when "manifest destiny" and "the irresistible decree of Providence" were with similar assurance invoked in behalf of what was called "extending the area of freedom," which then really meant the acquisition of more territory for the multiplication of slave States. The moral instinct and sound sense of the American people then resisted the seductive cry and silenced it, thus proving that it was neither "destiny" nor "Providence," but only a hollow sound. We may hope that the same moral instinct and sound sense will now resist and silence the same cry, when it means the complete abandonment of the principles laid down by George Washington in his Farewell Address, under the observance of which our country has grown so prosperous and powerful, and the substitution therefor of a policy of conquest and adventure — a policy bound to tarnish our National honor at the first step, to frighten our American neighbors and to make enemies of them, to entangle us unnecessarily in the broils of foreign ambitions, to hazard our peace, to load down our people with incalculable burdens, to demoralize, deprave and undermine our democratic government and thus to unfit the great American Republic for its true mission in the world.
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