« PreviousContinue »
ANNEXATION AND IMPERIALISM
BELIEVE 1 the people of this country will resist with all their power this scheme of territorial aggrandize-,
ment, which aims to amalgamate with our hardy, thrifty, active, overcoming race this mass of indolent, filthy, leprous, nerveless savages of the southern seas. Our area is great enough, our climate is varied enough, our population is heterogeneous enough, our vegetation has range enough to give us, without inviting new perils, a task sufficiently difficult within our own borders in the education and elevation of our own people and in the maintenance of the Republic as it was transmitted to us.
Mr. President, I shall always consider it my duty to enter my protest against the acquisition of territory in the tropics, against adding to our population people who live in a climate which is so warm that civilization and self-government are impossible, believing, as I do, that the decay of the Republics of the past has resulted from the desire for glory and conquest. I am bound by my oath of office, by my duty to the people I represent, to resist this desire to add to our area. Our duty is to enact laws that will increase the happiness of our own people, to enact laws to give every man an equal chance, to control trusts and corporations that they may not control us, to increase the distribution of wealth and intelligence, and thus grow grand as we grow great as a people.
I ? had hoped that the controversy with regard to the acquisition of new territory, that the contest over changing the policy of this country as it has existed for a century, that the question whether we ought to adopt an imperial policy and acquire distant colonies to be ruled by us against their consent, would, in view of existing circumstances, have been delayed until this war was over, until the whole question could be considered, until the American people could have thought upon the subject, until we could have decided upon a policy as to whether we would revolutionize the purposes of this Government, and that next winter we would take up this question, when we would have time to deliberately act upon the proposition to formulate a colonial policy.
1. Speech in the Senate July 2, 1894. 2. Speech in the Senate June 22, 1898.
No one for one moment pretends that we intend to admit the Asiatic people of Hawaii or of the Philippines into full citizenship under the Government of this country; but, instead of that, propelled by an interest which has gathered around this Capitol for the past several months or years, an interest in the production of sugar by Hawaiian labor, certain gentlemen, having less of patriotism than I hoped they might possess, bring this question here now and undertake to force it through Congress as a war measure.
I contend that the area of this country is great enough, if we would maintain free institutions under a republican form of government. For in a republic, founded upon the principles of equality and universal suffrage, it is essential that the individual voter shall have a knowledge of, and be familiar with, the methods of government; and if the country is so vast and the problems of government are so complicated that it is impossible for the voter to have or acquire this familiar knowledge, how is it possible for him to act intelligently? How is it possible for him to know that by his vote he is sustaining free institutions ?
In the past republics have been of small area-a single city perhaps-with a comparatively small population. The founders of this Government, recognizing the difficulty of maintaining as a unit a republic of extensive proportions, inaugurated the Federal system, a union of sovereign States, hoping thereby to extend self-government over vast areas and to maintain therein the purity of republican principles, each State being in itself a republic, each State of necessity containing a population indigenous to its climate and possessing a soil that would bountifully respond to the energizing touch of men capable of governing themselves. Therefore the founders of our Government made it an unwritten law that no area should be brought within the bounds of the Republic which did not and could not sustain a race equipped in all essentials for the maintenance of free civilization and capable of upholding within its boundaries a republican form of government.
For the purpose of unifying a vast area within the bounds of the Republic it was enacted that the central Government, the Government of the United States, should be a government of limited powers, a government possessing only such powers as were conferred upon it by the Constitution, all other sovereign rights, all other powers common to a sovereign, being retained by the States themselves, retained by the people themselves as inhabitants of the States. Therefore, if we adopt a policy of acquiring tropical countries, where republics can not live, and where free, self-governing people have never lived since the world had a history, we overturn the theory upon which this Government is established and we do violence to our Constitution.
The whole theory of our Government precludes centralization of power; the whole theory of our Government sustains the idea that the United States as a government shall do only those things delegated to it in the Constitution.
But, Mr. President, our Federal system has not accomplished the purpose for which it was created; it has not fulfilled the expectation of its authors. Before we acquire more territory, before we start upon a policy of imperialism and of conquest, it is our duty to inquire whether our area and population are not already too great. Centralization has gone on so rapidly since the war of the rebellion that already our people are looking to the Government of the United States as the source of all power through which all relief must
Mr. President, the concentration of power in the hands of the Federal Government has been followed by encroachments by the Federal courts upon the sovereignty of the States and upon the legislative and executive branches of the Goyernment itself, and it has made the courts almost supreme in our affairs.
Within the past thirty years the wealth of the United States, which was once fairly distributed, has been accumulated in the hands of a few; so that, according to the last census, 250,000 men own $44,000,000,000, or over three-fourths of the wealth of this country, while 52 per cent. of our population practically have no property at all and do not own their homes. It would naturally be supposed that the 48 per cent. of the people who still have an interest in the property of the nation would be the governing classes. Recent events, however, point unmistakably to the fact that the 250,000 people who own nearly all the wealth have combined with the 52 per cent of our population who have no property, and by gaining control of a great patriotic political organization have usurped the functions of government and established a plutocracy.
Among all plutocracies of the past, as well as among all monarchies of the past, whenever all power and all property have been gathered into the hands of the few and discontent appears among the masses, it has been the policy to acquire foreign possessions, to enlarge the army and the navy, to employ discontent and distract its attention. The recent attempt on the part of the United States to acquire foreign territory, coming as it does along with an ever-increasing clamor for the enlargement of the army and for the creation of a great navy, is sufficient to alarm patriotic citizens and lead to an anxious inquiry as to whither we are drifting.
Rome was organized as a Republic, and for the first six hundred years of her history had the best government then existing on the globe. To be a Roman citizen was greater than to be a king. She consolidated her power until she ruled all Italy. She began to spread out along the northern coast of the Mediterranean; but when the policy of acquiring and governing a people who could have no part in her republican form of government began, Rome ceased to exist as a Republic
and became an Empire. The misery and ruin of her people began. When she conquered Egypt and Asia, having populations the same as those countries possess to-day, of low consuming power and great tenacity of life, the Roman found he was no competitor in the growing of crops and in other industrial enterprises.
The Roman of those days was as the Anglo-Saxon of to-day—a man of great vitality, requiring excellent nurture, the best of food, and plenty of it. When he came into competition with, when he conquered and undertook to govern, when he absorbed the Asiatic races, people with a low vitality and great tenacity of life, human machines who could subsist upon the least of food and perform the most of work, the Roman farmer was destroyed and the Roman Empire passed away.
James Bryce, in speaking of this period of Roman history, says:
The ostentation of humility which the subtle policy of Augustus had conceived and the jealous hypocrisy of Tiberius maintained was gradually dropped by their successors, until despotism became at last recognized in principle as the government of the Roman Empire. With an aristocracy decayed, a populace degraded, an army no longer recruited from Italy, the semblance of liberty that yet survived might be swept away with impunity. Republican forms had never been known in the provinces at all
Will they be with ours ?and the aspect which the imperial administration had originally assumed there soon reacted on its position in the capital. ... This increased concentration of power was mainly required by the necessities of frontier defense. For within there was more decay than disaffection.
The fact of the matter is that when the Roman Republic was founded most of its people were farmers. Their farms did not exceed 12 acres in area, indicating a dense rural population. No foreign foe could march through that compact rural population of landowners to the wall of Rome. They were successful farmers and prosperous, and they made mighty soldiers. Cincinnatus left the plow and led legions on to victory. But during the first century of the Christian era central