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It is a common saying in these days that on whatever shores the Stars and Stripes has been raised, it will never be hauled down. This saying would be more worthy of respect if coupled with another, namely, that wherever the American flag may fly it will bring good government, respect for man, and respect for law. To reach this, we must turn over a new leaf. Our record thus far in colonial matters has been one of waste and neglect. Spain lost her colonies because she treated them much as we have treated our own colony of Alaska. “Compulsory Imperialism," we are told, the extension of civilization under the lead of happy chance and “ Manifest Destiny," is the next stage in the development of the United States. Probably this is true, but, if so, we must not forget that dominion has its duties as well as its glories, and of these the duties are most numerous as well as most insistent. We must take lessons in respect for law from the only nation (save thrifty Holland) whose foreign possessions have been other than a source of weakness and corruption. The loss of her colonies may mark the civil and moral awakening of Spain. Let us trust that the same event may not bring moral and political decay to the nation which, most unwillingly, inherits Spain's bankrupt assets.
DAVID STARR JORDAN.
Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, Cal.,
August 10, 1898.
As educated men and women, in your hands lies the future of the State. It is for you and such as you to work out the problems of democracy. This is my justification in speaking to you of the present crisis. For a great world crisis is on us, and this year of 1898 may mark one of the three great epochs in our history.
Twice before in our national life have we stood in the presence of a great crisis. Twice before have we come to the parting of the ways, and twice has our choice been controlled by wise counsel.
The first crisis followed the War of the Revolution. Its question was this: What relation shall the emancipated colonies bear to one another? The answer was the American Constitution, the federation of self-governing and united states.
The second crisis came through the growth of slavery. The union of the states “could not endure, half slave, half free.” The emancipation proclamation of Abraham Lincoln marked our decision that the Union should endure; and that all that made for division should be swept away.
The third great crisis is on us now. The war with Spain is only a part of it. The question is not: Can we capture Manila, Havana, Porto Rico or the Canaries? It is not what we can take or what we can hold. The American navy and the American army can accomplish all we ask of them with time and patience.
Battles are fought to-day through engineering and technical skill, not through physical dash. The great cannon speaks the language of science, and individual courage is helpless before it. The standing of our naval officers in matters of engineering is beyond question. There are a hundred nameless lieutenants in our warships who, if opportunity offered, could write their names beside those of Grenville and Nelson and Farragut and Dewey. The glory of Manila is not dim beside that of Mobile or Trafalgar. The cool strength and soberness of Yankee courage, added to the power of naval engineering, could meet any foe on earth on equal terms, and here the terms are not equal. Personal fearlessness our adversaries possess, and that is all they have. That we have, too, in like measure. Everything else is ours. We train our guns against the empty shell of a medieval monarchy, broken, distracted, corrupt.
The war with Spain marks in itself no crisis. The end is seen from the beginning. It was known to Spain as clearly as to us. But her government had no recourse. They had come to the end of diplomacy, and could only die fighting. “To die game” is an old habit of the Spaniard. “ Whatever else the war may do,” says the Spanish diplomat, with pathetic honesty, “it can only bring ruin to Spain."
It is too late for us now to ask how we got into the
Was it inevitable? Was it wise? Was it righteous? We need not ask these questions, because the answers will not help us. We may have our doubts as to one or all of these, but all doubts we must keep to ourselves. We are in the midst of battle, and must fight to the end. The “rough-riders" are in the saddle.
“ What though the soldier knew some one had blundered?” The swifter, fiercer, more glorious our attacks, the sooner and more lasting our peace. There is no possible justification for the war unless we are strong enough and swift enough to bring it to a speedy end. If America is to be the
Knight-errant of the Nations she must be pure of heart and swift of foot, every inch a knight.
The crisis comes when the war is over. What then? Our question is not what we shall do with Cuba, Porto Rico and the Philippines. It is what these prizes will do
Can we let go of them in honor or in safety? If not, what if we hold them? What will be the reflex effect of great victories, suddenly realized strength, the patronizing applause, the ill-concealed envy of great nations, the conquest of strange territories, the raising of our flag beyond the seas? All this is new to us. It is un-American; it is contrary to our traditions; it is delicious; it is intoxicating.
For this is the fact before us. We have come to our manhood among the nations of the earth. What shall we do about it? The war once finished, shall we go back to our farms and factories, to our squabbles over tariffs and coinage, our petty trading in peanuts and postoffices? Or shall our country turn away from these things and stand forth once for all a great naval power, our vessels in every sea, our influence felt over all the earth? Shall we be the plain United States again, or shall we be another England, fearless even of our own great mother, second to her only in age and prestige?
The minor results of war are matters of little moment in comparison. Let us look at a few of them as we pass. Most of them are not results at all. The glow of battle simply shows old facts in new relation.
The war has stirred the fires of patriotism, we say. Certainly, but they were already there, else they could not be stirred. I doubt if there is more love of country with us to-day than there was a year ago.
Real love of country is not easily moved. Its guarantee is its permanence. Love of adventure, love of fight, these are soon kindled. It is these to which the battle spirit appeals. Love of adventure we may not despise. It is the precious heritage of new races; it is the basis of personal courage; but it is not patriotism; it is push. Love of fight is not
in itself unworthy. The race which cannot fight if need be, is a puny folk destined to be the prey of tyrants. But one who fights for fight's sake is a bully, not a hero. The bully is at heart a coward. To fight only when we are sure of the result, is no proof of national courage.
Patriotism is the will to serve one's country; to make one's country better worth serving. It is a course of action rather than a sentiment. It is serious rather than stirring. The shrilling of the mob is not patriotism. It is not patriotism to trample on the Spanish flag, to burn fire-crackers or to twist the Lion's tail. The shrieking of war editors is not patriotism. Nowadays, nations buy newspapers as they buy ships. Whatever is noisy, whether in Congress or the pulpit, or on the streets, cannot be patriotism. It is not in the galleries that we find brave men.
“ Patriotism,” says Dr. Johnson," is the last refuge of the scoundrel." But he was speaking of counterfeit patriotism. There could not be a counterfeit were there not also a reality.
But this I see as I watch the situation: True patriotism declines as the war spirit rises. Men say they have no interest in reform until the war is over. There is no use of talking of better financial methods, of fairer adjustments of taxes, of wiser administration of affairs, until the war fever has passed by. The patriotism of the hour looks to a fight with some other nation, not towards greater pride in our own.
The war has united at last the North and the South, we say. So at least it appears. When Fitzhugh Lee is
. called a Yankee, and all the haughty Lees seem proud of the designation, we may be sure that the old lines of division exist no longer. North and South, East and West, whatever our blood, birth or rank, we Yankees stand shoulder to shoulder in 1898. But our present solidarity shows that the nation was sound already, else a month could not have welded it together.