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The greatness to which this nation has attained
is too evident to need to be put in words. It has, in fact, been made
evident in two great and a multitude of smaller exhibitions in which the
marvels of American progress have been shown, either by themselves or in
contrast with those of foreign lands. The first of these, the Centennial
Exposition of 1876, had a double effect: it opened our eyes at once to
our triumphs and our deficiencies, to the particulars in which we
excelled and those in which we were inferior to foreign peoples. In the
next great exhibition, that at Chicago in 1893, we had the satisfaction
to perceive, not only that we had made great progress in our points of
superiority, but had worked nobly and heartily to overcome our defects,
and were able to show ourselves the equal of Europe in almost every
field of human thought and skill. In architecture a vision of beauty was
shown such as the world had never before seen, and in the general domain
of art the United States no longer had need to be ashamed of what it had
to show.

And now, having briefly summed up the steps of progress of the United
States, I may close with some consideration of the problem which we
confront in our new position as the Greater Republic, the lord of
islands spread widely over the seas. Down to the year 1898 this country
held a position of isolation, so far as its political interests were
concerned. Although the sails of its merchant ships whitened every sea
and its commerce extended to all lands, its boundaries were confined to
the North American continent, its political activities largely to
American interests. Jealous of any intrusion by foreign nations upon
this hemisphere, it warned them off, while still in its feeble youth, by
the stern words of the Monroe doctrine, and has since shown France and
England, by decisive measures, that this doctrine is more than an empty
form of words.

Such was our position at the beginning of 1898. At the opening of 1899
we had entered into new relations with the world. The conclusion of the
war with Spain had left in our hands the island of Porto Rico in the
West Indies and the great group of the Philippines in the waters of
Asia, while the Hawaiian Islands had became ours by peaceful annexation.
What shall we do with them? is the question that follows. We have taken
hold of them in a way in which it is impossible, without defeat and
disgrace, to let go. Whatever the ethics of the question, the Philippine
problem has assumed a shape which admits of but one solution. These
islands will inevitably become ours, to hold, to develop, to control,
and to give their people an opportunity to attain civilization,
prosperity, and political manumission which they have never yet
possessed. That they will be a material benefit to us is doubtful. That
they will give us a new position among the nations of the earth is
beyond doubt. We have entered formally into that Eastern question which
in the years to come promises to be the leading question before the
world, and which can no longer be settled by the nations of Europe as an
affair of their own, with which the United States has no concern.

This new position taken by the United States promises to be succeeded by
new alliances, a grand union of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, which will give
them a dominant position among the powers of the world. In truth, it may
not cease with the union of the Anglo-Saxons. The ambition and vast
designs of Russia are forcing the other nations to combine for
protection, and a close alliance of all the Teutonic peoples is
possible, combined to resist the Slavic outgrowth, and eventually
perhaps to place the destinies of the world in the hands of these two
great races, the Teutonic and the Slavic.

All this may be looking overfar into the future. All that can be said
now is that our new possessions have placed upon us new duties and new
responsibilities, and may effectually break that policy of political
isolation which we have so long maintained, and throw us into the
caldron of world politics to take our part in shaping the future of the
uncivilized races. For this we are surely strong enough, enterprising
enough, and moral enough; and whatever our record, it is not likely to
be one of defeat, of injustice and oppression, or of forgetfulness of
the duty of nations and the rights of man.


CHARLES MORRIS.
JULY, 1899.




CHAPTER I.

DISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION.

The Visits of the Northmen to the New World--The Indians and Mound
Builders--Christopher Columbus--His Discovery of America--Amerigo
Vespucci--John Cabot--_Spanish Explorers_--Balboa--His Discovery of the
Pacific--Magellan--Ponce de Leon--De Narvaez--De Soto--Menendez--_French
Explorers_--Verrazzani--Cartier--Ribault--Laudonnière--Champlain--La
Salle--_English Explorers_--Sir Hugh Willoughby--Martin Frobisher--Sir
Humphrey Gilbert--Sir Walter Raleigh--The Lost Colony--_Dutch
Explorer_--Henry Hudson.


THE NORTHMEN.

