Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/404

This page has been validated.

"The ethnic character has a profound influence on the choice between the two modes of government. With some peoples, individual autonomy—independence of character—is strongly traced; for example, among the Germanic nations. Each one engages only his extreme exterior in society. With nations of such temperament, family life is strongly developed; the home is a sacred ark. . . .

"With some other peoples—with the Latin nations in general—it is quite different; the autonomy is less refractory; they like to live in society, and prefer to discharge the functions of thinking and wishing upon others. . . . The will not being carefully cultivated, it diminishes, and the state acts for the individual.

"It is not the race alone that has influence in this matter, but many other factors—climate, soil, religion, and time; usually all these concur in giving direction."[1]

Nevertheless, the writer fails to reach important conclusions logically deducible from his premises, although the diverse racial composition of the nations of Europe, where it is an almost unvarying factor, can scarcely be brought into analogy with the same phenomenon in America, where it is constantly changing.

American civilization can scarcely be regarded as a native product, for it did not slowly grow up upon the soil, but was transplanted by the earlier settlers from European shores early in the seventeenth century. The progress of civilization is largely due to the evolution of thought, the passage from the less to the more complex—from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, the advance in religion, science, art, literature, liberty, which are themselves again all interdependent upon the primal factor, the evolution of thought.

Many conditions were then favorable to a rapid advance in American civilization: the colonists were in most cases men of some education, their minds were imbued with the principles of liberty, and the early fanaticism which characterized the religious refugees gradually disappeared under the influence of the new life. In Pennsylvania, which in its conception was planned as a refuge for all persecuted for religion's sake, where the greatest freedom of mind and person was enjoyed, we discover that civilization progressed most rapidly, a progress which placed her at the head of all the other colonies until the beginning of the nineteenth century. What effect, then, we must ask, has the foreign element had upon American thought, and incidentally upon the material resources of the country. To the former question history vouches no reply, and even to the latter no satisfactory answer is afforded. It is true that many writers have attributed the rapid increase of the population to the immigra-

  1. Revue Internationale de Sociologie, vol. iv, p. 888.