Had the Chinese Colonized America
Franklin Hiram King, in 1911 tome, Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan (originally titled Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan), writes:
- Had the Mongolian races spread to and developed in North America instead of, or as well as, in eastern Asia, there might have been a Grand Canal..., from the Rio Grande to the mouth of the Ohio river and from the Mississippi to Chesapeake Bay, constituting more than two thousand miles of inland water-way, serving commerce, holding up and redistributing both the run-off water and the wasting fertility of soil erosion, spreading them over 200,000 square miles of thoroughly canalized coastal plains, so many of which are now impoverished lands, made so by the intolerable waste of a vaunted civilization. And who shall venture to enumerate the increase in the tonnage of sugar, bales of cotton, sacks of rice, boxes of oranges, baskets of peaches, and in the trainloads of cabbage, tomatoes and celery such husbanding would make possible through all time; or number the increased millions these could feed and clothe? We may prohibit the exportation of our phosphorus, grind our limestone, and apply them to our fields, but this alone is only temporizing with the future. The more we produce, the more numerous our millions, the faster must present practices speed the waste to the sea, from whence neither money nor prayer can call them back.
If the United States is to endure; if we shall project our history even through four or five thousand years as the Mongolian nations have done, and if that history shall be written in continuous peace, free from periods of wide-spread famine or pestilence, this nation must orient itself; it must square its practices with a conservation of resources which can make endurance possible. Intensifying cultural methods but intensifies the digestion, assimilation and exhaustion of the surface soil, from which life springs. Multiple cropping, closer stands on the ground and stronger growth, all mean the transpiration of much more water per acre through the crops, and this can only be rendered possible through a redistribution of the run-off and the adoption of irrigation practices in humid climates where water exists in abundance. Sooner or later we must adopt a national policy which shall more completely conserve our water resources, utilizing them not only for power and transportation, but primarily for the maintenance of soil fertility and greater crop production through supplemental irrigation, and all these great national interests should be considered collectively, broadly, and with a view to the fullest and best possible coordination. China, Korea and Japan long ago struck the keynote of permanent agriculture but the time has now come when they can and will make great improvements, and it remains for us and other nations to profit by their experience, to adopt and adapt what is good in their practice and help in a world movement for the introduction of new and improved methods.
In selecting rice as their staple crop; in developing and maintaining their systems of combined irrigation and drainage, notwithstanding they have a large summer rainfall; in their systems of multiple cropping; in their extensive and persistent use of legumes; in their rotations for green manure to maintain the humus of their soils and for composting; and in the almost religious fidelity with which they have returned to their fields every form of waste which can replace plant food removed by the crops, these nations have demonstrated a grasp of essentials and of fundamental principles which may well cause western nations to pause and reflect.