American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of by John Fiske

By John Fiske

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Here were eleven states, geographically contiguous, governed by groups of men who for half a century had pursued a well-defined policy in common, united among themselves and marked off from most of the other states by a difference far more deeply rooted in the groundwork of society than any mere economic difference, —the difference between slave-labour and free-labour. These eleven states, moreover, held such an economic relationship with England that they counted upon compelling the naval power of England to be used in their behalf.

From what direction, and in what manner, such an irresistible though perfectly pacific pressure is likely to be exerted in the future, I shall endeavour to show in my next lecture. At present we have to observe that the experiment of federal union on a grand scale required as its conditions, first, a vast extent of unoccupied country which could be settled without much warfare by men of the same race and speech, and secondly, on the part of the settlers, a rich inheritance of political training such as is afforded by long ages of self-government.

This great movement has, on the whole, been steadily kept up, in spite of some apparent fluctuation in the fifth and sixth centuries of the Christian era, and it is still going on today. It was a great gain for civilization when the Romans overcame the Keltiberians of Spain, and taught them good manners and the Latin language, and made it for their interest hereafter to fight against barbarians. The third European peninsula was thus won over to the side of law and order. Danger now remained on the north.

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