This section is about land and more land -
from whom it was taken by the United States, when and how.
Once again, we go about the boring job of tallying acreage,
so many million here, so many million there.
Once more we advise against gloating over the
conquests achieved by already the world's largest Republic.
If one says that the United States as a whole grew ever
richer and more productive and powerful, he must ask himself
how a few beggars with hand tools and several years of food
supplied from abroad could have done the job.
One answer seems ever more plain:
The United States was capitalized on land
(taken by one or another means from the Indians,
or whoever else claimed it). One has to think of land as an
increasingly valuable asset from the time of its acquisition,
readily convertible into other assets, as a form of currency.
Americans were over-capitalized on land.
It took over three for them to realize that
they had been living off their capital.
The land offered up food, the forests game.
The offshore fisheries, lakes and rivers cast up fish unending.
The forests provided timber for millions of homes
all types of construction, and supplied fuel for
warmth and industry for centuries.
The land was granted or bartered or sold at a pittance,
to railroad companies, farmers, veterans, speculators, immigrants, schools,
states, counties, towns, cities, special districts of all kinds.
The land was used to back up borrowings of funds.
The land was asked to give up its mineral resources:
coal, silver, gold, lead, copper, oil,and
precious, semi-precious and just plain stone.
Land did all this, most generously.
A large proportion of all the products of the land -
minerals, timber, plants and animals -
were exported abroad for cash to buy consumer and producer goods.
In modern history, perhaps only Russia had been so well capitalized.
But it was as gross an aggressor in
conquering Siberia and the nations on its fringes.
Nor was its large population worse off than the American,
all in all. Sounding strange to myth-duped ears are
reports that Czarist capitalism was modernizing rapidly.
However, Americans were taught by their God
how to capitalize their bonanza to the utmost,
while Russia turned communist, bureaucratic, and atheist.
Being a madly free republic helped the U.S. greatly.
What is the morality of seizing other peoples' lands,
developing them in accord with your own standards?
Millions of Americans asked themselves this question,
not once, but dozens of times.
Does life become a little less worthwhile,
when one realizes or believes that one is heir to gigantic
thefts, rapine, compulsory contracts, and phony purchases?
Should history assume the task of condemning long afterwards
actions scarcely sensed to be wicked by the actors?
Yes, why not - if it educates us now?
Should the historian, in that case, give credit,
where credit is overdue, to historical actors?
Yes, doubly so.