National Geographic : 1898 Sep
THE GROWTH OF THE UNITED STATES posed annexation of Texas was successfully resisted for years. The acquisition of California was regarded as a special menace, for the reason that its fertile valleys and commodious harbors were distant three months'journey by land and six months' voyage by water, while the territory was inhabited partly by treacherous aliens but mainly by savage tribes; yet cautious statesmen, emboldened by the success of the Louisiana purchase, ventured on the step despite the fact that America was still an ex periment in nation-making, with no standing among the powers, with a population of but 20,000,000, and with narrow commer cial and industrial resources; and the step proved the most important in the career of the nation. In this as in other cases the territory was ripe for acquisition by an enlightened nation; the inhabitants were ill-governed and desirous of change; there was a need, more or less fully felt, for the extension of enlighten ment in the dark places. In no case, save possibly that of Alaska, has expansion grown out of mercenary motives; yet in no case, save possibly Alaska again, has the acquisition of terri tory failed to benefit the inhabitants of the territory acquired, the nation which made the acquisition, and the world at large. America's progress in territorial development has never been the outcome of ulterior policy; it has always been an expres sion of manifest destiny. The various elements of national growth are intimately re lated ; some of them are shown graphically in the accompanying table and diagram.* The fundamental element is area, which is indicated in the line platted by ordinates and abscissas in such manner as to show quantitatively the territorial accessions and the intervening periods of inactivity, the line being projected on the assumption that the entire area of the Philippines as well as Hawaii and Porto Rico will be absorbed during the year. The next element is population, which is shown graphically from the Census figures of 1790 and later decades; it, too, is projected on the assumption that the 109,000 people of Hawaii, and also the 807,000 people of Porto Rico and the 7,000,000 people of the Philippines, will be added to our population during the year. A function of these elements combined is population-density (i. e., the average population per square mile), which is platted *The values are mainly taken from Gannett's "Statistical Atlas," recently published by the Census Office, partly from the "Statistical Abstract" for 1897, recently pub lished by the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department, partly from the "States man's Year Book " for 1898.