National Geographic : 1900 Oct
THE LESSONS OF GALVESTON one of the few great forces of nature to which human ingenuity and strength must bow.* These physical lessons are hard--but they are needful. There is a fourth lesson, which is human; and it is soft and pleas ant and promising as the physicial lessons are cruel and gloomy. When the stricken city cried out in anguish, her appeal was met as was no other appeal in history; within a few hours fifty million hearts were touched, and five million fellow-citizens either sent, or sought for means of sending, sympathy enriched by substance. Evidences of the perfect solidarity of a nation united by the en during bonds of liberty and equality were not wanting before; but it remained for the city of Galveston, the State of Texas, and the first Republic of America to produce the world's brightest ex ample of charity growing out of the community of citizenship. Nor was the wave of sympathy broken at our shores; within a few hours more, messages from the leading nations of the earth proved that the appeal had echoed around the globe, and demonstrated the solidarity of nations and the unity of all mankind in a manner un precedented in history. Galveston taught the costly but profitable lesson that the city no longer lives unto itself, like Memphis and Athens and Rome of old, but forms an integral part of a nation; that its successes and failures, and the consequences of its wisdom or folly, fall not alone on its own citizens but are shared by millions of men; and that, just as every city is entitled to appeal for sympa thy, so it is morally bound to guard against disasters which wring the heart of a nation. The makers of Galveston erred in building their houses on the sands, in planting their city within reach of the waves, in domicil ing their helpless ones on a sinking coast; they have been forgiven their error, more fully and freely than ever were city-makers before; but it behooves them to remember, as they turn toward the future, that charity should not be strained, and that their fellow-citizens have the right to be spared the shock of the inevitable disaster which would follow rebuilding on their devastated sand-bank. *The subsidence of our coasts has been treated more fully elsewhere. Cf . "The Gulf of Mexico as a Measure of Isostasy" (American Journal of Science, vol. xliv, 1892, pp. 177-192); "Encroachments of the Sea" (Forum for June, 1890, pp. 437-449); and " The Lafayette For mation" (Twelfth Ann. Rept. U . S. Geol. Survey, pp. 347-521).