The Path of Empire,
Carl Russell Fish

Part 1 out of 4


The Path Of Empire, A Chronicle Of The United States As A World Power

by Carl Russell Fish




CHAPTER I. The Monroe Doctrine

In 1815 the world found peace after twenty-two years of continual
war. In the forests of Canada and the pampas of South America,
throughout all the countries of Europe, over the plains of Russia
and the hills of Palestine, men and women had known what war was
and had prayed that its horrors might never return. In even the
most autocratic states subjects and rulers were for once of one
mind: in the future war must be prevented. To secure peace
forever was the earnest desire of two statesmen so strongly
contrasted as the impressionable Czar Alexander I of Russia,
acclaimed as the "White Angel" and the "Universal Savior," and
Prince Metternich, the real ruler of Austria, the spider who was
for the next thirty years to spin the web of European secret
diplomacy. While the Czar invited all governments to unite in a
"Holy Alliance" to prevent war, Metternich for the same purpose
formed the less holy but more powerful "Quadruple Alliance" of
Russia, Prussia, Austria, and England.

The designs of Metternich, however, went far beyond the mere
prevention of war. To his mind the cause of all the upheavals
which had convulsed Europe was the spirit of liberty bred in
France in the days of the Revolution; if order was to be
restored, there must be a return to the former autocratic
principle of government, to the doctrine of "Divine Right"; it
was for kings and emperors to command; it was the duty of
subjects to obey. These principles had not, it was true,
preserved peace in the past, but Metternich now proposed that, in
the future, sovereigns or their representatives should meet "at
fixed periods" to adjust their own differences and to assist one
another in enforcing the obedience of subjects everywhere. The
rulers were reasonably well satisfied with the world as it was
arranged by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and determined to set
their faces against any change in the relations of governments to
one another or to their subjects. They regretted, indeed, that
the Government of the United States was built upon the sands of a
popular vote, but they recognized that it was apparently well
established and decently respectable, and therefore worthy of
recognition by the mutual protection society of the Holy

The subjects of these sovereigns, however, did not all share the
satisfaction of their masters, and some of them soon showed that
much as they desired peace they desired other things even more.
The inhabitants of Spanish America, while their imperial mother
was in the chaos of Napoleon's wars, had nibbled at the forbidden
fruit of freedom. They particularly desired freedom to buy the
products of British factories, which cost less and satisfied
better than those previously furnished by the Spanish merchants,
secure in their absolute monopoly. With peace came renewed
monopoly, haughty officials, and oppressive laws dictated by that
most stupid of the restored sovereigns, Ferdinand VII of Spain.
Buenos Aires, however, never recognized his rule, and her
general, the knightly San Martin, in one of the most remarkable
campaigns of history, scaled the Andes and carried the flag of
revolution into Chili and Peru. Venezuela, that hive of
revolution, sent forth Bolivar to found the new republics of
Colombia and Bolivia. Mexico freed herself, and Brazil separated
herself from Portugal. By 1822 European rule had been practically
swept off the American mainland, from Cape Horn to the borders of
Canada, and, except for the empire of Dom Pedro in Brazil, the
newly born nations had adopted the republican form of government
which the European monarchs despised. The spirit of unrest leaped
eastward across the Atlantic. Revolutions in Spain, Portugal, and
Naples sought impiously and with constitutions to bind the hands
of their kings. Even the distant Greeks and Serbians sought their
independence from the Turk.

Divine Right, just rescued from the French Revolution, was
tottering and had yet to test the strength of its new props, the
"Holy" and the "Quadruple" alliances, and the policy of
intervention to maintain the status quo. Congresses at
Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, at Troppau in 1820, and at Laibach in
1821, decided to refuse recognition to governments resting on
such revolutions, to offer mediation to restore the old order,
and, if this were refused, to intervene by force. In the United
States, on the other hand, founded on the right of revolution and
dedicated to government by the people, these popular movements
were greeted with enthusiasm. The fiery Clay, speaker and leader
of the House of Representatives, made himself champion of the
cause of the Spanish Americans; Daniel Webster thundered forth
the sympathy of all lovers of antiquity for the Greeks; and
Samuel Gridley Howe, an impetuous young American doctor, crossed
the seas, carrying to the Greeks his services and the gifts of
Boston friends of liberty. A new conflict seemed to be shaping
itself--a struggle of absolutism against democracy, of America
against Europe.

Between the two camps, both in her ideas and in her geographical
situation, stood England. Devoted as she was to law and order,
bulwark against the excesses of the French Terror and the world
dominion that Napoleon sought, she was nevertheless equally
strong in her opposition to Divine Right. Her people and her
government alike were troubled at the repressive measured by
which the Allies put down the Revolution of Naples in 1821 and
that of Spain in 1823. Still more were they disturbed at the hint
given at the Congress of Verona in 1822 that, when Europe was
once quieted, America would engage the attention of Europe's
arbiters. George Canning, the English foreign minister, soon
discovered that this hint foreshadowed a new congress to be
devoted especially to the American problem. Spain was to be
restored to her sovereignty, but was to pay in liberal grants of
American territory to whatever powers helped her. Canning is
regarded as the ablest English foreign minister of the nineteenth
century; at least no one better embodied the fundamental
aspirations of the English people. He realized that liberal
England would be perpetually a minority in a united Europe, as
Europe was then organized. He believed that the best security for
peace was not a union but a balance of powers. He opposed
intervention in the internal affairs of nations and stood for the
right of each to choose its own form of government. Particularly
he fixed his eyes on America, where he hoped to find weight to
help him balance the autocrats of the Old World. He wished to see
the new American republics free, and he believed that in freedom
of trade England would obtain from them all that she needed.
Alarmed at the impending European intervention to restore the
rule of Spain or of her monarchical assignees in America, he
sought an understanding with the United States. He proposed to
Richard Rush, the United States minister in London, that the two
countries declare concurrently that the independence of Spanish
America, was a fact, that the recognition of the new governments
was a matter of time and circumstance, that neither country
desired any portion of Spain's former dominions, but that neither
would look with indifference upon the transfer of any portion of
them to another power.

On October 9, 1823, this proposal reached Washington. The answer
would be framed by able and most experienced statesmen. The
President, James Monroe, had been almost continuously in public
service since 1782. He had been minister to France, Spain, and
England, and had been Secretary of State. In his earlier missions
he had often shown an unwise impetuosity and an independent
judgment which was not always well balanced. He had, however,
grown in wisdom. He inspired respect by his sterling qualities of
character, and he was an admirable presiding officer. William H.
Crawford, his Secretary of the Treasury, John C. Calhoun, his
Secretary of War, William Wirt, his Attorney-General, and even
John McLean, his Postmaster-General, not then a member of the
Cabinet, were all men who were considered as of presidential

Foremost in ability and influence, however, was John Quincy
Adams, the Secretary of State. Brought up from early boyhood in
the atmosphere of diplomacy, familiar with nearly every country
of Europe, he had nevertheless none of those arts of suavity
which are popularly associated with the diplomat. Short,
baldheaded, with watery eyes, he on the one hand repelled
familiarity, and on the other hand shocked some sensibilities, as
for example when he appeared in midsummer Washington without a
neckcloth. His early morning swim in the Potomac and his
translations of Horace did not conquer a temper which embittered
many who had business with him, while the nightly records which
he made of his interviews show that he was generally suspicious
of his visitors. Yet no American can show so long a roll of
diplomatic successes. Preeminently he knew his business. His
intense devotion and his native talent had made him a master of
the theory and practice of international law and of statecraft.
Always he was obviously honest, and his word was relied on.
Fundamentally he was kind, and his work was permeated by a
generous enthusiasm. Probably no man in America, had so intense a
conviction not only of the correctness of American principles and
the promise of American greatness but of the immediate strength
and greatness of the United States as it stood in 1823.

Fully aware as Adams was of the danger that threatened both
America and liberty, he was not in favor of accepting Canning's
proposal for the cooperation of England and the United States. He
based his opposition upon two fundamental objections. In the
first place he was not prepared to say that the United States
desired no more Spanish territory. Not that Adams desired or
would tolerate conquest. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase he
had wished to postpone annexation until the assent of the people
of that province could be obtained. But he believed that all the
territory necessary for the geographical completeness of the
United States had not yet been brought under the flag. He had
just obtained Florida from Spain and a claim westward to the
Pacific north of the forty-second parallel, but he considered the
Southwest--Texas, New Mexico, and California--a natural field of
expansion. These areas, then almost barren of white settlers, he
expected time to bring into the United States, and he also
expected that the people of Cuba would ultimately rejoice to
become incorporated in the Union. He wished natural forces to
work out their own results, without let or hindrance.

