A Straight Deal

Part 1 out of 3





Owen Wister

To Edward and Anna Martin who give help in time of trouble

Chapter I: Concerning One's Letter Box

Publish any sort of conviction related to these morose days through which
we are living and letters will shower upon you like leaves in October. No
matter what your conviction be, it will shake both yeas and nays loose
from various minds where they were hanging ready to fall. Never was a
time when so many brains rustled with hates and panaceas that would sail
wide into the air at the lightest jar. Try it and see. Say that you
believe in God, or do not; say that Democracy is the key to the
millennium, or the survival of the unfittest; that Labor is worse than
the Kaiser, or better; that drink is a demon, or that wine ministers to
the health and the cheer of man--say what you please, and the yeas and
nays will pelt you. So insecurely do the plainest, oldest truths dangle
in a mob of disheveled brains, that it is likely, did you assert twice
two continues to equal four and we had best stick to the multiplication
table, anonymous letters would come to you full of passionate abuse.
Thinking comes hard to all of us. To some it never comes at all, because
their heads lack the machinery. How many of such are there among us, and
how can we find them out before they do us harm? Science has a test for
this. It has been applied to the army recruit, but to the civilian voter
not yet. The voting moron still runs amuck in our Democracy. Our native
American air is infected with alien breath. It is so thick with opinions
that the light is obscured. Will the sane ones eventually prevail and
heal the sick atmosphere? We must at least assume so. Else, how could we
go on?

Chapter II: What the Postman Brought

During the winter of 1915 I came to think that Germany had gone
dangerously but methodically mad, and that the European War vitally
concerned ourselves. This conviction I put in a book. Yeas and nays
pelted me. Time seems to show the yeas had it.

During May, 1918, I thought we made a mistake to hate England. I said so
at the earliest opportunity. Again came the yeas and nays. You shall see
some of these. They are of help. Time has not settled this question. It
is as alive as ever--more alive than ever. What if the Armistice was
premature? What if Germany absorb Russia and join Japan? What if the
League of Nations break like a toy?

Yeas and nays are put here without the consent of their writers, whose
names, of course, do not appear, and who, should they ever see this, are
begged to take no offense. None is intended.

There is no intention except to persuade, if possible, a few readers, at
least, that hatred of England is not wise, is not justified to-day, and
has never been more than partly justified. It is based upon three
foundations fairly distinct yet meeting and merging on occasions: first
and worst, our school histories of the Revolution; second, certain
policies and actions of England since then, generally distorted or
falsified by our politicians; and lastly certain national traits in each
country that the other does not share and which have hitherto produced
perennial personal friction between thousands of English and American
individuals of every station in life. These shall in due time be
illustrated by two sets of anecdotes: one, disclosing the English traits,
the other the American. I say English, and not British, advisedly,
because both the Scotch and the Irish seem to be without those traits
which especially grate upon us and upon which we especially grate. And
now for the letters.

The first is from a soldier, an enlisted man, writing from France.

"Allow me to thank you for your article entitled 'The Ancient Grudge.'
... Like many other young Americans there was instilled in me from early
childhood a feeling of resentment against our democratic cousins across
the Atlantic and I was only too ready to accept as true those stories I
heard of England shirking her duty and hiding behind her colonies, etc.
It was not until I came over here and saw what she was really doing that
my opinion began to change.

"When first my division arrived in France it was brigaded with and
received its initial experience with the British, who proved to us how
little we really knew of the war as it was and that we had yet much to
learn. Soon my opinion began to change and I was regarding England as the
backbone of the Allies. Yet there remained a certain something I could
not forgive them. What it was you know, and have proved to me that it is
not our place to judge and that we have much for which to be thankful to
our great Ally.

"Assuring you that your ... article has succeeded in converting one who
needed conversion badly I beg to remain...."

How many American soldiers in Europe, I wonder, have looked about them,
have used their sensible independent American brains (our very best
characteristic), have left school histories and hearsay behind them and
judged the English for themselves? A good many, it is to be hoped. What
that judgment finally becomes must depend not alone upon the personal
experience of each man. It must also come from that liberality of outlook
which is attained only by getting outside your own place and seeing a lot
of customs and people that differ from your own. A mind thus seasoned and
balanced no longer leaps to an opinion about a whole nation from the
sporadic conduct of individual members of it. It is to be feared that
some of our soldiers may never forget or make allowance for a certain
insult they received in the streets of London. But of this later. The
following sentence is from a letter written by an American sailor:

"I have read... 'The Ancient Grudge' and I wish it could be read by
every man on our big ship as I know it would change a lot of their
attitude toward England. I have argued with lots of them and have shown
some of them where they are wrong but the Catholics and descendants of
Ireland have a different argument and as my education isn't very great, I
know very little about what England did to the Catholics in Ireland."

Ireland I shall discuss later. Ireland is no more our business to-day
than the South was England's business in 1861. That the Irish question
should defeat an understanding between ourselves and England would be, to
quote what a gentleman who is at once a loyal Catholic and a loyal member
of the British Government said to me, "wrecking the ship for a
ha'pennyworth of tar."

The following is selected from the nays, and was written by a business
man. I must not omit to say that the writers of all these letters are
strangers to me.

"As one American citizen to another... permit me to give my personal
view on your subject of 'The Ancient Grudge'...

"To begin with, I think that you start with a false idea of our kinship--
with the idea that America, because she speaks the language of England,
because our laws and customs are to a great extent of the same origin,
because much that is good among us came from there also, is essentially
of English character, bound up in some way with the success or failure of

"Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth. We are a
distinctive race--no more English, nationally, than the present King
George is German--as closely related and as alike as a celluloid comb and
a stick of dynamite.

"We are bound up in the success of America only. The English are bound up
in the success of England only. We are as friendly as rival corporations.
We can unite in a common cause, as we have, but, once that is over, we
will go our own way--which way, owing to the increase of our shipping and
foreign trade, is likely to become more and more antagonistic to

"England has been a commercially unscrupulous nation for generations and
it is idle to throw the blame for this or that act of a nation on an
individual. Such arguments might be kept up indefinitely as regards an
act of any country. A responsible nation must bear the praise or odium
that attaches to any national action. If England has experienced a change
of heart it has occurred since the days of the Boer Republic--as wanton a
steal as Belgium, with even less excuse, and attended with sufficient
brutality for all practical purposes....

"She has done us many an ill turn gratuitously and not a single good turn
that was not dictated by selfish policy or jealousy of others. She has
shown herself, up till yesterday at least, grasping and unscrupulous. She
is no worse than the others probably--possibly even better--but it would
be doing our country an ill turn to persuade its citizens that England
was anything less than an active, dangerous, competitor, especially in
the infancy of our foreign trade. When a business rival gives you the
glad hand and asks fondly after the children, beware lest the ensuing
emotions cost you money.

"No: our distrust for England has not its life and being in pernicious
textbooks. To really believe that would be an insult to our intelligence--
even grudges cannot live without real food. Should England become
helpless tomorrow, our animosity and distrust would die to-morrow,
because we would know that she had it no longer in her power to injure
us. Therein lies the feeling--the textbooks merely echo it....

"In my opinion, a navy somewhat larger than England's would practically
eliminate from America that 'Ancient Grudge' you deplore. It is England's
navy--her boasted and actual control of the seas--which threatens and
irritates every nation on the face of the globe that has maritime
aspirations. She may use it with discretion, as she has for years. It may
even be at times a source of protection to others, as it has--but so long
as it exists as a supreme power it is a constant source of danger and
food for grudges.

"We will never be a free nation until our navy surpasses England's. The
world will never be a free world until the seas and trade routes are free
to all, at all times, and without any menace, however benevolent.

"In conclusion ... allow me to again state that I write as one American
citizen to another with not the slightest desire to say anything that
may be personally obnoxious. My own ancestors were from England. My
personal relations with the Englishmen I have met have been very
pleasant. I can readily believe that there are no better people living,
but I feel so strongly on the subject, nationally--so bitterly opposed to
a continuance of England's sea control--so fearful that our people may be
lulled into a feeling of false security, that I cannot help trying to
combat, with every small means in my power, anything that seems to
propagate a dangerous friendship."

I received no dissenting letter superior to this. To the writer of it I
replied that I agreed with much that he said, but that even so it did not
in my opinion outweigh the reasons I had given (and shall now give more
abundantly) in favor of dropping our hostile feeling toward England.

My correspondent says that we differ as a race from the English as much as
a celluloid comb from a stick of dynamite. Did our soldiers find the
difference as great as that? I doubt if our difference from anybody is
quite as great as that. Again, my correspondent says that we are bound up
in our own success only, and England is bound up in hers only. I agree.
But suppose the two successes succeed better through friendship than
through enmity? We are as friendly, my correspondent says, as two rival
corporations. Again I agree. Has it not been proved this long while that
competing corporations prosper through friendship? Did not the Northern
Pacific and the Great Northern form a combination called the Northern
Securities, for the sake of mutual benefit? Under the Sherman Act the
Northern Securities was dissolved; but no Sherman act forbids a Liberty
Securities. Liberty, defined and assured by Law, is England's gift to the
modern world. Liberty, defined and assured by Law, is the central purpose
of our Constitution. Just as identically as the Northern Pacific and
Great Northern run from St. Paul to Seattle do England and the United
States aim at Liberty, defined and assured by Law. As friends, the two
nations can swing the world towards world stability. My correspondent
would hardly have instanced the Boers in his reference to England's
misdeeds, had he reflected upon the part the Boers have played in
England's struggle with Germany.

I will point out no more of the latent weaknesses that underlie various
passages in this letter, but proceed to the remaining letters that I have
selected. I gave one from an enlisted man and one from a sailor; this is
from a commissioned officer, in France.

"I cannot refrain from sending you a line of appreciation and thanks for
giving the people at home a few facts that I am sure some do not know and
throwing a light upon a much discussed topic, which I am sure will help
to remove from some of their minds a foolish bigoted antipathy."

Upon the single point of our school histories of the Revolution, some of
which I had named as being guilty of distorting the facts, a
correspondent writes from Nebraska:

"Some months ago... the question came to me, what about our Montgomery's
History now.... I find that everywhere it is the King who is represented
as taking these measures against the American people. On page 134 is the
heading, American Commerce; the new King George III; how he interfered
with trade; page 135, The King proposes to tax the Colonies; page 136,
'The best men in Parliament--such men as William Pitt and Edmund Burke--
took the side of the colonies.' On page 138, 'William Pitt said in
Parliament, "in my opinion, this kingdom has no right to lay a tax on the
colonies... I rejoice that America has resisted"'; page 150, 'The English
people would not volunteer to fight the Americans and the King had to
hire nearly 30,000 Hessians to help do the work.... The Americans had not
sought separation; the King--not the English people--had forced it on

"I am writing this... because, as I was glad to see, you did not mince
words in naming several of the worse offenders." (He means certain school
histories that I mentioned and shall mention later again.)

An official from Pittsburgh wrote thus:

"In common with many other people, I have had the same idea that England
was not doing all she could in the war, that while her colonies were in
the thick of it, she, herself, seemed to be sparing herself, but after
reading this article... I will frankly and candidly confess to you that
it has changed my opinion, made me a strong supporter of England, and
above all made me a better American "

>From Massachusetts:

"It is well to remind your readers of the errors--or worse--in American
school text books and to recount Britain's achievements in the present
war. But of what practical avail are these things when a man so highly
placed as the present Secretary of the Navy asks a Boston audience
(Tremont Temple, October 30, 1918) to believe that it was the American
navy which made possible the transportation of over 2,000,000 Americans
to France without the loss of a single transport on the way over? Did he
not know that the greater part of those troops were not only transported,
but convoyed, by British vessels, largely withdrawn for that purpose from
such vital service as the supply of food to Britain's civil population?"