It has been established beyond question that the first white visitors to
the New World were Northmen, as the inhabitants of Norway and Sweden
were called. They were bold and hardy sailors, who ventured further out
upon the unknown sea than any other people. It was about the year 1000
that Biorn, who was driven far from his course by a tempest, sighted the
northern part of the continent. Other adventurers followed him and
planted a few settlements, which, however, lasted but a few years.
Snorri, son of one of these settlers, was the first child born of
European parents on this side of the Atlantic. Soon all traces of these
early discoverers vanished, and the New World lay slumbering in
loneliness for nearly five hundred years.

[Illustration: AMERIGO VESPUCCI.]


THE MOUND BUILDERS.

Nevertheless, the country was peopled with savages, who lived by hunting
and fishing and were scattered over the vast area from the Pacific to
the Atlantic and from the Arctic zone to the southernmost point of South
America. No one knows where these people came from; but it is probable
that at a remote period they crossed Bering Strait, from Asia, which was
the birthplace of man, and gradually spread over the continents to the
south. There are found scattered over many parts of our country immense
mounds of earth, which were the work of the Mound Builders. These people
were long believed to have been a race that preceded the Indians, and
were distinct from them, but the best authorities now agree that they
were the Indians themselves, who constructed these enormous
burial-places and were engaged in the work as late as the fifteenth
century. It is strange that they attained a fair degree of civilization.
They builded cities, wove cotton, labored in the fields, worked gold,
silver, and copper, and formed regular governments, only to give way in
time to the barbarism of their descendants, who, though a contrary
impression prevails, are more numerous to-day than at the time of the
discovery of America.

[Illustration: MEETING BETWEEN THE NORTHMEN AND NATIVES.]


DISCOVERY OF AMERICA BY COLUMBUS.

The real discoverer of America was Christopher Columbus, an Italian,
born in Genoa, about 1435. He was trained to the sea from early boyhood,
and formed the belief, which nothing could shake, that the earth was
round, and that by sailing westward a navigator would reach the coast of
eastern Asia. The mistake of Columbus was in supposing the earth much
smaller than it is, and of never suspecting that a continent lay between
his home and Asia.

He was too poor to fit out an expedition himself, and the kings and
rulers to whom he applied for help laughed him to scorn. He persevered
for years, and finally King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain were
won over to his views. They and some wealthy friends of Columbus
furnished the needed funds, and on August 3, 1492, he sailed from Palos,
Spain, in command of three small vessels, the _Santa Maria_, the
_Pinta_, and the _Nina_.

As the voyage progressed, the sailors became terrified and several times
were on the point of mutiny; but Columbus by threats and promises held
them to their work, and on Friday, October 12, 1492, land was sighted.
He was rowed ashore and took possession of the new country in the name
of Ferdinand and Isabella. While it is not known with certainty where he
landed, it was probably Watling Island, one of the Bahamas. He named it
San Salvador, and, believing it to be a part of India, called the
natives _Indians_, by which name they will always be known. He afterward
visited Cuba and Haiti, and returned to Palos on the 15th of March,
1493.

Columbus was received with the highest honors, and, as the news of his
great discovery spread, it caused a profound sensation throughout
Europe. He made three other voyages, but did not add greatly to his
discoveries. He died, neglected and in poverty, May 20, 1506, without
suspecting the grandeur of his work, which marked an era in the history
of the world.


OTHER DISCOVERERS.

Another famous Italian navigator and friend of Columbus was Amerigo
Vespucci, who, fired by the success of the great navigator, made several
voyages westward. He claimed to have seen South America in May, 1497,
which, if true, made him the first man to look upon the American
continent. Late investigations tend to show that Vespucci was correct in
his claim. At any rate, his was the honor of having the country named
for him.

[Illustration: SEBASTIAN CABOT.]

John Cabot, also an Italian, but sailing under the flag of England,
discovered the continent of North America, in the spring of 1497. A year
later, Sebastian, son of John, explored the coast from Nova Scotia as
far south as Cape Hatteras. It was the work of the elder Cabot that gave
England a valid claim to the northern continent.

From what has been stated, it will be seen that Spain, now decrepit and
decayed, was one of the most powerful of all nations four hundred years
ago. Other leading powers were England, France, and Holland, and all of
them soon began a scramble for new lands on the other side of the
Atlantic.



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