Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/454

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434
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

them, was as old as civilization. The other great motive was to obtain new supplies of gold and silver, under an exaggerated and fallacious notion of the desirableness of those forms of wealth. Starting from these motives the movement has run its own course of commerce, colonization, war, missionary enterprise, economic expansion, and social evolution, for three centuries. The discovery, colonization, and exploitation of the outlying continents have been the most important elements in modern history. We Americans live in one of the great commonwealths which have been created by it. We are hard at work occupying and subduing one of these outlying continents, from a local and later but comparatively old center of civilization. In our own history we have been, first, one of the outlying communities which were being exploited, and then ourselves an old civilization exploiting outlying regions.

The process of extension from Europe has gone on with the majesty and necessity of a process of Nature. Nothing in human history can compare with it as an unfolding of the drama of human life on earth under the aspects of growth, reaction, destruction, new development, and higher integration. The record shows that the judgments of statesmen and philosophers about this process from its beginning have been a series of errors, and that the policies by which they have sought to control and direct it have only crippled it and interrupted it by war, revolt, and dissension. At the present time the process is going on under a wrangle of discordant ethical judgments about its nature and the rights of the parties in it. We are rebuked for the wrongs of the aborigines, the vices of civilization, the greed of traders, the mistakes of missionaries, land-grabbing, etc., yet we Americans and others are living to-day in the enjoyment of the fruits of these wrongs perpetrated a few years ago. The fact is, as the history clearly shows, that the extension of the higher civilization over the globe is a natural process in which we are all swept along in spite of our ethical judgments. Those men, civilized or uncivilized, who can not or will not come into the process will be crushed under it. It is as impossible that the present and future exploitation of Africa should not go on as it is that the present inhabitants of Manhattan Island should return to Europe and let the red man come back to his rights again. The scope for reason and conscience in the matter lies in taking warning from the statesmen and philosophers who have been overhasty in the past with their doctrines and policies of how the process must go on.

Looking at the movement of men from Europe to the outlying continents as a phenomenon in the development of private interests and welfare, it appears at once that the man who went out as a fortune-hunter and he who went out as a colonist are on a very