The omission on the part of our Secretary of the Navy was later quietly
rectified by an official publication of the British Government, wherein
it appeared that some sixty per cent of our troops were transported in
British ships. Our Secretary's regrettable slight to our British allies
was immediately set right by Admiral Sims, who forthwith, both in public
and in private, paid full and appreciative tribute to what had been done.
It is, nevertheless, very likely that some Americans will learn here for
the first time that more than half of our troops were not transported by
ourselves, and could not have been transported at all but for British
assistance. There are many persons who still believe what our politicians
and newspapers tell them. No incident that I shall relate further on
serves better to point the chief international moral at which I am
driving throughout these pages, and at which I have already hinted: Never
to generalize the character of a whole nation by the acts of individual
members of it. That is what everybody does, ourselves, the English, the
French, everybody. You can form no valid opinion of any nation's
characteristics, not even your own, until you have met hundreds of its
people, men and women, and had ample opportunity to observe and know them
beneath the surface. Here on the one hand we had our Secretary of the
Navy. He gave our Navy the whole credit for getting our soldiers

He justified the British opinion that we are a nation of braggarts. On
the other hand, in London, we had Admiral Sims, another American, a
splendid antidote. He corrected the Secretary's brag. What is the moral?
Look out how you generalize. Since we entered the war that tribe of
English has increased who judge us with an open mind, discriminate
between us, draw close to a just appraisal of our qualities and defects,
and possibly even discern that those who fill our public positions are
mostly on a lower level than those who elect them.

I proceed with two more letters, both dissenting, and both giving very
typically, as it seems to me, the American feeling about England--
partially justified by instances mentioned by my correspondent, but
equally mentioned by me in passages which he seems to have skipped.

"Lately I read and did not admire your article... 'The Ancient Grudge.'
Many of your statements are absolutely true, and I recognize the fact
that England's help in this war has been invaluable. Let it go at that
and hush!

"I do not defend our own Indian policy.... Wounded and disabled in our
Indian wars... I know all about them and how indefensible they are.....

"England has been always our only legitimate enemy. 1776? Yes, call it
ancient history and forget it if possible. 1812? That may go in the same
category. But the causes of that misunderstanding were identically
repeated in 1914 and '15.

"1861? Is that also ancient? Perhaps--but very bitter in the memory of
many of us now living. The Alabama. The Confederate Commissioners (I know
you will say we were wrong there--and so we may have been technically--
but John Bull bullied us into compliance when our hands were tied).
Lincoln told his Cabinet 'one war at a time, Gentlemen' and submitted....

"In 1898 we were a strong and powerful nation and a dangerous enemy to
provoke. England recognized the fact and acted accordingly. England
entered the present war to protect small nations! Heaven save the mark!
You surely read your history. Pray tell me something of England's policy
in South Africa, India, the Soudan, Persia, Abyssinia, Ireland, Egypt.
The lost provinces of Denmark. The United States when she was young and
helpless. And thus, almost to- infinitum.

"Do you not know that the foundations of ninety per cent of the great
British fortunes came from the loot of India? upheld and fostered by the
great and unscrupulous East India Company?

"Come down to later times: to-day for instance. Here in California... I
meet and associate with hundreds of Britishers. Are they American
citizens? I had almost said, 'No, not one.' Sneering and contemptuous of
America and American institutions. Continually finding fault with our
government and our people. Comparing these things with England, always to
our disadvantage......

"Now do you wonder we do not like England? Am I pro-German? I should
laugh and so would you if you knew me."

To this correspondent I did not reply that I wished I knew him--which I
do--that, even as he, so I had frequently been galled by the rudeness and
the patronizing of various specimens, high and low, of the English race.
But something I did reply, to the effect that I asked nobody to consider
England flawless, or any nation a charitable institution, but merely to
be fair, and to consider a cordial understanding between us greatly to
our future advantage. To this he answered, in part, as follows:

"I wish to thank you for your kindly reply.... Your argument is that as a
matter of policy we should conciliate Great Britain. Have we fallen so
low, this great and powerful nation?... Truckling to some other power
because its backing, moral or physical, may some day be of use to us,
even tho' we know that in so doing we are surrendering our dearest
rights, principles, and dignity!... Oh! my dear Sir, you surely do not
advocate this? I inclose an editorial clipping.... Is it no shock to you
when Winston Churchill shouts to High Heaven that under no circumstances
will Great Britain surrender its supreme control of the seas? This in
reply to President Wilson's plea for freedom of the seas and curtailment
of armaments.... But as you see, our President and our Mr. Daniels have
already said, 'Very well, we will outbuild you.' Never again shall Great
Britain stop our mail ships and search our private mails. Already has
England declared an embargo against our exports in many essential lines
and already are we expressing our dissatisfaction and taking means to
retaliate "

Of the editorial clipping inclosed with the above, the following is a

"John Bull is our associate in the contest with the Kaiser. There is no
doubt as to his position on that proposition. He went after the Dutch in
great shape. Next to France he led the way and said, 'Come on, Yanks; we
need your help. We will put you in the first line of trenches where there
will be good gunning. Yes, we will do all of that and at the same time we
will borrow your money, raised by Liberty Loans, and use it for the
purchase of American wheat, pork, and beef.'

"Mr. Bull kept his word. He never flinched or attempted to dodge the
issue. He kept strictly in the middle of the road. His determination to
down the Kaiser with American men, American money, and American food
never abated for a single day during the conflict."

This editorial has many twins throughout the country. I quote it for its
value as a specimen of that sort of journalistic and political utterance
amongst us, which is as seriously embarrassed by facts as a skunk by its
tail. Had its author said: "The Declaration of Independence was signed by
Christopher Columbus on Washington's birthday during the siege of
Vicksburg in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and Judas Iscariot," his
statement would have been equally veracious, and more striking.

As to Winston Churchill's declaration that Great Britain will not
surrender her control of the seas, I am as little shocked by that as I
should be were our Secretary of the Navy to declare that in no
circumstances would we give up control of the Panama Canal. The Panama
Canal is our carotid artery, Great Britain's navy is her jugular vein. It
is her jugular vein in the mind of her people, regardless of that new
apparition, the submarine. I was not shocked that Great Britain should
decline Mr. Wilson's invitation that she cut her jugular vein; it was the
invitation which kindled my emotions; but these were of a less serious

The last letter that I shall give is from an American citizen of English

"As a boy at school in England, I was taught the history of the American
Revolution as J. R. Green presents it in his Short History of the English
People. The gist of this record, as you doubtless recollect, is that
George III being engaged in the attempt to destroy what there then was of
political freedom and representative government in England, used the
American situation as a means to that end; that the English people, in so
far as their voice could make itself heard, were solidly against both his
English and American policy, and that the triumph of America contributed
in no small measure to the salvation of those institutions by which the
evolution of England towards complete democracy was made possible.
Washington was held up to us in England not merely as a great and good
man, but as an heroic leader, to whose courage and wisdom the English as
well as the American people were eternally indebted... .

"Pray forgive so long a letter from a stranger. It is prompted... by a
sense of the illimitable importance, not only for America and Britain,
but for the entire world, of these two great democratic peoples knowing
each other as they really are and cooperating as only they can cooperate
to establish and maintain peace on just and permanent foundations."

Chapter III: In Front of a Bulletin Board

There, then, are ten letters of the fifty which came to me in consequence
of what I wrote in May, 1918, which was published in the American
Magazine for the following November. Ten will do. To read the other forty
would change no impression conveyed already by the ten, but would merely
repeat it. With varying phraseology their writers either think we have
hitherto misjudged England and that my facts are to the point, or they
express the stereotyped American antipathy to England and treat my facts
as we mortals mostly do when facts are embarrassing--side-step them.
What best pleased me was to find that soldiers and sailors agreed with
me, and not "high-brows" only.

May, 1918, as you will remember, was a very dark hour. We had come into
the war, had been in for a year; but events had not yet taken us out of
the well-nigh total eclipse flung upon our character by those blighting
words, "there is such a thing as being too proud to fight." The British
had been told by their General that they were fighting with their backs
to the wall. Since March 23rd the tread of the Hun had been coming
steadily nearer to Paris. Belleau Wood and Chateau-Thierry had not yet
struck the true ring from our metal and put into the hands of Foch the
one further weapon that he needed. French morale was burning very low and
blue. Yet even in such an hour, people apparently American and apparently
grown up, were talking against England, our ally. Then and thereafter,
even as to-day, they talked against her as they had been talking since
August, 1914, as I had heard them again and again, indoors and out, as I
heard a man one forenoon in a crowd during the earlier years of the war,
the miserable years before we waked from our trance of neutrality, while
our chosen leaders were still misleading us.

Do you remember those unearthly years? The explosions, the plots, the
spies, the Lucitania, the notes, Mr. Bryan, von Bernstorff, half our
country--oh, more than half!--in different or incredulous, nothing
prepared, nothing done, no step taken, Theodore Roosevelt's and Leonard
Wood's almost the only voices warning us what was bound to happen, and to
get ready for it? Do you remember the bulletin boards? Did you grow, as I
did, so restless that you would step out of your office to see if
anything new had happened during the last sixty minutes--would stop as
you went to lunch and stop as you came back? We knew from the faces of
our friends what our own faces were like. In company we pumped up
liveliness, but in the street, alone with our apprehensions--do you
remember? For our future's sake may everybody remember, may nobody

What the news was upon a certain forenoon memorable to me, I do not
recall, and this is of no consequence; good or bad, the stream of by-
passers clotted thickly to read it as the man chalked it line upon line
across the bulletin board. Citizens who were in haste stepped off the
curb to pass round since they could not pass through this crowd of
gazers. Thus this on the sidewalk stood some fifty of us, staring at
names we had never known until a little while ago, Bethincourt,
Malancourt, perhaps, or Montfaucon, or Roisel; French names of small
places, among whose crumbled, featureless dust I have walked since, where
lived peacefully a few hundred or a few thousand that are now a thousand
butchered or broken-hearted. Through me ran once again the wonder that
had often chilled me since the abdication of the Czar which made certain
the crumbling of Russia: after France, was our turn coming? Should our
fields, too, be sown with bones, should our little towns among the
orchards and the corn fall in ashes amongst which broken hearts would
wander in search of some surviving stick of property? I had learned to
know that a long while before the war the eyes of the Hun, the bird of
prey, had been fixed upon us as a juicy morsel. He had written it, he had
said it. Since August, 1914, these Pan-German schemes had been leaking
out for all who chose to understand them. A great many did not so choose.
The Hun had wanted us and planned to get us, and now more than ever
before, because he intended that we should pay his war bills. Let him
once get by England, and his sword would cut through our fat, defenseless
carcass like a knife through cheese.

A voice arrested my reverie, a voice close by in the crowd. It said,
"Well, I like the French. But I'll not cry much if England gets hers.
What's England done in this war, anyway?"

"Her fleet's keeping the Kaiser out of your front yard, for one thing,"
retorted another voice.

With assurance slightly wobbling and a touch of the nasal whine, the
first speaker protested, "Well, look what George III done to us. Bad as
any Kaiser."

"Aw, get your facts straight!" It was said with scornful force. "Don't
you know George III was a German? Don't you know it was Hessians--
they're Germans--he hired to come over here and kill Americans and do his
dirty work for him? And his Germans did the same dirty work the Kaiser's
are doing now. We've got a letter written after the battle of Long Island
by a member of our family they took prisoner there. And they stripped him
and they stole his things and they beat him down with the butts of their
guns--after he had surrendered, mind--when he was surrendered and naked,
and when he was down they beat him some more. That's Germans for you.
Only they've been getting worse while the rest of the world's been
getting better. Get your facts straight, man."