Not only was Adams opposed to Canning's proposed self-denying
ordinance, but he was equally averse to becoming a partner with
England. Such cooperation might well prove in time to be an
"entangling alliance," involving the United States in problems of
no immediate concern to its people and certainly in a partnership
in which the other member would be dominant. If Canning saw
liberal England as a perpetual minority in absolutist Europe,
Adams saw republican America as a perpetual inferior to
monarchical England. Although England, with Canada, the West
Indies, and her commerce, was a great American power, Adams
believed that the United States, the oldest independent nation in
America, with a government which gave the model to the rest,
could not admit her to joint, leadership, for her power was in,
not of, America, and her government was monarchical. Already
Adams had won a strategic advantage over Canning, for in the
previous year, 1822, the United States had recognized the new
South American republics.

Great as were the dangers involved in cooperation with England,
however, they seemed to many persons of little moment compared
with the menace of absolutist armies and navies in the New World
or of, perhaps, a French Cuba and a Russian Mexico. The only
effective obstacle to such foreign intervention was the British
Navy. Both President Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, who in his
retirement was still consulted on all matters of high moment,
therefore favored the acceptance of Canning's proposal as a means
of detaching England from the rest of Europe. Adams argued,
however, that England was already detached; that, for England's
purposes, the British Navy would still stand between Europe and
America, whatever the attitude of the United States; that
compromise or concession was unnecessary; and that the country
could as safely take its stand toward the whole outside world as
toward continental Europe alone. To reject the offer of a country
whose assistance was absolutely necessary to the safety of the
United States, and to declare the American case against her as
well as against the more menacing forces whose attack she alone
could prevent, required a nerve and poise which could come only
from ignorant foolhardiness or from absolute knowledge of the
facts. The self-assurance of Adams was well founded, and no
general on the field of battle ever exhibited higher courage.

Adams won over the Cabinet, and the President decided to
incorporate in his annual message to Congress a declaration
setting forth the attitude of the United States toward all the
world, and in particular denying the right of any European power,
England included, to intervene in American affairs. In making
such a statement, however, it was necessary to offer compensation
in some form. The United States was not prepared to offer
Canning's self-denying ordinance barring the way to further
American expansion, but something it must offer. This
compensating offset Adams found in the separation of the New
World from the Old and in abstention from interference in Europe.
Such a renunciation involved, however, the sacrifice of generous
American sympathies with the republicans across the seas. Monroe,
Gallatin, and many other statesmen wished as active a policy in
support of the Greeks as of the Spanish Americans. Adams
insisted, however, that the United States should create a sphere
for its interests and should confine itself to that sphere. His
plan for peace provided that European and American interests
should not only not clash but should not even meet.

The President's message of December 2, 1823, amounted to a
rejection of the Holy Alliance as guardian of the world's peace,
of Canning's request for an entente, and of the proposal that the
United States enter upon a campaign to republicanize the world.
It stated the intention of the Government to refrain from
interference in Europe, and its belief that it was "impossible
that the allied powers should extend their political system to
any portion of either continent [of America] without endangering
our peace and happiness." The message contained a strong defense
of the republican system of government and of the right of
nations to control their own internal development. It completed
the foreign policy of the United States by declaring, in
connection with certain recent encroachments of Russia along the
northwest coast, that the era of colonization in the Americas was
over. The United States was to maintain in the future that
boundaries between nations holding land in America actually
existed and could be traced--a position which invited arbitration
in place of force.

Both Canning and Adams won victories, but neither realized his
full hopes. Canning prevented the interference of Europe in
Spanish America, broke up the Quadruple Alliance, rendered the
Holy Alliance a shadow, and restored a balance of power that
meant safety for England for almost a hundred years; but he
failed to dictate American policy. Adams on his part detached the
United States from European politics without throwing England
into the arms of Europe. He took advantage of the divisions of
the Old World to establish the priority of the United States in
American affairs; but he failed in his later attempt to unite all
the Americas in cordial cooperation. Earnest as was his desire
and hard as he strove in 1825 when he had become President with
Clay as his Secretary of State, Adams found that the differences
in point of view between the United States and the other American
powers were too great to permit a Pan-American policy. The Panama
Congress on which he built his hopes failed, and for fifty years
the project lay dormant.

Under the popular name of the Monroe Doctrine, however, Adams's
policy has played a much larger part in world affairs than he
expected. Without the force of law either in this country or
between nations, this doctrine took a firm hold of the American
imagination and became a national ideal, while other nations have
at least in form taken cognizance of it. The Monroe Doctrine has
survived because Adams did not invent its main tenets but found
them the dominating principles of American international
politics; his work, like that of his contemporary John Marshall,
was one of codification. But not all those who have commented on
the work of Adams have possessed his analytical mind, and many
have confused what was fundamental in his pronouncement with what
was temporary and demanded by the emergency of the time.

Always the American people have stood, from the first days of
their migration to America, for the right of the people of a
territory to determine their own development. First they have
insisted that their own right to work out their political destiny
be acknowledged and made safe. For this they fought the
Revolution. It has followed that they have in foreign affairs
tried to keep their hands free from entanglements with other
countries and have refrained from interference with foreign
politics. This was the burden of Washington's "Farewell Address,"
and it was a message which Jefferson reiterated in his inaugural.
These are the permanent principles which have controlled
enlightened American statesmen in their attitude toward the
world, from the days of John Winthrop to those of Woodrow Wilson.

It was early found, however, that the affairs of the immediate
neighbors of the United States continually and from day to day
affected the whole texture of American life and that actually
they limited American independence and therefore could not be
left out of the policy of the Government. The United States soon
began to recognize that there was a region in the affairs of
which it must take a more active interest. As early as 1780
Thomas Pownall, an English colonial official, predicted that the
United States must take an active part in Cuban affairs. In 1806
Madison, then Secretary of State, had instructed Monroe, Minister
to Great Britain, that the Government began to broach the idea
that the whole Gulf Stream was within its maritime jurisdiction.
The message of Monroe was an assertion that the fate of both the
Americas was of immediate concern to the safety of the United
States, because the fate of its sister republics intimately
affected its own security. This proved to be an enduring
definition of policy, because for many years there was a real
institutional difference between the American hemisphere and the
rest of the world and because oceanic boundaries were the most
substantial that the world affords.

Adams, however, would have been the last to claim that his method
of securing the fundamental purposes of the United States was
itself fundamental. It is particularly important for Americans to
make a distinction between the things which they have always
wished to obtain and the methods which they have from time to
time used. To build a policy today on the alleged isolation of
the American continents would be almost as absurd as to try to
build a government on the belief in Divine Right. The American
continents are no longer separated from the rest of the world by
their national institutions, because the spirit of these
institutions has permeated much of Europe, Asia, and even Africa.
No boundaries, not even oceans, can today prohibit international
interference. But while the particular method followed in 1823
is no longer appropriate, the ends which the United States set
out to attain have remained the same. Independence, absolute and
complete, including the absence of all entanglements which might
draw the country into other peoples' quarrels; the recognition of
a similar independence in all other peoples, which involves both
keeping its own hands off and also strongly disapproving of
interference by one nation with another--these have been the
guiding principles of the United States. These principles the
Government has maintained by such means as seemed appropriate to
the time. In colonial days the people of America fought in
courts for their charter rights; at the time of the Revolution,
by arms for their independence from England; during the
Napoleonic wars, for their independence from the whole system of
Europe. The Monroe Doctrine declared that to maintain American
independence from the European system it was necessary that the
European system be excluded from the Americas. In entering the
Great War in the twentieth century the United States has
recognized that the system of autocracy against which Monroe
fulminated must disappear from the entire world if, under modern
industrial conditions, real independence is to exist anywhere.

It is the purpose of the following chapters to trace the
expansion of American interests in the light of the Monroe
Doctrine and to explain those controversies which accompanied
this growth and taxed the diplomatic resources of American
Secretaries of State from the times of Adams and Webster and
Seward to those of Blaine and Hay and Elihu Root. The diplomacy
of the Great War is reserved for another volume in this Series.

