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The Story of Russia

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When we think of our country, we feel proud of it for other and better reasons than its great size. We know how its extent compares with that of other nations; we know that the United States covers an area almost equal to that of Europe, and, more favored than that Grand Division, is situated on the two great highways of commerce, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Europe is as far from the latter, as Asia is from the former; and these highways, powerful means toward creating prosperity, remain at the same time barriers whereby nations that find greater delight in the arts of war than in those of peace, are restrained from disturbing our national progress.

At the beginning of this twentieth century the nations upon which depends the world's peace or war, happiness or misfortune, are the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, Japan, and in the near future China. Here we see that Europe, although little larger in area than the United States, is represented by seven nations, Asia by two, and the Western Hemisphere by one which by its institutions stands for peace and progress, for law and order. Hence we, its citizens, are known all over the world as Americans.

If we compare the area occupied by the several European powers with that covered by the main body of our republic, that is, not including Alaska and other outlying territories, we find that Austria-Hungary has four thousand square miles less than Texas, while Germany lacks forty thousand square miles in comparison with the Lone Star State. France is four thousand square miles less than Germany, and Italy is only a thousand square miles greater than Nevada. The British Kingdom in Europe is about twice the area of Illinois. Among the great nations of the world, aside from outlying possessions beyond the Grand Division, our country stands third, and should occupy the second place, because China, the next larger, owes its greater area to territories over which she has little or no control, and which she seems destined to lose.

The largest country is Russia, covering as it does one-sixth of all the land on the earth. This empire, although inhabited by people differing in race, religion, and customs, is one compact whole. It embraces in Europe 2,113,000 square miles, or more than all other European nations combined; its area in Asia is 6,672,000 square miles, making a total of 8,785,000 square miles, or 2.8 times as many as the main body of our country. All the people living in this immense empire, whatever their race, religion, or language, obey the will of one man. We, who dwell in our beloved country, yield obedience only to the Law; but the laws are made by ourselves, and they allow us to do as we please, so long as we do not interfere with others who have the same rights; and those laws are ever ready to protect us. In Russia laws are made or unmade at the will of one person who is himself above the laws. Every man, woman, or child, born and living in that country, is at his mercy....