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Kinley, President of the United States and Commander in Chief of its Army and Navy. Mr. McKinley was a soldier in the war under Lincoln. He, therefore, knows something about military matters. He has demonstrated that he has something in his head beyond the theory of protection to American industries. He is demonstrating that he knows how to lift the United States out of its isolation, and to carry it beyond its place in the Western Hemisphere with nothing but satellites like the West Indies and Hawaii to be trailed by its gravitational movements. Also he learned how to put down rebellion in the Southern States, and that is the same thing, of course, as putting down rebellion in the Philippine Islands. We have bought the islands. They are ours. They are farther away, to be sure, than Cuba which Douglas wanted for his ocean-bound republic. But though farther away, civilization, our duty, and the manifest destiny of old compel us to hold them. When Alcibiades embarked on his Sicilian expedition, it was said that Athens itself was sailing out of the Piræus, never to return. And some think that when Admiral Dewey sailed into the harbor of Manila with his fleet he took the old America with him, never to return to these shores; and what was worse, it disappeared there out of his hands and is lost for good.
There is China, where we have set up a Federal judge. There is the trade of the Orient; the Philippine Islands themselves are rich in hemp. To get land for hemp is different from getting it for cotton for I am sure hemp makes a better rope with which to strangle liberty.
But though the Constitution has not reached the Islands, while the flag has, it may in time reach them. Meantime no mocking of that perambulating and capricious instrument! It contains the power to acquire islands, or the whole of China, by conquest or treaty; and the power to govern them as we choose, limited only by our ideas of Justice. It would not do to let them have popular sovereignty, any more than it would have done in Douglas' day to let Kansas have popular sovereignty. The right to prohibit or allow slavery in a territory goes with the right to extend the Constitution with its XIV Amendment to the Philippine Islands, or not to extend it - and we have chosen not to extend it. Thus the extra constitutional foundations of the Republican party have led to colonialism.
Douglas, in bronze, looks over the lake to the east — to what? Perhaps to the hills of Vermont and his youth, when no forecasting angel could have told him what could come to him and his country. Perhaps he knows now that free souls are better than free soil, since he never had much use for the kind of free soil that was shouted at him.
This morning's paper has long dispatches about the progress of our troops in the Philippines. Perhaps that is the reason why Douglas' back is to the west. Surely he does not mean that he turns his back upon the domain of Mexico and Oregon. It must be only upon the conquests of the new capitalism. I am glad, and more than glad, that negro slavery was abolished. It was nothing but a wooden plow anyway. Our new steel plows work much better and they have this advantage: they accomplish more, they are in themselves more of slaves, and they are creators of time and of greater wealth.
There are strikes over the land. Why? Are not men free? Yes, they are free to choose their work if they know how to do more than one thing, or if they are able to move from the place where they have been employed. But they are not free to organize, to agitate for better wages, or to strike. What is this matter of freedom after all? It reminds me of the steps of a stairway. A step consists of a horizontal board and a vertical board and then another horizontal board. The first horizontal board is the present condition, and the second horizontal is the liberty that is desired, the vertical board is the difficulty in the way. One must overcome resistance to step up. When he does he has achieved the liberty to which he aspires. But he is standing on the same sort of a level that he did before. This stairway goes up indefinitely, and at last becomes lost in the sky of the future, like the beanstalk of Jack the Giant-killer. All this sounds quite materialistic, and as if I was without hope, but I am not materialistic, or despairing of the future. I know that matter cannot be explained without resorting to such concepts as force, causation, action, and reaction. And these are the ideas of the mind. And I think of matter and of history in terms of action and reaction. The mind of man is the most wonderful thing that we know anything about, and its secret is the secret of the universe. Having never been happy myself, I am not a disciple of eudæmonism; but I see life as struggle and change; and though I do not know what it means, I know thought will not be at rest, that hopes will not cease, and that dreams of liberty will fascinate the minds of future Lincolns and Douglases.
The masons are eating their luncheon. I arise to go to Douglas' tomb. The young woman says: "I wonder who that old man is? He has been sitting right there all morning
I wonder myself who I am. I take my way feebly up the stone steps to the grated door of the tomb. I look through. There lies the sarcophagus which contains the bones of Stephen A. Douglas. There was no truer, braver man in his time, and no abler.
I put my spectacles on, for I cannot see well into the tomb. Yes, there are the words : “Tell my children to obey the laws and support the Constitution.” No, I do not subscribe to that. I believe in liberty and not law. Douglas' popular sovereignty was more liberty than it was law. These words on his tomb must have been spoken by him with reference to the preservation of the Union. At any rate I do not believe in these words. I accept instead Walt Whitman's admonition to the States : "Obey little, resist much.” What shall we obey at all, and where shall we resist? You must decide that for yourself, or ask those about it who still have the capacity for living.