WE have caught a glimpse of the New West. Compared with the aggregate realities of the wonderful regions, it is only a glimpse. We have seen enough, however, to satisfy us that it is a veritable "Wonderland," as crowded with OPPORTUNITIES as it is with marvels. Men live rapidly here--a whole month in one day, a whole year in a month. Some have lived a hundred years in the twenty-five or thirty they have spent here. They have seen an empire rise and grow rich and powerful in that time. The changes wrought under their own eyes have been almost as startling as transformations under the wand of a magician,--such strides of progress as usually exist only in dreams. It seems as if God had concentrated His wisdom and power upon this part of our country, to make it His crowning work of modern civilization on this Western Continent. For its history is Providence illustrated,-- God in the affairs of men to exhibit the grandeur of human enterprise and the glory of human achievement.
When sojourning on the Pacific Slope, bewildered by its marvels, the question arose, Why did the settlement of our country begin in the East instead of in the West? Why did the "Pilgrim Fathers" land on the coast of New England instead of the coast of California? Why seek their fortunes among the rocks of Plymouth instead of the gold mines of the Pacific coast? The same hand that guided them to the "rock-bound shores" of the Atlantic might have led them to the "gold-fretted shores" of the Pacific. There is no solution to the problem except in the wonder-working Providence of God. On this continent was to be built up the largest, richest, most intelligent, and powerful Christian nation on earth. A fearless, self-sacrificing, intelligent, hardy Christian race, disciplined by perils and hardships indescribable, could alone lay the foundations and work out the grand problem. Hence, rocks were better for them than nuggets of gold. A soil that would yield bread enough to keep the wolf of hunger from the door only by constant "sweat of the brow" was indispensable, rather than a soil that would yield the necessaries of life and luxuries of the tropics in profusion, with little care and labor. Nothing but hunger and nakedness forced them to plunge still further into the wilderness, as the population increased, at the risk of being devoured by wild beasts or slain by savages. Beset with troubles on every side, and harassed by dangers that required the stoutest courage to meet, the higher and noble attributes of humanity were forced to the front, as, from generation to generation, "westward the star of empire took its way."
Had the Pilgrims landed at San Francisco instead of Plymouth, and the treasure-vaults of California been opened by their enterprise, as they opened to their descendants in 1848, doubtless the race would have been enervated by the luxury, extravagance, and ease which usually succeed sudden transition from poverty to wealth. Finding a rich soil that yielded sixty and a hundred fold with a quarter part of the labor required to secure a scanty subsistence on the coast of New England, the goading incentive to work or starve would have been removed, followed by idleness, prodigality, and effeminacy. Not being forced to push out into the wilderness, further and further, to obtain the means of living, it is doubtful if New England would have been settled to-day. For, with every factor in the problem of creating and building up a great Christian nation, beginning at the East, favoring the purpose, generations lived and died before the occupation of the New West was thought to be possible; and not until within forty years did the children of the Pilgrim Fathers set themselves to work to complete their empire by transforming the Western wilderness into a capstone of gold.
Reverse the opportunity; begin the experiment at the West instead of the East; supply gold for granite, and a rich for a barren soil; let plenty take the place of poverty, and men command the means of a livelihood without stress of plan or labor; and what reason have we to believe that they would have left the Eldorado discovered, and penetrated the wilderness, crossing the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and the "Great Lakes," felling vast forests, building towns and cities by Herculean labors, and finally reaching the Atlantic coast to in take the New England of today? Such a result is not supposable. All the conditions indicate that in the Divine Plan it was absolutely necessary to lay the foundations in granite that the superstructure might be finished in gold. Neither science, art, learning, or religion were competent to handle such marvellous wealth as lay concealed within the domain of the New West. Then "the fullness of time" came, religion and learning, science and art, commerce and enterprise, had multiplied their institutions and power so wonderfully, that they could employ the millions and billions of wealth marvellously evolved to lift up humanity, and contribute to the more rapid growth of a model Christian civilization. Such a use of treasure was impossible two hundred years ago.
Andrew Carnegie, a native of Great Britain, but an adopted son of the United States, opens his very able and valuable work, "Triumphant Democracy," with the following paragraph:--
"The old nations of the earth creep on at a snail's pace; the Republic thunders past with the rush of the express. The United States, the growth of a single century, has already reached the foremost rank among nations, and is destined soon to out-distance all others in the race. In population, in wealth, in annual saving, and in public credit, in freedom from debt, in agriculture, and in manufactures, America already leads the civilized world.
"France, with her fertile plains and sunny skies, requires a hundred and sixty years to grow two Frenchmen where one grew before. Great Britain, whose rate of increase is greater than that of any other European nation, takes seventy years to double her population. The Republic has repeatedly doubled hers in twenty-five years."
He closes his remarkable volume by the following statements among many others:--
"The wealthiest nation in the world."
"The nation first in public credit and in payment of debt."
"The greatest agricultural nation in the world."
"The greatest mining nation in the world."
But the New West has made this result possible. Its mines, farms, flocks, and herds, and exceptionable enterprise contribute enough to the Republic's grand total of possessions to make these statements indisputable. The United States incurred a debt of three billion dollars in self-defence against the slaveholders' rebellion, and the riches of the New West has enabled the government to liquidate more than half of it already; and the time is near when the last dollar of it will be paid because of the great wealth that is stored in Western vaults. Devote to the liquidation of the national debt the annual product of the mines between the Missouri River and the Pacific coast, and in less than ten years the debt would be extinguished. Or, devote the vast annual income of the cattle-ranches, which cover so large a portion of this great domain, to the same purpose, and in an equally brief period our national liabilities would wholly disappear. Or, annually appropriate the aggregate profits of agriculture and commerce within this large and booming territory to the removal of this burden of indebtedness, and in less time than we have named the nation would witness its extinguishment, and celebrate the occasion with bonfires and illuminations.
