Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

most deep-seated of American instincts, the attachment to free government and democratic social institutions. It is as if we had said to Europe: “We are bound that this great experiment in democracy shall have a fair chance. It may fail in the end. If so, let it at least be clearly demonstrated that the failure is due to inherent weaknesses and not to external interference. We propose, if it be a possible thing, to make this part of the world, at least, safe for democracy.”

It is an interesting fact that the Monroe Doctrine has never been so much discussed as during the last twenty-five years. Nor has there ever been so little agreement in respect to its meaning and purpose. The reason for this is obvious: on the one hand, most European countries have themselves adopted democratic institutions, and in so far as they have done so the great objection to the extension of the European political system to America falls to the ground; on the other hand, the economic, commercial, and financial interdependence of all countries throughout the world has so immensely increased in recent years that the United States can less easily than formerly refrain from playing her part in the affairs of a world in which the interests of every nation are intimately linked with the interests of all.

The Great War has revealed this fact in all its dramatic possibilities. And there is something to be said for President Wilson's contention that in entering the war against Germany we were not abandoning the Monroe Doctrine, but only making a wider application of it. For a hundred years we asked, and not in vain, that Europe should leave America free to try the great experiment in selfgovernment. When the better part of Europe became engaged in a desperate and uncertain struggle for the preservation, as it seemed, of those very ideals of which the United States had hitherto been the professed champion, how could the United States abandon the Monroe Doctrine more completely than by refusing to take part in making the world, and therefore America, “safe for democracy”? There is something to be said for this idea, but there are two qualifications of vital importance to be insisted upon. In entering the war the United States needed to be quite sure, and in guaranteeing the peace she needs to be quite sure, that it is democracy and not capitalistic imperialism that the world is being made safe for. She needs also to be quite clear that making the world safe for democracy is not the same thing as imposing upon the world her own brand of democracy. Whether we abandon or maintain the Monroe Doctrine is less important than whether we hold fast to or depart from our profoundest traditions. We shall certainly depart from them if, having for a hundred years in the name of democracy defended the right of American peoples to govern themselves in their own way, we now, in behalf of “law and order," deny that right to any European people because they choose to govern themselves according to democratic forms that are not agreeable to us.

To raise an army in defense of Belgium and France against German aggressions may well have been no more

than a wider application of the Monroe Doc[ trine; but to send American soldiers into

Russia for the suppression of the soviet government of Lenine is indeed to abandon the Monroe Doctrine for the ideals and the methods of the "Holy Alliance.”]

VI

DEMOCRACY AND FREE LAND

I

3. This land grows weary of her inhabitants, so as man, who is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and base than the earth we tread upon, and of less price among us than a horse or a sheep; masters are forced by authority to entertain servants, parents to maintain their own children. All towns complain of the burden of their poor, though we have taken up many unnecessary, yea unlawful trades to maintain them. And we use the authority of the law to hinder the increase of people as urging the execution of the state against cottages and inmates, and thus it is come to pass that children, servants, and neighbors (especially if they be poor) are counted the greatest burden which if things were right would be the chiefest earthly blessing.

4. The whole earth is the Lord's Garden and He hath given it to the sons of men, with a general condition (Gen. 1:28). Increase and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it, which was again renewed to Noah; the end is double, moral and natural, that man might enjoy the fruits of the earth and God might have his due glory from the creatures. Why then should we stand here striving for places of habitation (many men spending as much labor and cost to recover or keep sometimes an acre or two of land as would secure them many hundred as good or better in another country) and in the mean time suffer a whole continent, as fruitful and convenient for the use of men to lie waste without any improvement?

Such were the third and fourth headings in the brief list of reasons in favor of settling in America which John Winthrop, the leader of the European migration to Massachusetts, wrote down about the year 1628. It was, in its way, a prophetic document. America has indeed been a kind of Garden of the Gods. “Increase and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it.” This might stand as a text of which the entire history of the United States is hardly more than a proper amplification. In America men have never had to “stand-striving for places of habitation." On the contrary, the United States has always had, until very recently, more land than it could use and fewer people than it needed; and this is not only the fundamental economic difference between the United States and European countries, but it is a condition which has more influence than any other in determining the course of American history and in molding that complex force which we call American national character.

« AnteriorContinuar »