[Editor: This article by Oswald P. Law and W. T. Gill was published in The Nineteenth Century and After (London, England), Vol. 55 No. 323, January 1904.]
A White Australia: What it means
To the mind of Australians it is abundantly clear that the significance of the reasons which led them to adopt their national watchword, ‘A White Australia for the Race,’ has not yet been fully grasped by their brothers of the blood beyond the seas. The Press of Great Britain seems unable to sympathise with the vehemence of Antipodean feeling in this regard, and her statesmen — with some notable exceptions — profess amazement at what they consider the arrogance of a handful of white men, most of whom are clustered on the eastern fringe of a vast and partially-explored continent, in attempting to stem the tide of foreign immigration, which until a comparatively recent period was allowed to flow freely towards their shores.
In Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, both the people and their Parliaments are united in regarding the policy of excluding undesirable aliens as one of more vital importance than the settlement of the tariff or any other national question. Come what may, they are determined to realise the ideals on which the Commonwealth was founded, to prevent any large infiltration of alien elements into the component parts of their national life, and to preserve pure for ever the British stock with which they started.
This is no sudden furore, no mere party cry. From the sun-baked expanse of the Northern Territory to Tasmania, ‘The Garden of the South,’ across the continent from Sydney to Perth, round a coast line of 8,000 miles, and over a thousand miles of the South Pacific to the snow-capped mountains of New Zealand, comes the voice of a new nation — insignificant in point of numbers, but unalterably resolved that the Commonwealth shall be established on the firm basis of unity of race, so as to enable it to fulfil the designs of its founders — ‘stern men with empire in their brains’ — and enjoy to the fullest extent their charter of liberty under the Crown.
Australians are so fully alive to the imperious necessity of increasing the number of their populations, that they spare no efforts to attract desirable emigrants from European countries. To every man whose standard of living and general social tone are not inferior to their own, they freely offer of their best. Land is sold or leased on generous terms, and bonuses will be given to encourage the promotion of new industries. Practically, but one condition is imposed — the new arrivals must not be markedly inferior in morale to the present possessors, who regard themselves merely as holding a distant outpost of civilisation for the benefit of their descendants and their equals.
Australia occupies a unique position among the nations. It is an island, lying far from the populated centres of the Old World and in close proximity to Java and the teeming millions of Southern and Eastern Asia, who at any time may bear down in flood upon the scanty forces of the defenders. These pent-up myriads are at present in a state of unrest, and there are evidences of a distinct inclination on their part to break bounds and descend upon the coasts of the great southern land. On the north-eastern shores of the continent they have already broken through the thin red line of the British, and have firmly established themselves in the country beyond. Thursday Island, which stands at the northern entrance of the passage between the Great Barrier Reef and the shores of Queensland, has been styled the Gibraltar of Australia, and large sums of money have been spent by the Imperial and Australian Governments in fortifying it. Since it became open to the Eastern nations, the Japanese have discovered twenty different channels through the reef, by any one of which they could avoid the forts and gain an entrance to the sea within the barrier. A few years ago there were 2000 Europeans on Thursday Island, engaged in the pearl-shelling industry; but they were gradually elbowed out until to-day they number less than 100.
The late Professor C. H. Pearson, at one time Minister for Education in Victoria, and one of the most intellectual statesmen who ever resided in Australia, in his National Life and Character, admirably summarised the dangers to which his adopted country was exposed by reason of its situation, and the motives which actuated the various colonial Governments in passing enactments designed to place some restriction on the wholesale flooding of their territories.
