Pictures and Illustrations.
The War and Expansion.
(Published in the Democratic Magazine for July, 1898.)
Actuated by the higher humanities and moved by the spirit of the age, the Democratic party — assisted by a few Republicans who had not yet lost their independence — compelled the administration to interfere in behalf of the struggling Cubans and to declare war against Spain. The object was, first, to save the lives of over half a million of human beings whom Spain was purposely starving to death. Second, to put an end to conditions which had been a disgrace to civilization for more than a century and a constant annoyance to us, and third, the purpose was to put in practice and thus force recognition of the principle that no government has the right to rob and murder its citizens, and that when it does so, it is the duty of other nations to interfere. The men who had made the present administration, and who support government only because through it they can carry on great schemes of plunder, were violently opposed to any interference. But the conscience of the nation could not be trifled with. In sheer fright and with trembling knees the administration began to obey the will of the people.
The minority party, true to its great principles of liberty and justice, had forced a forward movement — a movement of such a high character that it will add luster to the close of this century.
We have assumed responsibilities and created new conditions; and we must now be prepared to promptly face the one and deal with the other.
1st. What shall be the policy of this republic when the war is over;
2d. What shall be done with any territory that may fall into our hands; and
3d. Shall we form an alliance with England?
While we can avoid and must avoid wild schemes of conquest which would only debauch us and ultimately destroy our career, we must move forward and follow the lines of our natural development. We must recognize the fact that new conditions have been created and pursue a policy that will give us the largest growth and the greatest power and usefulness.
We expect soon to put an end to the economic follies and governmental rottenness which have paralyzed us; but if we were to fail and these causes were ultimately to reduce us to the exhausted condition of European nations, still the energy and force of this country will find a vent; and it is important that they move along the line of a greater natural development, and not along the line of wild and destructive adventure. Shall we direct them, or let the enemy do it? The energies of our people are stirred, and owing to our paralysis at home, they are running in irresistible currents toward a broader foreign policy. To stand in the way of these currents would be like standing in the way of a river — and the party that attempts to hold them back will be left on the sands.
Consequently, it is simply a question as to who shall hold the rudder while on the voyage, and what principle shall be nailed to the masthead when we reach the sea. Shall we be guided on the way by national and international scoundrels who make patriotism an asset and national honor a thief's weapon — who debauch everything they touch, and whose slimy hands pull down the whole structure of free institutions?
Shall the toiler go on being robbed of his bread and despoiled of his liberty, and finally shall we turn pirates and sneer at the world's cry for freedom? Or shall we be guided on the way by the higher justice of Jeffersonian principles, and make the broader activities of this republic a blessing to all mankind.
These are the basic questions, and, properly solved, render all others simple.
Our people are slowly learning that a rapidly increasing population for the world and a slowly increasing volume of money means a steadily appreciating dollar and a steady lowering of the price of property and the products of labor when taken on the average — and
801that this means an ever increasing paralysis. They are beginning to see that under the gold standard neither our country nor the civilized world can be prosperous, and that until this is overthrown the toilers of the earth must dwell in sorrow. This colossal iniquity will be destroyed. In fact it required all the corruption funds that could be raised on two continents and the commission of unparalleled frauds and crimes at the polls to prevent its being overthrown two years ago.
With the overthrow of this system will come a period of activity and of production such as our country has never seen; and while it is true that our home consumption will at the same time increase, still our people will look to the other quarters of the globe for opportunities of exchange, and we will want access to the harbors of the earth.
Again, this country is thoroughly weary of a high protective tariff, which has not only proved to be a delusion but a fraud. For over thirty years we have had an ever increasing tariff, and it simply created millionaires and trusts on the one hand, while the conditions of labor were steadily growing worse on the other. The very pauper countries of Europe against which we legislated had high protective tariffs, and had had for centuries, and the tariff produced here the same conditions it had there. For while we stopped the importation of goods, the manufacturer was able to fill his shop or mines with the pauper labor of these very countries.
