By John Fiske
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Extra info for American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of universal history: Three lectures delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in May, 1880,
It was not until the American Resolution that this began to be dimly realized by a few prescient thinkers. It is by no means so fully realized even now that a clear and thorough-going statement of it has not somewhat an air of novelty. When the highly-civilized community, representing the ripest political ideas of England, was planted in America, removed from the manifold and complicated checks we have just been studying in the history of the Old World, the growth was portentously rapid and steady.
The rate must nevertheless continue to be very great, in the absence of such causes as formerly retarded the growth of population in Europe. Our modern wars are hideous enough, no doubt, but they are short. They are settled with a few heavy blows, and the loss of life and property occasioned by them is but trifling when compared with the awful ruin and desolation wrought by the perpetual and protracted contests of antiquity and of the Middle Ages. Chronic warfare, both private and public, periodic famines, and sweeping pestilences like the Black Death,—these were the things which formerly shortened human life and kept down population.
But in the fifteenth century the League won by force of arms a small bit of Italian territory about Lake Lugano, and in the sixteenth the powerful city of Bern annexed the Burgundian bishopric of Lausanne and rescued the free city of Geneva from the clutches of the Duke of Savoy. Other Burgundian possessions of Savoy were seized by the canton of Freiburg; and after awhile all these subjects and allies were admitted on equal terms into the confederation. The result is that modern Switzerland is made up of what might seem to be most discordant and unmanageable elements.
American political ideas viewed from the standpoint of universal history: Three lectures delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in May, 1880, by John Fiske