knows very much about the great middle section of the South, what is called the "Land of the Sky," comprising the upland plateaus and mountain sections of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, eastern Tennessee, and Kentucky? Within this area, as large as France and twice as large as Great Britain, will be found timber and minerals equal to both the countries named, and a potential in agriculture equal to either, as yet very sparsely populated.
Yet under a craze for centrifugal expansion we are now in danger of trying to develop tropical islands far away, already somewhat densely peopled, where white men can not work and live, to our detriment, danger, and loss, while we fail to see that if we expand centripetally by the occupation and use of the most healthy and productive section of our own country, we may add immensely to our prosperity, our wealth, to our profit without cost and without militarism. This sparsely settled Land of the Sky is greater in area and far greater in its potential than the Philippine Islands, Cuba, and Porto Rico combined. Verily, it seems as if common sense were a latent and sluggish force, often endangered by the noisy and blatant influence of the venal politician and the greed of the unscrupulous advocates of vassal colonies who now attempt to pervert the power of government to their own purposes of private gain.
Witness the blunders of the past:
We nearly gave away Oregon because it was held not to be worth retaining.
When the northern boundary of Wisconsin was being determined, it was put as far north as it was then supposed profitable farming could ever extend, excluding Minnesota, now one of our greatest sources of wheat.
The Great American Desert in my own school atlas covered a large part of the most fertile land now under cultivation.
What blunders are we now making for lack of "speculation" or "intellectual examination" as to the future of American farming and farm lands?
On one point to which Mr. Hyde refers I must cry peccavi. He rebukes the editor of the Popular Science Monthly for admitting an article in which a potential of 400,000,000 bushels of wheat is attributed to the State of Idaho. The total depravity of the type-writing machine caused the mechanism to spell Montana in the letters I-d-a-h-o. What I imputed to Idaho is true of Montana, if the Chief of the Agricultural Experiment Stations of Montana is a competent witness, if all its arable land were devoted to wheat. It will be observed that I mentioned Idaho incidentally (meaning Montana), taking no cognizance of the estimate given, because it was at present of no practical importance.