Is this all supposition? Well, we are proceeding upon the theory of the monometallists, that a billion dollars’ worth of silver and securities would be shipped here. We are showing what must inevitably result if their predictions should hold good—more money for the farmers, more business for the merchants, more transportation for the railroads, and more business for their correlated industries; and, as a result, more work, abundant work, for those now idle. And this last would be the greatest blessing of all. The benefit would be to the farmer, the handlers of grain and all who serve them, to the retail tradesmen, the small manufacturers, all the country artisans immediately dependent upon the farmer, and all those who supply all of these classes. In short, there would be a general quickening of all branches of production and trade as a certain result of the transfer of foreign silver and securities for our agricultural surplus. Is there anything in all this to alarm Americans?
Among the many errors which distort men’s opinions on the so-called “silver question” is the belief that the gold supply of the present and near future need be considered merely as it may affect Europe and America. Asia and Africa are in most men’s minds entirely excluded from the calculations. The popular belief in the United States may be briefly stated thus: Asia is and is long to be the land of stagnation. Asiatics are unprogressive and will remain so. In contact with the higher civilization of Europe the yellow and brown races are likely to fade away as did the Maori and the American Indian; or if they continue to increase, their trade and government will be conducted chiefly by Europeans.
One finds this belief expressed in many standard works. “The helpless apathy of Asiatics” is a favorite phrase of Macaulay. “Man is but a weed in those vast regions,” says DeQuincey. “In Asia there are no questions, only affirmations,” says another philosopher. And no amount of experience seems to shake the popular faith in this notion that what Asia was she is always to be. And yet enough has occurred within the memory of men still middle-aged to dissipate it. Only a few years ago Americans looked upon Russia as an inert mass, semi-barbarous in large part; and when Kennan pictured the horrors of Siberia most readers thought the condition only such as might be expected from such a government and such people as they believed the Russians to be. But Russia is to-day one of the world’s greatest powers, with 120,000,000 of people, building the two longest railways in the world, developing the Siberian and Transcaspian region with a rapidity only exceeded in our own far West, and drawing gold from this country and western Europe at a rate that threatens the stability of our financial system.