Whether further instability will be found to need such bolstering we cannot be sure. The present outlook is that business conditions are fairly sound and stable. In which direction across the Atlantic the title to gold will tend to change cannot as yet be foreseen. It will depend largely on how much Europe wants our products and how large a sacrifice she is willing to make in selling us her securities. It will also depend on possible issues of paper money. Fortunately, we are the happy possessors of over $1,500,000,000 in gold, and it is inconceivable that any large part of this should flow out—unless we should be so insensate as to inflate the currency.
If we keep our heads, we shall at the end of the war be in the proud position of being the only great nation whose economic resources have not even been strained.
By Roland G. Usher.
Head of Department of
History at Washington University; author
of “Pan-Germanism,” “The Rise of the American People,” &c.
From The Boston Transcript, Sept. 2, 1914.
The events of the last few days of July, 1914, showed the Americans the far-reaching effects of a state of war. There are now few who would say, as used to be so common, that a European war would make no difference to us. The closing of the New York Stock Exchange, the great shipments of gold and its consequent scarcity in the United States, the closing of the New England cotton mills, the cessation of export to Europe and of transatlantic communication with the Continent were instantaneous effects of a war 3,000 miles away obvious even to the apathetic and the heedless. With these we have not here to do; such are already past history. There is, however, a legitimate field for speculation as to the probable effects on the United States of the continuation of the state of war in Europe for months or years. The permanent results of a war naturally cannot be predicted in advance, but in the light of the history of the past, certain changes and developments in the United States appear so probable if the war continues as to reach almost the realm of certainty.
Needless to say, the European war will not involve the United States in actual hostilities. It is highly improbable that either our army or our navy will see service. We are too distant from the seat of war; too entirely devoid of interests the combatants might seriously injure which a resort to war could remedy; too completely incapable of aiding or abetting one or the other in arms to cause them to assail us. Even were we not as a nation of a peaceable disposition, even had we not a President blessed with a singularly clear head and able to keep his temper, we should still stand little chance of going to war. One eventuality alone might affect us—Japan might attempt some measures of aggression in the Far East which would interest us as possessors of the Philippines, but that is practically foreclosed by her official announcement that she will side with England. The effects of the war upon the United States will be indirect effects; they will be economic in character, though far-reaching and significant for every man, woman, and child in the country.