The Nation on The Overthrow

The Nation on The Overthrow

In 1893, The Nation raised a warning about how colonization would affect the state of the union.


The history of this Hawaiian affair offers a good illustration of the danger to us of colonies and dependencies under our present form of government and with our present class of public men. Rome fell under the weight of her provinces, with a constitution ten times better fitted than ours for the management of distant conquests, for the Senate was filled with the ablest and most experienced men of the empire. But the Senate was gradually broken down by the intrigues and bribes of the generals and proconsuls. We, at the very outset of our career of annexation, in the very first case of it, start an intrigue in our own State Department for the overthrow of a friendly power, allow our minister on the spot to land troops to assist in what was really his personal conquest, annex the Islands without hearing the ruler in her own defence, and denounce everybody who objects to these proceedings as an enemy of the United States. If these things are done in the green tree, what would be done in the dry? Suppose we had half-a-dozen islands like Hawaii, and half-a-dozen States like Cuba, San Domingo, Costa Rica, and Guatemala to administer, with our Senators intriguing for proconsulships and the members of the House casting anchors to windward and seeking out channels of usefulness: how long would the government of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln last?

The Nation, November 23, 1893

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