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The “American Mediterranean " has come to receive an increasing attention from historians during the opening years of the present century. It is significant that this deepening interest is synchronous with the successful completion of the Panama Canal project. Historical scholars, both in England and in America, have come to an increasing realization of the importance of the West Indies in colonial history. Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas, in his “Historical Geography of the British West Indies,” Dr. C. H. Haring in his “Buccaneers in the Seventeenth Century,” Mr. A. P. Newton in his “Colonizing Activities of the Puritans,” and Prof. Stewart L. Mims in his “Colbert's West Indian Policy,” are among recent historical writers who represent the newer view. During recent years the attitude of writers towards the history of the English colonies on the mainland has undergone significant changes. The epochmaking studies of Mr. George Louis Beer, and the admirable work of Professors Charles M. Andrews, of Yale; Herbert L. Osgood, of Columbia, and Edward Channing, of Harvard University, have helped measurably in doing away with the air of provincial insularity that had hitherto surrounded colonial historiography.
“Mention the West Indies of the sixteen hundreds,” says a recent writer, “and the mind leaps to a free field of fancy; in the languorous noon of a tropic sea, by the curving strand of some nameless isle, one sees, perhaps, a gaunt and dingy flagless ship, waiting whilst its crew, long-haired and bleared and greasy, divide the plunder of a brass-bound treasure chest—a lawless time and place, with bold adventures metely chronicled by the pen of Smollet or Defoe or R. L. S. The gentle reader may remember vaguely that the Caribbean was not filled entirely with galleons and corsairs, that some men actually did build homes and spin out an existence, sometimes profitable enough, in their tobacco fields or sugar mills; but to ask him soberly to think of the Antilles as the residence of honest men in the century when the buccaneers haunted Hispaniola, and Mansfield and Morgan harried up and down the Spanish Main, is quite too much to ask of human nature.” "
So it seems peculiarly appropriate at this time,
1 Read at the November, 1916, meeting of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, held at San Diego, Cal.
2 D. R. Dixon, “Foundations of West India Policy” (“Political Science Quarterly,” Vol. 30, p. 661).
when the interest of the United States is drawn towards the Caribbean by the completion of the Panama Canal, and by the purchase of the Danish Islands, to pass in brief review certain cardinal facts in the history of that myth-enshrouded archipelago. For more than a century following the discovery, Spain's political sovereignty in the New World was not seriously questioned. The effectiveness of her commercial monopoly is emphasized rather than weakened by the exploits of such famous interlopers as Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake. It was not until nearly a quarter of a century after the destruction of the Spanish Armada through the efforts of the English and the Dutch, that Spain found herself obliged to share with her Protestant neighbors to the north the ownership of the New World. During this century and part of the following, the Pacific Ocean was, of course a “closed sea" [Mare clausum], while on the Atlantic side of the New World no Teutonic or non-Catholic power had gained a foothold.
By the opening of the seventeenth century the situation underwent a tremendous change. England and the Protestant Netherlands had both acquired confidence in their ability to meet Spain upon an equal footing both in naval and commercial spheres. In spite of Spanish protests they found themselves able to begin settlements, not only in Virginia and New Netherland, but on the islands that guarded the routes by which the Spanish plate fleets left Vera Cruz and Porto Bello for the Old World.