A number of us were now listening to this, and I envied the historian his
ingenious promptness--I have none--and I hoped for more of this timely
debate. But debate was over. The anti-Englishman faded to silence. Either
he was out of facts to get straight, or lacked what is so pithily termed
"come-back." The latter, I incline to think; for come-back needs no
facts, it is a self-feeder, and its entire absence in the anti-Englishman
looks as if he had been a German. Germans do not come back when it goes
against them, they bleat "Kamerad!"--or disappear. Perhaps this man was a
spy--a poor one, to be sure--yet doing his best for his Kaiser: slinking
about, peeping, listening, trying to wedge the Allies apart, doing his
little bit towards making friends enemies, just as his breed has worked
to set enmity between ourselves and Japan, ourselves and Mexico, France
and England, France and Italy, England and Russia, between everybody and
everybody else all the world over, in the sacred name and for the sacred
sake of the Kaiser. Thus has his breed, since we occupied Coblenz, run to
the French soldiers with lies about us and then run to us with lies about
the French soldiers, overlooking in its providential stupidity the fact
that we and the French would inevitably compare notes. Thus too is his
breed, at the moment I write these words, infesting and poisoning the
earth with a propaganda that remains as coherent and as systematically
directed as ever it was before the papers began to assure us that there
was nothing left of the Hohenzollern government.

Chapter IV: "My Army of Spies"

"You will desire to know," said the Kaiser to his council at Potsdam in
June, 1908, after the successful testing of the first Zeppelin, "how the
hostilities will be brought about. My army of spies scattered over Great
Britain and France, as it is over North and South America, will take good
care of that. Even now I rule supreme in the United States, where three
million voters do my bidding at the Presidential elections."

Yes, they did his bidding; there, and elsewhere too. They did it at other
elections as well. Do you remember the mayor they tried to elect in
Chicago? and certain members of Congress? and certain manufacturers and
bankers? They did his bidding in our newspapers, our public schools, and
from the pulpit. Certain localities in one of the river counties of Iowa
(for instance) were spots of German treason to the United States. The
"exchange professors" that came from Berlin to Harvard and other
universities were so many camouflaged spies. Certain prominent American
citizens, dined and wined and flattered by the Kaiser for his purpose,
women as well as men, came back here mere Kaiser-puppets, hypnotized by
royalty. His bidding was done in as many ways as would fill a book.
Shopkeepers did it, servants did it, Americans among us were decorated by
him for doing it. Even after the Armistice, a school textbook "got by"
the Board of Education in a western state, wherein our boys and girls
were to be taught a German version--a Kaiser version--of Germany.
Somebody protested, and the board explained that it "hadn't noticed," and
the book was held up.

We cannot, I fear, order the school histories in Germany to be edited by
the Allies. German school children will grow up believing, in all prob-
ability, that bombs were dropped near Nurnberg in July, 1914, that German
soil was invaded, that the Fatherland fought a war of defense; they will
certainly be nourished by lies in the future as they were nourished by
lies in the past. But we can prevent Germans or pro-Germans writing our
own school histories; we can prevent that "army of spies" of which the
Kaiser boasted to his council at Potsdam in June, 1908, from continuing
its activities among us now and henceforth; and we can prevent our school
textbooks from playing into Germany's hand by teaching hate of England to
our boys and girls. Beside the sickening silliness which still asks,
"What has England done in the war?" is a silliness still more sickening
which says, "Germany is beaten. Let us forgive and forget." That is not
Christianity. There is nothing Christian about it. It is merely
sentimental slush, sloppy shirking of anything that compels national
alertness, or effort, or self-discipline, or self-denial; a moral
cowardice that pushes away any fact which disturbs a shallow, torpid,
irresponsible, self-indulgent optimism.

Our golden age of isolation is over. To attempt to return to it would be
a mere pernicious day-dream. To hark back to Washington's warning against
entangling alliances is as sensible as to go by a map of the world made
in 1796. We are coupled to the company of nations like a car in the
middle of a train, only more inevitably and permanently, for we cannot
uncouple; and if we tried to do so, we might not wreck the train, but we
should assuredly wreck ourselves. I think the war has brought us one
benefit certainly: that many young men return from Europe knowing this,
who had no idea of it before they went, and who know also that Germany is
at heart an untamed, unchanged wild beast, never to be trusted again. We
must not, and shall not, boycott her in trade; but let us not go to sleep
at the switch! Just as busily as she is baking pottery opposite Coblenz,
labelled "made in St. Louis," "made in Kansas City," her "army of spies"
is at work here and everywhere to undermine those nations who have for
the moment delayed her plans for world dominion. I think the number of
Americans who know this has increased; but no American, wherever he
lives, need travel far from home to meet fellow Americans who sing
the song of slush about forgiving and forgetting.

Perhaps the man I heard talking in front of the bulletin board was one of
the "army of spies," as I like to infer from his absence of "come-back."
But perhaps he was merely an innocent American who at school had studied,
for instance, Eggleston's history; thoughtless--but by no means
harmless; for his school-taught "slant" against England, in the days we
were living through then, amounted to a "slant" for Germany. He would be
sorry if Germany beat France, but not if she beat England--when France
and England were joined in keeping the wolf not only from their door but
from ours! It matters not in the least that they were fighting our
battle, not because they wanted to, but because they couldn't help it:
they were fighting it just the same. That they were compelled doesn't
matter, any more than it matters that in going to war when Belgium was
invaded, England's duty and England's self-interest happened to coincide.
Our duty and our interest also coincided when we entered the war and
joined England and France. Have we seemed to think that this diminished
our glory? Have they seemed to think that it absolved them from

Such talk as that man's in front of the bulletin board helped Germany
then, whether he meant to or not, just as much as if a spy had said it--
just as much as similar talk against England to-day, whether by spies or
unheeding Americans, helps the Germany of to-morrow. The Germany of
yesterday had her spies all over France and Italy, busily suggesting to
rustic uninformed peasants that we had gone to France for conquest of
France, and intended to keep some of her land. What is she telling them
now? I don't know. Something to her advantage and their disadvantage, you
may be sure, just as she is busy suggesting to us things to her advantage
and our disadvantage--jealousy and fear of the British navy, or
pro-German school histories for our children, or that we can't make dyes,
or whatever you please: the only sure thing is, that the Germany of
yesterday is the Germany of to-morrow. She is not changed. She will not
change. The steady stream of her propaganda all over the world proves it.
No matter how often her masquerading government changes costumes, that
costume is merely her device to conceal the same cunning, treacherous
wild beast that in 1914, after forty years of preparation, sprang at the
throat of the world. Of all the nations in the late war, she alone is
pulling herself together. She is hard at work. She means to spring again
just as soon as she can.

Did you read the letter written in April of 1919 by her Vice-Chancellor,
Mathias Erzberger, also her minister of finance? A very able, compact
masterpiece of malignant voracity, good enough to do credit to Satan.
Through that lucky flaw of stupidity which runs through apparently every
German brain, and to which we chiefly owe our victory and temporary
respite from the fangs of the wolf, Mathias Erzberger posted his letter.
It went wrong in the mails. If you desire to read the whole of it, the
International News Bureau can either furnish it or put you on the track
of it. One sentence from it shall be quoted here:

"We will undertake the restoration of Russia, and in possession of such
support will be ready, within ten or fifteen years, to bring France,
without any difficulty, into our power. The march towards Paris will be
easier than in 1914. The last step but one towards the world dominion
will then be reached. The continent is ours. Afterwards will follow the
last stage, the closing struggle, between the continent and the over-

Who is meant by "overseas"? Is there left any honest American brain so
fond and so feeble as to suppose that we are not included in that highly
suggestive and significant term? I fear that some such brains are left.

Germans remain German. I was talking with an American officer just
returned from Coblenz. He described the surprise of the Germans when they
saw our troops march in to occupy that region of their country. They said
to him: "But this is extraordinary. Where do these soldiers of yours come
from? You have only 150,000 troops in Europe. All the other transports
were sunk by our submarines." "We have two million troops in Europe,"
replied the officer, "and lost by explosion a very few hundred. No
transport was sunk." "But that is impossible," returned the burgher, "we
know from our Government at Berlin that you have only 150,000 troops in

Germans remain German. At Coblenz they were servile, cringing, fawning,
ready to lick the boots of the Americans, loading them with offers of
every food and drink and joy they had. Thus they began. Soon, finding
that the Americans did not cut their throats, burn their houses, rape
their daughters, or bayonet their babies, but were quiet, civil,
disciplined, and apparently harmless, they changed. Their fawning faded
away, they scowled and muttered. One day the Burgomaster at a certain
place replied to some ordinary requisitions with an arrogant refusal. It
was quite out of the question, he said, to comply with any such
ridiculous demands. Then the Americans ceased to seem harmless. Certain
steps were taken by the commanding officer, some leading citizens were
collected and enlightened through the only channel whereby light
penetrates a German skull. Thus, by a very slight taste of the methods
by which they thought they would cow the rest of the world, these
burghers were cowed instantly. They had thought the Americans afraid of
them. They had taken civility for fear. Suddenly they encountered what
we call the swift kick. It educated them. It always will. Nothing else

Mathias Erzberger will, of course, disclaim his letter. He will say it is
a forgery. He will point to the protestations of German repentance and
reform with which he sweated during April, 1919, and throughout the weeks
preceding the delivery of the Treaty at Versailles. Perhaps he has done
this already. All Germans will believe him--and some Americans.

The German method, the German madness--what a mixture! The method just
grazed making Germany owner of the earth, the madness saved the earth.
With perfect recognition of Belgium's share, of Russia's share, of
France's, Italy's, England's, our own, in winning the war, I believe that
the greatest and mast efficient Ally of all who contributed to Germany's
defeat was her own constant blundering madness. Americans must never
forget either the one or the other, and too many are trying to forget

Germans remain German. An American lady of my acquaintance was about to
climb from Amalfi to Ravello in company with a German lady of her
acquaintance. The German lady had a German Baedeker, the American a
Baedeker in English, published several years apart. The Baedeker in
German recommended a path that went straight up the ascent, the Baedeker
in English a path that went up more gradually around it. "Mine says this
is the best way," said the American. "Mine says straight up is the
best," said the German. "But mine is a later edition," said the American.
"That is not it," explained the German. "It is that we Germans are so
much more clever and agile, that to us is recommended the more dangerous
way while Americans are shown the safe path."

That happened in 1910. That is Kultur. This too is Kultur:

"If Silesia become Polish
Then, oh God, may children perish, like beasts, in their mothers' womb.
Then lame their Polish feet and their hands, oh God!
Let them be crippled and blind their eyes.
Smite them with dumbness and madness, both men and women."
From a Hymn of German hate for the Poles.

Germany remains German; but when next she springs, she will make no

Chapter V: The Ancient Grudge

It was in Broad Street, Philadelphia, before we went to war, that I
overheard the foolish--or propagandist--slur upon England in front of
the bulletin board. After we were fighting by England's side for our
existence, you might have supposed such talk would cease. It did not. And
after the Armistice, it continued. On the day we celebrated as "British
Day," a man went through the crowd in Wanamaker's shop, asking, What had
England done in the War, anyhow? Was he a German, or an Irishman, or an
American in pay of Berlin?, I do not know. But this I know: perfectly
good Americans still talk like that. Cowboys in camp do it. Men and women
in Eastern cities, persons with at least the external trappings of
educated intelligence, play into the hands of the Germany of to-morrow,
do their unconscious little bit of harm to the future of freedom and
civilization, by repeating that England "has always been our enemy." Then
they mention the Revolution, the War of 1812, and England's attitude
during our Civil War, just as they invariably mentioned these things in
1917 and 1918, when England was our ally in a struggle [or life, and as
they will be mentioning them in 1940, I presume, if they are still alive
at that time.

