Generally prevailing opinion has regarded the conflict of interests of classes, nations, and races as due solely to the personal faults or human depravity of the opponents. Such belief in depraved human nature led logically to the idea and habit of using physical force where interests differed or views crossed. By blows of weapons or by hunger produced from withholding supplies, obstreperous individuals or groups were compelled to change their conduct to suit their opponents, or they were killed and put out of the running altogether. In our day, a more humane idea has gradually modified our view of human depravity. We have come to see that, to a large extent, previous experiences and present conditions breed the feelings, attitudes, and habits of action of the individuals of the community.

Past action of individuals who sought individual gain and advantage has often entailed harmful consequences and hostile attitudes in whole communities. Many persons and families caught in the net of resulting habits are prevented from developing better customs. This is illustrated in American history. The early settlers wanted cheap labor. They imported Africans when indentured servants from Europe could no longer meet their requirements and when Indians succumbed to disease or massacred their masters. They had little, if any, of Jefferson's vision and anxiety for their country when the issue between freedom and slavery could no longer be postponed. The idealist who took the long view of the general welfare and who opposed the system as contrary to the best interests of all, especially after the invention of the cotton gin had made cotton the king, was a voice crying in the wilderness. The multitudes heard, but heeded not. The advantages from exploited labor soothed the qualms of conscience and blurred the vision for the coming days of reckoning. Many individuals and families suffered the consequences, and to-day we are wrestling with the problems which resulted.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, early in the nineteenth century, appealed to the people of America for a peaceful settlement of the slavery issue through the purchase and setting free of the slaves. Benjamin Lundy of Baltimore proposed a system of gradual emancipation as a means of peaceful settlement and a remedy for the evils of the system. The theory of settlement by conflict, however, gained headway. The clash and turmoil of war followed. Nearly a million lives and many billions of dollars, including pensions now being paid, were consumed. Delicate and difficult problems for which the present generation is still seeking a remedy have come down the years as a result of the appeal to force to settle these differences of views and of interests.