CHAPTER II. Controversies With Great Britain

No two nations have ever had more intimate relationships than the
United States and Great Britain. Speaking the same language and
owning a common racial origin in large part, they have traded
with each other and in the same regions, and geographically
their territories touch for three thousand miles. During the
nineteenth century the coastwise shipping of the United States
was often forced to seek the shelter of the British West Indies.
The fisherfolk of England and America mingled on the Grand Bank
of Newfoundland and on the barren shores of that island and of
Labrador, where they dried their fish. Indians, criminals, and
game crossed the Canadian boundary at will, streams flowed across
it, and the coast cities vied for the trade of the interior,
indifferent to the claims of national allegiance. One cannot but
believe that this intimacy has in the long run made for
friendship and peace; but it has also meant constant controversy,
often pressed to the verge of war by the pertinacious insistence
of both nations on their full rights as they saw them.

The fifteen years following Adams's encounter with Canning saw
the gradual accumulation of a number of such disputes, which made
the situation in 1840 exceptionally critical. Great Britain was
angered at the failure of the United States to grant her the
right to police the seas for the suppression of the slave trade,
while the United States, with memories of the vicious English
practice of impressment before the War of 1812, distrusted the
motives of Great Britain in asking for this right. Nearly every
mile of the joint boundary in North America was in dispute, owing
to the vagueness of treaty descriptions or to the errors of
surveyors. Twelve thousand square miles and a costly American
fort were involved; arbitration had failed; rival camps of
lumberjacks daily imperiled peace; and both the Maine Legislature
and the National Congress had voted money for defense. In a New
York jail Alexander McLeod was awaiting trial in a state court
for the murder of an American on the steamer Caroline, which a
party of Canadian militia had cut out from the American shore
near Buffalo and had sent to destruction over Niagara Falls. The
British Government, holding that the Caroline was at the time
illegally employed to assist Canadian insurgents, and that the
Canadian militia were under government orders justifiable by
international law, assumed the responsibility for McLeod's act
and his safety. Ten thousand Americans along the border, members
of "Hunters' Lodges," were anxious for a war which would unleash
them for the conquest of Canada. Delay was causing all these
disputes to fester, and the public mind of the two countries was
infected with hostility.

Fortunately in 1841 new administrations came into power in both
England and the United States. Neither the English Tories nor the
American Whigs felt bound to maintain all the contentions of
their predecessors, and both desired to come to an agreement. The
responsibility on the American side fell upon Daniel Webster,
the new Secretary of State. With less foreign experience than
John Quincy Adams, he was more a man of the world and a man among
men. His conversation was decidedly less ponderous than his
oratory, and there was no more desirable dinner guest in America.
Even in Webster's lightest moments, his majestic head gave the
impression of colossal mentality, and his eyes, when he was in
earnest, almost hypnotized those upon whom he bent his gaze. A
leading figure in public life for twenty-five years, he now
attained administrative position for the first time, and his
constant practice at the bar had given something of a lawyerlike
trend to his mind.

The desire of the British Government for an agreement with the
United States was shown by the selection of Washington instead of
London as the place of negotiation and of Lord Ashburton as
negotiator. The head of the great banking house of Baring
Brothers, he had won his title by service and was, moreover,
known to be a friend of the United States. While in Philadelphia
in his youth, he had married Miss Bingham of that city, and she
still had American interests. In the controversies before the War
of 1812 Lord Ashburton had supported many of the American
contentions. He knew Webster personally, and they both looked
forward to the social pleasure of meeting again during the
negotiations. The two representatives came together in this
pleasant frame of mind and did most of their business at the
dinner table, where it is reported that more than diplomatic
conversation flowed. They avoided an exchange of notes, which
would bind each to a position once taken, but first came to an
agreement and then prepared the documents.

It must not be supposed, however, that either Ashburton or
Webster sacrificed the claims of his own Government. Webster
certainly was a good attorney for the United States in settling
the boundary disputes, as is shown by the battle of the maps. The
territorial contentions of both countries hung largely upon the
interpretation of certain clauses of the first American treaty of
peace. Webster therefore ordered a search for material to be made
in the archives of Paris and London. In Paris there was brought
to light a map with the boundary drawn in red, possibly by
Franklin, and supporting the British contention. Webster
refrained from showing this to Ashburton and ordered search in
London discontinued. Ironically enough, however, a little later
there was unearthed in the British Museum the actual map used by
one of the British commissioners in 1782, which showed the
boundary as the United States claimed it to be. Though they had
been found too late to affect the negotiations, these maps
disturbed the Senate discussion of the matter. Yet, as they
offset each other, they perhaps facilitated the acceptance of the

Rapidly Webster and Ashburton cleared the field. Webster obtained
the release of McLeod and effected the passage of a law to
prevent a similar crisis in the future by permitting such cases
to be transferred to a federal court. The Caroline affair was
settled by an amicable exchange of notes in which each side
conceded much to the other. They did not indeed dispose of the
slave trade, but they reached an agreement by which a joint
squadron was to undertake to police efficiently the African seas
in order to prevent American vessels from engaging in that trade.

Upon the more important matter of boundary, both Webster and
Ashburton decided to give up the futile task of convincing each
other as to the meaning of phrases which rested upon half-known
facts reaching back into the misty period of first discovery and
settlement. They abandoned interpretation and made compromise and
division the basis of their settlement. This method was more
difficult for Webster than for Ashburton, as both Maine and
Massachusetts were concerned, and each must under the
Constitution be separately convinced. Here Webster used the "Red
Line" map, and succeeded in securing the consent of these States.
They finally settled upon a boundary which was certainly not that
intended in 1782 but was a compromise between the two conceptions
of that boundary and divided the territory with a regard for
actual conditions and geography. From Passamaquoddy Bay to the
Lake of the Woods, accepted lines were substituted for
controversy, and the basis of peace was thus made more secure.
The treaty also contained provision for the mutual extradition of
criminals guilty of specified crimes, but these did not include
embezzlement, and "gone to Canada" was for years the epitaph of
many a dishonest American who had been found out.

The friendly spirit in which Webster and Ashburton had carried on
their negotiations inaugurated a period of reasonable amity
between their two nations. The United States annexed Texas
without serious protest; in spite of the clamor for "fifty-four
forty or fight," Oregon was divided peacefully; and England did
not take advantage of the war with Mexico. Each of these events,
however, added to American territory, and these additions gave
prominence to a new and vexing problem. The United States was now
planted solidly upon the Pacific, and its borders were
practically those to which Adams had looked forward. Natural and
unified as this area looks upon the map and actually is today, in
1850 the extent of territorial expansion had overreached the
means of transportation. The Great Plains, then regarded as the
Great American Desert, and the Rockies presented impossible
barriers to all but adventurous individuals. These men, uniting
in bands for self-protection and taking their lives in their
hands, were able with good luck to take themselves but little
else across this central region and the western barrier. All
ordinary communication, all mail and all freight, must go by sea.
The United States was actually divided into two very unequal
parts, and California and Oregon were geographically far distant

The ocean highroad belonged to the United States in common with
all nations, but it took American ships to the opposite ends of
the earth. No regular shuttle of traffic sufficient to weave the
nation together could be expected to pass Cape Horn at every
throw. The natural route lay obviously through the Caribbean,
across some one of the isthmuses, and up the Pacific coast. Here
however, the United States would have to use territory belonging
to other nations, and to obtain the right of transit and security
agreement was necessary. All these isthmus routes, moreover,
needed improvement. Capital must be induced to do the work, and
one necessary inducement was a guarantee of stable conditions of

This isthmus route became for a time the prime object of American
diplomacy. The United States made in 1846 satisfactory
arrangements with the Republic of New Granada (later Colombia),
across which lay the most southern route, and in 1853 with
Mexico, of whose northern or Tehuantepec route many had great
expectations; but a further difficulty was now discovered. The
best lanes were those of Panama and of Nicaragua. When the
discovery of gold in California in 1848 made haste a more
important element in the problem, "Commodore" Vanderbilt, at that
time the shipping king of the United States, devoted his
attention to the Nicaragua route and made it the more popular.
Here however, the United States encountered not only the local
independent authorities but also Great Britain. Just to the north
of the proposed route Great Britain possessed Belize, now British
Honduras, a meager colony but with elastic boundaries. For many
generations, too, she had concerned herself with securing the
rights of the Mosquito Indians, who held a territory, also with
elastic boundaries, inconveniently near the San Juan River, the
Caribbean entrance to the Nicaraguan thoroughfare. From Great
Britain, moreover, must come a large portion of the capital to be
employed in constructing the canal which was expected soon to cut
the isthmus.

