Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/383

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371
A NEW FIELD OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

Liberty of thought, long asserted and more and more displayed, is about to be carried to the extent that no man shall be constrained to support another man's creed.

Evidently the arrival at this state completes that social differentiation which began when the primitive chief first deputed his priestly function.

As implied in the last sentence, the changes above sketched out are concomitants of the changes sketched out in the last chapter. The prolonged conflict between Church and State accompanying their differentiation, and ending in the subordination of the Church, has been accompanied by these collateral minor conflicts between the Church and recalcitrant portions of its members, ending in separation of them.

There is a further implication. In common with the subjection of the Church to the State, the spread of Nonconformity is an indirect result of growing industrialism. The moral nature proper to a social organization based on contract instead of status—the moral nature fostered by a social life carried on under voluntary co-operation instead of compulsory co-operation, is one which works out religious independence as it works out political freedom. And this conclusion, manifest a priori, is verified a posteriori in sundry ways. We see that Non-conformity, increasing as industrialism has developed, now characterizes in the greatest degree those nations which are most characterized by development of the industrial type—America and England. And we also see that in England itself, the contrast between urban and rural populations, as well as the contrast between populations in different parts of the kingdom, show that where the industrial type of life and organization predominates, Nonconformity is the most pronounced.

 

A NEW FIELD OF AMERICAN HISTORY.

WE have hitherto been accustomed to treat the history of the United States as consisting primarily of the history of the Atlantic portion. When it has become necessary in the progress of the review to advert to the history of other parts of the continent, the subject has been considered as related to the history of the Eastern States, and subordinated to it. This may have been proper so long as the historical nation lay east of the Mississippi River, but when Louisiana was bought we took in a region with an independent history of its own; when the question of the title to Oregon was agitated, an historical inquiry in a new direction became of great importance to us; and when California was acquired we came into possession of still another history, antedating that of our original States by a hundred years, and unexcelled in its fullness of romance and adventure.