The fear of Chinese immigration which the Australian democracy cherishes, and which Englishmen at home find it hard to understand, is, in fact, the instinct of self-preservation, quickened by experience. We know that coloured and white labour cannot exist side by side; we are well aware that China can swamp us with a single year’s surplus of population; and we know that if national existence is sacrificed to the working of a few mines and sugar plantations, it is not the Englishmen in Australia alone, but the whole civilised world that will be the losers. Transform the northern half of our continent into a Natal, with thirteen out of fourteen belonging to an inferior race, and the southern half will speedily approximate to the condition of the Cape Colony, where the whites are indeed a masterful minority, but still only as one in four. We are guarding the last part of the world in which the higher races can live and increase freely for the higher civilisation. It is idle to say that if all this should come to pass our pride of place will not be humiliated. We are struggling among ourselves for supremacy in a world which we thought as destined to belong to the Aryan race and to the Christian faith, to the letters and arts and charm of social manners which we have inherited from the best times of the past. We shall wake to find ourselves elbowed and hustled, and perhaps even thrust aside by peoples whom we looked down upon as servile and thought of as bound always to minister to our needs.
If it were necessary to reinforce this impressive warning by drawing a lesson from the past, it might be shown that Australia is not the first instance on record of a Mongolian irruption. Once before — in prehistoric times, if the theories of craniologists are to be trusted — the yellow peoples overflowed their boundaries and never stopped until they reached the western shores of Ireland, leaving many a grave and grassy barrow of their dead in the British Isles to attest how irresistible was their onset. Ab uno disce omnes.
According to the last census, the population of the six Federated States of Australia — including aborigines — is 3,771,715, of whom only 1,307,809 are males over fifteen years of age, so that barely one million have reached manhood’s estate. The same statistics show that there are 33,231 Chinese resident in the Commonwealth, in addition to many thousands of Japanese, Kanakas, Javanese, Cingalese, Malays, and a motley horde of other coloured races, the total being estimated at 100,000. New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, being the regions lying nearest the invaders, have suffered most severely from their irruption, Queensland alone showing an increase of over seven thousand since the last census. Exclusive of aborigines, the yellow and brown races constitute 10.95 per thousand of the population of New South Wales and 47.59 per thousand in Queensland, while in the Northern Territory they have more than gained a footing; they are in an absolute majority. The Chinese influx into Victoria reached its maximum in 1859, when they numbered 45,000; since that year they have gradually diminished to about 7000. These 45,000, however, did not leave Australia. The greater part of them lived their lives out among the whites and died beneath the Southern Cross, leaving behind them their dry bones for transhipment to China, and a tribe of hybrid descendants.
Under favourable conditions, the future Australian race should be a blend of the four constituents which make up the population of Great Britain, and it may be that in two or three generations hence it will be difficult to find under the Southern Cross anyone of pure English or Scottish descent whose family has been a hundred years on Australian soil. There is much intermarriage between the different British elements, and this is leading rapidly to the welding of the various colonists and their descendants into a homogeneous whole. A small German element, more noticeable in South Australia and Queensland than in the other States, may be disregarded, as it is being absorbed and soon will leave no trace of its existence beyond a few Teutonic surnames rudely anglicised.
At home much the same process of assimilation is going on, but with one important difference. Her position and climate render Australia peculiarly liable to be made the resort of coloured people of low morality and social development — ‘vacant of our glorious gains’; on the other hand, England’s position and climate make such a disaster not only unlikely but really impossible. It is true that in the vicinity of the docks a Londoner may see a few Lascars — ‘Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreath’d’ — and occasionally a Chinaman or an African negro; to an Australian, whether on city street, goldfield, or station, they are a daily sight. Chinese market-gardeners and hawkers with pack and swinging baskets, swarthy Afghan and Hindoo peddlers, or diminutive Japanese meet him at every turn. Hardly less familiar to him is the sight of the snaky hair, pallid features, and almond eyes of the Chinese half-breed.
