May 18, 1872
The two great nations in the world to-day, still in the act of growth, are Russia and America. With their vast extent of territory and rapidly increasing population, it is almost impossible for the human mind to estimate the grandeur of their destiny.
All the other nations in the globe have reached the acme of their power; some are already hastening to their downfall, because, like the despotisms, monarchies and empires of the past, one and all are based on the old feudal idea that might makes right. In spite of Russia’s gaining power and greatness, if she continues to center all the authority of society in a single arm, she too must share the same fate with those that have gone before her. For there is but one safe and stable basis of national life; that is, the equality of all the citizens.
This is our American idea, and here we have undertaken the experiment of self-government, and it is well for every thoughtful citizen to consider all that the experiment involves. Without territorial annexation, we shall have at the end of this century one hundred million of people. With the purchase of territory now proposed, we shall add greatly to this number. Forty thousand Chinese are already on the Pacific coast, but the entering wedge of 400,000,000 behind them. Ignorance, poverty and vice from every quarter of the globe are following here, and all this mighty multitude are to be educated into the rights and responsibilities of self-government. When we consider how difficult it is to teach one individual man to govern himself, to study the laws of his being and conscientiously observe them, though he suffers in his own flesh the penalty of every violated law, we may begin to measure the magnitude of the work before us.
And there is no royal road to this result, but it is all to be accomplished by the slow, sure process of education.
Do we not need to this end the enlightened statesmanship, the religious earnestness, the moral power, the refined sentiments and affections of every thinking man and woman kindled to the highest pitch of enthusiastic patriotism for this work.
Wise thinkers are to-day considering the future of this nation and the probabilities of our children realizing what our fathers proposed; a government in which all citizens shall be free and equal.
Some doubt the possibility of such a fact, and declare the idea Utopian. Some say it is feasible, but only in a much higher development of the [human] race. Some say we have made the attempt and failed, and are now drifting towards centralization and Imperialism. But the philosopher, seeing that equality has been the one long struggle through the past, naturally infer that it must be the foundation of all true government, based on a great fact in human nature. We have not tried it yet, but are slowly struggling towards that idea; our experiment thus far has not been a failure, but as compared with nations that have gone before us, a grand success. We are not drifting toward centralization and the one man power but bravely working for the rights of the man, for individual sacredness and development. . . .
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