« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
This is what it comes to. The most significant fact in the Mississippi Valley is its ideals. Here has been developed, notX by revolutionary theory, but by growth among free opportunities, the conception of a vast democracy made up of mobile ascending individuals, conscious of their power and their responsibilities. Can these ideals of individualism and democracy be reconciled and applied to the twentieth century type of civilization ?
Other nations have been rich and prosperous and powerful, art-loving and empire-building. No other nation on a vast scale has been controlled by a self-conscious, self-restrained democracy in the interests of progress and freedom, industrial as well as political. It is in the vast and level spaces of the Mississippi Valley, if anywhere, that the forces of social transformation and the modification of its democratic ideals may be arrested.
Beginning with competitive individualism, as well as with belief in equality, the farmers of the Mississippi Valley gradually learned that unrestrained competition and combination meant the triumph of the strongest, the seizure in the interest of a dominant class of the strategic points of the nation's life. They learned that between the ideal of individualism, unrestrained by society, and the ideal of democracy, was an innate conflict; that their very ambitions and forcefulness had endangered their democracy. The significance of the MississippiX Valley in American history has lain partly in the fact that it was a region of revolt. Here have arisen varied, sometimes ill-considered, but always devoted, movements for ameliorating the lot of the common man in the interests of democracy. Out of the Mississippi Valley have come successive and related tidal waves of popular demand for real or imagined legislative safeguards to their rights and their social ideals. The Granger movement, the Greenback movement, the Populist
movement, Bryan Democracy, and Roosevelt Republicanism all found their greatest strength in the Mississippi Valley. They were Mississippi Valley ideals in action. Its people were learning by experiment and experience how to grapple with the fundamental problem of creating a just social order that shall sustain the free, progressive, individual in a real democracy. The Mississippi Valley is asking, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? ” X The Mississippi Valley has furnished a new social order to America. Its universities have set new types of institutions for social service and for the elevation of the plain people. Its historians should recount its old ambitions, and inventory its ideals, as well as its resources, for the information of the present age, to the end that building on its past, the mighty Valley may have a significance in the life of the nation even more profound than any which I have recounted.
THE PROBLEM OF THE WEST 1
The problem of the West is nothing less than the problem of American development. A glance at the map of the United States reveals the truth. To write of a “ Western sectionalism,” bounded on the east by the Alleghanies, is, in itself, to proclaim the writer a provincial. What is the West? What has it been in American life? To have the answers to these questions, is to understand the most significant features of the United States of to-day.
The West, at bottom, is a form of society, rather than an area. It is the term applied to the region whose social cony! ditions result from the application of older institutions and ideas to the transforming influences of free land. By this application, a new environment is suddenly entered, freedom of opportunity is opened, the cake of custom is broken, and new activities, new lines of growth, new institutions and new ideals, are brought into existence. The wilderness disappears, the “ West proper passes on to a new frontier, and in the former area, a new, society has emerged from its contact with the backwoods. Gradually this society loses its primitive conditions, and assimilates itself to the type of the older social conditions of the East; but it bears within it enduring and distinguishing survivals of its frontier experience. Decade after decade, West after West, this rebirth of American society has gone on, has left its traces behind it, and has reacted on the East. The history of our political institutions, our democracy, is not a history of imitation, of simple borrowing; it is 1 Atlantic Monthly, September, 1896. Reprinted by permission.
a history of the evolution and adaptation of organs in response to changed environment, a history of the origin of new political species. In this sense, therefore, the West has been a constructive force of the highest significance in our life. To use the words of that acute and widely informed observer, Mr. Bryce, “ The West is the most American part of America.
What Europe is to Asia, what America is to England, that the Western States and Territories are to the Atlantic States."
The West, as a phase of social organization, began with the Atlantic coast, and passed across the continent. But the colonial tide-water area was in close touch with the Old World, and soon lost its Western aspects. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the newer social conditions appeared along the upper waters of the tributaries of the Atlantic. Here it was that the West took on its distinguishing features, and transmitted frontier traits and ideals to this area in later days. On the coast, were the fishermen and skippers, the merchants and planters, with eyes turned toward Europe. Beyond the falls of the rivers were the pioneer farmers, largely of nonEnglish stock, Scotch-Irish and German. They constituted a
, distinct people, and may be regarded as an expansion of the social and economic life of the middle region into the back country of the South. These frontiersmen were the ancestors of Boone, Andrew Jackson, Calhoun, Clay, and Lincoln. Washington and Jefferson were profoundly affected by these frontier conditions. The forest clearings have been the seed plots of American character.
In the Revolutionary days, the settlers crossed the Alleghanies and put a barrier between them and the coast. They became, to use their phrases, “the men of the Western waters,” the heirs of the “Western world.” In this era, the backwoods
men, all along the western slopes of the mountains, with a keen sense of the difference between them and the dwellers on the coast, demanded organization into independent States of the Union. Self-government was their ideal. Said one of X their rude, but energetic petitions for statehood: “Some of X our fellow-citizens may think we are not able to conduct our affairs and consult our interests; but if our society is rude, much wisdom is not necessary to supply our wants, and a fool can sometimes put on his clothes better than a wise man can do it for him.” This forest philosophy is the philosophy R of American democracy. But the men of the coast were not ready to admit its implications. They apportioned the State legislatures so that the property-holding minority of the tidewater lands were able to outvote the more populous back countries. A similar system was proposed by Federalists in the constitutional convention of 1787. Gouverneur Morris, arguing in favor of basing representation on property as well as numbers, declared that " he looked forward, also, to that range of new States which would soon be formed in the West. He thought the rule of representation ought to be so fixed, as to secure to the Atlantic States a prevalence in the national councils.” “The new States," said he, “ will know less of the public interest than these; will have an interest in many respects different; in particular will be little scrupulous of involving the community in wars, the burdens and operations of which would fall chiefly on the maritime States. Provision ought, therefore, to be made to prevent the maritime States from being hereafter outvoted by them.” He added that the Western country “would not be able to furnish men equally enlightened to share in the administration of our common interests. The busy haunts of men, not the remote wilderness, was the proper school of political talents. If the Western people get power into their hands, they will ruin the Atlantic