Speaking generally, the coloured aliens are inferior to the whites in physique and morals and low in the social scale. It is important to note that they are nearly all male adults, less than one per cent. of them being married to women of their own race. The inevitable result has occurred: the higher race has begun to deteriorate and in parts to disappear. This tendency to degeneration which always accompanies an intermingling of races widely separated in the social scale — ‘Reversion ever dragging Evolution in the mud’ — has been most strongly marked in the northern portion of Queensland, where it is not uncommon to find in the State schools as many children of half-yellow or half-brown complexions as of white. But although a polyglot population is more numerous in Queensland than in any other State of the Commonwealth, the Asiatic canker-spot makes its appearance everywhere. Scourges such as small-pox, bubonic plague, and leprosy have been introduced, and Europeans have been familiarised with the debasing effects of opium-smoking and other vices peculiar to the East; while the lunatic asylums, gaols, and charitable institutions contain a large percentage of aliens, who become a charge on the public purse and contribute little or nothing to the national revenue.
The States of Australia entertain no shadow of doubt that the effect of the Asiatic influx is to impair seriously the purity of the dominant race, and it is this which aroused them, even before Federation, to adopt legislation of a stringently restrictive cast. Dispassionately viewed, what has been called the insularity of the Australians is thus the outcome of a patriotic desire to secure their race from contamination and to preserve the country for a stock substantially the same as that from which they sprang.
Desirable immigrants are not subjected to any test, and the only people at whom restrictive enactments are aimed are those who are not fit to constitute the life-blood of the best nations. The Chinese and Japanese who arrive belong to the lower classes, and are the least educated and least informed of their own countrymen. It is not the highly cultured who come; the number of the latter could be counted on the fingers of both hands.
The expressed aim of Australians is to preserve ‘the crimson thread of kinship,’ and build up a nation which will be a source of strength to the Empire of which they form a part; to see it become the home of a free people, not the abode of a people on whom the franchise could not be conferred; and to keep the blood-tie pure.
‘Our aspiration,’ exclaimed one of the Commonwealth representatives, ‘is to be free for all time from the contamination and degrading influences of inferior races.’ Australia, in effect, is engaged in a struggle for a higher and a fuller life, and has determined that she will not suffer any black or tinted race to come in and block the path of progress. Her ambition is to rear a strong and stalwart people, and to better the lot of the masses, who are at the base of every social structure, by making the conditions of life as good as possible.
‘Better,’ said a potent voice in her first national Parliament, ‘better to leave our resources undeveloped than develop them by coloured labour, which is only cheap because of the lower conditions of life accepted by labourers who degrade the social tone of the whole community.’
There is no selfishness in endeavouring to preserve Australia as a heritage for the white races — not exclusively, be it remembered, for the Anglo-Saxon race — unless it be the selfishness of patriotism, since it aims at nothing which has not a place in the creeds of the greatest of Englishmen. It is a policy dictated by common-sense and prudence, and based on the best interests of humanity. But, by reason of time and place, the mode of expression is different, and thus it is that many who have no knowledge of the Empire beyond the Southern Counties of England fail to understand why the Australians, like their forebears of the North, strive mightily for a
pale and white-fac’d shore,
Whose foot spurns back the ocean’s roaring tides
And coops from other lands her islanders.
The Greater Britain that is to be may be the best security for the Mother Land in years to come, and her natural ally and friend. Australian statesmen claim that they are not only safeguarding British interests, but also legislating for posterity and looking forward to the time — perhaps a century hence — when the population of the Commonwealth may be one hundred millions or even more.
We are in a position [said Sir William McMillan, one of the Federal representatives of New South Wales] between the two great English-speaking peoples of the world, and we have a Western origin with an Eastern destiny. It is absolutely necessary for the freedom of England — for the upholding of the British flag in the Pacific, and for the future power of the English-speaking people — that we should keep this fortress in the Pacific true to the British race. Is not this country open to the surplus millions of Great Britain and Ireland? We do not desire to exclude any man of European origin. We are holding this continent for the possession of millions of English people in the future.
