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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/455

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different footing. The former might be said to aim at selfishly exploiting the outlying country because he hoped, after a few years, to return to Europe and there enjoy his gains. The same could not be said of the colonist, for he cast in his lot with the new country, hoping there to establish a new home for his descendants and to build up a new commonwealth.

If the same movement is regarded from the standpoint of the duties and interests of European states, it is evident that both the fortune-hunter and the colonist needed, at first, the support and protection of the state from which they went forth. The whole movement of discovery and settlement appears, in this point of view, as a manifestation of growing social power in western Europe, and the nations there are seen to have made, in the first instance, a great expenditure of energy and capital for which they never received any return. The relation was one of parenthood, and therefore one of sacrifice on the part of the mother countries. This relation was, however, obscured by traditions and accepted notions of national aggrandizement and glory, and by notions about commerce which were accepted as axiomatic. These notions drove the great states into policies of conquest, exclusion, monopoly, and war with each other. As a consequence, the whole grand movement came to be regarded by European statesmen from the standpoint of gain to European nations, and they adopted sordid measures for snatching this gain from each other. Those statesmen assumed that Europe was the head of the world, and they allotted the outlying regions among themselves with no regard for the aborigines, and very little regard for the colonists. The body of relations which was established between the Old World and the New, under this theory, constituted the colonial system.

It can not be denied that the colonial system stands in history as an attempt to exploit the outlying continents for the benefit of Europe. Thousands of lives and millions of capital were expended in the effort to perfect the system, and in that struggle to steal each other's colonies which the system caused. The logical outcome was the ambition of each competitor to win universal dominion for itself, and to impose a balance-of-power policy on each of the others. The system had its doctrines too; some old, some new: "He who holds the sea will hold the land"—"Trade follows the flag." The English colonial system was far less oppressive and more enlightened than that of any other nation. It alone was founded on real colonization and aimed to create new commonwealths. It was therefore the one under which the system first broke down, for it contained a fatal inconsistency in itself. It educated the colonists to independence, and it was certain that they would go alone as soon as they were strong enough to do so.