Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the last Congressional election there were comparatively few close districts; and, indeed, out of the 386 districts in the United States, there were only 27 wherein a member was returned with a majority of less than 1,000. These districts were as follows:

[blocks in formation]

It is interesting to note the fact that of the sixteen districts where the Democrats were successful by a narrow margin, a majority were formerly carried by Republicans, so that a swing of the pendulum in the Republican direction will make the Republican control of the House all the more certain. Personally, I cannot see why the Democrats should desire to win the House unless they also elect the President. It would be an empty honor at best. They would be unable to accomplish any result; they would have responsibility without power; and if the Republicans failed to redeem any of the pledges which they had made to the people, the excuse for such failure would be thrown upon the House. It would be an unsatisfactory and anomalous situation; but it is a situation which is not likely to confront the country.

The Republicans have been greatly disturbed over factional fights in two States Illinois and Wisconsin. In the former State there was a long and bitter contest, primarily due to dissatisfaction with the administration of Governor Yates. When the State convention assembled there were several aspirants for the gubernatorial nomination whose adherents were so loyal that a deadlock resulted. The convention con

sisted of about 1,500 delegates, of whom only one-third were for Yates. After several days of ineffectual balloting, the convention adjourned until May 31. A period of ineffective struggle again ensued, until, on

June 3, Governor Yates, by a combination of his own forces with those of the minor candidates, secured the nomination of Mr. Charles S. Deneen, the State's attorney, and defeated Col. Frank O. Lowden, who had been foremost in the race. The contest is expected to leave some scars, although it should be stated that upon national questions, such as the indorsement of President Roosevelt and the selection of delegates to the national convention, there was no lack of harmony.

The Wisconsin situation is much more serious. In that State the factional differences led to a split in the Republican State Convention, and the question of the legitimacy of each faction has been referred to the courts. One faction is led by Governor La Follette, who has radical ideas on taxation and other questions of administration, while the conservatives are headed by Senators Spooner and Quarles and PostmasterGeneral Payne. When the convention met, the two factions were so evenly divided that its control rested upon the action of the central committee in passing upon credentials; and the La Follette delegates being seated, a division occurred, and two conventions were held. While it is true that both conventions nominated the same Republican electors, so that President Roosevelt will not suffer, the fact remains that a very bitter feeling exists which threatens Republican success. There are now two gubernatorial tickets in the field, one headed by Governor La Follette and the other by Hon. S. A. Cook, a condition of affairs which, if not remedied, insures the election of the Democratic candidate. The fight is also expected to have its effect on the congressional election, the Democrats confidently counting upon winning several districts.

It is impossible, thus early in the campaign, to predict whether these local disturbances in Illinois and Wisconsin will seriously endanger Republican success. The Republican party would, however, be in better shape if these differences did not exist.

HENRY LITCHFIELD WEST.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

THREE months ago, in discussing the political consequences of the war between Russia and Japan then in its opening stage, I spoke of the Japanese torpedo fired on February 8, which shattered the calm of Port Arthur and was the prelude to the astounding series of Russian naval disasters, as the first word written in a new chapter of history, for it was the first time an Asiatic Power had boldly faced a European Power and proved its superiority. Since then events even more momentous in their political consequences have happened. On May 1 was fought a battle that future historians will rank among the decisive battles of the world. "I need hardly remark," says Sir Edward Creasy, "that it is not the number of killed and wounded in a battle that determines its general historical importance." This observation applies with peculiar force to the passage of the Yalu by the Japanese and their capture of Kiuliencheng, resulting in the turning of the position of the Russians and their retirement after leaving forty guns in the hands of the enemy.

There have been battles in which the forces engaged on both sides were much greater, the killed more numerous, the spoils of the victor in prisoners and munitions of war far heavier, the demoralization of the vanquished more complete, and yet since Marathon there has been no battle that has turned the current of history as that of the Yalu threatens to do. Marathon for 2,400 years has been the inspiration of historian and statesman and soldier, not because 10,000 Greeks routed 100,000 Persians, not because Miltiades showed himself an extraordinary military genius and was courageous enough to risk all on an untried experiment, not because a hitherto invincible power was broken — all reasons enough to make Marathon memorable, but insignificant as compared with the one great reason. Marathon was the supreme test between Asiatics and Europeans. When the forces of Datis were driven in confusion to the water's edge there fell the power of the Asiatic, and prostrate it has remained before the all-dominating European. Consciously or unconsciously, through the mist of ages, there sings in the every white man who has had to deal with Asiatics the "re

heart of

member the Athenians" of "the lord of all men, from the rising to the setting sun." It is this pride of race, this superb insolence, this supreme confidence in the prowess of the white, that has made a handful of whites face with disdainful indifference hundreds and thousands of brown men and yellow men in Asia; it is the knowledge that although for 2,400 years the yellow races have made desperate attempts to revenge Marathon, after each attempt history has calmly erected another column to the victorious white.

