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Civil service, United States colonial.

Prof. Edward Gaylor Bourne, Professor of History in Yale University, writes as follows concerning the civil service for our new possessions:

Our previous annexations of territory, with the possible exception of Alaska, have never involved questions of administration essentially different from those with which our public men have been familiar; for, from the first settlement of the colonies, the occupation of new land and the organization of new communities have been the special task [162] and most noteworthy achievement of the American people. Acquisitions, like the Louisiana and Mexican cessions, merely afforded room for the natural overflow of our people, and the new possessions soon became more distinctively American than the mother States. The wonderful results of this spontaneous process are accepted by too many of our people as a demonstration that we can cope equally well with the extremely difficult and complicated task of governing large masses of alien and unwilling subjects. Yet a moment's reflection must show every one that the simple form of growth which has expanded the United States from the Alleghanies to the Pacific cannot be extended to our recent acquisitions.

Neither Cuba nor Porto Rico is likely ever to be populated by English-speaking Americans. Our ideas, no doubt, will pervade these islands to some extent, but that their civilization will cease to be Spanish is highly improbable. Their inhabitants are a civilized people, heirs, like ourselves, of a European culture, possessing a noble language, a splendid literature, and a highly developed jurisprudence. This inheritance they will never voluntarily give up, nor can they be forced to sacrifice it without tyrannical oppression. Those who think differently should study the case of French Canada, or, even better, the case of Louisiana. It would have been natural to expect, in 1803, that the inflowing tide of American immigration would soon absorb or overwhelm the scattered little settlements of French creoles, numbering in all, masters and slaves, within the bounds of the present State of Louisiana, not more than 30,000. On the contrary, French life and manners still survive, the civil law has never been displaced by the English common law, and after nearly a century, over one-sixth of the native whites of the State cannot speak the English language. In view of this experience how remote is the possibility that the dense population of Porto Rico will ever lose its Spanish character!

Turning to the Philippines we find a task still more widely different from any that we have ever undertaken, and far more complicated. This archipelago is nothing less than an ethnological museum. Its population of 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 ranges from the Negrito head-hunters to the civilized Tagals and Visayas, who had a written language before the Spaniards came among them, to say nothing of the Chinese, the Chinese-Malay, and Spanish-Malay mixtures who constitute the enterprising element in the towns. Furthermore, although hitherto beyond our horizon, these islands are not in a remote corner of the earth like Alaska, where failure would be hidden or unnoticed, but they lie at the very meeting-place of nations, and all that we do there will be under a white light of publicity. The most energetic and ambitious powers of Europe will be our neighbors and critics.

To expect that the problem of the Philippines or of Cuba and Porto Rico can be dealt with by our ordinary methods of administration and of appointment to office is to live in a fool's paradise. Only a blind national pride can believe for a moment that the average American politician or office-seeker can deal with the situation any better than the Spanish political heelers have done. In fact, the American, with his ignorance of the language and customs and his contempt for “dagoes” and “niggers,” will be even less qualified for the task. A repetition in the West Indies of the mistake of Jefferson, who committed the French and Spanish population of Louisiana to the government of Claiborne and Wilkinson, men grossly ignorant of their language, customs, institutions, and history, will make our rule less tolerable than that of Spain. A repetition in the Philippines of the government of Alaska or of South Carolina in 1869, would be a world-wide scandal, and bring more disgrace on the American name than all the fraud, stealing, and murder of the entire Reconstruction period.

As a civilized, progressive, and conscientious people, we must either not attempt the work which has fallen upon our hands, or we must intrust it to the best administrative ability that the country possesses, to men not inferior in natural powers and special training to our leading army and navy officers, who will, like these officers, enjoy permanence of tenure, the social distinction of an honored profession, and the privilege of retiring after their term of service on an [163] allowance adequate to their comfortable support.

The nucleus for such a body of officials will naturally be found in the regular army, and for the transition work of establishing order and restoring confidence they are fitted by their professional experience and discipline. But a permanent military government is alien to our ideas and should be established only as a final resort. The education of a soldier does not prepare him for civil administration. The military mind is arbitrary and unconciliatory; it is disposed to crush rather than to win; it holds life cheap. In brief, its ideals and standards are those engendered by war and its necessities.

What, then, should be the nature of the special training required of candidates for administrative positions in our dependencies? In thoroughness and extent, it should not be less than that demanded of our own lawyers and physicians. This means two or three years of distinctively professional training resting on the solid foundation of a regular course of study in a college or scientific school. Starting from the same general level of preparation as the student of law or medicine, the colonial civil service candidate should devote himself to the following groups of studies: Geography and ethnology, history, economics and law, languages, religions, and folk psychology.

