Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
British Policy Opposed to American Industries
By Isaac Edwards Clarke (18301907)
[Born in Deerfield, Mass., 1830. Died in Washington, D.C., 1907. Industrial and High Art Education in the United States. 1885.]
IT will be advisable for those who wish to preserve their self-respect as Americans, when considering the relations borne by England to the industrial development of this country, to remember that England has always done her utmost to prevent any industrial or political development of the American people.
Nearly fifty years later, England eagerly availed herself of the opportunity afforded by the Southern rebellion to destroy the foreign commerce of America; and did it effectually. Most, if not all, of the so-called Confederate cruisers were built in British ship-yards, and armed and victualled, if not mainly manned, by British subjects; while the colonial ports of Great Britain were as freely opened to those armed ships whose whole purpose was to destroy the peaceful merchant ships of the United States as they were to the cruisers of the friendly United States, although the flag under which they sailed was one unrecognized by England.
In addition to these consistent acts of continuous hostility, England, as has already been stated, has succeeded in introducing into American colleges the text-books written by her professors of political economy, and American young men are thereby indoctrinated with English free-trade ideas; from which it usually takes them from five to twenty-five years to recover .
In considering these theories it is well to keep one fact in mind, and that is, that from the first hour of English settlement in America down to the present time, the active influence of England has been constantly exerted to prevent, retard, and destroy the industrial and commercial development and prosperity of the United States.
No amount of later compliments or courtesies, however unusual or distinguished, paid to living or deceased Americans, can obliterate these historical facts, or should be suffered to weaken the memory of them in the minds of patriotic Americans mindful of their countrys welfare; because the situation of Great Britain is such that the necessity of self-preservation compels her to continue in the same course towards this nation that she has ever adopted.
The historical events just recited may be commended to the consideration of such youthful Americans as find themselves inclined to Anglomaniawho affect English costumes and customs, in dress, manners, and speech, and who would esteem it a compliment to be taken for English;which they never could be, you know!
On the other hand, there were certain object lessons set in the main building of the Centennial Exposition for all to see, which may well modify the opinions of those who are inclined to Anglophobia and feel the stirrings of an hereditary resentment against the one consistent and persistent opponent of the American Republic.
Doubtless, in the present era of effusive compliments, the possibility that Americans could regard any past or present actions of England as designedly unfriendly would be warmly protested against; but two and a half centuries of consistent history are not to be obliterated by a few smooth phrases. England has to-day, and with each passing day, ever more pressing need to secure and retain customers for her varied manufactures; and therefore it is impossible that any policy which is wise for her, commercially speaking, can as yet be advantageous to this country.
It may be well for us to adopt similar methods for developing artistic skill in manufactures and industries to those which England has found successful; but Americans should always remember that, owing to the differences of the situation, the policies of the two countries must also necessarily differ. The United States must adopt, sooner or later, a continental policy; one best adapted to the development of the immense natural resources of the country, and best fitted to promote the industries and manufactures of the people.
Although it has seemed proper to thus briefly recite the historical relations of England to American industries, it is only simple justice to state that in these latter days, so far from manifesting any disposition to prevent or retard the movement for developing industrial-art training in the United States, the educational authorities of England have offered every aid and every courtesy .
Until the millennium dawns, individual nations, just as are the heads of private families, are charged with the protection of the lives and the promotion of the interests of their own citizens. It is easy to see that these interests may demand very different conditions on the part of England and of the United States; that what would be most conducive to the selfish interests of the English-speaking people dwelling in Great Britain, might be disastrous to the interests of the English-speaking people dwelling in these United States. The fine-sounding philanthropy which urges that American statesmen ought to consider the questions that arise simply in their universal relations, and not in the narrow view of how they may affect the interests of the citizens of the United States, is not only premature but sophistical. Policies urged by England should be considered under all the light that the events of the past can give.