New PDF release: American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of
By John Fiske
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Additional info for American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of universal history: Three lectures delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in May, 1880,
In fact, however, it was the shaking off of allegiance to the British crown, and the common trials and sufferings of the war of independence, that at last welded the colonies together and made a federal union possible. As it was, the union was consummated only by degrees. By the Articles of Confederation, agreed on by Congress in 1777 but not adopted by all the States until 1781, the federal government acted only upon the several state governments and not directly upon individuals; there was no federal judiciary for the decision of constitutional questions arising out of the relations between the states; and the Congress was not provided with any efficient means of raising a revenue or of enforcing its legislative decrees.
For so great an end did this most pacific people engage in an obstinate war, and never did any war so thoroughly illustrate how military power may be wielded, when necessary, by a people that has passed entirely from the military into the industrial stage of civilization. The events falsified all the predictions that were drawn from the contemplation of societies less advanced politically. It was thought that so peaceful a people could not raise a great army on demand; yet within a twelvemonth the government had raised five hundred thousand men by voluntary enlistment.
Yet I believe that if no other political result than this could to-day be pointed out as coming from the colonization of America by Englishmen, we should still be justified in regarding that event as one of the most important in the history of mankind. For obviously the principle of federalism, as thus broadly stated, contains within itself the seeds of permanent peace between nations; and to this glorious end I believe it will come in the fulness of time. And now we may begin to see distinctly what it was that the American government fought for in the late civil war,—a point which at the time was by no means clearly apprehended outside the United States.
American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of universal history: Three lectures delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in May, 1880, by John Fiske