The work in geography should cover the physical features, climate, plants, and economic resources of our dependencies, and the principles of tropical hygiene. Under the head of ethnology, the elements of the comparative study of the races of man would be followed by a more thorough examination of the peoples of eastern Asia and Polynesia. The next group would deal with the history of the relations of Europeans with the East, and, in particular, with the history of the colonial systems of England, France, Holland, and Spain; with the tariffs and financial systems; and, finally, with the principles of administration, including the study of the civil law as developed in the Spanish codes, Mohammedan law, and the legal customs of the native tribes. Between customs and religions the dividing line is really invisible, and this branch of the work may just as well be included under the general head of folk psychology. By this somewhat unfamiliar name we mean the study of the outfit of ideas, moral, religious, social, and philosophical, which any well-differentiated human group inherits from its ancestors and passes over to its posterity. Into this mental world in which they live he must enter who wishes to stand on common ground with any alien race. In no other way can suspicion and hatred be made to give place to sympathy and confidence. The entrance to this strange world, vastly more remote and inaccessible to the average man than the Philippines, is to be found only through the study of language and with the help of a trained scientific imagination. Translations and interpreters, at the best, leave one still outside and merely peering in through a dense and highly refracting medium.

Does all this seem impracticable and Utopian? In proportion as it does, the reader may be sure that he falls short of realizing what we have really undertaken to do. It is no more than England, Holland, France, and Germany are doing for their colonial and diplomatic service. If we do less, we shall take heavy risks that European colonial authorities will have the same contempt for our management that we now have for Spain's. Mr. John Foreman, after an experience in Spain and the Philippines of nearly a quarter of a century, writes: “Of the hundreds of officials that I have known, not one had the most elementary notions of Tagalog or Visaya (the native languages of the Philippine Islands) at the time of their appointment, and not one in fifty took the trouble to learn either language afterwards.” In not one of the Spanish universities is there taught a modern Oriental language, except Arabic, nor was there in 1898 a single chair devoted to colonial problems, nor in the university of Manila was there any opportunity to study the languages and customs of the Philippines. The civil service in the Spanish colonies, like that of the mother-country, was purely a spoils system. No examinations of any kind were required. Offices were the reward of fidelity to the political “caciques” (bosses), and the dangers and discomforts of colonial service were compensated for by the abundant [164] opportunities for “chocolate” (boodle). Not least among the causes of the final collapse of Spain's colonial power was the blight of spoils.

In marked contrast to Spain stands little Holland, with substantially the same problems in the East. Whatever have been the dark sides of the Dutch colonial system, incapacity and venality have not been among them. For the last fifty years the Dutch government has required a definite standard of proficiency for the various grades of the colonial service, to be proved by passing the colonial service examinations or by the attainment of a degree in law. The candidate for the colonial service finds in Holland extensive provision for his instruction. At the University of Leyden there are professors of colonial and Mohammedan law, the Japanese and Chinese languages, of ethnography, and lecturers on the Sunda languages, on Malayan, Persian, and Turkish, on Mohammedan civilization, and religious history. Designed especially for training men for the colonial service is the Indisches Institut at Delft, where there are courses in the administrative and constitutional law of the Netherlands, Indies, the Malayan and Sunda languages, Japanese, ethnology, geography, religious legislation and customary law, the law and institutions of the Dutch Indies, and the Bata, Bali, and Madura languages. This systematic training has borne abundant fruit in the indefatigable activity of the Dutch officials, travellers, and scientific men in the collection of material and the diffusion of knowledge relating to every aspect of their colonial domain, to an extent of which the average American can have no idea. In 1895 a clerk in the Dutch colonial office published a bibliography of the literature of the Netherlands East Indies, covering only the twenty-seven years 1866-1893. This simple list of titles and references fills 400 octavo pages.

Turning to England, France, or Germany, we find, as we might expect, a highly trained colonial service, and university courses of study designed to supply such a training. At Oxford, there are teachers of Hindustani, Persian, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengalese, Turkish, and Chinese, Indian law and Indian history. In Cambridge, nine courses of a practical character are provided for the candidates for the Indian civil service. In London, University College has professors and lecturers on Arabic, Persian, Pali, Hindustani, Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu, and Indian law. Still further provision is made by King's College joining with the University in establishing a separate school of modern Oriental languages in which instruction is given in Burmese, Arabic, Japanese, modern Greek, Chinese, Persian, Russian, Turkish, Armenian, and Swahili. Candidates for the Indian service in their final examination must be examined in the Indian penal code, the language of the province in which they seek appointment, the Indian Evidence Act and the Indian Contract Act, and in any two of the following: Civil procedure, Hindu and Mohammedan law, Sanscrit, Arabic, Persian, and the history of India.

