Friday Prof. Henry E. Bourne of the Western Reserve University, of Cleveland, Ohio, read a very able paper on "Methods of Colonial Administration" before the Michigan Political Association in Tappan hall. No excerpts from the carefully prepared paper can do it full justice.
Prof. Bourne traced a wide distinction between the purchase of Louisiana territory and lands already occupied by an alien or barbarous population, where there would necessarily be a struggle for race supremacy. He instanced the poor success that France has had in changing the semi-barbarous civilization of Algiers.
In speaking of tropical colonial government, he showed that it must be government from a distance until medical science makes it possible for Europeans to live continuously in a tropical climate and bring up their children to a vigorous manhood there. The natives are not scattered tribes, but peoples, or even nations, with a widely different civilization, the growth of centuries. It would be as difficult to transform a Malay into an American as an American into a Malay. The controlling power must seek to adjust its rule with the minimum of shock to the existing order and then build a better social order.
He bore down -heavily on France's colonial administration. A country which England opens to civilization is so much territory given to the trade of the world, but France seeks to colonize for her own exclusive profit, by tariff and trade regulations forcing the people to buy only French manufactures and adding oppressive forms to taxation to those already existing. He traced the history of colonies where the natives were enslaved and forced to work for the revenue of the government.
The colonizing power must choose between a direct government and a protectorate. But a direct government may be carried on in the spirit of a protectorate. The United States could not establish a protectorate in the Philippines. The sovereignty recognized in the Philippines was Spanish. When that sovereignty disappeared, there was nothing to protect unless it might be an improvised republic. Nevertheless, the United States might work through native local authorities and scrupulously respect native institutions and prejudices. No European government which has assumed control in the tropics recently has ventured to dispense with the local officials wholly and substitute for them functionaries sent from home. There should be some better disposition made of office seekers than to send them far from the restraints of public opinion to experiment with some of the most delicate problems of administration that the world now affords
As important as is the organization of the government is the selection of capable men to fill positions. The Dutch could not have succeeded in Java had their officers been selected because of some special skill in keeping party fences at home in repair. The Spaniards failed. Their officials were not only corrupt, but ignorant of the language of the natives. England will not put up with inefficiency, because it is bad politics to insist on the appointment of trained men.