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CHAP. dent for these upon the motherland, while during the
eight years of actual war for independence, most of their
In addition to this evil, rivalry between the States
The whole people had also—in contrast with the present time--to enter upon a sort of apprenticeship, in order to learn how to make for themselves the best articles for domestic use. England had hitherto supplied these, and at her own prices. The contrast between the amount of manufacturing in that day and what it is at present is amazing.
The debt of the United States at the commencement of the first century? was, in proportion to each one of the population, larger, and in addition was far more burdensome for the people to pay than their debt on entering upon their second century, when their facilities for paying it are so much superior. The national debt in 1791 was $75,463,476; the similar one on December 31, 1890, was $873,435,939.50, less the cash in the U. S. Treasury. In 1791 · Bolles' Financial Hist. of the U. S., p. 437.
? Hist., p. 575.
THE CIVILIZING INFLUENCE,
the debt was about nineteen dollars per each man, woman CHAP. and child of the population. In 1901, estimating the LXXIII. population to be seventy-eight millions, the national debt was, including all immatured bonds and outstanding notes, fractional currency and certificates—$986,550,547.
Thus far the American people have merited the honor of being characterized as “the only debt-paying nation.” We cannot go into details; let a mere glance at their varied resources accounting for this, suffice. Notice the vast mineral wealth of all kinds discovered during the first century, within the Union; the abundant facilities for internal and foreign trade; the agricultural and pastural resources; the numberless inventions that promote mechanical industries: all these, in their respective capacities, produce wealth, and thus indirectly afford funds for paying the national debt.
There are, however, other considerations worthy of note in a nation's life than those of mere material
progress. The contrast in the facilities for extending the truths of Christianity and their civilizing influence throughout the land, and for promoting education among the people of all classes, is fully as striking as any other feature of this comparison. We have seen that immediately after the adoption of the Constitution, the several denominations of Christians took measures to frame their systems of Church government in such manner as to be consistent with that of the Nation. The remarkable moral and educational results produced during the first century, though in the face of numerous difficulties, have amply vindicated this. Within that hundred years, especially in the latter half, all these denominations have manifested unusual zeal in preaching the gospel in destitute por tions of the Union, and in endeavoring to raise the whole people by means of education to a higher plane of general intelligence, thus preparing them to enter upon their
· Hist., pp. 567-570.
CHAP. second century almost infinitely better equipped than were LXXIII. their fathers for a continual progress in all that is great
The leading minds in these denominations founded benevolent associations to aid in the cause, such as Bible, Tract, Sunday School, Home Missionary, and other societies." Meanwhile the private members of the churches nobly furnished the necessary financial means; nor were they lacking in individual efforts in their respective spheres of influence. This spirit also influenced wealthy men to recognize their own responsibility, and in consequence, within the period mentioned, they have furnished millions on millions for purposes of education. The church members at the beginning of the first century, as well as the rest of the people, were poor in worldly affairs; at the beginning of the second, they are comparatively rich, and in addition they have, prepared to their hand, these various benevolent associations and societies, which the wisdom of the first century has devised, and which appliances can be now utilized to the best advantage.
There is still another contrast. The commencement of the first century saw but little harmony or sympathy between the various religious denominations, but, on the contrary, antagonisms, especially between the two that were in union with the State” and those others that were not, owing to the harsh treatment the latter had so long endured from the former. The remembrance of these wrongs passed over from colonial times, and it took at least one generation for that malign influence to thoroughly pass away, which, during the first third of the century, very much trammeled the legitimate works of the churches.
* Hist., pp. 636, 656.
? The Congregational in New England and the Episoopal in some of the Middle and the Southern Colonies. Hist., p. 567.
The above period was succeeded by another, lasting CHAP. nearly forty years, characterized by an unusual mental ac
LXXIIL tivity in respect to theological opinions, which were discussed extensively throughout the Northern and Eastern States. These discussions took a wide range amid the respective doctrines of the churches, such as the scriptural authority for certain forms in rites and ceremonies, Church policy, the mode of ordaining the ministry, Biblical interpretation, and, in general, other leading doctrines of the various denominations. The religious newspapers and periodicals engaged in this work, and even a portion of the secular press, opened their columns to the disputants and treated the matter editorially.
These contests were mainly on points of belief that in themselves were non-essential, while at the same time there prevailed among these evangelical disputants a remarkable unanimity in accepting the essential truths of the gospel. The latter phase of the subject induced a sentiment of charity that continually grew in strength, until all parties tacitly acquiesced in each denomination in its own way preaching the word and administering the rites of the Church, and thus promoting the cause so dear to the hearts of all. In consequence of these mutual concessions, there came gradually into existence, toward the end of the second period mentioned, an era of good feeling among the churches, which prevails, more than ever before, in the entire Christian community. This was one of the most important legacies that the churches of the first century left to those of the second. There was, however, one controversy—the anti-slavery agitation—that continued unchanged among the churches in its earnestness to the very last, even until the war for the preservation of the Union incidentally blotted out its exciting career forever.
At present, however, we see the churches of the United States entering upon their second century, never in their
CHAP. history so free from discordant conflicts, nor so abundant LXXIII. in wealth, in zeal and in the facilities for concentrated
effort in their appropriate work, which in its greatness has never before been paralleled in the Union.
In closing this chapter, it is proper to notice the evidence of the deep underlying reverence that has always characterized the American people—especially those who are descendants of the original colonists—for the truths of Christianity. This may account for the fact that no special movement in opposition to the latter's essential and leading doctrines has ever originated in the United States.
In the early years of the Nation's century, there prevailed, to a very limited extent, a form of infidelity derived from the French revolutionists. Its views or arguments were presented, however, in a tone peculiarly low and vulgar, so that what influence it had among the people at large, dwindled away in less than a generation.
The modes of criticism tending to invalidate the authority of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, were introduced from Germany. In the same manner, the theories that would ignore God in His own grand law of evolution, or the gradual development or improvement in the order of nature, whether animal or vegetable, and likewise, the theory that “neither denies nor affirms God, but puts Him on one side," known as agnosticism, are both exotics—they having been transplanted hither from the British Isles. In the same connection, it may be said concerning the writing of books of a decided immoral tendency, that comparatively very few, as far as we know, are the direct product of American authors.