France is not behind England in the effort to obtain highly qualified men to take up the responsibilities of administration in Africa and Asia. In Paris the École Libre des Sciences Politiques, founded in 1874, is designed especially to prepare students for foreign diplomatic service. Its corps of teachers is recruited from the most eminent scholars in France within and without the regular faculties, and the courses embrace administrative law, political economy, finance, commercial geography, commercial law, history, and modern languages. On “colonial questions” alone there are six lecturers. Side by side with this school of politics is the school of modern Oriental languages, a list of whose graduates is annually communicated to the ministers of war, marine, commerce, and foreign affairs. In this institution the course of study extends over three years, and instruction is provided in Arabic, written and colloquial, Persian, Russian, Turkish, Armenian, modern Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Hindustani, Roumanian, Annamese, Malayan, and Malagasy, in the geography, history and legislation of the Far East and of the Mohammedan countries.

Germany, although a late competitor in the field of colonial and commercial expansion, has realized as fully as England and France the importance of trained [165] men in the public service, and the seminary for the study of modern Oriental languages at Berlin is one of the most systematically equipped in the world. The teaching force is made up both of Germans and of Orientals, who teach their native tongues, and includes instructors in Arabic (2), Chinese (2), Japanese (2), Gujarati, Persian, Hindustani, Syrian Arabic, Maroccan Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Turkish (2), Swahili (2), Hausa (2), Russian and modern Greek, in the technique of the natural sciences, the hygiene of the tropics, and tropical botany. The unequalled opportunities in both Berlin and Paris for studying anthropology, ethnology, comparative religions, and all branches of geographical science need not be set forth here.

This brief review of what Holland, England, France, and Germany are doing to obtain trained men for the diplomatic and colonial service cannot fail to impress every thinking reader with the simple fact that we have entered the race for the control and development of the East far behind our rivals and critics in preparation for the work. Vastly superior to Spain in wealth and energy and progressiveness of spirit, and actuated in some measure by philanthropic impulses, we take up our task under a fearful handicap. We lack not only trained men, but the belief that training is necessary. The most ominous feature of the situation is that the controlling element among the advocates of expansion look upon a trained civil service with hostility and contempt. Yet, if our colonial service is sacrificed to party interests as spoils, nothing can be more certain than that we shall take up Spain's work with her methods, and that with such discredited methods we shall fall far short in our colonial administration of the disciplined and intelligent efficiency of the English and Dutch services. The consequence will be humiliation for ourselves and irritation and discontent among our dependents.

Yet, supposing that the seriousness and perplexity of the problems of government in our new dependencies should convince our authorities of the need of highly trained men, where can they be found? Pending the organization of a regular system of preparation, the first resort should be to men of successful diplomatic experience in Spanish-speaking countries and in the Orient. A knowledge of Spanish should be insisted upon at the earliest practicable moment for every official in the West Indies and the Philippines. The events of 1898 have already given such an impulse to the study of Spanish at our colleges that before long this requirement will be as practicable as it is reasonable. For service in the Philippines a certain number of men of the highest character and thorough knowledge, and familiar with Oriental life and thought, could be recruited from the ranks of our missionaries in Asia. Suitable instruction for candidates for a colonial service in such subjects as Oriental history, colonial problems, administrative law, civil law, comparative religions, ethnology, anthropology, and folk psychology could be supplied to-day in no small degree at several of our universities. The facilities at these institutions and at others would be enlarged and adjusted in prompt response to a specific demand. In fact, in a surprisingly short time it would be entirely practicable for our government to have as candidates for appointment for the colonial service men as thoroughly equipped for intelligent and efficient administration as those at the disposal of England, France, Holland, and Germany. As I have just said, the most serious difficulty will not be to get the right kind of men, but to educate public opinion to demand trained men for such work. This will require resolute, persistent, and intelligent agitation, and the energetic diffusion of knowledge in regard to the nature of our task and the ways of dealing with it. In this direction a good beginning has already been made in the despatch of the Philippine Commission, and in the appointment of committees by the American Historical Association and the American Economic Association to collect information. Much may be hoped from both these committees in the way of extending our knowledge of every phase of the expansion of Europe in the nineteenth century. In the light of this knowledge, an intelligent and well-directed public opinion may guide and control the expansion of America in the twentieth century.


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