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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/456

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

if they thought that they were being exploited in the colonial relation. To such extent as this destiny was aimed at or unconsciously brought about, the construction of modern history put forward by Rodbertus fails to be correct.

It has become a common place of history that the revolt of the American colonies was a good thing for the colonies and for England. The question no longer has any other than speculative interest, and perhaps no speculation is more idle than that which deals with the possible consequences of some other course of history than that which actually took place; but, if such speculation ever could be profitable, it would be upon this question: What would have been the consequences to human welfare if the English statesmen of 1775 could have risen to the nineteenth-century doctrine of colonies, and if the whole English-speaking world could have remained united in sympathy and harmony? This question has so much practical value that it may help us to see the advantage there may be in a colonial relation where it still exists, and to see that there is no universal and dogmatic ground for independence which can be urged by a third party.

Independence was brought about on the Western continent; not to any important extent anywhere else. The Spanish-American colonies had grievances against their mother country which fully justified their revolt; still, it appears that they revolted chiefly from contagion and imitation. They have never been able to obtain good standing in the family of nations as independent commonwealths. The Panama Congress of 1824, in its original plan, promised to be a very important incident in the development of the relations of the New World to the Old. It appeared for a time that the Western continent might be organized as a unit in independence of, and possible hostility to, the Eastern continent. The project came to nothing. It was crushed in one of the hardest political collisions in our history, that between the Adams administration and the Jackson opposition. The theory of it, however, remains behind and, under the name of the Monroe doctrine, has remained as a vague and elastic notion. The practical outcome of any attempt to realize that doctrine must be to organize the world into a dual system. Instead of the old notion of a world-unit ruled from Europe as its head, we should have a dual world-system, one half under the hegemony of Europe, the other half under that of the United States. Is this a rational or practicable plan of future development? Is it not fantastic and arbitrary? If the United States pretends to hold aloof from a share in the affairs of the Eastern continent, and to demand that all European states shall abstain from any share in the affairs of the Western continent, is that anything more than a pose and an affectation? Have we not within a year or two been forced to