Spain Versus Britain Versus AmericaJanuary 1, 2022
Spain should be given credit for having bettered the condition of a people who were comparatively highly civilised, but were continually distracted by petty wars which led them into a disordered and uncultivated state.
The natives of these beautiful islands have lived as comfortably during the last hundred years, protected from all external enemies and governed by mild laws, as those of any other tropical country under native or European sway.
The monks, also, have certainly had an essential part in the production of the results.
Sprung from the lowest orders, inured to hardship and want, and on terms of the closest intimacy with the natives, they were peculiarly fitted to introduce them to a practical conformity with the new religion and code of morality.
Later on, also, when they possessed rich livings, and their devout and zealous interest in the welfare of the masses relaxed in proportion as their incomes increased, they materially assisted in bringing about the circumstances already described, with their favourable and unfavourable aspects.
They had no family nor good education, so they associated themselves intimately with the natives. Their arrogant opposition to the temporal power generally arose through their connection with the natives.
With the altered condition of things, however, all this has disappeared. The colony can no longer be kept secluded from the world.
Every facility for commerce is:
- a blow to the old system, and
- a great step towards broad and liberal reforms.
The more foreign capital and foreign ideas and customs are introduced, the more the prosperity, enlightenment, and self-esteem of the population, the more impatiently will the existing evils be endured.
England opens her possessions unconcernedly to the world. The British colonies are united to the mother country by the bond of mutual advantage as the production and trade of English manufactures from native raw materials and English capital.
Nearly all the foreigners even in the British possessions are for the most part agents for English business houses which are not so much affected by politics. This is because:
- the wealth of England is so great
- the organization of her commerce with the world so complete
It is entirely different with Spain, which keeps the Philippines as an inherited property, without making it useful.
Government monopolies rigorously maintained, insolent disregard and neglect of the half-castes and powerful creoles, and the example of the United States, were the chief reasons of the downfall of the American possessions.
The same causes threaten ruin to the Philippines : but of the monopolies I have said enough.
Half-castes and creoles are not, as they formerly were in America, excluded from all official appointments. But they feel deeply hurt and injured through the crowds of place-hunters which the frequent changes of Ministers send to Manila.
The influence, also, of the American element is at least visible on the horizon, and will be more noticeable when the relations increase between the two countries. At present they are very slender.
The trade in the meantime follows in its old channels to England and to the Atlantic ports of the United States. Nevertheless, whoever desires to form an opinion upon the future history of the Philippines, must not consider simply their relations to Spain, but must have regard to the prodigious changes which a few decades produce on either side of our planet.
For the first time in the history of the world the mighty powers on both sides of the ocean have commenced to enter upon a direct intercourse with one another-Russia, which alone is larger than any two other parts of the earth.
China has 1/3 of the world’s population. America has land nearly sufficient to feed triple the total population of the earth.
Russia’s future rôle in the Pacific Ocean is not to be estimated at present.
The trade between the two other great powers will therefore be presumably all the heavier, as the rectification of the pressing need of human labour on the one side, and of the corresponding overplus on the other, will fall to them.
The ancient European world was confined to the Mediterranean. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans sufficed at one time for our traffic. When first the shores of the Pacific re-echoed with the sounds of active commerce, the trade of the world and the history of the world may be really said to have begun.
A start in that direction has been made; whereas not so very long ago the immense ocean was one wide waste of waters. traversed from both points only once a year.
From 1603 to 1769, scarcely a ship had ever visited California, that wonderful country which, 25 years ago, was an unknown wilderness. But now, it is covered with flourishing and prosperous towns and cities, divided from sea to sea by a railway. Its capital already ranks as the top 3 seaport in the US.
Even at this early stage, California seems destined to be a central point of the world’s commerce as the proposed junction of the great oceans. The west coast of America extends American influence to the Pacific. This will inevitably be felt by the Spanish colonies*, including the the Philippines.
*In 1861, I was on the West Coast of Mexico where a dozen backwoods families were determined to settle in Sonora which is an oasis in the desert. It was a plan which was then frustrated by the invasion of the European powers. Many native farmers awaited these immigrants. The value of land in consequence of the announcement of the project rose very considerably.
- are destined to bring to a full development the germs began by the Spaniards.
- are the modern conquerors
- pursue their road to victory with the pioneer’s axe and plough
- These represent an age of peace and commercial prosperity in contrast to that bygone and chivalrous age whose champions were upheld by the cross and protected by the sword.
With regard to permanence, the Spanish system cannot for a moment be compared with that of America.
In order to favour a privileged class by immediate gains, the Spanish colonies exhausted their already enfeebled population by the withdrawal of the best of its ability.
America, on the contrary, has attracted to itself from all countries the most energetic element, which, once in American and freed from all fetters, restlessly progresses. This has extended its power and influence further.
The Philippines will escape the action of the 2 great neighbouring powers all the less for tbe fact that neither they nor their metropolis find their condition of a stable and well-balanced nature.
It seems to be desirable for the natives that the above-mentioned views should not speedily become accomplished facts, because their education and training hitherto have not been of a nature to prepare them successfully to compete with either of the other two energetic, creative, and progressive nations.
They have, in truth, dreamed away their best days.