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Calhoun shared the transformations of the South Carolina interior. He saw it change from the area of the pioneer farmers to an area of great planters raising cotton by slave labor. This explains the transformation of the nationalist and protectionist Calhoun of 1816 into the state-sovereignty and free-trade Calhoun. Jackson, on the other hand, left the region while it was still a frontier, shared the frontier life of Tennessee, and reflected the democracy and nationalism of his people. Henry Clay lived long enough in the kindred State of Kentucky to see it pass from a frontier to a settled community, and his views on slavery reflected the transitional history of that State. Lincoln, on the other hand, born in Kentucky in 1809, while the State was still under frontier conditions, migrated in 1816 to Indiana, and in 1830 to Illinois. The pioneer influences of his community did much to shape his life, and the development of the raw frontiersman into the statesman was not unlike the development of his own State. Political leaders who experienced the later growth of the Northwest, like Garfield, Hayes, Harrison, and McKinley, show clearly the continued transformations of the section. But in the days when the Northwest was still in the gristle, she sent her sons into the newer West to continue the views of life and the policies of the half-frontier region they had left.
To-day, the Northwest, standing between her ancestral connections in the East and her children in the West, partly like the East, partly like the West, finds herself in a position strangely like that in the days of the slavery struggle, when her origins presented to her a "divided duty." But these issues are not with the same imperious "Which? as was the issue of freedom or slavery.
Looking at the Northwest as a whole, one sees, in the character of its industries and in the elements of its population, it is identified on the east with the zone of States including
the middle region and New England. Cotton culture and the negro make a clear line of division between the Old Northwest and the South. And yet in important historical ideals - in the process of expansion, in the persistence of agricultural interests, in impulsiveness, in imperialistic ways of looking at the American destiny, in hero-worship, in the newness of its present social structure - the Old Northwest has much in common with the South and the Far West.
Behind her is the old pioneer past of simple democratic conditions, and freedom of opportunity for all men. Before her is a superb industrial development, the brilliancy of success as evinced in a vast population, aggregate wealth, and sectional power.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE WEST TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 1
Political thought in the period of the French Revolution tended to treat democracy as an absolute system applicable to all times and to all peoples, a system that was to be created by the act of the people themselves on philosophical principles. Ever since that era there has been an inclination on the part of writers on democracy to emphasize the analytical and theoretical treatment to the neglect of the underlying factors of historical development.
If, however, we consider the underlying conditions and forces that create the democratic type of government, and at times contradict the external forms to which the name democracy is applied, we shall find that under this name there have appeared a multitude of political types radically unlike in fact.
The careful student of history must, therefore, seek the explanation of the forms and changes of political institutions in the social and economic forces that determine them. To know that at any one time a nation may be called a democracy, an aristocracy, or a monarchy, is not so important as to know what are the social and economic tendencies of the state. These are the vital forces that work beneath the surface and dominate the external form. It is to changes in the economic and social life of a people that we must look for the forces that ultimately create and modify organs of political action.
1 Atlantic Monthly, January, 1903. Reprinted by permission.
For the time, adaptation of political structure may be incomplete or concealed. Old organs will be utilized to express new forces, and so gradual and subtle will be the change that it may hardly be recognized. The pseudo-democracies under the Medici at Florence and under Augustus at Rome are familiar examples of this type. Or again, if the political structure be rigid, incapable of responding to the changes demanded by growth, the expansive forces of social and economic transformation may rend it in some catastrophe like that of the French Revolution. In all these changes both conscious ideals and unconscious social reorganization are at work.
These facts are familiar to the student, and yet it is doubtful if they have been fully considered in connection with American democracy. For a century at least, in conventional expression, Americans have referred to a "glorious Constitution" in explaining the stability and prosperity of their democracy. We have believed as a nation that other peoples had only to will our democratic institutions in order to repeat
our own career.
In dealing with Western contributions to democracy, it is essential that the considerations which have just been mentioned shall be kept in mind. Whatever these contributions may have been, we find ourselves at the present time in an era of such profound economic and social transformation as to raise the question of the effect of these changes upon the democratic institutions of the United States. Within a decade four marked changes have occurred in our national development; taken together they constitute a revolution.
First, there is the exhaustion of the supply of free land and the closing of the movement of Western advance as an effective factor in American development. The first rough conquest of the wilderness is accomplished, and that great supply of free lands which year after year has served to reinforce
the democratic influences in the United States is exhausted. It is true that vast tracts of government land are still untaken, but they constitute the mountain and arid regions, only a small fraction of them capable of conquest, and then only by the application of capital and combined effort. The free lands that made the American pioneer have gone.
In the second place, contemporaneously with this there has been such a concentration of capital in the control of fundamental industries as to make a new epoch in the economic development of the United States. The iron, the coal, and the cattle of the country have all fallen under the domination of a few great corporations with allied interests, and by the rapid combination of the important railroad systems and steamship lines, in concert with these same forces, even the breadstuffs and the manufactures of the nation are to some degree controlled in a similar way. This is largely the work of the last decade. The development of the greatest iron mines of Lake Superior occurred in the early nineties, and in the same decade came the combination by which the coal and the coke of the country, and the transportation systems that connect them with the iron mines, have been brought under a few concentrated managements. Side by side with this concentration of capital has gone the combination of labor in the same vast industries. The one is in a certain sense the concomitant of the other, but the movement acquires an additional significance because of the fact that during the past fifteen years the labor class has been so recruited by a tide of foreign immigration that this class is now largely made up of persons of foreign parentage, and the lines of cleavage which begin to appear in this country between capital and labor have been accentuated by distinctions of nationality.
A third phenomenon connected with the two just mentioned is the expansion of the United States politically and commer