Another speaker — a Victorian — summed up Australian hopes and fears in these eloquent words:
We have not entered into this magnificent Commonwealth, received this unexampled Constitution, and gone to all the expense, trouble, and labour of erecting this splendid establishment, in order to allow inferior races to come in, and not only share our prosperity against our will, but ultimately, perhaps, to destroy it. …. It is not because these aliens are black, or because they are Japanese, that we exclude them; but because, being black or Japanese, they are by nature and environment so imbued with certain qualities and characteristics that their presence here would be incongruous with our civilisation and detrimental to our development.
At the present time the Australian race is in a plastic condition, and whether it will become, as Marcus Clarke predicted, ‘a fierce and turbulent democracy, sweeping contemporary civilisation before it,’ or, as seems more probable, a practical and enlightened people, troubles it little.
Leaders and followers of every political cast, Conservatives, Liberals, and Radicals, have now but one national ideal — Purity of Race. They recognise that hybrids cannot make a great nation; that an infusion of Chinese, Japanese, or Indo-Chinese blood must result in race deterioration; and that, if they are to live happily and prosperously, it must be with no strangers within their gates other than those of Caucasian descent who are able to conform to the conditions and customs of civilised communities. For all such Australia has ample room and verge enough, but she refuses to welcome races that are incapable of assimilation and alien in language and aspiration.
The teachings of the past and the experience of other lands have not been lost upon her statesmen; they desire to avoid the racial hatred and troubles of the United States, where the presence of 13,000,000 of Afra-Americans constitutes a problem which baffles the acutest intellects of that great nation; and they are determined that their country shall neither be degraded to the level of some of the South American republics, where the cross-breeding of Spaniards and Indians has resulted so disastrously to the higher race, nor made the theatre of a conflict for supremacy between two or more nationalities.
It is not simply a question of colour; it is a question of difference of civilisation; it is not so much the protection of wages that is sought — though the economic danger is undoubtedly a grave one — as the protection of blood and the preservation of society. As far back as 1888, the late Sir Henry Parkes, then Premier of New South Wales, in moving the second reading of the Chinese Restriction Act, declared that a young country could not maintain the fabric of its liberties unimpaired if it admitted into its population any class of person whatever ‘whom we are not prepared to advance to all our franchises, to all our privileges of citizens, and all our social rights, including the rights of marriage’; and there can be no question that in using these last words he laid his finger on the principal seat of the disease.
Western institutions, especially that of Parliamentary representation, are absolutely foreign to Asiatics, and marriage — in the true sense — is equally impossible. The issue of such unions are hybrids, and the Spanish-American republics and certain parts of Australia afford melancholy proof that hybrids reproduce the vices of both parents and the virtues of neither. Coloured aliens rarely bring their women with them, but consorting with white females beget the most undesirable class a country can have. From Thursday Island to Townsville, there is not a port in which cannot be found people in whose veins runs a mixture of Caucasian, Hindoo, Chinese, Japanese, Javanese, Kanaka, and Malayan blood. Their immediate forefathers were men each of a different race; their mothers women of cloudy descent; themselves degenerates in intellect and morals, and their presence on Australian soil a source of constant irritation to the higher race.
Nor is this all. Half-bred Chinese, the offspring of a Chinese father and a British mother, are to be met with throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and, though they are in general people of some intelligence, they are either contemptuously ignored by the white population, or treated with open contumely. From inclination or stress of circumstances, they almost invariably live apart from the Europeans in their own quarter, which, in the towns is usually called ‘Chinatown’ and on the goldfields ‘the Chinese Camp.’ In Sydney whole streets have had to be abandoned to the Chinese and the half-breeds, or ‘half-castes’ as the latter are usually styled by the populace, and the slums of Little Bourke Street and other parts of Melbourne have an evil reputation only rivalled by the Chinatown of San Francisco, where 50,000 yellow men seethe in a hotbed of vice and squalor.
It was the knowledge of these facts, and that the efforts of the individual States to shut out undesirable immigrants had proved ineffective owing to lack of unity in action, that gave such a powerful impetus to Federation and caused a universal determination to preserve the purity and maintain the predominance of the white races in Australia.