Now, the Civil War ended fifty-five years ago, the War of 1812 one
hundred and five, and the Revolution one hundred and thirty-seven.
Suppose, while the Kaiser was butchering Belgium because she barred his
way to that dinner he was going to eat in Paris in October, 1914, that
France had said, "England is my hereditary enemy. Henry the Fifth and the
Duke of Wellington and sundry Plantagenets fought me"; and suppose
England had said, "I don't care much for France. Joan of Arc and Napoleon
and sundry other French fought me"--suppose they had sat nursing their
ancient grudges like that? Well, the Kaiser would have dined in Paris
according to his plan. And next, according to his plan, with the Channel
ports taken he would have dined in London. And finally, according to his
plan, and with the help of his "army of spies" overseas, he would have
dined in New York and the White House. For German madness could not have
defeated Germany's plan of World dominion, if various nations had not got
together and assisted. Other Americans there are, who do not resort to
the Revolution for their grudge, but are in a commercial rage over this
or that: wool, for instance. Let such Americans reflect that commercial
grievances against England can be more readily adjusted than an
absorption of all commerce by Germany can be adjusted. Wool and
everything else will belong to Mathias Erzberger and his breed, if they
carry out their intention. And the way to insure their carrying it out is
to let them split us and England and all their competitors asunder by
their ceaseless and ingenious propaganda, which plays upon every
international prejudice, historic, commercial, or other, which is
available. After August, 1914, England barred the Kaiser's way to New
York, and in 1917, we found it useful to forget about George the Third
and the Alabama. In 1853 Prussia possessed one ship of war--her first.

In 1918 her submarines were prowling along our coast. For the moment they
are no longer there. For a while they may not be. But do you think
Germany intends that scraps of paper shall be abolished by any Treaty,
even though it contain 80,000 words and a League of Nations? She will
make of that Treaty a whole basket of scraps, if she can, and as soon as
she can. She has said so. Her workingmen are at work, industrious and
content with a quarter the pay for a longer day than anywhere else. Let
those persons who cannot get over George the Third and the Alabama ponder
upon this for a minute or two.

Chapter VI: Who Is Without Sin?

Much else is there that it were well they should ponder, and I am coming
to it presently; but first, one suggestion. Most of us, if we dig back
only fifty or sixty or seventy years, can disinter various relatives over
whose doings we should prefer to glide lightly and in silence.

Do you mean to say that you have none? Nobody stained with any shade of
dishonor? No grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-etc. grandfather
or grandmother who ever made a scandal, broke a heart, or betrayed a
trust? Every man Jack and woman Jill of the lot right back to Adam and
Eve wholly good, honorable, and courageous? How fortunate to be sprung
exclusively from the loins of centuries of angels--and to know all about
them! Consider the hoard of virtue to which you have fallen heir!

But you know very well that this is not so; that every one of us has
every kind of person for an ancestor; that all sorts of virtue and vice,
of heroism and disgrace, are mingled in our blood; that inevitably amidst
the huge herd of our grandsires black sheep as well as white are to be

As it is with men, so it is with nations. Do you imagine that any nation
has a spotless history? Do you think that you can peer into our past,
turn over the back pages of our record, and never come upon a single
blot? Indeed you cannot. And it is better--a great deal better--that you
should be aware of these blots. Such knowledge may enlighten you, may
make you a better American. What we need is to be critics of ourselves,
and this is exactly what we have been taught not to be.

We are quite good enough to look straight at ourselves. Owing to one
thing and another we are cleaner, honester, humaner, and whiter than any
people on the continent of Europe. If any nation on the continent of
Europe has ever behaved with the generosity and magnanimity that we have
shown to Cuba, I have yet to learn of it. They jeered at us about Cuba,
did the Europeans of the continent. Their papers stuck their tongues in
their cheeks. Of course our fine sentiments were all sham, they said. Of
course we intended to swallow Cuba, and never had intended anything else.
And when General Leonard Wood came away from Cuba, having made Havana
healthy, having brought order out of chaos on the island, and we left
Cuba independent, Europe jeered on. That dear old Europe!

Again, in 1909, it was not any European nation that returned to China
their share of the indemnity exacted in consequence of the Boxer
troubles; we alone returned our share to China--sixteen millions. It was
we who prevented levying a punitive indemnity on China. Read the whole
story; there is much more. We played the gentleman, Europe played the
bully. But Europe calls us "dollar chasers." That dear old Europe! Again,
if any conquering General on the continent of Europe ever behaved as
Grant did to Lee at Appomattox, his name has escaped me.

Again, and lastly--though I am not attempting to tell you here the whole
tale of our decencies: Whose hands came away cleanest from that Peace
Conference in Paris lately? What did we ask for ourselves? Everything we
asked, save some repairs of damage, was for other people. Oh, yes! we are
quite good enough to keep quiet about these things. No need whatever to
brag. Bragging, moreover, inclines the listener to suspect you're not so
remarkable as you sound.

But all this virtue doesn't in the least alter the fact that we're like
everybody else in having some dirty pages in our History. These pages it
is a foolish mistake to conceal. I suppose that the school histories of
every nation are partly bad. I imagine that most of them implant the germ
of international hatred in the boys and girls who have to study them.
Nations do not like each other, never have liked each other; and it may
very well be that school textbooks help this inclination to dislike.
Certainly we know what contempt and hatred for other nations the Germans
have been sedulously taught in their schools, and how utterly they
believed their teaching. How much better and wiser for the whole world if
all the boys and girls in all the schools everywhere were henceforth to
be started in life with a just and true notion of all flags and the
peoples over whom they fly! The League of Nations might not then rest
upon the quicksand of distrust and antagonism which it rests upon today.
But it is our own school histories that are my present concern, and I
repeat my opinion--or rather my conviction--that the way in which they
have concealed the truth from us is worse than silly, it is harmful. I am
not going to take up the whole list of their misrepresentations, I will
put but one or two questions to you.

When you finished school, what idea had you about the War of 1812? I will
tell you what mine was. I thought we had gone to war because England was
stopping American ships and taking American sailors out of them for her
own service. I could refer to Perry's victory on Lake Erie and Jackson's
smashing of the British at New Orleans; the name of the frigate
Constitution sent thrills through me. And we had pounded old John Bull
and sent him to the right about a second time! Such was my glorious idea,
and there it stopped. Did you know much more than that about it when your
schooling was done? Did you know that our reasons for declaring war
against Great Britain in 1812 were not so strong as they had been three
and four years earlier? That during those years England had moderated her
arrogance, was ready to moderate further, had placated us for her brutal
performance concerning the Chesapeake, wanted peace; while we, who had
been nearly unanimous for war, and with a fuller purse in 1808, were now,
by our own congressional fuddling and messing, without any adequate army,
and so divided in counsel that only one northern state was wholly in
favor of war? Did you know that our General Hull began by invading Canada
from Detroit and surrendered his whole army without firing a shot? That
the British overran Michigan and parts of Ohio, and western New York,
while we retreated disgracefully? That though we shone in victories of
single combat on the sea and showed the English that we too knew how to
sail and fight on the waves as hardily as Britannia (we won eleven out of
thirteen of the frigate and sloop actions), nevertheless she caught us or
blocked us up, and rioted unchecked along our coasts? You probably did
know that the British burned Washington, and you accordingly hated them
for this barbarous vandalism--but did you know that we had burned Toronto
a year earlier?

I left school knowing none of this--it wasn't in my school book, and I
learned it in mature years with amazement. I then learned also that
England, while she was fighting with us, had her hands full fighting
Bonaparte, that her war with us was a sideshow, and that this was
uncommonly lucky for us--as lucky quite as those ships from France under
Admiral de Grasse, without whose help Washington could never have caught
Cornwallis and compelled his surrender at Yorktown, October 19, 1781. Did
you know that there were more French soldiers and sailors than Americans
at Yorktown? Is it well to keep these things from the young? I have not
done with the War of 1812. There is a political aspect of it that I shall
later touch upon--something that my school books never mentioned.

My next question is, what did you know about the Mexican War of 1846-1847,
when you came out of school? The names of our victories, I presume, and
of Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott; and possibly the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, whereby Mexico ceded to us the whole of Texas, New
Mexico, and Upper California, and we paid her fifteen millions. No doubt
you know that Santa Anna, the Mexican General, had a wooden leg. Well,
there is more to know than that, and I found it out much later. I found
out that General Grant, who had fought with credit as a lieutenant in the
Mexican War, briefly summarized it as "iniquitous." I gradually, through
my reading as a man, learned the truth about the Mexican War which had
not been taught me as a boy--that in that war we bullied a weaker power,
that we made her our victim, that the whole discreditable business had
the extension of slavery at the bottom of it, and that more Americans
were against it than had been against the War of 1812. But how many
Americans ever learn these things? Do not most of them, upon leaving
school, leave history also behind them, and become farmers, or merchants,
or plumbers, or firemen, or carpenters, or whatever, and read little but
the morning paper for the rest of their lives?

The blackest page in our history would take a long while to read. Not a
word of it did I ever see in my school textbooks. They were written on
the plan that America could do no wrong. I repeat that, just as we love
our friends in spite of their faults, and all the more intelligently
because we know these faults, so our love of our country would be just as
strong, and far more intelligent, were we honestly and wisely taught in
our early years those acts and policies of hers wherein she fell below
her lofty and humane ideals. Her character and her record on the whole
from the beginning are fine enough to allow the shadows to throw the
sunlight into relief. To have produced at three stages of our growth
three such men as Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, is quite sufficient
justification for our existence

Chapter VII: Tarred with the Same Stick

The blackest page in our history is our treatment of the Indian. To speak
of it is a thankless task--thankless, and necessary.

This land was the Indian's house, not ours. He was here first, nobody
knows how many centuries first. We arrived, and we shoved him, and shoved
him, and shoved him, back, and back, and back. Treaty after treaty we
made with him, and broke. We drew circles round his freedom, smaller and
smaller. We allowed him such and such territory, then took it away and
gave him less and worse in exchange. Throughout a century our promises to
him were a whole basket of scraps of paper. The other day I saw some
Indians in California. It had once been their place. All over that region
they had hunted and fished and lived according to their desires, enjoying
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We came. To-day the hunting
and fishing are restricted by our laws--not the Indian's--because we
wasted and almost exterminated in a very short while what had amply
provided the Indian with sport and food for a very long while.

In that region we have taken, as usual, the fertile land and the running
water, and have allotted land to the Indian where neither wood nor water
exist, no crops will grow, no human life can be supported. I have seen
the land. I have seen the Indian begging at the back door. Oh, yes, they
were an "inferior race." Oh, yes, they didn't and couldn't use the land
to the best advantage, couldn't build Broadway and the Union Pacific
Railroad, couldn't improve real estate. If you choose to call the whole
thing "manifest destiny," I am with you. I'll not dispute that what we
have made this continent is of greater service to mankind than the
wilderness of the Indian ever could possibly have been--once conceding,
as you have to concede, the inevitableness of civilization. Neither you,
nor I, nor any man, can remold the sorry scheme of things entire. But we
could have behaved better to the Indian. That was in our power. And we
gave him a raw deal instead, not once, but again and again. We did it
because we could do it without risk, because he was weaker and we could
always beat him in the end. And all the while we were doing it, there was
our Bill of Rights, our Declaration of Independence, founded on a new
thing in the world, proclaiming to mankind the fairest hope yet born,
that "All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights," and that these were now to be protected by law. Ah, no, look at
it as you will, it is a black page, a raw deal. The officers of our
frontier army know all about it, because they saw it happen. They saw the
treaties broken, the thieving agents, the trespassing settlers, the
outrages that goaded the deceived Indian to despair and violence, and
when they were ordered out to kill him, they knew that he had struck in
self-defense and was the real victim.

It is too late to do much about it now. The good people of the Indian
Rights Association try to do something; but in spite of them, what little
harm can still be done is being done through dishonest Indian agents and
the mean machinery of politics. If you care to know more of the long, bad
story, there is a book by Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor; it
is not new. It assembles and sets forth what had been perpetrated up to
the time when it was written. A second volume could be added now.