The psychology of a war is as interesting as its strategy. In making war on Japan, Russia doubtless believed that numbers rendered her all-powerful; that the unbroken chain of European success over Asia would still remain intact. And in the crushing defeat inflicted upon Russia is to be found the supreme importance of the battle of Kiuliencheng. It was not the inglorious surrender of a small force to vastly superior numbers, or overconfidence leading to a surprise. Such things would have no significance; they would mean no more than the Custer massacre meant in the irrepressible conflict between red man and white that could have only one ending: But here, for the first time, Europeans were arrayed against Asiatics in practically equal numbers, with the advantage of position in favor of the Europeans, but with every element of military superiority on the side of the Asiatics. The latter fought with bravery, which is what one fully expected, as the Asiatic is either very cowardly or very courageous, and the Japanese long ago made the world respect their courage. They fought also with all the calculating coldness of the most phlegmatic of Europeans, fronting death without flinching, and yet not scorning to avail themselves of cover when it could be found. Their strategy was better than that of their opponents, and all accounts agree that the Japanese guns were of longer range, heavier, more accurately served, and more numerous than those of the Russians. In the first great test of strength between Europe and Asia the tradition of European superiority was rudely jarred. Unless the memory of Kiuliencheng is wiped out by an unbroken series of Russian victories, the world must face the fact that there is at least one Asiatic nation superior to one European nation. Kiuliencheng is the Marathon of the twentieth century.

I purposely refrain from dealing with the military events of the war, because, while it is true that they in the last analysis make the political events, it is with the final result that this department is concerned, and not with the intermediate processes that are the milestones

on the road to history. On the outbreak of the war I advanced the opinion that, irrespective of its outcome, Japan would take her place among the Powers of the world, and, even in the event of her defeat, would still have to be reckoned with as a political force of the first importance. What has happened during the last four months fully warrants that belief. Japan has shown that she possesses all the qualities that together form the sum of national greatness; she has exhibited them in such marked degree that she has won the world's admiration, the admiration even of her political opponents. She has displayed the qualities of courage, patriotism, far-seeing intelligence; the Japanese are a military as well as a commercial people; on sea as well as on land they have shown themselves masters of their craft. Now, a nation so richly endowed as this is no more to be destroyed by defeat (if defeat comes) by preponderating force than land can be rendered sterile because a growing crop has been laid low under the merciless attack of hail, rain, and scorching sun. It is within the range of possibilities that Japan may meet with reverses, that in the course of her triumphant progress there may come a time when she can make no further headway, and the result may be a stalemate. Even so, if the worst befalls and she must sue for peace, her defeat will no more mean her political effacement than the entry of German troops into Paris in 1871 stilled the voice of France in the council of nations.

There is only one phase of the character of the Japanese of which we know nothing. We should like to know if they can be as resolute in defeat as they have shown themselves restrained in victory. So far, the reports of the Japanese naval and military commanders have been models of modest brevity. Facts have been stated in the most concise terms, and deeds of rare heroism have been recorded in language so terse that it almost seemed as if Japan alone of all the world were unimpressed by the devotion and courage of her defenders. We know, however, that the Japanese are wanting in neither imagination nor feeling; but their emotions do not easily rise to the surface, and they glory in their self-control. The history of the world has shown that the Asiatic has never been able to stand up under severe punishment. Defeat destroys his morale, and with the fatalism inseparable from his character he bows his head to the inevitable and waits in stolid hopelessness until Kismet shall once more revolve the wheel in his direction. But the Japanese are the paradox of Asia; of all Asiatics they are the least Asiatic. I have always been impressed by the fact that the accident of geography has had a tremendous influence upon the Japanese

« PreviousContinue »