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he has toiled for months to add by his honest labor
Sibley's protest in congress against these " outrages" by which the northern lumbermen were "harassed" in their work of what would now be called stealing government timber, aroused no protest from his colleagues. No president called this congressman an undesirable citizen or gave him over to the courts.
Thus many of the pioneers, following the ideal of the right of the individual to rise, subordinated the rights of the nation and posterity to the desire that the country should be "developed" and that the individual should advance with as little interference as possible. Squatter doctrines and individualism have left deep traces upon American conceptions.
But quite as deeply fixed in the pioneer's mind as the ideal of individualism was the ideal of democracy. He had a pas-X sionate hatred for aristocracy, monopoly and special privilege; he believed in simplicity, economy and in the rule of the people. It is true that he honored the successful man, and that he strove in all ways to advance himself. But the West was so free and so vast, the barriers to individual achievement were so remote, that the pioneer was hardly conscious that any danger to equality could come from his competition for natural resources. He thought of democracy as in some
way the result of our political institutions, and he failed to see that it was primarily the result of the free lands and immense opportunities which surrounded him. Occasional statesmen voiced the idea that American democracy was based on the abundance of unoccupied land, even in the first debates on the public domain.
This early recognition of the influence of abundance of land in shaping the economic conditions of American democracy is peculiarly significant to-day in view of the practical exhaustion of the supply of cheap arable public lands open to the poor man, and the coincident development of labor unions to keep up wages.
Certain it is that the strength of democratic movements has chiefly lain in the regions of the pioneer. Our gov. ernments tend too much to democracy," wrote Izard, of South Carolina, to Jefferson, in 1785. "A handicraftsman thinks an apprenticeship necessary to make him acquainted with his business. But our backcountrymen are of the opinion that a politician may be born just as well as a poet."
The Revolutionary ideas, of course, gave a great impetus to democracy, and in substantially every colony there was a double revolution, one for independence and the other for the overthrow of aristocratic control. But in the long run. the effective force behind American democracy was the presence of the practically free land into which men might escape from oppression or inequalities which burdened them in the older settlements. This possibility compelled the coastwise States to liberalize the franchise; and it prevented the forma tion of a dominant class, whether based on property or on custom. Among the pioneers one man was as good as his neighbor. He had the same chance; conditions were simple and free. Economic equality fostered political equality. An optimistic and buoyant belief in the worth of the plain people,
a devout faith in man prevailed in the West. Democracy became almost the religion of the pioneer. He held with passionate devotion the idea that he was building under freedom a new society, based on self government, and for the welfare of the average man.
And yet even as he proclaimed the gospel of democracy the pioneer showed a vague apprehension lest the time be short-lest equality should not endure lest he might fall behind in the ascending movement of Western society. This led him on in feverish haste to acquire advantages as though he only half believed his dream. "Before him lies a boundless continent," wrote De Tocqueville, in the days when pioneer democracy was triumphant under Jackson," and he urges forward as if time pressed and he was afraid of finding no room for his exertions."
Even while Jackson lived, labor leaders and speculative thinkers were demanding legislation to place a limit on the amount of land which one person might acquire and to provide free farms. De Tocqueville saw the signs of change. Between the workman and the master," he said, “there are frequent relations but no real association. . . . I am of the opinion, upon the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest which ever existed in the world; . . . if ever a permanent inequality, of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter." But the sanative influences of the free spaces of the West were destined to ameliorate labor's condition, to afford new hopes and new faith to pioneer democracy, and to postpone the problem.
As the settlers advanced into provinces whose area dwarfed that of the older sections, pioneer democracy itself began to undergo changes, both in its composition and in its processes
of expansion. At the close of the Civil War, when settlement was spreading with greatest vigor across the Mississippi, the railways began their work as colonists. Their land grants from the government, amounting altogether by 1871 to an area five times that of the State of Pennsylvania, demanded purchasers, and so the railroads pioneered the way for the pioneer. The homestead law increased the tide of settlers. The improved farm machinery made it possible for him to go boldly out on to the prairie and to deal effectively with virgin soil in farms whose cultivated area made the old clearings of the backwoodsman seem mere garden plots. Two things resulted from these conditions, which profoundly modified pioneer ideals. In the first place the new form of colonization demanded an increasing use of capital; and the rapidity of the formation of towns, the speed with which society developed, made men the more eager to secure bank credit to deal with the new West. This made the pioneer more dependent on the eastern economic forces. In the second place the farmer became dependent as never before on transportation companies. In this speculative movement the railroads, finding that they had pressed too far in advance and had issued stock to freely for their earnings to justify the face of the investment, came into collision with the pioneer on the question of rates and of discriminations. The Greenback movement and the Granger movements were appeals to government to prevent what the pioneer thought to be invasions of pioneer democ
As the western settler began to face the problem of magnitude in the areas he was occupying; as he began to adjust his life to the modern forces of capital and to complex productive processes; as he began to see that, go where he would, the question of credit and currency, of transportation and distribution in general conditioned his success, he sought
relief by legislation. He began to lose his primitive attitude of individualism, government began to look less like a necessary evil and more like an instrument for the perpetuation of his democratic ideals. In brief, the defenses of the pioneer democrat began to shift from free land to legislation, from the ideal of individualism to the ideal of social control through regulation by law. He had no sympathy with a radical reconstruction of society by the revolution of socialism; even his alliances with the movement of organized labor, which paralleled that of organized capital in the East, were only half-hearted. But he was becoming alarmed over the future of the free democratic ideal. The wisdom of his legislation it is not necessary to discuss here. The essential point is that his conception of the right of government to control social process had undergone a change. He was coming to regard legislation as an instrument of social construction. The individualism of the Kentucky pioneer of 1796 was giving way to the Populism of the Kansas pioneer of 1896.
The later days of pioneer democracy are too familiar to require much exposition. But they are profoundly significant. As the pioneer doctrine of free competition for the resources of the nation revealed its tendencies; as individual, corporation and trust, like the pioneer, turned increasingly to legal devices to promote their contrasting ideals, the natural resources were falling into private possession. Tides of alien immigrants were surging into the country to replace the old American stock in the labor market, to lower the standard of living and to increase the pressure of population upon the land. These recent foreigners have lodged almost exclusively in the dozen great centers of industrial life, and there they have accented the antagonisms between capital and labor by the fact that the labor supply has become increasingly foreign born, and recruited from nationalities who arouse no sym