In thus seeking to establish what may be called the Monroe doctrine of the Commonwealth, Australia is not, either in letter or spirit, exceeding her international rights or the scope of the Constitution recently conferred upon her by the Imperial Parliament. Like any other State, she has the inherent power, as a precautionary measure against social evils, of excluding convicts, paupers, and other undesirable immigrants; provided, of course, that such a power is not exercised beyond the requirements of vital necessity.
The Constitution expressly gave the Federated States the right to legislate in regard to the people of any race — other than the aboriginal race in any State — for whom it might be deemed necessary to make special laws. In this respect, therefore, the new nation is free to work out her own salvation, largely in her own way. But, although left thus unfettered, Australia has been careful not to add to the already vast responsibilities of the unweary Titan. She is fully aware of the difficult and delicate nature of legislation which affects millions of dark-skinned races, some of whom are the subjects and others the allies of Great Britain, and fortunately she was aided by the advice of Mr. Chamberlain, than whom there never was a Minister in charge of the Colonial Office more keenly alive to the perplexities which surround colonial statesmen, or one more genuinely sympathetic with the aspirations of Greater Britain. Thanks partly to the guidance of that ‘lidless watcher of the commonweal,’ and partly to the saving common-sense which usually prevails in a British Legislature, the daughter-State was enabled to steer a middle course. After careful deliberation and animated debate the Federal Parliament, in accordance with Mr. Chamberlain’s suggestion, passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, which after being two years in operation has been found to work satisfactorily. Instead of absolutely excluding aliens on the ground of race or colour, an educational test — the cloak under which modern laws regulating the admission of aliens are commonly hidden — was adopted as a means of disqualification.
It may be observed in passing that a similar provision had previously existed in the immigration laws of Natal, New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, and other parts of the British dominions beyond the seas, and that Alien Restriction Acts of various kinds are to be found in the Imperial statute-book since the reign of Richard the Second down to comparatively modern times. By these means Australia attained the end she had in view without giving offence to other nations. So smoothly, indeed, has the Commonwealth legislation worked that on the 30th of October last, when the Prime Minister, the Hon. Alfred Deakin, reviewed the work of the session which had then just closed and outlined the future policy of the Federal Government, he was able to show that the alien population of the continent was being steadily reduced. During the first nine months of 1903 upwards of 31,000 persons entered Australia from oversea, and of these 28,000 were Europeans. Of the remainder, many coloured persons came in under engagement on pearling vessels, but under such conditions that, practically speaking, they never really entered the country. Out of 2571 others who endeavoured to enter Australia, only ten were found to possess the necessary educational qualification. In practice, however, the test is not very much applied, for the obvious reason that shipowners, knowing they would have to re-convey undesirable immigrants at their own cost, usually stop them at the port of intended shipment.
‘By these means,’ Mr. Deakin added, ‘it is to be hoped that we shall soon be able to count on our fingers the coloured aliens in this country, if the test is properly applied.’ The Prime Minister, moreover, emphatically declared that, notwithstanding all representations to the contrary, not a single European had been excluded from Australian soil through the instrumentality of the immigration laws. ‘The fact remains — and cannot be denied, that although the contract labour clause is in existence, there is no human being on this planet who has been shut out of Australia in consequence.’
But although much has been accomplished, much abides. A humane statute has purged the general weal, and Australia for the time being reposes from the fear of a coloured invasion, but she has yet to set her house in order. The racial taint in her blood has to be eradicated, and there is at least one stain on the escutcheon of her fame for which she cannot be held wholly guiltless. The traffic in South Sea Island labour must be stopped. It matters not that the sugar industry is of the greatest importance, not only to Queensland but to the whole continent; that Government legislation, supervision, and regulation have reduced the evils incident to such a traffic almost to vanishing point; that the islanders are so well fed, housed, and paid that they frequently return to renew the term of their original contracts (three years), the moral and social effect of the institution is bad, and Australia has decided that it must and shall be ended. By the Pacific Island Labourers Act, 1901, it is provided that no fresh importation of black labour shall take place after the 3lst of March, 1904, and that any islanders found in Australia after the 3lst of December, 1906, shall be returned to their own homes. When that day arrives, Australia will have taken a second step towards the realisation of her great national ideal — purity of race and the preservation of Greater Britain for the Anglo-Saxon stock.