The local situation soon became acute. Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and
the Mosquitoes all claimed the mouth of the San Juan; Honduras
and Nicaragua, the control of the Pacific outlet. British
diplomatic and naval officers clashed with those of the United
States until, in their search for complete control, both exceeded
the instructions which they had received from home. The British
occupied Greytown on the San Juan and supported the Mosquitoes
and Costa Rica. The Americans won favor in Nicaragua and
Honduras, framed treaties allowing transit and canal
construction, and proposed the annexation of Tigre Island, which,
commanded the proposed Pacific outlet.

To untie these knots, Sir Henry Bulwer was sent to Washington to
negotiate with John M. Clayton, President Taylor's Secretary of
State. Neither of these negotiators was of the caliber of Webster
and Ashburton, and the treaty which they drew up proved rather a
Pandora's box of future difficulties than a satisfactory
settlement. In the first place it was agreed that any canal to be
constructed over any of the isthmuses was to be absolutely
neutral, in time of war as well as of peace. Both nations were to
guarantee this neutrality, and other nations were invited to join
with them. No other nations did join, however, and the project
became a dual affair which, owing to the superiority of the
British Navy, gave Britain the advantage, or would eventually
have done so if a canal had been constructed. Subsequently the
majority of Americans decided that such a canal must be under the
sole control of the United States, and the treaty then stood as a
stumbling block in the way of the realization of this idea.

More immediately important, however, and a great wrench to
American policies, was the provision that neither power "will ever
erect or maintain any fortifications commanding" the canal "or
occupy, or fortify, or colonize, or assume or exercise any
dominion over...any part of Central America." This condition
violated Adams's principle that the United States was not on the
same footing with any European power in American affairs and
should not be bound by any self-denying ordinance, and actually
it reversed the principle against the United States. An
explanatory note accompanying the treaty recognized that this
provision did not apply to Belize and her dependencies, and Great
Britain promptly denied that it applied to any rights she already
possessed in Central America, including the Mosquito protectorate
and certain Bay Islands which were claimed by Great Britain as
dependencies of Belize and by Honduras as a part of her

In vain did Webster, who succeeded Clayton, seek an agreement.
His term of office passed, and the controversy fell into the
hands of Lord Palmerston, the jingoistic spirit who began at this
time to dominate British foreign policy, and of James Buchanan,
who, known to us as a spineless seeker after peace where there
was no peace, was at this time riding into national leadership on
a wave of expansionist enthusiasm. Buchanan and Palmerston
mutually shook the stage thunder of verbal extravagance, but
probably neither intended war. Poker was at this time the
national American game, and bluff was a highly developed art. The
American player won a partial victory. In 1856 Great Britain
agreed to withdraw her protectorate over the Mosquitoes, to
acknowledge the supremacy of Honduras over the Bay Islands, and
to accept a reasonable interpretation of the Belize boundary.
Though this convention was never ratified, Great Britain carried
out its terms, and in 1860 Buchanan announced himself satisfied.

The dreams of 1850, however, were not satisfied. A railroad was
completed across Panama in 1855, but no canal was constructed
until years after the great transcontinental railroads had bound
California to the East by bonds which required no foreign
sanction. Yet the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty remained an entangling
alliance, destined to give lovers of peace and amity many more
uncomfortable hours.

During the Civil War other causes of irritation arose between the
United States and Great Britain. The proclamation of neutrality,
by which the British Government recognized the Confederacy as a
belligerent, seemed to the North an unfriendly act. Early in the
war occurred the Trent affair, which added to the growing
resentment.* It was held to be a violation of professed
neutrality that Confederate commerce destroyers were permitted to
be built and fitted out in British yards. The subsequent transfer
of hundreds of thousands of tons of American shipping to British
registry, owing to the depredations of these raiders, still
further incensed the American people. It was in the midst of
these strained relations that the Fenian Brotherhood in the
United States attempted the invasion of Canada.

* See Stephenson, "Abraham Lincoln and the Union," in "The
Chronicles of America."

America laid claims against Great Britain, based not merely on
the actual destruction of merchantmen by the Alabama, the
Florida, and other Confederate vessels built in British yards,
but also on such indirect losses as insurance, cost of pursuit,
and commercial profits. The American Minister, Charles Francis
Adams, had proposed the arbitration of these claims, but the
British Ministry, declined to arbitrate matters involving the
honor of the country. Adams's successor, Reverdy Johnson,
succeeded in arranging a convention in 1868 excluding from
consideration all claims for indirect damages, but this
arrangement was unfavorably reported from the Committee on
Foreign Affairs in the Senate. It was then that Charles Sumner,
Chairman of the Committee, gave utterance to his astounding
demands upon Great Britain. The direct claims of the United
States, he contended, were no adequate compensation for its
losses; the indirect claims must also be made good, particularly
those based on the loss of the American merchant marine by
transfer to the British flag. The direct or "individual" American
losses amounted to $15,000,000. "But this leaves without
recognition the vaster damage to commerce driven from the ocean,
and that other damage, immense and infinite, caused by the
prolongation of the war, all of which may be called NATIONAL in
contradistinction to INDIVIDUAL." Losses to commerce he reckoned
at $110,000,000, adding that this amount must be considered only
an item in the bill, for the prolongation of the war was directly
traceable to England. "The rebellion was suppressed at a cost of
more than four thousand million dollars...through British
intervention the war was doubled in duration; ...England is
justly responsible for the additional expenditure." Sumner's
total bill against Great Britain, then, amounted to over
$2,000,000,000; "everyone," said he, "can make the calculation."

Had an irresponsible member of Congress made these demands, they
might have been dismissed as another effort to twist the British
lion's tail; but Charles Sumner took himself seriously, expected
others to take him seriously, and unhappily was taken seriously
by a great number of his fellow countrymen. The explanation of
his preposterous demand appeared subsequently in a memorandum
which he prepared. To avoid all possible future clashes with
Great Britain, he would have her withdraw from the American
continents and the Western Hemisphere. Great Britain might
discharge her financial obligations by transferring to the United
States the whole of British America! And Sumner seems actually to
have believed that he was promoting the cause of international
good will by this tactless proposal.

For a time it was believed that Sumner spoke for the
Administration, and public opinion in the United States was
disposed to look upon his speech as a fair statement of American
grievances and a just demand for compensation. The British
Government, too, in view of the action of the Senate and the
indiscreet utterances of the new American Minister in London,
John Lothrop Motley, believed that President Grant favored an
aggressive policy. Further negotiations were dropped. Both
Governments, nevertheless, were desirous of coming to an
understanding, though neither wished to take the first step.

Fortunately it happened that Caleb Cushing for the United States
and John Rose for Canada were then engaged at Washington in the
discussion of some matters affecting the two countries. In the
course of informal conversations these accomplished diplomats
planned for a rapprochement. Rose presented a memorandum
suggesting that all questions in dispute be made the subject of a
general negotiation and treaty. It was at this moment that Sumner
came forward with his plan of compensation and obviously he stood
in the way of any settlement. President Grant, however, already
incensed by Motley's conduct and by Sumner's opposition to his
own favorite project, the annexation of Santo Domingo, now broke
definitely with both by removing Motley and securing Sumner's
deposition from the chairmanship of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs. The way was now prepared for an agreement with Great

On February 27, 1871, a Joint High Commission, composed of five
distinguished representatives from each Government, began its
memorable session at Washington. The outcome was the Treaty of
Washington, signed on May 8, 1871. The most important
question--the "Alabama Claims"--was by this agreement to be
submitted to a tribunal of five arbitrators, one to be selected
by the President of the United States, another by the Queen of
Great Britain, a third by the King of Italy, a fourth by the
President of the Swiss Republic, and a fifth by the Emperor of
Brazil. This tribunal was to meet at Geneva and was to base its
award on three rules for the conduct of neutral nations: "First,
to use due diligence to prevent the fitting out, ...within its
jurisdiction, of any vessel which it has reasonable ground to
believe is intended to cruise...against a Power with which
it is at peace...; secondly, not to permit...either
belligerent to make use of its ports or waters as a base of naval
operations...; thirdly, to exercise due diligence in its own
ports and prevent any violation of the foregoing
obligations and duties."

Another but less elaborate tribunal was to decide all other
claims which had arisen out of the Civil War. Still another
arbitration commission was to assess the amount which the United
States was to pay by way of compensation for certain privileges
connected with the fisheries. The vexed question of the
possession of the San Juan Islands was to be left to the decision
of the Emperor of Germany. A series of articles provided for the
amicable settlement of border questions between the United States
and Canada. Never before in history had such important
controversies been submitted voluntarily to arbitration and
judicial settlement.