I have dwelt upon this matter here for a very definite reason, closely
connected with my main purpose. It's a favorite trick of our anti-British
friends to call England a "land-grabber." The way in which England has
grabbed land right along, all over the world, is monstrous, they say.
England has stolen what belonged to whites, and blacks, and bronzes, and
yellows, wherever she could lay her hands upon it, they say. England is a
criminal. They repeat this with great satisfaction, this land-grabbing
indictment. Most of them know little or nothing of the facts, couldn't
tell you the history of a single case. But what are the facts to the man
who asks, "What has England done in this war, anyway?" The word
"land-grabber" has been passed to him by German and Sinn Fein propaganda,
and he merely parrots it forth. He couldn't discuss it at all. "Look at
the Boers," he may know enough to reply, if you remind him that England's
land-grabbing was done a good while ago. Well, we shall certainly look at
the Boers in due time, but just now we must look at ourselves. I suppose
that the American who denounces England for her land-grabbing has
forgotten, or else has never known, how we grabbed Florida from Spain.
The pittance that we paid Spain in one of the Florida transactions never
went to her. The story is a plain tale of land-grabbing; and there are
several other plain tales that show us to have been land-grabbers, if you
will read the facts with an honest mind. I shall not tell them here. The
case of the Indian is enough in the way of an instance. Our own hands are
by no means clean. It is not for us to denounce England as a land-

You cannot hate statistics more than I do. But at times there is no
dodging them, and this is one of the times. In 1803 we paid Napoleon
Bonaparte fifteen millions for what was then called Louisiana. Napoleon
had his title to this land from Spain. Spain had it from France. France
had it--how? She had it because La Salle, a Frenchman, sailed down the
Mississippi River. This gave him title to the land. There were people on
the bank already, long before La Salle came by.

It would have surprised them to be told that the land was no longer
theirs because a man had come by on the water. But nobody did tell them.
They were Indians. They had wives and children and wigwams and other
possessions in the land where they had always lived; but they were red,
and the man in the boat was white, and therefore they were turned into
trespassers because he had sailed by in a boat. That was the title to
Louisiana which we bought from Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Louisiana Purchase was a piece of land running up the Mississippi, up
the Missouri, over the Divide, and down the Columbia to the Pacific.
Before we acquired it, our area was over a quarter, but not half, a
million square miles. This added nearly a million square miles more. But
what had we really bought? Nothing but stolen goods. The Indians were
there before La Salle, from whose boat-sailing the title we bought was
derived. "But," you may object, "when whites rob reds or blacks, we call
it Discovery; land-grabbing is when whites rob whites--and that is where
I blame England." For the sake of argument I concede this, and refer you
to our acquisition of Texas. This operation followed some years after the
Florida operation. "By request" we "annexed" most of present Texas--in
1845. That was a trick of our slaveholders. They sent people into Texas
and these people swung the deal. It was virtually a theft from Mexico. A
little while later, in 1848, we "paid" Mexico for California, Arizona,
and Nevada. But if you read the true story of Fremont in California,
and of the American plots there before the Mexican War, to undermine the
government of a friendly nation, plots connived at in Washington with a
view to getting California for ourselves, upon my word you will find it
hard to talk of England being a land-grabber and keep a straight face.
And, were a certain book to fall into your hands, the narrative of the
Alcalde of Monterey, wherein he sets down what of Fremont's doings in
California went on before his eyes, you would learn a story of treachery,
brutality, and greed. All this acquisition of territory, together with
the Gadsden Purchase a few years later, brought our continent to its
present area--not counting Alaska or some islands later acquired--
2,970,230 square miles.

Please understand me very clearly: I am not saying that it has not been
far better for the world and for civilization that we should have become
the rulers of all this land, instead of its being ruled by the Indians or
by Spain, or by Mexico. That is not at all the point. I am merely
reminding you of the means whereby we got the land. We got it mostly by
force and fraud, by driving out of it through firearms and plots people
who certainly were there first and who were weaker than ourselves. Our
reason was simply that we wanted it and intended to have it. That is
precisely what England has done. She has by various means not one whit
better or worse than ours, acquired her possessions in various parts of
the world because they were necessary to her safety and welfare, just as
this continent was necessary to our safety and welfare. Moreover, the
pressure upon her, her necessity for self-preservation, was far more
urgent than was the pressure upon us. To make you see this, I must once
again resort to some statistics.

England's area--herself and adjacent islands--is 120,832 square miles.
Her population in 1811 was eighteen and one half millions. At that same
time our area was 408,895 square miles, not counting the recent Louisiana
Purchase. And our population was 7,239,881. With an area less than one
third of ours (excluding the huge Louisiana) England had a population
more than twice as great. Therefore she was more crowded than we were--
how much more I leave you to figure out for yourself. I appeal to the
fair-minded American reader who only "wants to be shown," and I say to
him, when some German or anti-British American talks to him about what a
land-grabber England has been in her time to think of these things and to
remember that our own past is tarred with the same stick. Let every one
of us bear in mind that little sentence of the Kaiser's, "Even now I
rule supreme in the United States;" let us remember that the Armistice
and the Peace Treaty do not seem to have altered German nature or German
plans very noticeably, and don't let us muddle our brains over the
question of the land grabbed by the great-grandfathers of present

Any American who is anti-British to-day is by just so much pro-German, is
helping the trouble of the world, is keeping discord alight, is doing his
bit against human peace and human happiness.

There are some other little sentences of the Kaiser and his Huns of
which I shall speak before I finish: we must now take up the controversy
of those men in front of the bulletin board; we must investigate what
lies behind that controversy. Those two men are types. One had learned
nothing since he left school, the other had.

Chapter VIII: History Astigmatic

So far as I know, it was Mr. Sydney Gent Fisher, an American, who was the
first to go back to the original documents, and to write from study of
these documents the complete truth about England and ourselves during the
Revolution. His admirable book tore off the cloak which our school
histories had wrapped round the fables. He lays bare the political state of
Britain at that time. What did you learn at your school of that political
state? Did you ever wonder able General Howe and his manner of fighting
us? Did it ever strike you that, although we were more often defeated
than victorious in those engagements with him (and sometimes he even
seemed to avoid pitched battles with us when the odds were all in his
favor), yet somehow England did seem to reap the advantage she should be
reaped from those contests, didn't follow them, let us get away, didn't
in short make any progress to speak of in really conquering us? Perhaps
you attributed this to our brave troops and our great Washington. Well,
our troops were brave and Washington was great; but there was more
behind--more than your school teaching ever led you to suspect, if your
schooling was like mine. I imagined England as being just one whole unit
of fury and tyranny directed against us and determined to stamp out the
spark of liberty we had kindled. No such thing! England was violently
divided in sentiment about us. Two parties, almost as opposed as our
North and South have been--only it was not sectional in England--held
very different views about liberty and the rights of Englishmen. The
King's party, George the Third and his upholders, were fighting to saddle
autocracy upon England; the other party, that of Pitt and Burke, were
resisting this, and their sentiments and political beliefs led them to
sympathize with our revolt against George III. "I rejoice," writes Horace
Walpole, Dec. 5, 1777, to the Countess of Upper Ossory, "that the
Americans are to be free, as they had a right to be, and as I am sure
they have shown they deserve to be.... I own there are very able
Englishmen left, but they happen to be on t'other side of the Atlantic."
It was through Whig influence that General Howe did not follow up his
victories over us, because they didn't wish us to be conquered, they
wished us to be able to vindicate the rights to which they held all
Englishmen were entitled. These men considered us the champions of that
British liberty which George III was attempting to crush. They disputed
the rightfulness of the Stamp Act. When we refused to submit to the Stamp
Tax in 1766, it was then that Pitt exclaimed in Parliament: "I rejoice
that America has resisted.... If ever this nation should have a tyrant
for a King, six millions of freemen, so dead to all the feelings of
liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would be fit instruments
to make slaves of the rest." But they were not willing. When the hour
struck and the war came, so many Englishmen were on our side that they
would not enlist against us, refused to fight us, and George III had to
go to Germany and obtain Hessians to help him out. His war against us was
lost at home, on English soil, through English disapproval of his course,
almost as much as it was lost here through the indomitable Washington and
the help of France. That is the actual state of the case, there is the
truth. Did you hear much about this at school? Did you ever learn there
that George III had a fake Parliament, largely elected by fake votes,
which did not represent the English people; that this fake Parliament was
autocracy's last ditch in England; that it choked for a time the English
democracy which, after the setback given it by the excesses of the French
Revolution, went forward again until to-day the King of England has less
power than the President of the United States? I suppose everybody in the
world who knows the important steps of history knows this--except the
average American. From him it has been concealed by his school histories;
and generally he never learns anything about it at all, because once out
of school, he seldom studies any history again. But why, you may possibly
wonder, have our school histories done this? I think their various au-
thors may consciously or unconsciously have felt that our case against
England was not in truth very strong, that in fact she had been very easy
with us, far easier than any other country was being with its colonies at
that time. The King of France taxed his colonies, the King of Spain
filled his purse, unhampered, from the pockets of Mexico and Peru and
Cuba and Porto Rico--from whatever pocket into which he could put his
hand, and the Dutch were doing the same without the slightest question of
their right to do it. Our quarrel with the mother country and our
breaking away from her in spite of the extremely light rein she was
driving us with, rested in reality upon very slender justification. If
ever our authors read of the meeting between Franklin, Rutledge, and
Adams with General Howe, after the Battle of Long Island, I think they
may have felt that we had almost no grievance at all. The plain truth of
it was, we had been allowed for so long to be so nearly free that we
determined to be free entirely, no matter what England conceded.
Therefore these authors of our school textbooks felt that they needed to
bolster our cause up for the benefit of the young. Accordingly our boys'
and girls' sense of independence and patriotism must be nourished by
making England out a far greater oppressor than ever she really had been.
These historians dwelt as heavily as they could upon George III and his
un-English autocracy, and as lightly as they could upon the English Pitt
and upon all the English sympathy we had. Indeed, about this most of them
didn't say a word.

Now that policy may possibly have been desirable once--if it can ever be
desirable to suppress historic truth from a whole nation. But to-day,
when we have long stood on our own powerful legs and need no bolstering
up of such a kind, that policy is not only silly, it is pernicious. It is
pernicious because the world is heaving with frightful menaces to all the
good that man knows. They would strip life of every resource gathered
through centuries of struggle. Mad mobs, whole races of people who have
never thought at all, or who have now hurled away all pretense of
thought, aim at mere destruction of everything that is. They don't
attempt to offer any substitute. Down with religion, down with education,
down with marriage, down with law, down with property: Such is their cry.
Wipe the slate blank, they say, and then we'll see what we'll write on
it. Amid this stands Germany with her unchanged purpose to own the earth;
and Japan is doing some thinking. Amid this also is the Anglo-Saxon race,
the race that has brought our law, our order, our safety, our freedom
into the modern world. That any school histories should hinder the
members of this race from understanding each other truly and being
friends, should not be tolerated.

Many years later than Mr. Sydney George Fisher's analysis of England
under George III, Mr. Charles Altschul has made an examination and given
an analysis of a great number of those school textbooks wherein our boys
and girls have been and are still being taught a history of our
Revolution in the distorted form that I have briefly summarized. His book
was published in 1917, by the George H. Doran Company, New York, and is
entitled The American Revolution in our School Textbooks. Here following
are some of his discoveries:

Of forty school histories used twenty years ago in sixty-eight cities,
and in many more unreported, four tell the truth about King George's
pocket Parliament, and thirty-two suppress it. To-day our books are not
quite so bad, but it is not very much better; and-to-day, be it added,
any reforming of these textbooks by Boards of Education is likely to be
prevented, wherever obstruction is possible, by every influence visible
and invisible that pro-German and pro-Irish propaganda can exert.
Thousands of our American school children all over our country are still
being given a version of our Revolution and the political state of
England then, which is as faulty as was George III's government, with its
fake parliament, its "rotten boroughs," its Little Sarum. Meanwhile that
"army of spies" through which the Kaiser boasted that he ruled "supreme"
here, and which, though he is gone, is by no means a demobilized army,
but a very busy and well-drilled and well-conducted army, is very glad
that our boys and girls should be taught false history, and will do its
best to see that they are not taught true history.

