Are these due to the accident of a State being a member of that Union or to the beneficent principle of the system itself? What would prevent similar results following if, subject only to the necessities of government, it were extended to Mexico, to Canada, to South America, to the world? In such extension the United States have everything to gain, nothing to lose. This country would soon become the supply house of the world. We will soon have cattle and harvests enough for all nations. Our cotton is everywhere in demand. It is again king. Its crown has been restored, and in all the markets of the world it waves its royal sceptre. Out of our coal and minerals can be manufactured every thing which human ingenuity can devise. Our gold and silver mines will supply the greater part of the precious metals for the use of the arts and trade.
With the opportunity of unrestricted exchange of these products, how limitless the horizon of our possibilities! Let American adventurousness and genius be free upon the high seas, to go wherever they please and bring back whatever they please, and the oceans will swarm with American sails, and the land will laugh with the plenty within its borders. The trade of Tyre and Sidon, the far extending commerce of the Venetian republic, the wealth-producing traffic of the Netherlands, will be as dreams in contrast with the stupendous reality which American enterprise will develop in our own generation. Through the humanizing influence of the trade thus encouraged, I see nations become the friends of nations, and the causes of war disappear. I see the influence of the great republic in the amelioration of the condition of the poor and the oppressed in every land, and in the moderation of the arbitrariness of power. Upon the wings of free trade will be carried the seeds of free government, to be scattered everywhere to grow and ripen into harvests of free peoples in every nation under the sun.
With the election of 1876 and the inauguration of President Hayes, March 4, 1877, the Period of Reconstruction may be said to have closed. The last formal act of that period was the withdrawal of the national troops from the South by President Hayes soon after his inauguration. During the last two decades the “Southern Question,” while it has been occasionally prominent in political discussions,—especially in connection with the Lodge Federal Elections Bill, 1889-91, has, nevertheless, occupied a subordinate place in public interest and attention. As an issue in serious political discussions and party divisions the question has disappeared.
In addition to the subject of the Tariff, considered in the previous section, public attention has been directed chiefly, during the last quarter of a century, to the two great subjects, Finance and Civil Service Reform.
The Financial question has been like that of the Tariff,—it has been almost a constant factor in political controversies since the organization of the Government.