Oswald P. Law.
W. T. Gill.
1 Coghlan, Government Statist, New South Wales, 1901-2.
2 Professor Harrison Moore, The Commonwealth of Australia, p. 144.
The Nineteenth Century and After (London, England), Vol. 55 No. 323, January 1904, pp. 146-154
The quote beginning with “pale and white-fac’d shore” is taken from Shakespeare’s play The Life and Death of King John.
“Together with that pale, that white-faced shore,
Whose foot spurns back the ocean’s roaring tides
And coops from other lands her islanders”
See: “The Life and Death of King John”, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
ab uno disce omnes = (Latin) from one, learn all; the meaning of the phrase is that from a single instance, one can learn the nature of the whole, or of a type, i.e. from one instance of a situation you may judge the rest, or infer that the same action, outcome, or principle may apply to all other instances from the same area or source (or may apply to a significant number or proportion thereof); to reach a general conclusion based upon a single instance or observation; to extrapolate a general conclusion from a single instance, or from a limited number of instances (the phrase comes from the Aeneid, Book 2 (lines 65-66), by Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70 BC – 19 BC)
See: “P. Vergili Maronis Aeneidos Liber Secvndvs”, The Latin Library
Afra-American = African-American, Afro-American (people in America of black African ethnic origin)
alive = aware of, having knowledge of, interested in, seized with a recognition of something’s importance; active, alert, animated, full of emotion; active, busy, exciting
anglicised = assimilated or merged into an Anglo population or environment; changing of names or words so that they sound like they are a part of, similar to, or compatible with, the English language or a British-dominated culture (or with a culture of British origin)
Antipodean = of or relating to Australia or New Zealand; normally used by Europeans to refer to Australians or New Zealanders, or items from those two countries, however, the term is also used by the inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand to refer to themselves (“antipodean” also refers to two things that are direct opposites, including two places or areas which are on opposite sides of the world; hence the origin of its usage regarding Australasia)
Aryan = of or relating to the white race, the Caucasian race, the Nordic peoples, the Indo-European peoples; in Australian history, a generic term for white people; in National Socialist Germany, a term for white people (or Nordic people), excluding people of Jewish ethnicity or background; of, or relating to, the Indo-European family of languages; of, or relating to, the ancient Aryan people (the conquerors of India, ca. 2000 BC)
bound = boundary or limit, especially of an area (usually used as a plural, “bounds”: boundaries, limits); the boundary of a country, province, state, territory, field, estate; a line or area which is a boundary or forms a boundary; something which confines, limits, or restrains (e.g. the bounds of morality)
Cape Colony = a British colony in southern Africa, named after the Cape of Good Hope; originally a Dutch colony, then a British colony, now the country of South Africa
Cingalese = of, or relating to, Ceylon; a resident of Ceylon; someone from Ceylon; someone who is a part of the native (aboriginal) population of Ceylon
contumely = rude, harsh, or haughty language or treatment arising from arrogance or contempt; or, an arrogant, insolent, or rude act, remark or treatment
coop = keep, confine, contain, encage, enclose, hold; a cage, enclosure, or pen used to confine or house poultry or other small animals (especially known as a “chicken coop”); to confine or keep in a small or restricted area
See: Edward Smedley et al (editors), Encyclopædia Metropolitana; or, Universal Dictionary of Knowledge, Vol. XVII, London: B. Fellowes et al, 1845, p. 230
escutcheon = a coat of arms; an area, especially a shield or a shield-shaped area, upon which are displayed armorial bearings or a coat of arms; a person’s character or reputation (can also refer to an escutcheon plate, being a plate or shield surrounding an item such as a door handle, keyhole, light switch, etc., used to protect the underlying surface or as an ornamental decoration)
fac’d = (vernacular) faced