Mr. Charles Altschul, in his admirable enterprise, addressed himself to
those who preside over our school world all over the country; he received
answers from every state in the Union, and he examined ninety-three
history textbooks in those passages and pages which they devoted to our
Revolution. These books he grouped according to the amount of information
they gave about Pitt and Burke and English sympathy with us in our
quarrel with George III. These groups are five in number, and dwindle
down from group one, "Textbooks which deal fully with the grievances of
the colonists, give an account of general political conditions in England
prior to the American Revolution, and give credit to prominent Englishmen
for the services they rendered the Americans," to group five, "Textbooks
which deal fully with the grievances of the colonists, make no reference
to general political conditions in England prior to the American
Revolution, nor to any prominent Englishmen who devoted themselves to the
cause of the Americans." Of course, what dwindles is the amount said
about our English sympathizers. In groups three and four this is so
scanty as to distort the truth and send any boy or girl who studied books
of these groups out of school into life with a very imperfect idea indeed
of the size and importance of English opposition to the policy of George
III; in group five nothing is said about this at all. The boys and girls
who studied books in group five would grow up believing that England was
undividedly autocratic, tyrannical, and hostile to our liberty. In his
careful and conscientious classification, Mr. Altschul gives us the books
in use twenty years ago (and hence responsible for the opinion of
Americans now between thirty and forty years old) and books in use
to-day, and hence responsible for the opinion of those American men and
women who will presently be grown up and will prolong for another
generation the school-taught ignorance and prejudice of their fathers and
mothers. I select from Mr. Altschul's catalogue only those books in use
in 1917, when he published his volume, and of these only group five,
where the facts about English sympathy with us are totally suppressed.
Barnes' School History of the United States, by Steele. Chandler and
Chitword's Makers of American History. Chambers' (Hansell's) A School
History of the United States. Eggleston's A First Book in American
History. Eggleston's History of the United States and Its People. Eg-
gleston's New Century History of the United States. Evans' First Lessons
in Georgia History. Evans' The Essential Facts of American History.
Estill's Beginner's History of Our Country. Forman's History of the
United States. Montgomery's An Elementary American History. Montgomery's
The Beginner's American History. White's Beginner's History of the United

If the reader has followed me from the beginning, he will recollect a
letter, parts of which I quoted, from a correspondent who spoke of Mont-
gomery's history, giving passages in which a fair and adequate
recognition of Pitt and our English sympathizers and their opposition to
George III is made. This would seem to indicate a revision of the work
since Mr. Altschul published his lists, and to substantiate the hope I
expressed in my original article, and which I here repeat. Surely the
publishers of these books will revise them! Surely any patriotic American
publisher and any patriotic board of education, school principal, or
educator, will watch and resist all propaganda and other sinister
influence tending to perpetuate this error of these school histories!
Whatever excuse they once had, be it the explanation I have offered
above, or some other, there is no excuse to-day. These books have laid
the foundation from which has sprung the popular prejudice against
England. It has descended from father to son. It has been further
solidified by many tales for boys and girls, written by men and women
who acquired their inaccurate knowledge at our schools. And it plays
straight into the hands of our enemies

Chapter IX: Concerning a Complex

All of these books, history and fiction, drop into the American mind
during its early springtime the seed of antagonism, establish in fact an
anti-English "complex." It is as pretty a case of complex on the
wholesale as could well be found by either historian or psychologist. It
is not so violent as the complex which has been planted in the German
people by forty years of very adroitly and carefully planned training:
they were taught to distrust and hate everybody and to consider
themselves so superior to anybody that their sacred duty as they saw it
in 1914 was to enslave the world in order to force upon the world the
priceless benefits of their Kultur. Under the shock of war that complex
dilated into a form of real hysteria or insanity. Our anti-English com-
plex is fortunately milder than that; but none the less does it savor
slightly, as any nerve specialist or psychological doctor would tell
you---it savors slightly of hysteria, that hundreds of thousands of
American men and women of every grade of education and ignorance should
automatically exclaim whenever the right button is pressed, "England is
a land-grabber," and "What has England done in the War?"

The word complex has been in our dictionary for a long while. This
familiar adjective has been made by certain scientific people into a
noun, and for brevity and convenience employed to denote something that
almost all of us harbor in some form or other. These complexes, these
lumps of ideas or impressions that match each other, that are of the same
pattern, and that are also invariably tinctured with either a pleasurable
or painful emotion, lie buried in our minds, unthought-of but alive, and
lurk always ready to set up a ferment, whenever some new thing from
outside that matches them enters the mind and hence starts them off. The
"suppressed complex" I need not describe, as our English complex is by
no means suppressed. Known to us all, probably, is the political complex.
Year after year we have been excited about elections and candidates and
policies, preferring one party to the other. If this preference has been
very marked, or even violent, you know how disinclined we are to give
credit to the other party for any act or policy, no matter how excellent
in itself, which, had our own party been its sponsor, we should have been
heart and soul for. You know how easily we forget the good deeds of the
opposite party and how easily we remember its bad deeds. That's a good
simple ordinary example of a complex. Its workings can be discerned in
the experience of us all. In our present discussion it is very much to
the point.

Established in the soft young minds of our school boys and girls by a
series of reiterated statements about the tyranny and hostility of
England towards us in the Revolution, statements which they have to
remember and master by study from day to day, tinctured by the anxiety
about the examination ahead, when the students must know them or fail,
these incidents of school work being also tinctured by another emotion,
that of patriotism, enthusiasm for Washington, for the Declaration of
Independence, for Valley Forge--thus established in the regular way of
all complexes, this anti-English complex is fed and watered by what we
learn of the War of 1812, by what we learn of the Civil War of 1861, and
by many lesser events in our history thus far. And just as a Republican
will admit nothing good of a Democrat and a Democrat nothing good of a
Republican because of the political complex, so does the great--the
vast--majority of Americans automatically and easily remember everything
against England and forget everything in her favor. Just try it any day
you like. Ask any average American you are sitting next to in a train what
he knows about England; and if he does remember anything and can tell it
to you, it will be unfavorable nine times in ten. The mere word "England"
starts his complex off, and out comes every fact it has seized that
matches his school-implanted prejudice, just as it has rejected every fact
that does not match it. There is absolutely no other way to explain the
American habit of speaking ill of England and well of France. Several
times in the past, France has been flagrantly hostile to us. But there was
Lafayette, there was Rochambeau, and the great service France did us then
against England. Hence from our school histories we have a pro-French
complex. Under its workings we automatically remember every good turn
France has done us and automatically forget the evil turns. Again try the
experiment yourself. How many Americans do you think that you will find
who can recall, or who even know when you recall to them the insolent
and meddlesome Citizen Genet, envoy of the French Republic, and how
Washington requested his recall? Or the French privateers that a little
later, about 1797-98, preyed upon our commerce? And the hatred of France
which many Americans felt and expressed at that time? How many remember
that the King of France, directly our Revolution was over, was more
hostile to us than England?

Chapter X: Jackstraws

Jackstraws is a game which most of us have played in our youth. You empty
on a table a box of miniature toy rakes, shovels, picks, axes, all sorts
of tools and implements. These lie under each other and above each other
in intricate confusion, not unlike cross timber in a western forest, only
instead of being logs, they are about two inches long and very light. The
players sit round the table and with little hooks try in turn to lift one
jackstraw out of the heap, without moving any of the others. You go on
until you do move one of the others, and this loses you your turn.
European diplomacy at any moment of any year reminds you, if you inspect
it closely, of a game of jackstraws. Every sort and shape of intrigue is
in the general heap and tangle, and the jealous nations sit round, each
trying to lift out its own jackstraw. Luckily for us, we have not often
been involved in these games of jackstraw hitherto; unluckily for us, we
must be henceforth involved. If we kept out, our luck would be still

Immediately after our Revolution, there was one of these heaps of
intrigue, in which we were concerned. This was at the time of the
negotiations leading to the Treaty of Paris, to which I made reference at
the close of the last section. This was in 1783. Twenty years later, in
1803, occurred the heap of jackstraws that led to the Louisiana Purchase.
Twenty years later, in 1823, occurred the heap of jackstraws from which
emerged the Monroe Doctrine. Each of these dates, dotted along through
our early decades, marks a very important crisis in our history. It is
well that they should be grouped together, because together they
disclose, so to speak, a coherent pattern. This coherent pattern is
England's attitude towards ourselves. It is to be perceived, faintly yet
distinctly, in 1783, and it grows clearer and ever more clear until in
1898, in the game of jackstraws played when we declared war upon Spain,
the pattern is so clear that it could not be mistaken by any one who was
not willfully blinded by an anti-English complex. This pattern represents
a preference on England's part for ourselves to other nations. I do not
ask you to think England's reason for this preference is that she has
loved us so much; that she has loved others so much less--there is her
reason. She has loved herself better than anybody. So must every nation.
So does every nation.

Let me briefly speak of the first game of jackstraws, played at Paris in
1783. Our Revolution was over. The terms of peace had to be drawn.
Franklin, Jay, Adams, and Laurens were our negotiators. The various
important points were acknowledgment of our independence, settlement of
boundaries, freedom of fishing in the neighborhood of the Canadian coast.
We had agreed to reach no settlement with England separately from France
and Spain. They were our recent friends. England, our recent enemy, sent
Richard Oswald as her peace commissioner. This private gentleman had
placed his fortune at our disposal during the war, and was Franklin's
friend. Lord Shelburne wrote Franklin that if this was not satisfactory,
to say so, and name any one he preferred. But Oswald was satisfactory;
and David Hartley, another friend of Franklin's and also a sympathizer
with our Revolution, was added; and in these circumstances and by these
men the Treaty was made. To France we broke our promise to reach no
separate agreement with England. We negotiated directly with the British,
and the Articles were signed without consultation with the French
Government. When Vergennes, the French Minister, saw the terms, he
remarked in disgust that England would seem to have bought a peace rather
than made one. By the treaty we got the Northwest Territory and the basin
of the Ohio River to the Mississippi. Our recent friend, the French King,
was much opposed to our having so much territory. It was our recent
enemy, England, who agreed that we should have it. This was the result of
that game of jackstraws.

Let us remember several things: in our Revolution, France had befriended
us, not because she loved us so much, but because she loved England so
little. In the Treaty of Paris, England stood with us, not because she
loved us so much, but because she loved France so little. We must cherish
no illusions. Every nation must love itself more than it loves its
neighbor. Nevertheless, in this pattern of England's policy in 1783,
where she takes her stand with us and against other nations, there is a
deep significance. Our notions of law, our notions of life, our notions
of religion, our notions of liberty, our notions of what a man should be
and what a woman should be, are so much more akin to her notions than to
those of any other nation, that they draw her toward us rather than
toward any other nation. That is the lesson of the first game of

