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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/192

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186
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

of wealth in lands, money and other forms were granted by smaller political units. This lavish generosity upon the part of governments had the warm support of the whole body of the people because the greater number of the individuals in the country were directly sharing in it or expected further indirect benefits from the development that would follow easy and cheap intercourse.

In this era of expansion the people thought in round numbers and on a grand scale. The superabundance of natural resources and the size of the anticipated results would have made any close scrutiny of the details of the transactions involved seem parsimonious cheeseparing, petty querulousness likely to interfere with the success of the transaction in hand and sure to delay the consummation unanimously wished. The popular will demanded that the thing be put through. All interests had to be conciliated and the ways greased if speed were to be attained. In thus doing business on wide margins and wholesale practically every one who helped the scheme forward felt a democratic right to participate in the benefits conferred. Legislators and administrators looked for an honorarium as a part of the exchange of courtesies incident to the negotiations connected with any public improvement of importance. The people at large were more interested in the execution of the proposed work than in the way it was carried out. Official parasitism on public improvements, graft, was regarded lightly as merely a sharing in the general distribution of the public largess. It was a commonplace; beneficial to the recipients and injurious to no one because, forsooth, it came out of the public abundance.

Development was the word to conjure with during most of our past and its magic opened men's minds to suggestion in every field of effort. Very early the creation of manufacturing industry became a desideratum. The infant industry needed protection. Notwithstanding the opposition of the South which then saw no promise of local benefit in the policy, the rest of the country enacted a tariff that took the edge off foreign competition if it did not entirely prevent it. Behind this barrier there came into existence factories and mills for the production of commodities as varied as the resources of the country would supply with raw material. The producers of this material rejoiced in the existence of a market immediately at hand and felt the benefit of the policy that the nation was more and more committing itself to carrying out. These new and flourishing manufactories were the nuclei of an urban population ready to purchase the products of farm and field: hence the agricultural interests were persuaded that the value of their lands was enhanced and their labor made profitable by the legislative act that brought the artisans and their families from Europe to the United States. Some palatable arguments allured many into thinking that the duties collected came from the foreigner, while others confident in the