Our people found that the famous McKinley law produced a deficit in the treasury for the year 1894 of $70,000,000, because it had tended to stop importations; yet within a few weeks after the President had signed the bill, over three hundred of the great manufacturing companies of this country reduced the wages of their men, and others filled their shops with importations of pauper labor from Europe, until, according to Mr. Powderly, there was scarcely an American laborer left in Pennsylvania; at the same time the price of goods was advanced. The people became disgusted with the McKinley law and overthrew it. The election of 1896 was not a declaration for a high tariff. The hard times had caused so much distress that many people demanded a change, a change of any kind — and this added to the frauds committed at the polls through Mark Hanna's boodle, elected the Republican ticket — but only by a majority so narrow that thirty thousand more votes properly distributed would have changed the result. As soon as McKinley was declared elected, the great trusts that had helped to raise the forty odd million dollars of corruption funds to elect him demanded a new chance to plunder the American people. Congress was at once
802convened for their benefit. The so-called Dingley bill was passed at their dictation. One illustration shows the general character of this measure. The great sugar trust was allowed to dictate the sugar schedules — it had control of the sugar trade of America. The price of sugar went up 20 per cent., and the public had to pay the increase and during the first year the sugar trust cleared over $20,000,000 above what it could make under the former law. Not a cent of this went into the public treasury. Other trusts and corrupt combinations of capital fared equally well. The burdens of the people were increased, while the deficit in the treasury promises to become equal to that under the McKinley law, and the laborers of the country have not been benefited to the extent of one farthing by this Dingley law, although the cost of living has been increased. The fate of this Dingley law is already sealed. It will be wiped off of the statute books. Our country will settle down to a tariff for revenue, and when it does, our commerce will become the greatest on earth. Then we will want access to all of the world's harbors.
Commercial advantage, rather than political, is now the aim of the powerful nations. Africa has been divided up by the nations of Europe in order to monopolize trade, England alone pursuing the policy of opening her harbors to the world. The same nations are now forcibly dividing up China for the purpose of monopolizing trade.
By reason of our position and ability, we should get the benefit of most of this commerce; but in order to do so we must be able to offer reciprocal advantages, and must have a force on the seas that will make us respected. We must put ourselves in a position to demand the privileges that are enjoyed by "the most favored nations," and it will always be easy to secure justice if we can say, "Here is our navy to argue this question." Therefore, while we do not need an army at home, and the maintenance of one would simply be a menace to our own people, we do need a navy on the foreign waters of the earth. Such a navy will assist our growth and firmly establish our future.
The war has forced upon our attention the extreme absurdity of being obliged to sail clear around South America when we want to take our vessels from one part of our own country to another part of our own country — and the great danger it leaves us in if we should suddenly be attacked by a powerful enemy on the sea. It is manifestly the duty of the American government to absolutely own and
803control this canal; not to assist a private company to dig it, but to dig and own the canal itself. The shipping of our own vessels would soon pay for it. Further, our commerce on the Pacific will soon be great, and if we do not have this canal it will be necessary to maintain almost twice as large a navy as would be needed if vessels could be speedily taken from New York to San Francisco. The slimy hands of the pacific railroads should not be permitted to longer control the situation.
The war has again brought to our attention the fact that if Cuba were held by a great hostile power having a strong navy, we would be constantly nervous and feel a sense of insecurity which we now do not feel. We dare not allow a foreign or a hostile power to have this island. In fact, when viewed from a geographical, a political, a commercial or a military standpoint, Cuba belongs to this republic, and is necessary to properly round off our southeastern boundary. The people of Cuba would gladly join us now, but if it is not ripe for annexation, or if the assurances we gave the nations in declaring war forbid our taking it now, then let the Cuban republic be placed under our protection. This done, the island will soon be overrun with American people and American enterprises, and in a short time it will ripen and knock at our door to become a member of the Union. This would not be a conquest because it would not be forcible; and it would not be founding a colonial system, but would be simply following the law of our development and increasing our safety.
While the time may be very remote when it would be desirable to annex this island, yet we cannot afford to let it pass into the hands of a foreign or an unfriendly power. It is to our interest to see that the present republics are maintained.
This island is situated almost in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, and is only a few days' sail from any point on either side of this ocean. Consequently, it would be invaluable as a naval station; especially would this be so if we build the Nicaraugua canal. Viewed from any standpoint, we should have Puerto Rico as a naval station; and as it is small, and it would not involve the establishment of a colonial policy. When this war is over, our government will probably demand a war indemnity. As Spain has no money and scarcely any other assets,
804she will probably offer us Puerto Rico; and if she does, we must take it.
With our prospective increase of commerce and of shipping, and the necessary increase in the navy, it is manifest that we need harbors in every quarter of the globe as coaling stations, and as a convenience, yea, a necessity, for our trade and for our navy; not harbors floating the flag of some other nation, and granting us some privileges, but harbors owned by us and floating our flag, where our vessels can lie as long as they choose. We must have, if possible, a number of the best harbors of the Philippines and any other good harbors we can get. This will not be conquest, nor will it be establishing a colonial policy; it will simply be making provisions for the more complete development of our own country.
