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mers? Moreover, amidst all this there is a lamentable lack of good sense. Prosperity is measured by the ability of the seller to advance the price and not by the ability of the purchaser to buy. It is measured by the activity of monopolists, not by the normal activity of the people at large. It is measured by the extent to which capital consents to the employment of labor, not by the demand which the consumer calls upon the producer to produce.
But to hold society together there must be some enforcement of law. So that pinochle and larceny will be vigorously punished, while gambling in grain, monopolistic extortion, slaughter of inferior peoples and other things which extend civilization will proceed without interruption.
And what is the conclusion that is forced upon men? These degeneracies have been treated with ideals and the disease has steadily grown worse. Was not slavery destroyed by ideals? History answers this question in the negative and by so answering it declares that civilization has not yet reached the point where ideals are sufficient to work reforms. Slavery was destroyed by the power of money. Slavery was uneconomic. It crushed the south; it interfered with the rights of white labor. Yet at this the time of its overthrow, economically speaking, had not come in Lincoln's day. For slavery was still profitable to the mercantilists in the north and in England. Lincoln would not have been elected except for a split in the democratic party. In fact, he received the smallest per centum of the vote of any candidate ever elected by the American people. Colonialism does not pay; it
never paid any country. It is profitable only to the privileged few. But colonialism cannot be destroyed until the forces of plutocracy become divided or until its uneconomic features bear hard enough upon a sufficient number of people to win them back to the ways of a plain but virtuous republic. Ideals will not do. We have seen that ideals are as flax to the fire in a day when men are hungry for money.
Webster, in his great political speech delivered in New York March 15, 1837, used the following language in commenting upon what is now termed the "constitutional march": "A gentleman,” said he, “not now living, wished very much to vote for the establishment of a bank of the United States, but he always stoutly denied the constitutional power of the United States to create such a bank. The country, however, was in a state of great financial distress, from which such an institution, it was hoped, might help to extricate it, and this consideration led the worthy member to review his opinions with care and deliberation. He came satisfactorily to the conclusion that congress might incorporate a bank. The power, he said, to create a bank was either given to congress or it was not given. Very well. If it was given congress, of course, could exercise it; if it was not given the people still retained it, and in that case congress, as the representative of the people, might upon an emergency make free use of it." Continuing the bitter irony, Webster said: “Arguments and conclusions in substance like these, gentlemen, will not be wantng if men of great popularity, commanding characters, sustained by powerful parties and full of good intentions toward the public, may be permitted to call themselves universal representatives of the people.”
It is the argument that a given thing must be done and, therefore, that there must be constitutional power to do it that has led to nearly all the trespasses upon the organic law. For instance, listen to the reasoning in the decision in the insular cases: “A false step at this time," said Mr. Justice Brown, "might be fatal to the development of what Chief Justice Marshall called the American empire. Choice in some cases, the natural gravitation of small bodies toward large ones in others, the result of a successful war in still others may bring about conditions which would render the annexation of distant possessions desirable.”
How far annexation in any case is desirable is a difficult matter to determine. Can it be gathered from the inspired utterances of newspapers or the paid articles in magazines? Can it be gathered from the interviews of congressmen and senators or the prepared speeches of politicians engaged in creating a sentiment of desire for annexation? Can the desire of the people be ascertained unless they express themselves in a manner which separates their consideration of annexation from their consideration of all other questions? If, in fact, a majority of the people desire annexation, and if it be not merely desired by a clique of selfish commercialists, is the desire of a thing the test of constitutionality? We can paraphrase Webster's words as follows: "The power to annex islands and govern them arbitrarily outside of the constitution was either given to congress or it was not given. Very well. If it was given congress, of course, could exercise it. If it was not given the people still retain it, and in that case congress, as the representa
tive of the people, might upon an emergency make free use of it, especially where it is desirable and where a false step at this time might be fatal to acquisitions hereafter."
“There shall be no imperialism," said the late Mr. McKinley, "except the imperialism of the American people,” which means also that whatever the people desire the congress will do, congress or a few privileged interests being the judge, however, of what the people desire.
From the mocking satire of Webster to the solemn decision of Mr. Justice Brown is a long step, and yet this is one of the developments which some men yet living have seen come to pass.
The arguments which were used to create a desire for imperialism, if there was any real desire for it, and which were largely accepted, plainly show that the present sociological state of the American people is religious if not supernatural. Many well-meaning people can be won to anything by the argument that it is predestined or that it bears the evidence of a providential dispensation wonderful and particular. This appeals to the imagination and stirs the dramatic sense more or less active in all men. And though we no longer beat tomtoms to drive away eclipses nor attribute pestilence to the wrath of demons and in general have installed law and order where caprice and accident formerly held sway, yet nevertheless when a certain class of thinkers deals with the actions of large bodies of men, whether as nations or armies, their imaginations carry them completely away. If Admiral Dewey steers into the harbor of Manila with