The early history of these colonizing efforts exhibits a remarkable uniformity, especially along economic lines. The West Indies offered no highly developed civilization, no advanced state of culture, as did the East Indian lands, which could yield a surplus beyond its needs for purposes of commerce. The early settlers were forced to depend upon such easily raised crops as tobacco or cotton, upon hides and tallow from the wild cattle that roamed over the mountains, upon the dye-woods in the primeval forests that covered the hillsides. It was not until about 1640 that human existence acquired a sort of stability in the lesser islands of the West Indies, through the introduction, by Dutchmen from Brazil, of the sugar cane. Against the efforts of Frenchmen and Dutchmen, Englishmen and Courlanders, Danes and Brandenburgers, Spain made a determined but eventually unsuccessful attempt to keep those foreign aggressors out of her American preserves. Her “Barlovento fleet" made periodical visits to islands suspected of harboring unauthorized or buccaneering colonies. Woe to those luckless pioneers upon whom fell the wrath of the Spaniard ' And woe to the SpanishAmerican city that found itself obliged to entertain such unwelcome guests as French or English buccaneers. Under these circumstances, when the Old World nations were struggling against each other for commercial supremacy in the New World, the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands completely disappeared. The last places upon which the Caribs managed to maintain themselves were Santa Lucia and Dominica in the Windward Islands. The difficulty of enforcing in the New World the treaties that had been negotiated in the Old, was complicated by the presence of the buccaneers and the custom of encouraging them privately by the issuing of “letters of marque " and by the peculiar admission of inability to control the conduct of citizens on this side of the Atlantic by excluding from the terms of the treaties the lands “beyond the line.” It was under such uncertain conditions in the New World, and in the midst of a dynastic revolution in England, that Jamaica was seized by an expedition sent by Cromwell in 1655. The French remained, nevertheless, the strongest Caribbean power until the prestige of France began seriously to decline as a result of English victories in the War of the Spanish Succession. The West Indian islands were, indeed, as Professor Egerton has well said, “The natural cock-pit of the European nations in the struggle for hegemony.” Some of the islands, like Santa Lucia and St. Kitts, had indeed changed hands a dozen times. And these were but typical instances. By way of contrast with the small islands, the tenure of the larger islands has been relatively permanent. Cuba and Porto Rico remained in Spanish possession, except for the brief occupation of Havana in the Seven Years' War, until the Spanish-American war of 1898. Jamaica has remained in continuous English possession ever since 1655. Haiti remained under the Spanish and the French until the French Revolution, and since that time has managed to maintain its existence as a “black republic.” But the smaller islands of that great “bow of Ulysses,” stretching in a magnificent sweep of seven hundred miles from Porto Rico to Trinidad, have had a most bewildering sort of political history. What is the key to this swarming of nationalities upon the eastern boundaries of the American Mediterranean? Why is it that Englishmen and Frenchmen, Dutchmen and Courlanders, Danes, Brandenburgers and Knights of Malta, hastened to settle upon every up-jutting rock, like flies around the bung of a molasses cask? The answer has already been hinted at. Spanish-America had gained a wonderful reputation as a source of wealth, especially of those metals from which money was coined. The prevailing idea that the more silver and gold a nation was able to lay its hands upon, the more prosperous that nation would be, an idea that was held by economists as well as by common people
who were interested in trade, was responsible for directing the attention of Northern Europe to Spanish America. In the minds of the men of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the consuming problem that suggested itself for solution was, how best to entice that gold and silver away from the Spaniards? The sixteenth century solution was the temporizing one of smuggling by interlopers or private traders. Then came the period of buccaneers, who were practically legalized pirates. By settling on some inaccessible island or swampy coast, like Tortuga or Honduras, they could become a permanent menace to Spanish trade monopoly. In time of war their possessions became a valuable point of vantage from which to carry on hostilities against Spanish commerce. A more respectable method of separating Spanish treasure from its owners was private establishment of regular colonies, whose possession was recognized by treaties with Spain. It was the treaty of Madrid, negotiated in 1670, between England and Spain, that put AngloSpanish New World relations upon a fairly permanent footing. It was this treaty that marked the end of buccaneering and transformed the buccaneers into pirates. It was this treaty and the continuance of diplomatic relations which followed it, that eventually enabled various Old World states to prosecute with signal success the growing African slave trade. It only requires an examination of the map to realize the value of such colonies as Tortuga, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Providence, San Andreas and Curaçao. These islands will be seen to guard the routes of commerce between the Spanish mainland of America and the continent of Europe. As an illustration of the advantage of geographical position in this struggle for the commercial spoil of Spain may be cited the experiment known to history as the “Darien Company.” It was a wily Scotchman, William Paterson, by name, who conceived the idea, during the brief interval of peace following the war of the Augsburg League, of striking directly at the heart of the matter by establishing a colony upon the Isthmus of Panama itself. The judgment of this gentleman, the distinguished founder of the Bank of England, is surely not to be scoffed at so far as the commercial side of the business was concerned, but the stars in the political firmament that controlled the destiny of the Darien Company were not in conjunction. William the Third of England was not prepared to back up this bold scheme for establishing a company in the heart of the Spanish commercial empire; while the Dutch and English African companies were gravely alarmed at the prospect. So Spain was permitted to retain her annual fair at Porto Bello undisturbed. These tropic colonies, so strategically placed with respect to commercial and sea power, were ideal in the minds of the seventeenth and eighteenth century Europeans. They furnished an outlet for the surplus population, and were in no sense economic rivals of the home country. The means employed for the exploitation of those islands and for the development of their possibilities and resources, were commercial joint-stock com
