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Asa C. Matthews, "The United States of the Americas"
1893



 

Background

Consider This Question

 

In the early 1890s, the American Press Association put together a feature series of writings in preparation for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They commissioned 74 notable Americans to make predictions about American life in the 1990s, in the process producing an interesting commentary on life in the 1890s. The variety of essays reflected the diversity of the contributors, including a senator (John J. Ingalls), an electrical engineer (John J. Carty), a poet (Elizabeth Akers Allen), and a minister (Thomas De Witt Talmage). The segments ran in newspapers across the country from March through May 1893, in time for the World's Fair opening.



I think that I can see, a hundred years hence, an ocean-bound republic over every part of which the Stars and Stripes will proudly wave. Looking to the future, my eye detects on the dim horizon an American republic which shall embrace not only the present United States and Alaska, but all the remainder of the North American continent now under British, Mexican, or minor denomination. It seems to me that this is the destiny of America -- to come under one government, to have but one flag, to be one people.

Such consolidation of power and unification of interest will of course make the greatest empire that the sun ever shone upon. It will be an empire unrivaled in ancient or modern times in population, in climatical favor, in physical resources, and in the intelligence and patriotism of its people.

Isolated to some extent from the remainder of the world, we shall have little danger of entangling alliances or of troublesome contact. There will be no disputes about boundary lines, about seal or fish or bait. There will be no international railway question to harass our statesmen or to unsettle trade. This great oceanbound American republic will maintain a navy superior to any else afloat, simply as a matter of precaution.

There will be free trade throughout the North American continent and possibly free trade with all the world. As to when I cannot say, nor even hazard an opinion -- though I am satisfied that, if free trade or freer trade shall come, it will not be for many years. And it cannot possibly come until every important industry existing or possible, throughout the length and breadth of the new and larger republic, has been planted firmly upon a basis of enduring prosperity.

Such a government will be strong enough to protect even the humblest of its citizens and to develop every resource. It will be a government of perhaps 60 states of the Union.

In the form of government, I do not expect to see much change from the present. The human mind has not yet devised improvements upon our present form which are likely to commend themselves to any considerable portion of the people. And yet it is a comfort to know that we have the elasticity which will enable us easily and peacefully to adapt ourselves to any new conditions that may arise. For 100 years or more to come, however, I expect to see our present form of government substantially preserved -- and extended gradually over Mexico, Canada, and British America, as well as the states of Central America.

This will be an empire with the greatest railways (steam or electrical), canals and waterways, cities, farms, homes, colleges, factories, telegraphs, telephones, and all the new and wondrous things which a century of invention may bring us. For this will be the most perfect civilization and the most prosperous and happy people that the world ever knew.


 

Consider This Question

Background

 

1. Keeping in mind Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis, what does Matthews see as the new American frontier?




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