important than they can be to any other state. This is true, although unfortunately for the equally natural wishes of Great Britain and her colonies, the direct routes from British Columbia to Eastern Australia and New Zealand, which depend upon no building of a future canal, pass as near the islands as those already mentioned. Such a fact, that this additional great highway runs close to the group, both augments and emphasizes their strategic importance; but it does not affect the statement just made that the interest of the United States in them is greater than that of Great Britain, and dependent upon a natural cause, nearness, which has always been admitted as a reasonable ground for national self-assertion. It is unfortunate, doubtless, for the wishes of British Columbia and for the communications, commercial and military, depending upon the Canadian Pacific Railway, that the United States lies between them and the South Pacific and is the state nearest to Hawaii; but, the fact being so, the interests of our 65,000,000 people, in a position so vital to our role in the Pacific, must be allowed to outweigh those of the 6,000,000 of Canada.
From the foregoing considerations may be inferred the importance of the Hawaiian Islands as a position powerfully influencing the commercial and military control of the Pacific, and especially of the northern Pacific, in which the United States, geographically, has the strongest right to assert herself. These are the main advantages, which can be termed positive; those, namely, which directly advance commercial security and naval control. To the negative advantages of possession, by removing conditions which, if the islands were in the hands of any other power, would constitute to us disadvantages and threats, allusion only will be made. The serious menace to our Pacific coast and our Pacific trade, if so important a position were held by a possible enemy, has been frequently mentioned in the press and dwelt upon in the diplomatic papers which are from time to time given to the public. It may be assumed that it is generally acknowledged. Upon one particular, however, too much stress can not be laid, one to which naval officers can not but be more sensitive than the general public, and that is the immense disadvantage to us of any maritime enemy having a coaling station well within 2,500 miles, as this is, of every point of our coast line from Puget Sound to Mexico. Were there many others available we might find it difficult to exclude from all. There is, however, but the one. Shut out from the Sandwich Islands as a coal base, an enemy is thrown back for supplies of fuel to distances of 3,500 or 4,000 miles—or between 7,000 and 8,000, going and coming—an impediment to sustained maritime operations well nigh prohibitive. The coal mines of British Columbia constitute, of course, a qualification to this statement; but upon them, if need arose, we might at least hope to impose some trammels by action from the land side. It is rarely that so important a factor in the attack or defense of a coast line—of a sea frontier—is concentrated in a single position, and the circumstance renders doubly imperative upon us to secure it, if we righteously can.
It is to be hoped, also, that the opportunity thus thrust upon us may not be narrowly viewed, as though it concerned but one section of our country or one portion of its external trade or influence. This is no mere question of a particular act, for which, possibly, just occasion may not yet have offered; but of a principle, a policy, fruitful of many future acts, to enter upon which, in the fullness of our national progress, the time has now arrived. The principle accepted, to be conditioned only by a just and candid regard for the rights and reasonable
susceptibilities of other nations—none of which is contravened by the step here immediately under discussion—the annexation, even, of Hawaii would be no mere sporadic effort, irrational because disconnected from an adequate motive, but a first fruit and a token that the nation in its evolution has aroused itself to the necessity of carrying its life—that has been the happiness of those under its influence— beyond the borders that have heretofore sufficed for its activities. That the vaunted blessings of our economy are not to be forced upon the unwilling may be conceded; but the concession does not deny the right nor the wisdom of gathering in those who wish to come. Comparative religion teaches that creeds which reject missionary enterprise are foredoomed to decay. May it not be so with nations? Certainly the glorious record of England is consequent mainly upon the spirit and traceable to the time when she launched out into the deep— without formulated policy, it is true, or foreseeing the future to which her star was leading, but obeying the instinct which in the infancy of nations anticipates the more reasoned impulses of experience. Let us, too, learn from her experience. Not all at once did England become the great sea power which she is, but step by step, as opportunity offered, she has moved on to the world wide preeminence now held by English speech and by institutions sprung from English germs. How much poorer would the world have been had Englishmen heeded the cautious hesitancy that now bids us reject every advance beyond our shore lines. And can any one doubt that a cordial, if unformulated, understanding between the two chief states of English tradition, to spread freely, without mutual jealously and in mutual support, would greatly increase the world's sum of happiness?
But if a plea of the world's welfare seem suspiciously like a cloak for national self-interest, let the latter be frankly accepted as the adequate motive which it assuredly is. Let us not sink from pitting a broad self-interest against the narrow self-interest to which some would restrict us. The demands of our three great seaboards, the Atlantic, the Gulf, and the Pacific—each for itself, and all for the strength that comes from drawing closer the ties between them—are calling for the extension, through the Isthmian Canal, of that broad sea common along which, and along which alone, in all ages prosperity has moved. Land carriage, always restricted and therefore always slow, toils enviously but hopelessly behind, vainly seeking to replace and supplant the royal highway of nature's own making. Corporate interests, vigorous in that power of concentration which is the strength of armies and of minorities, may here for a while withstand the ill-organized strivings of the multitude, only dimly conscious of its wants; yet the latter, however temporarily opposed and baffled, is sure at last, like the blind forces of nature, to overwhelm all that stand in the way of its necessary progress. So the Isthmian Canal is an inevitable part in the future of the United States; yet scarcely an integral part, for it can not be separated from other necessary incidents of a policy dependant upon it, whose details can not be exactly foreseen. But because the precise steps that may hereafter be opportune or necessary can not yet be certainly foretold, is not a reason the less, but a reason the more, for establishing a principle of action which may serve to guide as opportunities arise. Let us start from the fundamental truth, warranted by history, that the control of the seas, and especially along the great lines drawn by national interest or national commerce, is the chief among the merely material elements in the power and prosperity of nations. It is so
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