From Humorous Hits and How to Hold an Audience, edited by Grenville Kleiser; Funk & Wagnalls; New York and London, 1912; p. 101.
BOUNDING THE UNITED STATES
BY JOHN FISKE
Among the legends of our late Civil War there is a story of a dinner-party, given by the Americans residing in Paris, at which were propounded sundry toasts concerning not so much the past and present as the expected glories of the American nation. In the general character of these toasts, geographical considerations were very prominent, and the principal fact which seemed to occupy the minds of the speakers was the unprecedented bigness of our country.
“Here’s to the United States!” said the first speaker, — “bounded on the north by British America, on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean!” “But,” said the second speaker, “this is far too limited a view of the subject, and, in assigning our boundaries, we must look to the great and glorious future, which is prescribed for us by the manifest destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race. Here’s to the United States! — bounded on the north by the North Pole, on the east by the rising, and on the west by the setting sun!”
Emphatic applause greeted the aspiring prophecy. But here arose the third speaker, a very serious gentleman, from the far West. “If we are going,” said this truly patriotic gentleman, “to lessen the historic past and present, and take our manifest destiny into account, why restrict ourselves within the narrow limits assigned by our fellow countryman who just sat down? I give you the United States! — bounded on the north by the Aurora Borealis, on the south by the precession of the equinoxes, on the east by the primeval chaos, and on the west by the Day of Judgment!