To establish a colonial system and to attempt to rule great countries in another hemisphere, countries requiring complicated machinery of government, is an entirely different question. There are many hundred of the Philippine Islands, and they are nearly three thousand miles in extent; they are over 12,000 miles from Washington, and they have a population of about 10,000,000 people who belong to a different race — a lower civilization — have different laws and different traditions from our own. They form a country and have a population large enough for an empire. To attempt to govern this vast area and this numerous people from Washington would be a perilous undertaking, and be almost certain to beget injustice and outrage. Considering the corruption existing in our government even at home, it is fearful to contemplate the conditions that would soon exist in a great and powerful machine 12,000 miles away — a machine which would raise great revenues and would have unlimited opportunities of corruption and oppression. The American flag would simply suffer under these conditions. Besides, we would soon be involved in all manner of complications and disputes with other nations, and become entangled with the Eastern question. But even if successfully governed, it is difficult to see what we would gain by pursuing this policy, over what we would get by simply securing permanent access to all of these harbors, so as to be able to compete on equal terms for their trade. This would involve no responsibility of government, no scandals and no injustice. Besides, the acquisition of vast territory on another continent would be inconsistent with the farther maintenance of the Monroe doctrine. For if we appropriate vast territory on a foreign continent, we cannot
805consistently object to foreign nations acquiring territory on this continent; and it is a thousand times more important to us to keep foreign powers off of this continent than it is for us to have a lot of foreign territory which in the end would do us but little good and would involve us in scandal.
Let us do exactly what we would have done if the inhabitants had achieved their independence by their own arms, as they came very near doing and may do yet. To call these people ignorant barbarians simply because in the mountain regions of a few of these islands there are yet small tribes of savages, would be like calling the people of the United States savages because in the mountains of the West we have yet a few tribes of Indians.
The inhabitants of these islands, estimated at about ten millions, appear to be industrious and steady. According to the authorities, they have a compulsory system of education, and have newspapers, daily and weekly, in every important point. While we cannot expect a superior educational system under Spanish government, it does seem to be true that these people possess more than average intelligence. They have regularly organized industries, and have for over a century carried on a great commerce with foreign nations. They also appear to have had some experience with the elective system, being allowed under the Spanish regime to elect their local officers. Although the great majority of their population is of Malay origin, there is a very large element of Europeans who are permanent residents and take an interest in everything relating to the islands, and the Malays themselves seem to be bright and active.
For over a century the Spanish officials sent to these islands were like those sent to Cuba; they came to make fortunes in a few years and then return to Spain. The inhabitants were robbed, plundered and murdered; estates were confiscated; blackmail was levied, and private business, in many cases, destroyed. Every method that devilish ingenuity could invent for extracting money from an unfortunate people was applied.
In addition to what was thus extorted from them, they raised a revenue through the regular channels of taxation that would almost support an empire.
When they began this last effort to throw off the Spanish yoke, they raised and maintained larger armies than were commanded by George Washington, having at one time fifty thousand men in the field.
Although they had to smuggle in all their arms and munitions of war, and labored under every conceivable disadvantage, they have carried on this war, with a very brief interruption, for two years and are now winning victories.
Unlike thie Cubans, they do not confine themselves to a guerrilla warfare, but conduct great campaigns, besiege and capture fortified cities, and fight, stubborn battles; they build fortifications and conduct war very much as the civilized nations do, showing that they have a fair degree of discipline in their armies.
Apparently the Philippine Islanders are much better prepared to establish and maintain a republic than are the Cubans, and if they wish to take this step, we have no right to prevent them.
Even a poor government would be a thousand times better for the islands, and for the nations that trade with them, than the system of plunder and assassination which Spain has maintained there. To be sure there are men who, with an air of superiority, declare this or that people are incapable of self-government. But it must be borne in mind that every republic that exists on earth to-day, including the great American republic, was founded in spite of the protests of these men.
It is probable that in the future Canada will ask for admission into our republic, and when she does we must admit her. We will then have nearly all of the North American continent — will be bounded by the three oceans and the gulf — with a very short land boundary to our southwest, easily protected. With Cuba in our possession we will then have arctic, temperate and tropical climate, and will have all the territory, all the resources and all the fields of activity that the wildest dreamers of empire could covet — and it would all be on one continent, under one government and occupied by the same people.