The tribunal which met at Geneva in December was a body of
distinguished men who proved fully equal to the gravity of their
task. Charles Francis Adams was appointed to represent the United
States; Sir Alexander Cockburn, to represent Great Britain; the
commissioners from neutral States were also men of distinction.
J. C. Bancroft Davis was agent for the United States, and William
M. Evarts, Caleb Cushing, and Morrison R. Waite acted as counsel.
The case for the United States was not presented in a manner
worthy of the occasion. According to Adams the American
contentions "were advanced with an aggressiveness of tone and
attorneylike smartness, more appropriate to the wranglings of a
quarter-sessions court than to pleadings before a grave
international tribunal." The American counsel were instructed to
insist not, indeed, on indemnity for the cost of two years of
war, but on compensation because of the transfer of our commerce
to the British merchant marine, by virtue of the clause of the
treaty which read "acts committed by the several vessels which
have given rise to the claims generally known as the 'Alabama
Claims.'" British public opinion considered this contention an
act of bad faith. Excitement in England rose to a high pitch and
the Gladstone Ministry proposed to withdraw from the arbitration.

That the tribunal of arbitration did not end in utter failure was
due to the wisdom and courage of Adams. At his suggestion the
five arbitrators announced on June 19, 1872, that they would not
consider claims for indirect damages, because such claims did
"not constitute, upon the principles of international law
applicable to such cases, good foundation for an award of
compensation, or computations of damages between nations." These
claims dismissed, the arbitrators entered into an examination of
the direct American claims and on September 14, 1872, decided
upon an award of fifteen and a half million dollars to the United
States. The Treaty of Washington and the Geneva Tribunal
constituted the longest step thus far taken by any two nations
toward the settlement of their disputes by judicial process.

CHAPTER III. Alaska And Its Problems

The impulse for expansion upon which Buchanan floated his
political raft into the presidency was not a party affair. It was
felt by men of all party creeds, and it seemed for a moment to be
the dominant national ideal. Slaveholders and other men who had
special interests sought to make use of it, but the fundamental
feeling did not rest on their support. American democracy, now
confident of its growing strength, believed that the happiness of
the people and the success of the institutions of the United
States would prove a loadstone which would bring under the flag
all peoples of the New World, while those of the Old World would
strike off their shackles and remold their governments on the
American pattern. Attraction, not compulsion, was the method to
be used, and none of the paeans of American prophets in the
editorials or the fervid orations of the fifties proposed an
additional battleship or regiment.

No one saw this bright vision more clearly than did William H.
Seward, who became Secretary of State under Lincoln. Slight of
build, pleasant, and talkative, he gave an impression of
intellectual distinction, based upon fertility rather than
consistency of mind. He was a disciple of John Quincy Adams, but
his tireless energy had in it too much of nervous unrest to allow
him to stick to his books as did his master, and there was too
wide a gap between his beliefs and his practice. He held as
idealistic views as any man of his generation, but he believed so
firmly that the right would win that he disliked hastening its
victory at the expense of bad feeling. He was shrewd, practical--
maliciously practical, many thought. When, in the heat of one of
his perorations, a flash of his hidden fires would arouse the
distrust of the conservative, he would appear to retract and try
to smother the flames in a cloud of conciliatory smoke. Only the
restraining hand of Lincoln prevented him from committing fatal
blunders at the outset of the Civil War, yet his handling of the
threatening episode of the French in Mexico showed a wisdom, a
patient tact, and a subtle ingenuity which make his conduct of
the affair a classic illustration of diplomacy at almost its

* See "Abraham Lincoln and the Union" and "The Hispanic Nations
of the New World" (in "The Chronicles of America").

In 1861 Seward said that he saw Russia and Great Britain building
on the Arctic Ocean outposts on territory which should belong to
his own country, and that he expected the capital of the great
federal republic of the future would be in the valley of Mexico.
Yet he nevertheless retained the sentiment he had expressed in
1846: "I would not give one human life for all the continent that
remains to be annexed." The Civil War prevented for four years
any action regarding expansion, and the same conspiracy which
resulted in the assassination of Lincoln brought Seward to the
verge of the grave. He recovered rapidly, however, and while on a
recuperating trip through the West Indies he worked for the
peaceable annexation of the Danish Islands and Santo Domingo. His
friend, Charles Sumner, the chairman of the Senate Committee on
Foreign Affairs, was framing his remarkable project for the
annexation of Canada. President Johnson and, later, President
Grant endorsed parts of these plans. Denmark and Santo Domingo
were willing to acquiesce for money, and Sumner believed,
although he was preposterously wrong, that the incorporation of
Canada in our Union would be welcomed by the best sentiment of
England and of Canada.

To willing ears, therefore, came in 1867 the offer of the Russian
Minister, Baron Stoeckl, to sell Alaska. The proposal did not
raise a question which had been entirely unthought of. Even
before the Civil War, numbers of people on the Pacific coast, far
from being overawed by the responsibility of developing the
immense territories which they already possessed, had petitioned
the Government to obtain Alaska, and even the proper purchase
price had been discussed. The reasons for Russia's decision to
sell, however, have not been sufficiently investigated. It is
apparent from the conduct of the negotiation that it was not a
casual proposal but one in which Baron Stoeckl, at least, was
deeply interested. It is to be remembered that at this time
Russia's ambitions were in Asia, and that her chief rival was
Great Britain. Russia's power was on land; the seas she could not
hope to control. The first moment of war would put Russian rule
in, Alaska at the mercy of the British fleet. In those days when
a Siberian railroad was an idle dream, this icebound region in
America was so remote from the center of Russian power that it
could be neither enjoyed nor protected. As Napoleon in 1803
preferred to see Louisiana in the hands of the United States
rather than in those of his rival England, so Russia preferred
Alaska to fall to the United States rather than to Canada,
especially as she could by peaceful cession obtain money into the

Seward was delighted with the opportunity, but diplomatically
concealed his satisfaction and bargained closely. Stoeckl asked
ten million dollars; Seward offered five. Stoeckl proposed to
split the difference; Seward agreed, if Stoeckl would knock off
the odd half million. Stoeckl accepted, on condition that Seward
add two hundred thousand as special compensation to the Russian
American Company. It was midnight of the 29th of March when
$7,200,000 was made the price. Seward roused Sumner from bed, and
the three worked upon the form of a treaty until four o'clock in
the morning. No captains of industry could show greater decision.

The treaty, however, was not yet a fact. The Senate must approve,
and its approval could not be taken for granted. The temper of
the majority of Americans toward expansion had changed. The
experiences of the later fifties had caused many to look upon
expansion as a Southern heresy. Carl Schurz a little later argued
that we had already taken in all those regions the climate of
which would allow healthy self-government and that we should
annex no tropics. Hamilton Fish, then Secretary of State, wrote
in 1873 that popular sentiment was, for the time being, against
all expansion. In fact, among the people of the United States the
idea was developing that expansion was contrary to their national
policy, and their indisposition to expand became almost a
passion. They rejected Santo Domingo and the Danish Islands and
would not press any negotiations for Canada.

What saved the Alaska Treaty from a similar disapproval was not
any conviction that Alaska was worth seven million dollars,
although Sumner convinced those who took the trouble to read,
that the financial bargain was not a bad one. The chief factor in
the purchase of Alaska was almost pure sentiment. Throughout
American history there has been a powerful tradition of
friendliness between Russia and the United States, yet surely no
two political systems have been in the past more diametrically
opposed. The chief ground for friendship has doubtless been the
great intervening distance which has reduced intercourse to a
minimum. Some slight basis for congeniality existed in the fact
that the interests of both countries favored a similar policy of
freedom upon the high seas. What chiefly influenced the public
mind, however, was the attitude which Russia had taken during the
Civil War. When the Grand Duke Alexis visited the United States
in 1871, Oliver Wendell Holmes greeted him with the lines:

Bleak are our coasts with the blasts of December,
Thrilling and warm are the hearts that remember
Who was our friend when the world was our foe.

This Russian friendship had presented itself dramatically to the
public at a time when American relations with Great Britain were
strained, for Russian fleets had in 1863 suddenly appeared in the
harbors of New York and San Francisco. These visits were actually
made with a sole regard for Russian interests and in anticipation
of the outbreak of a general European war, which the Czar then
feared. The appearance of the fleets, however, was for many years
popularly supposed to signify sympathy with the Union and a
willingness to defend it from attack by Great Britain and France.
Many conceived the ingenuous idea that the purchase price of
Alaska was really the American half of a secret bargain of which
the fleets were the Russian part. Public opinion, therefore,
regarded the purchase of Alaska in the light of a favor to Russia
and demanded that the favor be granted.

