National Geographic : 1899 Jun
THE National Geographic Magazine VOL. X JUNE, 1899 No. 6 NATIONAL GROWTH AND NATIONAL CHARACTER* By W J McGEE, Vice-President of the National GeographicSociety On July 4,1776, the dawn of a new era brightened humanity's horizon. The harbinger of enlightenment, the American Decla ration of Independence was itself the product of antecedent forces and conditions of great significance. Some of these forces and conditions demand special attention from those who would trace aright the growth of modern nations. For more than a century, the world's most vigorous attempt at colonization had been in progress along the Atlantic coast of North America. Viewed in the light of later knowledge, the stirring conquests of Alexander and Caesar were little more than predatory forays in which the conquered gradually absorbed their conquerors; the epoch-marking expeditions of the Spaniards three centuries before and of the Norsemen four centuries earlier *An address delivered before the National Geographic Society, March 28, 1899, as a summary of a series of lectures on " The Territorial Growth of the United States." These lectures, forming the " Lenten Course " for the year, delivered in Columbia Theater, Washington, D. C., during February and March, were as follows: " The Orig inal Territory of the United States," by Honorable David J. Hill, LL. D., Assistant Secretary of State (printed in the March number of the National Geographic Magazine vol. x, 1899, pp. 73 -92); " The Louisiana Purchase, Oregon, and Florida," by Professor Albert Bushnell Hart, of Harvard University; "Texas and the Mexican Accessions," by Professor John Bach McMaster, of the University of Pennsylvania; "Alaska," by J. Stanley-Brown; " Hawaii," by Professor Edwin V. Morgan. A preliminary outline of the general subject, entitled "The Growth of the United States," was presented at a meeting held in Boston on August 25, 1898, and printed in the National Geographic Magazine for September (vol. ix, 1898, pp. 377-386). The data relating to the territorial growth of the country were set forth in detail in the successive lectures; the sum mary was designed to indicate the causes and conditions affecting the progress of the nation as described by the eminent authorities who conducted the course.