(Our Own Recent Times.)

During this, the last of our great epochs in American history, occurred the war with Spain. At its conclusion, not an acre of land in America was owned by the people for whom the Continent was discovered and by whom it was first explored and settled. This was the last of our five wars with foreign states. The first, the war with France, secured to North America Anglo-Saxon civilization instead of Latin. the Revolution created a new Federal republic; the war of 1812 demonstrated that we were a naval power able to cope with Europe; the war with Mexico secured for the national domain a territory larger than was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase; the war with Spain raised the Republic to a new and high level as a world power.

Within this epoch of thirty-five years marvelous progress was made. Territory after territory was relinquished from control by Congress and raised to autonomous distinction as a State, until not one remained to knock at the door. The West, and Far West have been so well peopled and developed that we no longer possess a frontier. Where once existed a so-called "great desert" are fruitful farms, thriving towns, growing cities, all linked together by well-equipped railroad, telegraph, and telephone lines. With only a single railway across the continent in 1868, eight trunk lines now transport passengers and freight to the Pacific, nearly all highly profitable to their stock-holders. Three others have been built, wholly or in part, just across our northern border, and a ship canal, the greatest ever built, will soon provide a waterway to seaports on our Western coast.

The causes of this growth are manifold—fertile lands, often to be had for the asking; mountains, only to be opened to disclose copper, silver and gold; commerce with the Orient, all hastened to rapid development by the spirit of a free and multiplying people, aided by the mechanical genius of the modem age—coal and steam applied to railroads, factories and the heating of buildings; machinery applied to farming; the typewriter to correspondence and literary production; the automobile to passenger traffic, traction and trucking; electricity to the telegraph, telephone, trolley and the darkness of the night.1 More and greater changes have been wrought in the conditions of human fife by these inventions than in all other years since modem civilization began.

It is largely to these marvels of invention that we owe the growing solidarity of the Federal Union. They have made for unity of interest in public affairs, for homogeneity in customs, educational ideals, general intellectual life, and a commonsense of nationality. In the political, intellectual, social and commercial life of the nation State lines have more and more receded, until States seem destined to become conscious of a relation to the Federal Union scarcely more independent than that of counties to States—their individuality more and more merged into the national life. On the Atlantic seaboard are made text-books for schools in every city, town and rural neighborhood of the Union. A library movement has planted public libraries in almost every urban and rural community from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and stocked them with practically the same books. No event of national consequence occurs in one part of the country that it is not known at once through the newspapers in every other part. Our best weekly papers find as eager readers in Texas as in Maine, in Oregon as in Florida; they are written, not for a locality, but for the whole country. Our monthly magazines, tho published almost exclusively on the Atlantic coast, gather their millions of readers from the most remote and distant places. The telegraph, improved printing-presses, machine typesetting, cheap paper, process illustration, prompt postal delivery, lower postal rates, all the creations of the modern age, have made it possible for these organs of opinion and purveyors of information thus to aid in preserving the unification of the States.

Growth has been most rapid in a section that formerly was the most backward. Seven years after the South was freed from negro domination and the negro forced to abandon politics and turn to his former occupation of cultivating the soil, the cotton production of the South had risen from 5,000,000 bales before the Civil War to 8,000,000 bales; in 1911 the production was 15,000,000 bales. Similar increases took place in crops of wheat, corn, fruit and vegetables for Northern markets, Negroes, well-to-do for their neighborhoods, are not uncommon, while a few have been known to possess considerable fortunes.

Steam and electricity, combined with free labor have completely transformed the South. It is rapidly becoming one of the chief industrial sections in America. Colored men, everywhere acquiring small holdings of land, promise eventually to be the chief producers of cotton. Other industries have meanwhile come rapidly to the front, but these are controlled by the whites. Thirty years ago the agricultural products of the South exceeded the manufactures by $200,000,000 annually. The conditions in 1900 had been reversed, the manufactures, including the products of mines, then exceeding the agricultural products by $300,000,000. Ten years later this manufacturing excess was much greater.

Each census year brings to public knowledge a new story for the whole country—of a population grown from less than 4,000,000 when the Constitution was adopted to nearly 10,000,000 in 1820, to 32,000,000 at the outbreak of the Civil War, to 50,000,000 in 1880, to 92,000,000 in 1910, with the probability that an excess of 100,000,000 will have been reached long before 1920; of a single corporation which in ten years disbursed $736,000,000 in dividends to its stockholders; of a railway mileage of 236,000 miles, where only 35,000 miles existed at the close of the Civil War; of a passenger traffic that has doubled, and a freight traffic that has trebled in twenty years; of an educational system for which, in 1909, $400,000,000 was appropriated, as against only $79,000,000 in 1877; of a country once wholly agricultural, but now so given to manufactures that the capital employed in such industries has reached the stupendous total of more than $13,000,000,000.

Thus has been verified the remark of Count Aranda, Spanish Commissioner at the signing of the Treaty of Peace in Paris in 1782—"A federal republic is this day born a pigmy, but the day will come when, to these countries here, it will be formidable as a giant, even a colossus."

F. W. H.

1 The typewriter dates from 1878, the telephone from 1877, the electric light from 1879, the electric railway from 1880, the automobile, as made to-day, from about 1894.
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© 2002, 2003 by Lynn Waterman