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history as an independent nation. Intelligent Europeans have seen in America more than America; they have seen in it the image of democracy itself. Whether this image has seemed to them pleasing or menacing, they have realized that it might teach them much of what they had to fear or to hope for in the future. In its origin and in its history the United States stands for democracy or it stands for nothing. What is the character of this democracy? What were the conditions of its origin? Upon what solid or fragile foundations does it rest? What is essential in order; that it may endure?
THE ORIGINS OF DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA
ANY sorts of people contributed to the
settlement of the thirteen English colonies which declared their independence of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Men of all classes, from the noble to the jailbird, were among the first English immigrants in the seventeenth century; but for the most part the settlers were neither the outcasts nor the favorites of fortune, but the moderately well-to-do-lawyers, doctors, merchants, shopkeepers, small landowners, and peasants. The motives which inspired these people to try their fortunes in America varied with the individual, as well as with the region in which they settled. Some came in a spirit of adventure, others to mend their fortunes or escape the consequences of crime or poverty. Certain colonies, such as Virginia, were founded chiefly by men who sought better economic opportunities; while others, such as Massachusetts, were founded by men whose main aim was to erect in the New World that ideal commonwealth which they despaired of ever seeing in Europe. However varied and intermingled these motives may have been, they may all be included in one motive, which was the desire for more freedom and a better opportunity. Speaking generally, therefore, it may be said that the founding of the English colonies, which afterward became the United States of America, was an idealistic enterprise -the work of discontented men who sought in the New World a freedom which was denied to them in the Old.
In the New World they found much freedom of a certain kind. They found freedom from tradition, and from the legal and conventional restraints of civilized society. In America they found no pope and no king, no noble lords levying toll upon the land, no Church exacting fees from the poor as the price of salvation. In America men found all the freedom of Nature. Yet Nature imposes her own constraints. In this wilderness to which they came the early settlers found that liberty was the reward of those who seek out and obey the harsh and unproclaimed laws of the physical universe. For many years the only liberty which they had was the liberty to exist, if, perchance, they could manage to do so. Thousands perished, but the hardy survived; the
hardy and the adaptable, the resourceful, the inventive, the stubbornly persistent, those with a certain iron hardness in their nature, those with the indomitable will to conquer these survived and won the freedom of the New World.
While the New World of America was no lotos-land to be enjoyed without effort, the difficulties to be overcome were different in the North and in the South. There was every variation in physical environment from the meager soil and bitter winters of New England to the rich bottom-lands and almost tropical heat and miasmic atmosphere of South Carolina. Besides the difference in soil and climate the various colonies were settled by a somewhat different class of people, and in some cases by people who came for quite different purposes. It is therefore in part due to physical reasons and in part due to moral reasons that certain characteristic differences came to distinguish the institutions and customs of the New England, the Middle, and the Southern colonies.
The people who came to Virginia were mostly well content to establish there the institutions of old England, to reproduce its class divisions, to perpetuate its social customs. But it was found that the most profitable thing to raise in Virginia was tobacco; and in spite of every effort to prevent it, tobacco became the one important staple crop of the colony. Thus it happened, contrary to expectation, that Virginia was settled, not in compact towns on the English model, but in great and widely separated farms or plantations, strung along the river-banks where the rich bottom-lands were. The plantation was managed by the owner or "planter,” and worked at first by “servants”-men who had sold their services for a term of
in order to pay the cost of their transportation to America and afterward by negro slaves. Towns did not grow up in Virginia, because the plantation was a kind of economically selfsupporting community in itself, and because the tobacco could be most easily shipped directly from the planter's own docks on the river-front. Thus there were in Virginia only two classes, the planters and their subject servants and slaves. Virginia was in fact a landowning aristocracy, without nobility or merchant class, or any considerable small peasant farming class; and the other Southern colonies, except North Carolina, were on the whole similar to Virginia in these respects.
The New England colonies differed widely from Virginia, both in the motives which led to their settlement and in the economic characteristics of the communities which were in fact