Thus of all the schemes of expansion in the fifty years between
the Mexican and the Spanish wars, for the Gadsden Purchase of
1853 was really only a rectification of boundary, this alone came
to fruition. Seward could well congratulate himself on his
alertness in seizing an opportunity and on his management of the
delicate political aspects of the purchase. Without his
promptness the golden opportunity might have passed and never
recurred. Yet he could never have saved this fragment of his
policy had not the American people cherished for Russia a
sentimental friendship which was intensified at the moment by
anger at the supposed sympathy of Great Britain for the South.

If Russia hoped by ceding Alaska to involve the United States in
difficulties with her rival Great Britain, her desire was on one
occasion nearly gratified. The only profit which the United
States derived from this new possession was for many years drawn
from the seal fishery. The same generation of Americans which
allowed the extermination of the buffalo for lap robes found in
the sealskin sack the hall mark of wealth and fashion. While,
however, the killing of the buffalo was allowed to go on without
official check, the Government in 1870 inaugurated a system to
preserve the seal herds which was perhaps the earliest step in a
national conservation policy. The sole right of killing was given
to the Alaska Commercial Company with restrictions under which it
was believed that the herds would remain undiminished. The
catch was limited to one hundred thousand a year; it was to
include only male seals; and it was to be limited to the breeding
grounds on the Pribilof Islands.

The seals, however, did not confine themselves to American
territory. During the breeding season they ranged far and wide
within a hundred miles of their islands; and during a great part
of the year they were to be found far out in the Pacific. The
value of their skins attracted the adventurous of many lands, but
particularly Canadians; and Vancouver became the greatest center
for deep-sea sealing. The Americans saw the development of the
industry with anger and alarm. Considering the seals as their
own, they naturally resented this unlimited exploitation by
outsiders when Americans themselves were so strictly limited by
law. They also believed that the steady diminution of the herds
was due to the reckless methods of their rivals, particularly the
use of explosives which destroyed many animals to secure a few
perfect skins.

Public opinion on the Pacific coast sought a remedy and soon
found one in the terms of the treaty of purchase. That document,
in dividing Alaska from Siberia, described a line of division
running through Bering Sea, and in 1881 the Acting Secretary of
the Treasury propounded the theory that this line divided not
merely the islands but the water as well. There was a widespread
feeling that all Bering Sea within this line was American
territory and that all intruders from other nations were
poachers. In accordance with this theory, the revenue cutter
Corwin in 1886 seized three British vessels and hauled their
skippers before the United States District Court of Sitka. Thomas
F. Bayard, then Secretary of State under President Cleveland, did
not recognize this theory of interpreting the treaty, but
endeavored to right the grievance by a joint agreement with
France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and Great Britain, the sealing
nations, "for the better protection of the fur seal fisheries in
Bering Sea."

A solution had been almost reached, when Canada interposed. Lord
Morley has remarked, in his "Recollections," how the voice of
Canada fetters Great Britain in her negotiations with the United
States. While Bayard was negotiating an agreement concerning
Bering Sea which was on the whole to the advantage of the United
States, he completed a similar convention on the more complicated
question of the northeastern or Atlantic fisheries which was
more important to Canada. This latter convention was unfavorably
reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, which
foreshadowed rejection. Thereupon, in May, 1888, Lord Salisbury,
the British Foreign Minister, withdrew from the Bering Sea

At this critical moment Cleveland gave place to Harrison, and
Bayard was succeeded by James G. Blaine, the most interesting
figure in our diplomatic activities of the eighties. These years
marked the lowest point in the whole history of our relations
with other countries, both in the character of our agents and in
the nature of the public opinion to which they appealed. Blaine
was undoubtedly the most ill-informed of our great diplomats; yet
a trace of greatness lingers about him. The exact reverse of John
Quincy Adams, he knew neither law nor history, and he did not
always inspire others with confidence in his integrity. On the
other hand, the magnetic charm of his personality won many to a
devotion such as none of our great men except Clay has received.
Blaine saw, moreover, though through a glass darkly, farther
along the path which the United States was to take than did any
of his contemporaries. It was his fate to deal chiefly in
controversy with those accomplished diplomats, Lord Salisbury and
Lord Granville, and it must have been among the relaxations of
their office to point out tactfully the defects and errors in his
dispatches. Nevertheless when he did not misread history or
misquote precedents but wielded the broadsword of equity, he
often caught the public conscience, and then he was not an
opponent to be despised.

Blaine at once undertook the defense of the contention that
Bering Sea was "closed" and the exclusive property of the United
States, in spite of the fact that this position was opposed to
the whole trend of American opinion, which from the days of the
Revolution had always stood for freedom of the high seas and the
limitation of the water rights of particular nations to the
narrowest limits. The United States and Great Britain had
jointly protested against the Czar's ukase of 1821, which had
asserted Russia's claim to Bering Sea as territorial waters; and
if Russia had not possessed it in 1821, we certainly could not
have bought it in 1867. In the face of Canadian opinion, Great
Britain could never consent, even for the sake of peace, to a
position as unsound as it was disadvantageous to Canadian
industry. Nor did Blaine's contention that the seals were
domestic animals belonging to us, and therefore subject to our
protection while wandering through the ocean, carry conviction to
lawyers familiar with the fascinating intricacies of the law,
domestic and international, relating to migratory birds and
beasts. To the present generation it seems amusing that Blaine
defended his basic contention quite as much on the ground of the
inhumanity of destroying the seals as of its economic
wastefulness. Yet Blaine rallied Congress to his support, as well
as a great part of American sentiment.

The situation, which had now become acute, was aggravated by the
fact that most American public men of this period did not
separate their foreign and domestic politics. Too many sought to
secure the important Irish vote by twisting the tail of the
British lion. The Republicans, in particular, sought to identify
protection with patriotism and were making much of the fact that
the recall of Lord Sackville-West, the British Minister, had been
forced because he had advised a correspondent to vote for
Cleveland. It spoke volumes for the fundamental good sense of the
two nations that, when relations were so strained, they could
agree to submit their differences to arbitration. For this happy
outcome credit must be given to the cooler heads on both sides,
but equal credit must be given to their legacy from the cool
heads which had preceded them. The United States and Great
Britain had acquired the habit of submitting to judicial decision
their disputes, even those closely touching honor, and this habit
kept them steady.

In accepting arbitration in 1892, the United States practically
gave up her case, although Blaine undoubtedly believed it could
be defended, and in spite of the fact that it was ably presented
by John W. Foster from a brief prepared by the American counsel,
Edward J. Phelps, Frederic R. Coudert, and James C. Carter. The
tribunal assembled at Paris decided that Bering Sea was open and
determined certain facts upon which a subsequent commission
assessed damages of nearly half a million against the United
States for the seizure of British vessels during the period in
which the American claim was being asserted. Blaine, however, did
not lose everything. The treaty contained the extraordinary
provision that the arbitration tribunal, in case it decided
against the United States, was to draw up regulations for the
protection of the seal herds. These regulations when drafted did
not prove entirely satisfactory, and bound only the United States
and Great Britain. It required many years and much tinkering to
bring about the reasonably satisfactory arrangement that is now
in force. Yet to leave to an international tribunal not merely
the decision of a disputed case but the legislation necessary to
regulate an international property was in itself a great step in
the development of world polity. The charlatan who almost brought
on war by maintaining an indefensible case was also the statesman
who made perhaps the greatest single advance in the conservation
of the world's resources by international regulation.

CHAPTER IV. Blaine And Pan-Americanism

During the half century that intervened between John Quincy Adams
and James G. Blaine, the Monroe Doctrine, it was commonly
believed, had prevented the expansion of the territories of
European powers in the Americas. It had also relieved the United
States both of the necessity of continual preparation for war and
of that constant tension in which the perpetual shifting of the
European balance of power held the nations of that continent.
But the Monroe Doctrine was not solely responsible for these
results. Had it not been for the British Navy, the United States
would in vain have proclaimed its disapproval of encroachment.
Nor, had Europe continued united, could the United States have
withstood European influence; but Canning's policy had
practically destroyed Metternich's dream of unity maintained by
intervention, and in 1848 that whole structure went hopelessly
tumbling before a new order. Yet British policy, too, failed of
full realization, for British statesmen always dreamed of an even
balance in continental Europe which Great Britain could incline
to her wishes, whereas it usually proved necessary, in order to
preserve a balance at all, for her to join one side or the other.
Divided Europe therefore stood opposite united America, and our
inferior strength was enhanced by an advantageous position.