Next comes 1803. Upon the Louisiana Purchase, I have already touched; but
not upon its diplomatic side. In those years the European game of
diplomacy was truly portentous. Bonaparte had appeared, and Bonaparte was
the storm centre. From the heap of jackstraws I shall lift out only that
which directly concerns us and our acquisition of that enormous
territory, then called Louisiana. Bonaparte had dreamed and planned an
empire over here. Certain vicissitudes disenchanted him. A plan to invade
England also helped to deflect his mind from establishing an outpost of
his empire upon our continent. For us he had no love. Our principles were
democratic, he was a colossal autocrat. He called us "the reign of
chatter," and he would have liked dearly to put out our light. Addington
was then the British Prime Minister. Robert R. Livingston was our
minister in Paris. In the history of Henry Adams, in Volume II at pages
52 and 53, you may find more concerning Bonaparte's dislike of the United
States. You may also find that Talleyrand expressed the view that
socially and economically England and America were one and indivisible.
In Volume I of the same history, at page 439, you will see the mention
which Pichon made to Talleyrand of the overtures which England was
incessantly making to us. At some time during all this, rumor got abroad
of Bonaparte's projects regarding Louisiana. In the second volume of
Henry Adams, at pages 23 and 24, you will find Addington remarking to our
minister to Great Britain, Rufus King, that it would not do to let
Bonaparte establish himself in Louisiana. Addington very plainly hints
that Great Britain would back us in any such event. This backing of us by
Great Britain found very cordial acceptance in the mind of Thomas
Jefferson. A year before the Louisiana Purchase was consummated, and
when the threat of Bonaparte was in the air, Thomas Jefferson wrote to
Livingston, on April 18, 1802, that "the day France takes possession of
New Orleans, we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." In
one of his many memoranda to Talleyrand, Livingston alludes to the
British fleet. He also points out that France may by taking a certain
course estrange the United States for ever and bind it closely to
France's great enemy. This particular address to Talleyrand is dated
February 1, 1803, and may be found in the Annals of Congress, 1802-1803,
at pages 1078 to 1083. I quote a sentence: "The critical moment has
arrived which rivets the connexion of the United States to France, or
binds a young and growing people for ages hereafter to her mortal and
inveterate enemy." After this, hints follow concerning the relative
maritime power of France and Great Britain. Livingston suggests that if
Great Britain invade Louisiana, who can oppose her? Once more he refers
to Great Britain's superior fleet. This interesting address concludes
with the following exordium to France: "She will cheaply purchase the
esteem of men and the favor of Heaven by the surrender of a distant
wilderness, which can neither add to her wealth nor to her strength."
This, as you will perceive, is quite a pointed remark. Throughout the
Louisiana diplomacy, and negotiations to which this diplomacy led,
Livingston's would seem to be the master American mind and prophetic
vision. But I must keep to my jackstraws. On April 17, 1803, Bonaparte's
brother, Lucien, reports a conversation held with him by Bonaparte. What
purposes, what oscillations, may have been going on deep in Bonaparte's
secret mind, no one can tell. We may guess that he did not relinquish his
plan about Louisiana definitely for some time after the thought had
dawned upon him that it would be better if he did relinquish it. But
unless he was lying to his brother Lucien on April 17, 1803, we get no
mere glimpse, but a perfectly clear sight of what he had come finally to
think. It was certainly worth while, he said to Lucien, to sell when you
could what you were certain to lose; "for the English... are aching for
a chance to capture it.... Our navy, so inferior to our neighbor's across
the Channel, will always cause our colonies to be exposed to great
risks.... As to the sea, my dear fellow, you must know that there we have
to lower the flag.... The English navy is, and long will be, too

That was on April 17. On May 2, the Treaty of Cession was signed by the
exultant Livingston. Bonaparte, instead of establishing an outpost of
autocracy at New Orleans, sold to us not only the small piece of land
which we had originally in mind, but the huge piece of land whose
dimensions I have given above. We paid him fifteen millions for nearly a
million square miles. The formal transfer was made on December 17 of that
same year, 1803. There is my second jackstraw.

Thus, twenty years after the first time in 1783, Great Britain stood
between us and the designs of another nation. To that other nation her
fleet was the deciding obstacle. England did not love us so much, but she
loved France so much less. For the same reasons which I have suggested
before, self-interest, behind which lay her democratic kinship with our
ideals, ranged her with us.

To place my third jackstraw, which follows twenty years after the second,
uninterruptedly in this group, I pass over for the moment our War of 1812.
To that I will return after I have dealt with the third jackstraw,
namely, the Monroe Doctrine. It was England that suggested the Monroe
Doctrine to us. From the origin of this in the mind of Canning to its
public announcement upon our side of the water, the pattern to which I
have alluded is for the third time very clearly to be seen.

How much did your school histories tell you about the Monroe Doctrine? I
confess that my notion of it came to this: President Monroe informed the
kings of Europe that they must keep away from this hemisphere. Whereupon
the kings obeyed him and have remained obedient ever since. Of George
Canning I knew nothing. Another large game of jackstraws was being played
in Europe in 1823. Certain people there had formed the Holy Alliance.
Among these, Prince Metternich the Austrian was undoubtedly the master
mind. He saw that by England's victory at Waterloo a threat to all
monarchical and dynastic systems of government had been created. He also
saw that our steady growth was a part of the same threat. With this in
mind, in 1822, he brought about the Holy Alliance. The first Article of
the Holy Alliance reads: "The high contracting Powers, being convinced
that the system of representative government is as equally incompatible
with the monarchical principle as the maxim of sovereignty of the people
with the Divine right, engage mutually, in the most solemn manner, to use
all their efforts to put an end to the system of representative
governments, in whatever country it may exist in Europe, and to prevent
its being introduced in those countries where it is not yet known."

Behind these words lay a design, hardly veiled, not only against South
America, but against ourselves. In a volume entitled With the Fathers, by
John Bach McMaster, and also in the fifth volume of Mr. McMaster's
history, chapter 41, you will find more amply what I abbreviate here.
Canning understood the threat to us contained in the Holy Alliance. He
made a suggestion to Richard Rush, our minister to England. The
suggestion was of such moment, and the ultimate danger to us from the
Holy Alliance was of such moment, that Rush made haste to put the matter
into the hands of President Monroe. President Monroe likewise found the
matter very grave, and he therefore consulted Thomas Jefferson. At that
time Jefferson had retired from public life and was living quietly at his
place in Virginia. That President Monroe's communication deeply stirred
him is to be seen in his reply, written October 24, 1823. Jefferson says
in part: "The question presented by the letters you have sent me is the
most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that
of independence.... One nation most of all could disturb us.... She now
offers to lead, aid and accompany us.... With her on our side we need not
fear the whole world. With her, then, we should most seriously cherish a
cordial friendship, and nothing would tend more to unite our affections
than to be fighting once more, side by side, in the same cause."

Thus for the second time, Thomas Jefferson advises a friendship with
Great Britain. He realizes as fully as did Bonaparte the power of her
navy, and its value to us. It is striking and strange to find Thomas
Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, writing in
1823 about uniting our affections and about fighting once more side by
side with England.

It was the revolt of the Spanish Colonies from Spain in South America,
and Canning's fear that France might obtain dominion in America, which
led him to make his suggestion to Rush. The gist of the suggestion was,
that we should join with Great Britain in saying that both countries were
opposed to any intervention by Europe in the western hemisphere. Over our
announcement there was much delight in England. In the London Courier
occurs a sentence, "The South American Republics--protected by the two
nations that possess the institutions and speak the language of freedom."
In this fragment from the London Courier, the kinship at which I have
hinted as being felt by England in 1783, and in 1803, is definitely
expressed. From the Holy Alliance, from the general European diplomatic
game, and from England's preference for us who spoke her language and
thought her thoughts about liberty, law, what a man should be, what a
woman should be, issued the Monroe Doctrine. And you will find that no
matter what dynastic or ministerial interruptions have occurred to
obscure this recognition of kinship with us and preference for us upon
the part of the English people, such interruptions are always temporary
and lie always upon the surface of English sentiment. Beneath the surface
the recognition of kinship persists unchanged and invariably reasserts

That is my third jackstraw. Canning spoke to Rush, Rush consulted Monroe,
Monroe consulted Jefferson, and Jefferson wrote what we have seen. That,
stripped of every encumbering circumstance, is the story of the Monroe
Doctrine. Ever since that day the Monroe Doctrine has rested upon the
broad back of the British Navy. This has been no secret to our leading
historians, our authoritative writers on diplomacy, and our educated and
thinking public men. But they have not generally been eager to mention
it; and as to our school textbooks, none that I studied mentioned it at

Chapter XI: Some Family Scraps

Do not suppose because I am reminding you of these things and shall
remind you of some more, that I am trying to make you hate France. I am
only trying to persuade you to stop hating England. I wish to show you
how much reason you have not to hate her, which your school histories
pass lightly over, or pass wholly by. I want to make it plain that your
anti-English complex and your pro-French complex entice your memory into
retaining only evil about England and only good about France. That is why
I pull out from the recorded, certified, and perfectly ascertainable
past, these few large facts. They amply justify, as it seems to me, and
as I think it must seem to any reader with an open mind, what I said
about the pattern.

We must now touch upon the War of 1812. There is a political aspect of
this war which casts upon it a light not generally shed by our school
histories. Bonaparte is again the point. Nine years after our Louisiana
Purchase from him, we declared war upon England. At that moment England
was heavily absorbed in her struggle with Bonaparte. It is true that we
had a genuine grievance against her. In searching for British sailors
upon our ships, she impressed our own. This was our justification.

We made a pretty lame showing, in spite of the victories of our frigates
and sloops. Our one signal triumph on land came after the Treaty of Peace
had been signed at Ghent. During the years of war, it was lucky for us
that England had Bonaparte upon her hands. She could not give us much
attention. She was battling with the great Autocrat. We, by declaring war
upon her at such a time, played into Bonaparte's hands, and virtually, by
embarrassing England, struck a blow on the side of autocracy and against
our own political faith. It was a feeble blow, it did but slight harm.
And regardless of it England struck Bonaparte down. His hope that we
might damage and lessen the power of her fleet that he so much respected
and feared, was not realized. We made the Treaty of Ghent. The impressing
of sailors from our vessels was tacitly abandoned. The next time that
people were removed from vessels, it was not England who removed them, it
was we ourselves, who had declared war on England for doing so, we
ourselves who removed them from Canadian vessels in the Behring Sea, and
from the British ship Trent. These incidents we shall reach in their
proper place. As a result of the War of 1812, some English felt justified
in taking from us a large slice of land, but Wellington said, "I think
you have no right, from the state of the war, to demand any concession of
territory from America." This is all that need be said about our War of

Because I am trying to give only the large incidents, I have
intentionally made but a mere allusion to Florida and our acquisition of
that territory. It was a case again of England's siding with us against a
third power, Spain, in this instance. I have also omitted any account of
our acquisition of Texas, when England was not friendly--I am not sure
why: probably because of the friction between us over Oregon. But certain
other minor events there are, which do require a brief reference--the
boundaries of Maine, of Oregon, the Isthmian Canal, Cleveland and
Venezuela, Roosevelt and Alaska; and these disputes we shall now take up
together, before we deal with the very large matter of our trouble with
England during the Civil War. Chronologically, of course, Venezuela and
Alaska fall after the Civil War; but they belong to the same class to
which Maine and Oregon belong. Together, all of these incidents and
controversies form a group in which the underlying permanence of British
good-will towards us is distinctly to be discerned. Sometimes, as I have
said before, British anger with us obscures the friendly sentiment. But
this was on the surface, and it always passed. As usual, it is only the
anger that has stuck in our minds. Of the outcome of these controversies
and the British temperance and restraint which brought about such outcome
the popular mind retains no impression.

The boundary of Maine was found to be undefined to the extent of 12,000
square miles. Both Maine and New Brunswick claimed this, of course. Maine
took her coat off to fight, so did New Brunswick. Now, we backed Maine,
and voted supplies and men to her. Not so England. More soberly, she
said, "Let us arbitrate." We agreed, it was done. By the umpire Maine was
awarded more than half what she claimed. And then we disputed the
umpire's decision on the ground he hadn't given us the whole thing! Does
not this remind you of some of our baseball bad manners? It was settled
later, and we got, differently located, about the original award.

Did you learn in school about "fifty-four forty, or fight"? We were ready
to take off our coat again. Or at least, that was the platform in 1844 on
which President Polk was elected. At that time, what lay between the
north line of California and the south line of Alaska, which then
belonged to Russia, was called Oregon. We said it was ours. England
disputed this. Each nation based its title on discovery. It wasn't really
far from an even claim. So Polk was elected, which apparently meant war;
his words were bellicose. We blustered rudely. Feeling ran high in
England; but she didn't take off her coat. Her ambassador, Pakenham,
stiff at first, unbent later. Under sundry missionary impulses, more
Americans than British had recently settled along the Columbia River and
in the Willamette Valley. People from Missouri followed. You may read of
our impatient violence in Professor Dunning's book, The British Empire
and the United States. Indeed, this volume tells at length everything I
am telling you briefly about these boundary disputes. The settlers wished
to be under our Government. Virtually upon their preference the matter
was finally adjusted. England met us with a compromise, advantageous to
us and reasonable for herself. Thus, again, was her conduct moderate
and pacific. If you think that this was through fear of us, I can only
leave you to our western blow-hards of 1845, or to your anti-British
complex. What I see in it, is another sign of that fundamental sense of
kinship, that persisting unwillingness to have a real scrap with us, that
stares plainly out of our whole first century--the same feeling which
prevented so many English from enlisting against us in the Revolution
that George III was obliged to get Hessians.