Greater Britain = the British empire; Britain and the British Dominions (Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa), as well as the British dependencies and territories (including the Channel Islands, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland); (rare) Great Britain
half-breed = someone whose parents are of different racial backgrounds; someone of mixed racial descent
half-caste = someone whose parents are of different racial backgrounds; someone of mixed racial descent
Hindoo = an archaic spelling of “Hindu” (a follower of the religion of Hinduism)
home = in an historical Australian context, Great Britain; may also refer to England specifically
irruption = an intrusion (especially a violent intrusion); an invasion; a forced entry, breaking into, bursting in, a violent entry (especially a sudden event); a sudden increase of population
Kanaka = a Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in various countries, such as Australia (especially in Queensland), British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; in Australia the kanakas were mostly used on the sugar plantations and cotton plantations in Queensland; some kanakas were taken by unscrupulous “recruiters” into virtual slavery (a practice known as “blackbirding”), by kidnapping, being lured with false promises, or being signed up under contracts which were of dubious value (the word “kanaka” derives from the Hawaiian word for “person” or “man”)
Lascar = an artilleryman, militiaman, sailor, or army officer’s servant, primarily regarding men hired by British employers from India, but also used to refer to men hired from countries in or near to the Indian subcontinent (“lascar” is derived from the Hindi and Urdu word “lashkar”, meaning “army”)
Monroe doctrine = an American policy designed to stop European colonialism in the Americas; the doctrine, formulated by US President James Monroe, declared that the Americas were to be regarded as a US sphere of influence, and that any attempts by European powers to seize control of any countries in the Americas would be regarded as an unfriendly action against the interests of the USA
myriad = an immense number of people, things, or elements (an extremely great, huge, or large number; countless, an innumerable multitude); ten thousand (from the Greek “myrias”, meaning “ten thousand”)
Natal = a British colony in south-east Africa, created in 1843 when the British took over the Natalia Republic (1839-1843, a Boer republic)
per cent. = an abbreviation of “per centum” (Latin, meaning “by a hundred”), i.e. an amount, number, or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100; also rendered as “per cent” (without a full stop), “percent”, “pct”, “pc”, “p/c”, or “%” (per cent sign)
plastic = flexible, malleable, shapeable, a solid although malleable substance; a synthetic substance, created from a range of processed materials, which is created in a soft and malleable form, but which can be moulded into a variety of fixed shapes or an elastic forms; something which is artificial, fake, or false
polyglot = containing, or consisting of, several languages (e.g. a book which has the same text in several languages), multilingual; well-versed in several languages; someone who can speak or write in several languages; something which is culturally or ethnically which is diverse (e.g. a land or population containing, or consisting of, several ethnic groups)
rude = primitive, raw, or rough, or in an unfinished state or natural condition (distinct from the modern usage of “rude” as someone being discourteous or ill-mannered)
unexampled = without comparable or prior examples, incomparable, without parallel or precedent, something previously unknown
unfettered = unchained, unrestrained, unrestricted, without a fetter (a fetter is a chain, manacle, or shackle placed around a prisoner’s ankle)
weal = well-being, prosperity, or happiness (as used in: the public weal, the general weal, the common weal)
wreath’d = (vernacular) wreathed: encircled, surrounded, covered, or adorned with a wreath (a circular band, commonly made from plaited leaves, flowers, twigs, and/or vines, or represented in a similar manner, e.g. plastic wreaths made to resemble leaves and flowers); encircled, surrounded, covered, or adorned in a manner similar to, or perceived to be reminiscent of, a wreath; to use a wreath, e.g. to place a wreath on a grave
[Editor: Added square brackets to the footnote numbers in the main text, so as to distinguish them from the general text.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]