The insecurity of the American position was revealed during the
Civil War. When the United States divided within, the strength of
the nation vanished. The hitherto suppressed desires of European
nations at once manifested themselves. Spain, never satisfied
that her American empire was really lost, at once leaped to take
advantage of the change. On a trumped up invitation of some of
the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, she invaded the formerly
Spanish portion of the island and she began war with Peru in the
hope of acquiring at least some of the Pacific islands belonging
to that state.

More formidable were the plans of Napoleon III, for the French,
too, remembered the glowing promise of their earlier American
dominions. They had not forgotten that the inhabitants of the
Americas as far north as the southern borders of the United
States were of Latin blood, at least so far as they were of
European origin. In Montevideo there was a French colony, and
during the forties France had been active in proffering her
advice in South American disputes. When the second French
Republic had been proclaimed in 1848, one of the French ministers
in South America saw a golden chance for his country to assume
the leadership of all Latin America, which was at that time
suspicious of the designs of the United States and alarmed by its
rapid expansion at the expense of Mexico. With the power of the
American Government neutralized in 1861, and with the British
Navy immobilized by the necessity of French friendship, which the
"Balance" made just then of paramount interest to Great Britain,
Napoleon III determined to establish in Mexico an empire under
French influence.

It is instructive to notice that General Bernhardi states, in
"Germany and the Next War" which has attracted such wide
attention and which has done so much to convince Americans of the
bad morals of autocracy, that Great Britain lost her great chance
of world dominance by not taking active advantage of this
situation, as did France and Spain. It is indeed difficult to see
what would have been the outcome had Great Britain also played at
that time an aggressive and selfish part. She stayed her hand,
but many British statesmen were keenly interested in the
struggle, from the point of view of British interests. They did
not desire territory, but they foresaw that the permanent
separation of the two parts of the United States would leave the
country shorn of weight in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.
North and South, if separated, would each inevitably seek
European support, and the isolation of the United States and its
claim to priority in American affairs would disappear. The
balance of power would extend itself to the Western Hemisphere
and the assumption of a sphere of influence would vanish with the
unity of the United States.

Nor did the close of the Civil War reveal less clearly than its
beginning the real international position of the United States.
When the country once more acquired unity, these European
encroachments were renounced, and dreams of colonial empire in
America vanished. There was a moment's questioning as to the
reality of the triumph of the North--a doubt that the South might
rise if foreign war broke out; but the uncertainty was soon
dispelled. It was somewhat embarrassing, if not humiliating, for
the Emperor of the French to withdraw from his Mexican
undertaking, but the way was smoothed for him by the finesse of
Seward. By 1866 the international position of the United States
was reestablished and was perhaps the stronger for having been

In all these years, however, the positive side of the Monroe
Doctrine, the development of friendly cooperation between the
nations of America under the leadership of the United States, had
made no progress. In fact, with the virtual disappearance of the
American merchant marine after the Civil War, the influence of
the United States diminished. Great Britain with her ships, her
trade, and her capital, at that time actually counted for much
more, while German trade expanded rapidly in the seventies and
eighties and German immigration into Brazil gave Prussia a lever
hold, the ultimate significance of which is not even yet fully

Under these circumstances, Blaine planned to play a brilliant
role as Secretary of State in President Garfield's Cabinet.
Though the President was his personal friend, Blaine regarded him
as his inferior in practical statecraft and planned to make his
own foreign policy the notable feature of the Administration. His
hopes were dashed, however, by the assassination of Garfield and
by the accession of President Arthur. The new Secretary of State,
F T. Frelinghuysen, reversed nearly all of his predecessor's
policies. When Blaine returned to the Department of State in
1889, he found a less sympathetic chief in President Harrison and
a less brilliant role to play. Whether his final retirement
before the close of the Harrison Administration was due directly
to the conflict of views which certainly existed or was a play on
his part for the presidency and for complete control is a
question that has never been completely settled.

Narrow as was Blaine's view of world affairs, impossible as was
his conception of an America divided from Europe economically and
spiritually as well as politically and of an America united in
itself by a provoked and constantly irritated hostility to
Europe, he had an American program which, taken by itself, was
definite, well conceived, and in a sense prophetic. It is
interesting to note that in referring to much the same
relationship, Blaine characteristically spoke of the United
States as "Elder Sister" of the South American republics, while
Theodore Roosevelt, at a later period, conceived the role to be
that of a policeman wielding the "Big Stick."

Blaine's first aim was to establish peace in the Western
Hemisphere by offering American mediation in the disputes of
sister countries. When he first took office in 1881, the
prolonged and bitter war existing between Chili, Bolivia, and
Peru for the control of the nitrate fields which lay just where
the territories of the three abutted, provided a convenient
opportunity. If he could restore peace on an equitable basis
here, he would do much to establish the prestige of the United
States as a wise and disinterested counselor in Spanish American
affairs. In this his first diplomatic undertaking, there
appeared, however, one of the weaknesses of execution which
constantly interfered with the success of his plans. He did not
know how to sacrifice politics to statesmanship, and he appointed
as his agents men so incompetent that they aggravated rather than
settled the difficulty. Later he saw his mistake and made a new
and admirable appointment in the case of Mr. William H. Trescot
of South Carolina. Blaine himself, however, lost office before
new results could be obtained; and Frelinghuysen recalled Trescot
and abandoned the attempt to force peace.

A second object of Blaine's policy was to prevent disputes
between Latin American and European powers from becoming
dangerous by acting as mediator between them. When he took
office, France was endeavoring to collect from Venezuela a claim
which was probably just. When Venezuela proved obdurate, France
proposed to seize her custom houses and to collect the duties
until the debt was paid. Blaine protested, urged Venezuela to
pay, and suggested that the money be sent through the American
agent at Caracas. He further proposed that, should Venezuela not
pay within three months, the United States should seize the
custom houses, collect the money, and pay it to France. Again his
short term prevented him from carrying out his policy, but it is
nevertheless of interest as anticipating the plan actually
followed by President Roosevelt in the case of Santo Domingo.

Blaine was just as much opposed to the peaceful penetration of
European influence in the Western Hemisphere as to its forceful
expression. The project of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama,
to be built and owned by a French company, had already aroused
President Hayes on March 8, 1880, to remark: "The policy of this
country is a canal under American control. The United States
cannot consent to the surrender of this control to any European
power or to any combination of European powers." Blaine added
that the passage of hostile troops through such a canal when
either the United States or Colombia was at war, as the terms of
guarantee of the new canal allowed, was "no more admissible than
on the railroad lines joining the Atlantic and Pacific shores of
the United States."

It is characteristic of Blaine that, when he wrote this dispatch,
he was apparently in complete ignorance of the existence of the
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, in which the United States accepted the
exactly opposite principles--had agreed to a canal under a joint
international guarantee and open to the use of all in time of war
as well as of peace. Discovering this obstacle, he set to work to
demolish it by announcing to Great Britain that the treaty was
antiquated, thirty years old, that the development of the
American Pacific slope had changed conditions, and that, should
the treaty be observed and such a canal remain unfortified, the
superiority of the British fleet would give the nation complete
control. Great Britain, however, could scarcely be expected to
regard a treaty as defunct from old age at thirty years,
especially as she also possessed a developing Pacific coast.
Moreover, if the treaty was to British advantage, at least the
United States had accepted it. Great Britain, therefore, refused
to admit that the treaty was not in full force. Blaine then urged
the building of an American canal across the Isthmus of
Nicaragua, in defiance of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty--a plan which
received the support of even President Arthur, under whom a
treaty for the purpose was negotiated with the Republic of
Nicaragua. Before this treaty was ratified by the Senate,
however, Grover Cleveland, who had just become President,
withdrew it. He believed in the older policy, and refused his
sanction to the new treaty on the ground that such a canal "must
be for the world's benefit, a trust for mankind, to be removed
from the chance of domination by any single power."

The crowning glory of Blaine's system, as he planned it, was the
cooperation of the American republics for common purposes. He did
not share Seward's dream that they would become incorporated
States of the Union, but he went back to Henry Clay and the
Panama Congress of 1826 for his ideal. During his first term of
office he invited the republics to send representatives to
Washington to discuss arbitration, but his successor in office
feared that such a meeting of "a partial group of our friends"
might offend Europe, which indeed was not improbably part of
Blaine's intention. On resuming office, Blaine finally arranged
the meeting of a Pan-American Congress in the United States.
Chosen to preside, he presented an elaborate program, including a
plan for arbitrating disputes; commercial reciprocity; the
establishment of uniform weights and measures, of international
copyright, trade-marks and patents, and, of common coinage;
improvement of communications; and other subjects. At the same
time he exerted himself to secure in the McKinley Tariff Bill,
which was just then under consideration, a provision for
reciprocity of trade with American countries. This meeting was
not a complete success, since Congress gave him only half of what
he wanted by providing for reciprocity but making it general
instead of purely American. Nevertheless one permanent and solid
result was secured in the establishment of the Bureau of American
Republics at Washington, which has become a clearing house of
ideas and a visible bond of common interests and good feeling.