The author of "Triumphant Democracy" says, again: "Why does the credit of this new Republic stand higher than that of old England? Why would the world lend this young Democracy more money and upon better terms than it would lend the old monarchy? Why does the world pay for American three per cents more than it will pay for the British three per cents? The answer is obvious. Because the reign of the whole of the people of a state is more secure than the reign of any class in a state can possibly be. A class may be upset, nay, is sure to be sooner or later; the people are forever and ever in power."
Then the writer goes on to multiply telling facts, and finally adds: "The answer to doubters of the stability of Democracy, like Sir Henry Maine, is here: December, 1885,--
"Republican three per cents, 103 1/2.
"Monarchial three per cents, 99 1/2.
"Were the consuls of America perpetual, like those of Britain, and not redeemable at a fixed date, their value would be still higher.
"It has been the boast, one of the many proud boasts, of the parent land, that her institutions were stable as the rock, as proved by her consuls, which stood pre-eminent throughout the world. Now comes her Republican child, and plucks from her queenly head the golden round of public credit as hers of right, and places it upon her own fair brow. It has been my privilege to claim victories for triumphant Democracy, but surely the world will join me in saying none is more surprising than this, that its public credit stands before that of Great Britain and first in all the world."
This is a flattering tribute to our country, of which the New West may not be diffident to claim its share. For this remarkable consummation of public affairs, especially the financial triumphs, could not have been reached in the present century but for the settlement and development of this marvellous country. And still more in the future than in the past, will the expanding resources of the New West exalt the national credit, until the Republic shall be as widely known for its population of a thousand millions as for its fabulous wealth.
These facts indicate that the New West will decide the destiny of our land, and that, too, on the line of unparalleled growth and prosperity. Perils beset this portion of our country, it is true, perils of such fearful magnitude as to awaken alarm; but this is God's battle, in which "one will chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight." But for this unassailable truth the Republic would not stand at the head of nations in wealth and population, or anything else, to-day. From the outset this is what the world has witnessed on this Western Continent,--"two putting ten thousand to flight."
And this must continue, if the Divine Plan is to build up a mighty Christian nation here, until the Republic stands complete in its beauty and glory. If the New West shall fail of the achievements predicted, the Republic will fail to maintain its advanced rank among the nations; and if the Republic fails, mankind will fall also. The prediction that the unprecedented mixture of nationalities in the New West will compromise, and possibly destroy, its noblest institutions, will not be fulfilled, since the manifest drift of affairs is to the absorption of all other races by the Anglo-Saxons, who now control the destiny of the human family. This English-speaking portion of mankind never even nods to foreign tongues, but the latter are constantly being absorbed by the former. We have an amusing jargon of languages now; but the time is coming when the French, German, Irish, Spanish, and every other nationality will join our English-speaking people, and we shall have but one tongue spoken from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Lakes to the Gulf. Besides, the representatives of these many nations in the New West are the most intelligent, enterprising, and industrious of their countrymen. Comparatively few tramps and worthless characters are among them. The mass of them emigrate thither for homes and a livelihood, and multitudes become farmers, scattered over the States and Territories under circumstances peculiarly favorable to the development of good citizenship. Nor can we disprove Herbert Spencer's prediction that this conglomeration of races will result in a higher type of manhood than now appears upon the continent. Mr. Spencer says:--
"From biological truths it may be inferred that the eventual mixture of the allied varieties of the Aryan race forming the population will produce a finer type of man than has hitherto existed, and a type of man more plastic, more adaptable, more capable of undergoing the modifications needful for complete social life. I think that, whatever difficulties they may have to surmount, and whatever tribulations they may have to pass through, the Americans may reasonably look forward to a time when they will have produced a civilization grander than any the world has known." Our hope and expectation is that Herbert Spencer will turn out a true prophet.
The liquor traffic is the prolific cause of evil in the New West, as it is in the East; and yet, in its centres of population, it is divested of some of the frightful characteristics which make it so horrible to contemplate in Boston, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis. The intelligence, enterprise, and Christian principle there are opposed to the traffic. Already Kansas has led the way to a Constitutional Amendment, forever prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages within its limits, and the States of the East are fast copying its example. So that, in the solution of the liquor problem, it appears to many that deliverance for the East is to come from the New West. The very favorable results of the experiment in Kansas, ridding the commonwealth of the most dangerous class of citizens, inviting a better and nobler class of immigrants to settle there, where the curse of the traffic does not rest as a pall upon every industry, increasing population, wealth, and business to an unprecedented degree, will demonstrate to every State and Territory further west the practicability and absolute necessity of stamping out a trade that is "the dynamite of modern civilization." It is probable that, earlier than in many parts of the East, the New West will put the liquor traffic under the ban of prohibitive legislation, thereby removing one of the greatest barriers to its thrift and triumph.
Mammonism, Mormonism, Socialism, Skepticism, and Atheism are mighty obstacles to the rise and progress of our Western domain; but the holy trinity of Liberty, Education, and Christianity, in which the Anglo-Saxon race believe, will prove more than a match for them all in the future conflict for supremacy. This race has laid the foundation of our Western empire, and started it off in a career of unexampled prosperity; and its grip upon the masses will not be relaxed as the battle for unity and right waxes hotter; but will rather tighten its hold and increase its power, until language, custom, and purpose are one, under the control of Liberty, Education, and Religion. An Englishman says, "Every one is looking forward with eager and impatient expectation to that destined moment when America will give law to the rest of the world." This consummation will be realized when Anglo-Saxon supremacy over the New West shall bring its multiform elements into complete accord for the Union, and the Christian Religion shall control the whole for Humanity and God.