Nicaragua comes next. There again they were quite angry with us on top,
but controlled in the end by the persisting disposition of kinship. They
had land in Nicaragua with the idea of an Isthmian Canal. This we did not
like. They thought we should mind our own business. But they agreed with
us in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty that both should build and run the canal.
Vagueness about territory near by raised further trouble, and there we
were in the right. England yielded. The years went on and we grew, until
the time came when we decided that if there was to be any canal, no one
but ourselves should have it. We asked to be let off the old treaty.
England let us off, stipulating the canal should be unfortified, and an
"open door" to all. Our representative agreed to this, much to our
displeasure. Indeed, I do not think he should have agreed to it. Did
England hold us to it? All this happened in the lifetime of many of us,
and we know that she did not hold us to it. She gave us what we asked,
and she did so because she felt its justice, and that it in no way
menaced her with injury. All this began in 1850 and ended, as we know, in
the time of Roosevelt.

About 1887 our seal-fishing in the Behring Sea brought on an acute
situation. Into the many and intricate details of this, I need not go;
you can find them in any good encyclopedia, and also in Harper's Magazine
for April, 1891, and in other places. Our fishing clashed with Canada's.
We assumed jurisdiction over the whole of the sea, which is a third as
big as the Mediterranean, on the quite fantastic ground that it was an
inland sea. Ignoring the law that nobody has jurisdiction outside the
three-mile limit from their shores, we seized Canadian vessels sixty
miles from land. In fact, we did virtually what we had gone to war with
England for doing in 1812. But England did not go to war. She asked for
arbitration. Throughout this, our tone was raw and indiscreet, while hers
was conspicuously the opposite; we had done an unwarrantable and
high-handed thing; our claim that Behring Sea was an "inclosed" sea was
abandoned; the arbitration went against us, and we paid damages for the
Canadian vessels.

In 1895, in the course of a century's dispute over the boundary between
Venezuela and British Guiana, Venezuela took prisoner some British
subjects, and asked us to protect her from the consequences. Richard
Olney, Grover Cleveland's Secretary of State, informed Lord Salisbury,
Prime Minister of England, that "in accordance with the Monroe Doctrine,
the United States must insist on arbitration"--that is, of the disputed
boundary. It was an abrupt extension of the Monroe Doctrine. It was
dictating to England the manner in which she should settle a difference
with another country. Salisbury declined. On December 17th Cleveland
announced to England that the Monroe Doctrine applied to every stage of
our national Life, and that as Great Britain had for many years refused
to submit the dispute to impartial arbitration, nothing remained to us
but to accept the situation. Moreover, if the disputed territory was
found to belong to Venezuela, it would be the duty of the United States
to resist, by every means in its power, the aggressions of Great Britain.
This was, in effect, an ultimatum. The stock market went to pieces. In
general American opinion, war was coming. The situation was indeed grave.
First, we owed the Monroe Doctrine's very existence to English backing.
Second, the Doctrine itself had been a declaration against autocracy in
the shape of the Holy Alliance, and England was not autocracy. Lastly,
as a nation, Venezuela seldom conducted herself or her government on the
steady plan of democracy. England was exasperated. And yet England
yielded. It took a little time, but arbitration settled it in the end--
at about the same time that we flatly declined to arbitrate our quarrel
with Spain. History will not acquit us of groundless meddling and
arrogance in this matter, while England comes out of it having again
shown in the end both forbearance and good manners. Before another
Venezuelan incident in 1902,I take up a burning dispute of 1903.

As Oregon had formerly been, so Alaska had later become, a grave source
of friction between England and ourselves. Canada claimed boundaries in
Alaska which we disputed. This had smouldered along through a number of
years until the discovery of gold in the Klondike region fanned it to a
somewhat menacing flame. In this instance, history is as unlikely to
approve the conduct of the Canadians as to approve our bad manners
towards them upon many other occasions. The matter came to a head in
Roosevelt's first administration. You will find it all in the Life of
John Hay by William R. Thayer, Volume II. A commission to settle the
matter had dawdled and failed. Roosevelt was tired of delays.
Commissioners again were appointed, three Americans, two Canadians, and
Alverstone, Lord Chief Justice, to represent England. To his friend
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, about to sail for an English holiday,
Roosevelt wrote a private letter privately to be shown to Mr. Balfour,
Mr. Chamberlain, and certain other Englishmen of mark. He said: "The
claim of the Canadians for access to deep water along any part of the
Alaskan coast is just exactly as indefensible as if they should now
suddenly claim the Island of Nantucket." Canada had objected to our
Commissioners as being not "impartial jurists of repute." As to this,
Roosevelt's letter to Holmes ran on: "I believe that no three men in the
United States could be found who would be more anxious than our own
delegates to do justice to the British claim on all points where there is
even a color of right on the British side. But the objection raised by
certain British authorities to Lodge, Root, and Turner, especially to
Lodge and Root, was that they had committed themselves on the general
proposition. No man in public life in any position of prominence could
have possibly avoided committing himself on the proposition, any more
than Mr. Chamberlain could avoid committing himself on the ownership of
the Orkneys if some Scandinavian country suddenly claimed them. If this
embodied other points to which there was legitimate doubt, I believe Mr.
Chamberlain would act fairly and squarely in deciding the matter; but if
he appointed a commission to settle up all these questions, I certainly
should not expect him to appoint three men, if he could find them, who
believed that as to the Orkneys the question was an open one. I wish to
make one last effort to bring about an agreement through the Com-
mission.... But if there is a disagreement... I shall take a position
which will prevent any possibility of arbitration hereafter;... will
render it necessary for Congress to give me the authority to run the line
as we claim it, by our own people, without any further regard to the
attitude of England and Canada. If I paid attention to mere abstract
rights, that is the position I ought to take anyhow. I have not taken it
because I wish to exhaust every effort to have the affair settled
peacefully and with due regard to England's honor."

That is the way to do these things: not by a peremptory public letter,
like Olney's to Salisbury, which enrages a whole people and makes
temperate action doubly difficult, but thus, by a private letter to the
proper persons, very plain, very unmistakable, but which remains private,
a sufficient word to the wise, and not a red rag to the mob. "To have the
affair settled peacefully and with due regard to England's honor." Thus
Roosevelt. England desired no war with us this time, any more than at the
other time. The Commission went to work, and, after investigating the
facts, decided in our favor.

Our list of boundary episodes finished, I must touch upon the affair with
the Kaiser regarding Venezuela's debts. She owed money to Germany, Italy,
and England. The Kaiser got the ear of the Tory government under
Salisbury, and between the three countries a secret pact was made to
repay themselves. Venezuela is not seldom reluctant to settle her
obligations, and she was slow upon this occasion. It was the Kaiser's
chance--he had been trying it already at other points--to slide into a
foothold over here under the camouflage of collecting from Venezuela her
just debt to him. So with warships he and his allies established what he
called a pacific blockade on Venezuelan ports.

I must skip the comedy that now went on in Washington (you will find it
on pages 287-288 of Mr. Thayer's John Hay, Volume II) and come at once to
Mr. Roosevelt's final word to the Kaiser, that if there was not an offer
to arbitrate within forty-eight hours, Admiral Dewey would sail for
Venezuela. In thirty-six hours arbitration was agreed to. England
withdrew from her share in the secret pact. Had she wanted war with us,
her fleet and the Kaiser's could have outmatched our own. She did not;
and the Kaiser had still very clearly and sorely in remembrance what
choice she had made between standing with him and standing with us a few
years before this, upon an occasion that was also connected with Admiral
Dewey. This I shall fully consider after summarizing those international
episodes of our Civil War wherein England was concerned.

This completes my list of minor troubles with England that we have had
since Canning suggested our Monroe Doctrine in 1823. Minor troubles, I
call them, because they are all smaller than those during our Civil War.
The full record of each is an open page of history for you to read at
leisure in any good library. You will find that the anti-English complex
has its influence sometimes in the pages of our historians, but Professor
Dunning is free from it. You will find, whatever transitory gusts of
anger, jealousy, hostility, or petulance may have swept over the English
people in their relations with us, these gusts end in a calm; and this
calm is due to the common-sense of the race. It revealed itself in the
treaty at the close of our Revolution, and it has been the ultimate
controlling factor in English dealings with us ever since. And now I
reach the last of my large historic matters, the Civil War, and our war
with Spain.

Chapter XII: On the Ragged Edge

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln, nominee of the Republican party, which was
opposed to the extension of slavery, was elected President of the United
States. Forty-one days later, the legislature of South Carolina,
determined to perpetuate slavery, met at Columbia, but, on account of a
local epidemic, moved to Charleston. There, about noon, December 20th, it
unanimously declared "that the Union now subsisting between South
Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of
America, is hereby dissolved." Soon other slave states followed this
lead, and among them all, during those final months of Buchanan's
presidency, preparedness went on, unchecked by the half-feeble,
half-treacherous Federal Government. Lincoln, in his inaugural address,
March 4, 1861, declared that he had no purpose, directly or indirectly,
to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it
existed. To the seceded slave states he said: "In your hands, my
dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not mine, is the momentous issue of
civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict
without being yourselves the aggressors. You can have no oath registered
in heaven to destroy the Government; while I shall have the most solemn
one to preserve, protect and defend it." This changed nothing in the
slave states. It was not enough for them that slavery could keep on where
it was. To spread it where it was not, had been their aim for a very long
while. The next day, March 5th, Lincoln had letters from Fort Sumter, in
Charleston harbor. Major Anderson was besieged there by the batteries of
secession, was being starved out, might hold on a month longer, needed
help. Through staggering complications and embarrassments, which were
presently to be outstaggered by worse ones, Lincoln by the end of March
saw his path clear. "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen,
and not mine, is the momentous issue of civil war." The clew to the path
had been in those words from the first. The flag of the Union, the little
island of loyalty amid the waters of secession, was covered by the
Charleston batteries. "Batteries ready to open Wednesday or Thursday.
What instructions?" Thus, on April 1st, General Beauregard, at
Charleston, telegraphed to Jefferson Davis. They had all been hoping that
Lincoln would give Fort Sumter to them and so save their having to take
it. Not at all. The President of the United States was not going to give
away property of the United States. Instead, the Governor of South Caro-
lina received a polite message that an attempt would be made to supply
Fort Sumter with food only, and that if this were not interfered with, no
arms or ammunition should be sent there without further notice, or in
case the fort were attacked. Lincoln was leaning backwards, you might
say, in his patient effort to conciliate. And accordingly our transports
sailed from New York for Charleston with instructions to supply Sumter
with food alone, unless they should be opposed in attempting to carry out
their errand. This did not suit Jefferson Davis at all; and, to cut it
short, at half-past four, on the morning of April 12, 1861, there arose
into the air from the mortar battery near old Fort Johnson, on the south
side of the harbor, a bomb-shell, which curved high and slow through the
dawn, and fell upon Fort Sumter, thus starting four years of civil war.
One week later the Union proclaimed a blockade on the ports of Slave

Bear each and all of these facts in mind, I beg, bear them in mind well,
for in the light of them you can see England clearly, and will have no
trouble in following the different threads of her conduct towards us
during this struggle. What she did then gave to our ancient grudge
against her the reddest coat of fresh paint which it had received yet--
the reddest and the most enduring since George III.

England ran true to form. It is very interesting to mark this; very
interesting to watch in her government and her people the persistent and
conflicting currents of sympathy and antipathy boil up again, just as
they had boiled in 1776. It is equally interesting to watch our ancient
grudge at work, causing us to remember and hug all the ill will she bore
us, all the harm she did us, and to forget all the good. Roughly


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