in the age of Colbert, when Charles II courted good relations with Denmark, that the Danish West India Company established itself on that island of St. Thomas which we have recently purchased. The success of these companies as commercial enterprises was due, more than to any other one thing, to the economic revolution that followed the introduction of sugar cane. In the latter half of the seven
teenth century, as in the eighteenth century, sugar was indeed king. To make the raising of sugar profitable, the problem of labor was
solved by the introduction of negro slaves from Africa, at first as a means of saving the Indians from
to the Dutch and English traders, were frequently enormous. The magnitude of this trade is in itself a measure of its economic importance. It has been estimated that from 1680 to 1786 there was imported into the British Islands a total of 2,130,000 megroes. No one was too exalted or noble to refrain from profiting in this traffic. Shares of Guinea and West Indian Company stock were held by royalty, by ministers of the Gospel, as well as by ministers of State, alike by merchant princes and university professors. The widow invested her mite and the capitalist his surplus. An important result of this trade on its European side was that big business entered into alliance
with government, was indeed often an integral part of government. The result in the West Indies was the rise of a class of capitalist planters, a class so influential that as early as the middle of the seventeenth century it broached the plan of sending representatives to the British Parliament. It is when we bear in mind that sugar was king that we may understand why England should hesitate between taking from France Guadalupe or Canada in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. It helps us to understand why the English Admiral Nevell struck at the power of Louis XIV during the War of the Augsburg League by searching for the Franco-Spanish fleet in the West Indies. It enables us to comprehend why Pitt's plans embraced the defeat of the schemes of the French prime minister Choiseul in the American as well as in the European Mediterranean. It helps us to realize how Rodney was able to save the situation for Great Britain by his victories over the French fleet in the West Indies during the War of American Independence, and why Lord Nelson should hasten to those waters in search of the French fleet before he finally found and conquered it at Trafalgar. But the economic structure that had been reared so splendidly upon the single apex of the sugar industry was finally to be overturned. This was due mainly to a Berlin chemist of French extraction, Achard, who in the quiet of his laboratory discovered a practical process of extracting sugar from beets. The development of the sugar beet industry was accompanied by the agitation for slave emancipation. That achievement, which was reached in 1833 in the British West Indies, and in 1848 in the Danish Islands, sounded the death-knell of West Indian planter aristocracy. Steadily, but with a fatal certainty, the West Indian possessions of Europe have deteriorated from colonies to mere dependencies. Today the colonies of France, England and the Netherlands are a source of annual loss to the home government. Lotteries, and other financial devices of questionable character, are resorted to that Madame Deficit's perennial hunger may be appeased. Now that Spain has been excluded from the Caribbean, possibly with more injury to her pride than to her prosperity; now that France has found use for her colonizing and commercial energies nearer home on the African shores of the Old World Mediterranean, and the work of de Lesseps has been completed by Shonts and Wallace and Goethals; now that England has within the past dozen years withdrawn her last garrisons from Jamaica and Santa Lucia, what is the situation in the American Mediterranean? It seems perfectly clear that for good or ill, the “Colossus of the North,” as we are sometimes called by our neighbors on the other side of the Rio Grande, has its hand on the throttle. A friend of mine in Copenhagen, to whom I had been protesting that we were not an imperialistic nation, that public sentiment was not likely to permit a war of conquest against weaker neighbors (we had been reading of Huerta recently), took a map lying on the table, pointed first at the Rio Grande, next to Panama Canal (then still
unfinished), and remarked, “You are there—and there—you can't help yourselves.” There was a disconcerting finality about my friend's remark that left me with an uncomfortable feeling. Did he mean that we were destined to become an imperialistic, statedevouring, New World Rome—or was he firmly convinced that we were so already ? Let us review briefly those events and circumstances that have placed us in our present commanding situation north of Panama. The position of the United States at the time when the Monroe Doctrine was first proclaimed affords some instructive contrasts with its position at the present time. The sympathies of this country, for economic as well as for sentimental reasons, were altogether with the revolted American colonies of Spain. This, with fears of Russian aggression southward on the west coast, made the President's point of view a popular one. The support of that strongly nationalistic Westerner, Henry Clay, represented fairly the state of popular opinion. That the “doctrine" then proclaimed might ever be construed into a weapon of aggression certainly never ..entered the minds of John Quincy Adams or his contemporaries. So far was the thought of American domination from the minds of political leaders in the first half of the nineteenth century that the ClaytonBulwer treaty, giving Great Britain equal rights with the