Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/285

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273
EDITOR'S TABLE.

ment of now life to that community, and will be to it even a greater source of wealth and advantage than to the speculators who carried out the work. Sordid commerce creates manufactures, advances agriculture, and, by increasing the occupations and remunerations of industry, increases all the benefits of civilization. Locomotives are missionaries without moral intentions. There was no patriotism, no philanthropy, no public spirit at the bottom of this movement, yet it will promote all these ends. Millions of Northern capital were poured out solely that they might be augmented, but in doing this they will develop a vast productive region, and aid in giving Virginia a new start in a new direction; and not the least advantage will be to compel the adoption of a new order of ideas.

 

 

OUR POLICY RESPECTING THE PANAMA CANAL.

The letter of Secretary Blaine to Minister Lowell, of London, as to the policy of the United States in regard to the neutrality of the Panama Canal, deserves attention. Being a diplomatic document, it may not be easy to say what or how much meaning there is in it; but, as read by common-sense, it is a missive of intimidation, and contains a virtual threat of war. Mr. Blaine is, at any rate, playing with fire, and it is therefore well to watch him.

The canal, which opens a ship communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, being of vital moment to the commerce of the world, it is of the first importance to all nations that its neutrality be preserved inviolate; but as, in the rivalries and hostilities of nations, there would be danger that this neutrality might be violated, there arises the need of some strong arrangement to secure it. The United States of Colombia, across whose territory the canal passes, and which is therefore the rightful controller of it, is a weak power, and unable to protect the property from foreign interference. She consequently meets the necessity of the case and the requirements of nations by entering into treaty stipulations for guaranteeing the neutrality of the canal, or securing its equal benefits for all countries and at all times.

Mow, Mr. Blaine informs whomsoever it may concern that this country has already attended to all this. He says, "The United States recognizes a proper guarantee of neutrality as essential to the construction and successful operation of any highway across the Isthmus of Panama," and that in 1846 it entered into a treaty with Colombia for that purpose.

But that treaty was made under no immediate expectation of the construction of a canal: it was shaped in the light of history by which this country was on record as friendly to the project. Yet, when the undertaking begins first to take practical shape, and the desideratum of centuries promises to be realized, it turns out that the United States is no longer anxious about it. In fact, there was recently developed throughout the country an unmistakable hostility to it. We would neither build it ourselves nor help others to build it, and did all we could to discourage the work by trying to alarm foreign capitalists and prevent them from furnishing the funds for its construction. In this state of things—this sudden abandonment of a clearly defined historic policy—Colombia very naturally began to query as to the satisfactoriness of the guarantee of a power that had ceased to care about the legitimate objects of the work, and had, in fact, developed a feeling inimical to it. They, therefore, began to raise the question of securing the neutrality of the canal by treaty with European powers; and these, it is apprehended, entertain the idea of re-enforcing the American guarantee. Mr. Blaine says, in behalf of this Government, that such a course is inadmissible; and he instructs Mr. Low-