National Geographic : 1897 Dec
THE ANNEXATION FEVER 355 extension over the conquered region of the jurisdiction of the conqueror, but possession in fee. The conquered territory was made as profitable as possible to the conqueror. It may have been looted for his benefit, or it may have been taxed for all it would bear. In whatever way it was done the conquered terri tory was made a source of profit to the victorious party. That sort of thing passed out of vogue among civilized nations ages ago, and today among such people the acquisition of terri tory means simply a change of jurisdiction. The laws and the flag of one nation are substituted for those of another. The na tion acquiring the territory collects taxes, and in turn assumes the duty of protecting the people of the acquired territory from one another and from foreign enemies. The nation is not en riched by the acquisition. It may or it may not be strengthened, according to the character of the acquisition. But while the results of acquiring territory have thus become radically changed, the desire, the instinct for its acquisition re mains apparently in full force. Without inquiring whether in any one case it will be an advantage or a disadvantage for a coun try to extend its limits, ninety-nine out of every hundred of its people urge its extension. In other words, the great mass of the people concerned act merely upon instinct, such instinct being simply the remains from the time when acquisition of territory meant an increase of property. The question whether accessions of territory are desirable or not turns upon many considerations, among them being the char acter and resources of the proposed accession, its situation and distance, the condition of its people as regards civilization, and the character of the people and of the government of the annex ing country. The United States, of all nations, should go very slowly in this matter, first, because since it stands at the head of the nations in point of civilization, almost any addition of people to its num bers will reduce the average civilization, and consequently the strength and industrial capacity of its people. Second, because under its principle of home rule, annexed provinces will be called on to govern themselves in all local matters, while the general government will be held responsible by foreign governments for all hostile acts committed by such annexed states against their citizens; and, third, because all annexations involve responsi bilities in case of war for which we are unprepared and show little disposition to prepare ourselves.