It is objected that to even build the Nicarauguan Canal would involve so much jobbery and rottenness that it should not be undertaken. Unquestionably it will involve great jobbery, but so has every great movement in this country. The revolution was full of jobbery, the war of 1812 was full of jobbery, and the war of the rebellion staggered with corruption, yet the country moved forward in each of these wars, and the world was made better. This canal will be filled with jobbery, yet necessity will compel us to dig it. Honest and progressive humanity cannot fold its arms or stop the onward march
807simply because there are vampires that suck human blood by night, and vultures that devour human flesh by day.
During the first fifteen years of our existence, the mouth of the Mississippi was under foreign control, which caused us much annoyance. Although the great Mississippi valley was yet a wilderness, it was already apparent that we would soon have a mighty commerce on this river. In 1803 Jefferson secured by purchase not only the mouth of the river, but secured with it that vast territory called "The Louisiana Purchase," stretching from New Orleans northwest to the Pacific Ocean and to the British possessions. A territory which has since been divided into seventeen States. The acquisition of this territory changed the character of the republic from a republic on the east coast of North America to the great American republic. This act of Jefferson's was fiercely opposed by the whole Federalistic party. He was charged with violating the Constitution. Jefferson did not claim that the power to take this territory was expressly written in the Constitution; but he claimed that it was written in the law of our natural development, which underlay the Constitution, and no sane man to-day questions the wisdom of his act.
Up to 1819, Florida was under foreign control and was a source of constant annoyance, even warfare. In that year President Monroe, by purchase, secured Florida for the Union, and thus gave the republic the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean for our southeastern boundary. This act was again denounced by the Federal party, and Monroe made the same answer that Jefferson had made.
After winning her independence from Mexico, Texas applied for admission into the Union, and in 1845 was admitted under President Pierce, against the bitter opposition of the forces that opposed the Democratic party. This acquisition gave us the Gulf and the Rio Grande for a southwestern boundary. In 1848, during the administration of President Pierce, by two separate treaties we secured New Mexico, Arizona and California. This gave us not only great States, but a scientific boundary to our far southwest. It made the republic symmetrical and gave us the best part of the continent. While every one of these steps was bitterly denounced at the time, no man would favor the dismemberment of any of this territory to-day.
It was during Democratic control that our navy was respected by all the nations, and it was during Democratic control that our flag floated on all the seas, and although our country was young our shipping surpassed that of all countries except England, and under genuine Democratic control these conditions will come again.
During all these years the Democratic party was an aggressive party; it recognized new needs and new conditions and met them. It was this fact that kept it in power and enabled it to shape the early career of the nation.
If the Democratic party is to perform its mission, it must assume the aggressive; it must recognize new conditions and must sail with the new currents of destiny, and see to it that the great principles of justice and liberty and of equal rights are not destroyed, as they will be if the Mark Hannas of the age are permitted to control.
Let it be remembered that the acquisition of vast territory at home under Jefferson, under Monroe and under Pierce did not weaken the principles of the republic nor change the doctrines of Democracy. Those policies which have destroyed our shipping, paralyzed our people, loaded them down with burdens and created an oligarchy in our land are of Republican parentage.
Some good people fear that the enlargement of foreign policy will divert attention from home affairs and enable the corruptionists to continue their criminal work. But if the Democrats, while fighting plutocracy at home, take the lead in broadening our foreign policy, they can get the benefit of any diversion and get control of the government, and in that way carry out great reforms and put an end to the corrupt regime that is now destroying us, while if we assume a negative position, the great criminals may be kept in power, solely because of this irresistible movement.
This nation is too great, its past is too glorious and its future too promising to go into partnership with any nation on this globe. We must go on growing in power and in grandeur and must exert an influence wherever the sun shines, as we have done for a century; but we must have no entangling alliances anywhere. So long as we rely absolutely on ourselves and follow justice, so long will the heavens be bright; but the moment we go into partnership with any other nation, that moment will our constellation be eclipsed. Besides, such an alliance would increase the opportunities of the international
809vultures that now prey upon us. It is our destiny to be the supreme mistress of the Western hemisphere, commanding the respect of all the nations. It is our business to protect the interests of our people everywhere — to secure equal opportunities for them, but to keep out of those miserable European disputes that are unworthy the notice of free men.
If we are true to the great principles of Democracy, then we will move forward and meet new conditions, and our career will gladden the children of men; but if we hold back and thus surrender control to this modern order of statesmen who sell their country and betray their race for pelf or political preferment, then will our downfall come soon and the last days of the republic will be as dark as its first were glorious.