Columbus sailed with the intent of finding, not the West, but the East Indies. To the day of his death he never discovered his mistake. It was his intent there to plant the monarchical tyranny of Spain. Four hundred years have passed away since then, and it is passing strange that these United States, after breaking the power of Spain in the West, are even now engaged in fastening upon that land which Columbus sought to reach, those same Spanish principles of power and tyranny which he would fain have taken there.
An Old World power has been driven from Cuba, but an Old World idea has invaded and well-nigh captured the republic of the United States,-the idea that all men are not created equal, and that governments do not derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. There have been times when the ship of state in the United States has been partially diverted from her course, and greed has used her officers for private ends and personal emoluments. But now the very foundation-stones of the fabric governmental are being undermined.
Prior to the year 1898 this government was a republic pure and simple. Its foundations were laid in principle, and not in power. It was not an empire in any sense of the word, for the foundations of an empire are laid in power, and not in principle. It was built upon that everlasting rock that right makes might. Against this the coming of floods and the blowing and beating of winds are alike powerless, for it standeth sure and falleth not forever. But empires, on the other hand, are built upon that sinking sand that might makes right. Against these the floods come, and the winds blow and beat, and they fall, and great is the fall thereof.
To-day this nation is in danger of abandoning the rock and settling upon the sand. The love of power, so prone to the human breast, is smothering priceless, eternal principle. From being a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it is being rapidly transformed into a government of some of the people, by a few of the people, for all the people. This is imperialism as opposed to republicanism, and this is national apostasy.
Until the summer of 1898 the word “imperialism” was but little heard from the lips of Americans. Now the very atmosphere is fairly drenched with it. A perfect wave of imperialism has swept over the land, and the desire for an Imperial America, or an “Imperial Republic,” as it has been styled, sits supreme upon hundreds of scores of souls. But an imperial republic cannot exist. With equal sense and propriety one might talk about “good badness.”
What means this wild babel of tongues clamoring for subjects over which to exercise sway? What means this strange jargon, formed from an Old World monarchical vocabulary? Are men crazed with the madness sometimes begotten by victory at arms? Are men drunken with the lust of colonial empire? Are men raving in the delirium of that dread fever, earth-hunger, in which all the monarchies of the Old World are writhing? Think they in the hour of triumph over a foe, outclassed at every point, to build a tower of national greatness which will reach to the very heavens, and at the same time to lay its unrighteous foundations on the stricken forms of vassal peoples? The result will surely be as it was before in the case of the builders of Babel, there will be confusion of tongues, and the dissolution of the nation.
In his day, Abraham Lincoln said that in the days of the Fathers “our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.”
And again he said, speaking of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise:—
“I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong,-wrong in its direct effect,-letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.
“This declared indifference, but as I must think covert real zeal, for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence; enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration of Independence.”
Once again the time has come when the Declaration of Independence is not held sacred by all, is not thought to include all. Once again, to make the bondage, not of the negro, but of the Filipino, universal and eternal, “it is assailed, and sneered at, and hawked at, and, torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.”
Adapted From: The Perils of The Republic of The United States of America by Percy Magan Tilson,1899
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