United States in the construction of an interoceanic canal, was not seriously opposed on nationalistic or patriotic grounds. Napoleon III's intervention in Mexico while we were in the throes of civil war led to our putting new meaning, new force, into the Monroe Doctrine. The difficulties under which the Union navy labored in its efforts to suppress blockade running during that struggle helped to keep up the interest in Cuban affairs, and to encourage the hope of ultimate annexation. It led incidentally to the first definite proposal of a treaty with Denmark for the purchase of the island of St. Thomas—a plan that fell through because of the passive opposition of the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the United States Senate, Charles Sumner. It was not until the French Canal Company under de Lesseps undertook the construction of a canal at Panama that American sentiment began to crystallize in favor of the abrogation or amendment of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty and the building of an Americanowned and American-operated canal. The failure of the French Company allayed American fears of foreign domination of this strategic commercial highway; but it only required a new occasion to bring the latent American opposition to the English treaty more strongly into relief than ever. President Cleveland's rather sudden and vehement championing of Venezuela's point of view in her dispute with England in 1895-96 revealed an astonishing degree of national sensitiveness with respect to our foreign relations in the Caribbean. But the great turning-point, the event that turned the national attention in a compelling way towards Panama and the West Indies was our war with Spain. With Cuba an American protectorate, and Porto Rico an American territory, the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was doomed for the waste paper basket. England's graceful yielding to the American position strengthened immensely those cordial relations that have remained unbroken for a century. During the period since the Canal was begun, the United States has taken charge of the financial and military administration of the negro republics of San Domingo and Haiti–surely not because of our imperialistic designs against weaker states, but through the logic of events. If this country refused to intervene, France or Germany or England would feel obliged to take a hand. However much we might desire to permit our Latin American or African neighbors, situated between us and Panama, to “stew in their own juice,” the financial interests of other nations, especially the Great Powers of Europe, seem to be so aggressive that the government of the United States may be expected to take an increasing paternal interest in the region that lies between the Rio Grande and the Canal. The slaves of this region have long since been freed, and sugar has been dethroned; but the comple
tion of the great Canal has revived those hopes that spring eternal, and has led West Indians to believe that they are at the dawn of a new and glorious era in their economic history. Improved plantation machinery, the wonderful organization of oceanic fruit lines, diversity in tropical agriculture, the sharing by cacao, coffee, the banana, of the prestige once monopolized by sugar, the proximity of the new trade routes—these are among the hopeful signs in those lands.
The purchase of the Danish Islands in the West Indies at the highest price ever paid by the United States for any of its territory is indicative of the increased importance of the Caribbean lands to the American people. On the one hand, their acquisition affords the historical student an opportunity to see in the perspective of the centuries the relation of this episode to universal history; on the other, it will serve to direct the thought of the practical statesman and the politically inclined citizen to a renewed and more serious consideration of the policy that the United States should adopt in the lands that lie to the north of Panama.
Blackboard Work in History Teaching
BY WILLIAM W. WUESTHOFF, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL, MILWAUKEE, WIS.
The blackboard should play an essential part in the history recitation. By this method the teacher can appeal to a larger number of pupils. The adolescent pupil as a rule learns much and easier by visualization. Such pupils who find it difficult to acquire information by reading or are naturally slow by way of auditory sense, very often gain the greater share of their information by visualization. The attention of these pupils especially must be held. Textbooks which are not illustrated as a rule do not appeal to boys and girls, which is a good indication that they want and need instruction by way of pictures, diagrams and the like. If this is what the pupils want and need, why not give it to them, providing the concession improves the standard of instruction? A textbook can not include all that every teacher might want to use to illustrate a lesson and therefore the teacher must turn to the blackboard. In many cases blackboard illustrations are better than the textbook method. The blackboard illustration is constantly before the pupil. Pupils may slight textbook illustrative material, but such diagrams which are put upon the board will receive the pupils' special attention. You can hold this attention easily and it is the special attention which is the most instructive. The blackboard work emphasizes points and fixes them in the pupil’s mind.
The history teacher has considerable material with which to make the teaching have more drive. The following is a list of diagrams for each field of history which can be put upon the blackboard. The list in
cludes references to books in which diagrams can be found. There are other references, besides foreign publications, but this reference list includes books more accessible to the average teacher:
VERTICAL SECTION OF A PYRAMID.
Gwilt, Encyclopædia of Architecture, 33.
PLAN OF ATHENS.
Botsford, Story of Orient and Greece, 179. Butler, The Story of Athens, 313, 418. Davis, A Day in Old Athens, 7. Howe, Essentials in Early European History, 34. Morey, Ancient Peoples, 190. Morey, Outlines of Greek History, 229. Robinson and Breasted, Outlines of European History, Part I, 173. Tucker, Life in Ancient Athens, Frontispiece. Webster, Ancient History, 627. West, Ancient World, 202.
GROUND PLAN of THE ACROPOLIS
Butler, Story of Athens, 226. Davis, A Day in Old Athens, 214.