Throughout the years of Blaine's prominence, the public took more
interest in his bellicose encounters with Europe, and
particularly with Great Britain, than in his constructive
American policy; and he failed to secure for either an assured
popular support. His attempt to widen the gulf between Europe and
America was indeed absurd at a time when the cable, the railroad,
and the steamship were rendering the world daily smaller and more
closely knit, and when the spirit of democracy, rapidly
permeating western Europe, was breaking down the distinction in
political institutions which had given point to the pronouncement
of 1823. Nevertheless Blaine did actually feel the changing
industrial conditions at home which were destroying American
separateness, and he made a genuine attempt to find a place for
the United States in the world, without the necessity of sharing
the responsibilities of all the world, by making real that
interest in its immediate neighbors which his country had
announced in 1823. Even while Blaine was working on his plan of
"America for the Americans," events were shaping the most
important extension of the interests of the United States which
had taken place since 1823.

CHAPTER V. The United States And The Pacific

Long before the westward march of Americans had brought their
flag to the Pacific, that ocean was familiar to their mariners.
>From Cape Horn to Canton and the ports of India, there ploughed
the stately merchantmen of Salem, Providence, and Newburyport,
exchanging furs and ginseng for teas, silks, the "Canton blue"
which is today so cherished a link with the past, and for the
lacquer cabinets and carved ivory which give distinction to many
a New England home. Meanwhile the sturdy whalers of New Bedford
scoured the whole ocean for sperm oil and whalebone, and the
incidents of their self-reliant three-year cruises acquainted
them with nearly every coral and volcanic isle. Early in the
century missionaries also began to brave the languor of these
oases of leisure and the appetite of their cannibalistic

The interest of the Government was bound to follow its
adventurous citizens. In 1820 the United States appointed a
consular agent at Honolulu; in the thirties and forties it
entered into treaty relations with Siam, Borneo, and China; and
owing to circumstances which were by no means accidental it had
the honor of persuading Japan to open her ports to the world. As
early as 1797 an American vessel chartered by the Dutch had
visited Nagasaki. From time to time American sailors had been
shipwrecked on the shores of Japan, and the United States had
more than once picked up and sought to return Japanese castaways.
In 1846 an official expedition under Commodore Biddle was sent to
establish relationships with Japan but was unsuccessful. In 1853
Commodore Perry bore a message from the President to the Mikado
which demanded--though the demand was couched in courteous
language--"friendship, commerce, a supply of coal and provisions,
and protection for our shipwrecked people." After a long
hesitation the Mikado yielded. Commodore Perry's success was due
not solely to the care with which his expedition was equipped for
its purpose nor to his diplomatic skill but in part to the
fact that other countries were known to be on the very point of
forcing an entrance into the seclusion of Japan. Few Americans
realize how close, indeed, were the relations established with
Japan by the United States. The treaty which Townsend Harris
negotiated in 1858 stated that "The President of the United
States, at the request of the Japanese Government, will act as a
friendly mediator in such matters of difference as may arise
between the Government of Japan and any European power." Through
his personal efforts Harris may almost be said to have become the
chief adviser of the Japanese Government in the perplexities
which it encountered on entering international society.

Not only did the United States allow itself a closer intimacy
with this new Pacific power than it would have done with a state
of Europe, but it exhibited a greater freedom in dealing with the
European powers themselves in the Far East than at home or in
America. In 1863 the United States joined--in fact, in the
absence of a naval force it strained a point by chartering a
vessel for the purpose--with a concert of powers to force the
opening of the Shimonoseki Straits; subsequently acting with
Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands, the United States
secured an indemnity to pay the cost of the expedition; and in
1866 it united with the same powers to secure a convention by
which Japan bound herself to establish certain tariff

Nor were the relations of the United States with the Pacific
Ocean and its shores confined to trade and international
obligations. The American flag waved over more than ships and a
portion of the Pacific coast. Naval officers more than once
raised it over islands which they christened, and Congress
authorized the President to exercise temporary authority over
islands from which American citizens were removing guano and to
prevent foreign encroachment while they were so engaged. In the
eighties, fifty such islands of the Pacific were in the
possession of the United States.

In 1872 an American naval officer made an agreement with the
local chieftain of Tutuila, one of the Samoan Islands, for the
use of Pago Pago, which was the best harbor in that part of the
ocean. The United States drifted into more intimate relationship
with the natives until in 1878 it made a treaty with the Samoan
king allowing Americans to use Pago Pago as a coaling station. In
return the United States agreed: "If unhappily, any differences
should have arisen, or shall hereafter arise, between the Samoan
government and any other government in amity with the United
States, the government of the latter will employ its good offices
for the purpose of adjusting those differences upon a
satisfactory and solid foundation." In 1884 the Senate insisted
on securing a similar harbor concession from Hawaii, and within
the next few years the American Navy began to arise again from
its ashes. The obligation incurred in exchange for this
concession, however, although it resembled that in the Japanese
treaty, was probably an unreflecting act of good nature for, if
it meant anything, it was an entangling engagement such as the
vast majority of Americans were still determined to avoid.

The natives of Samoa did not indulge in cannibalism but devoted
the small energy the climate gave them to the social graces and
to pleasant wars. They were governed by local kings and were
loosely united under a chief king. At Apia, the capital, were
three hundred foreigners, nearly all connected in one way or
another with trade. This commerce had long been in the hands of
English and Americans, but now the aggressive Germans were
rapidly winning it away. Three consuls, representing the United
States, Great Britain, and Germany, spent their time in
exaggerating their functions and in circumventing the plots of
which they suspected each other. The stage was set for comic
opera, the treaty with the United States was part of the plot,
and several acts had already been played, when Bismarck suddenly
injected a tragic element.

In 1884, at the time when the German statesman began to see the
vision of a Teutonic world empire and went about seeking places
in the sun, the German consul in Samoa, by agreement with King
Malietoa, raised the German flag over the royal hut, with a
significance which was all too obvious. In 1886 the American
consul countered this move by proclaiming a United States
protectorate. The German consul then first pressed home a quarrel
with the native king at a time opportunely coinciding with the
arrival of a German warship, the Adler; he subsequently deposed
him and put up Tamasese in his stead. The apparently more
legitimate successor, Mataafa, roused most of the population
under his leadership. The Adler steamed about the islands
shelling Mataafa villages, and the American consul steamed after
him, putting his launch between the Adler and the shore. In the
course of these events, on December 18, 1888, Mataafa ambushed a
German landing party and killed fifty of its members.

German public opinion thereupon vociferously demanded a
punishment which would establish the place of Germany as a
colonial power in the Pacific. Great Britain, however, was not
disposed to give her growing rival a free hand. The United States
was appealed to under the Treaty of 1878, and American sentiment
determined to protect the Samoans in their heroic fight for
self-government. All three nations involved sent warships to
Apia, and through the early spring of 1889 their chancelleries
and the press were prepared to hear momentarily that some one's
temper had given way in the tropic heat and that blood had been
shed--with what consequences on the other side of the globe no
man could tell.

Very different, however, was the news that finally limped in, for
there was no cable. On March 16, 1889, a hurricane had swept the
islands, wrecking all but one of the warships. The common
distress had brought about cooperation among all parties. Tales
of mutual help and mutual praise of natives and the three nations
filled the dispatches. The play turned out to be a comedy after
all. Yet difficulties remained which could be met only by joint
action. A commission of the three nations therefore was arranged
to meet in Berlin. The United States insisted on native
government; Germany, on foreign control. Finally they agreed to a
compromise in the form of a General Act, to which Samoa
consented. The native government was retained, but the control
was given to a Chief Justice and a President of the Municipal
Council of Apia, who were to be foreigners chosen by the three
powers. Their relative authority is indicated by the fact that
the king was to receive $1800 a year, the Chief Justice, $6000,
and the President, $5000.

Small as was the immediate stake, this little episode was
remarkably significant of the trend of American development.
Begun under Grant and concluded under Blaine and Harrison, the
policy of the United States was the creation of no one mind or
party nor did it accord with American traditions. Encountering
European powers in the Pacific, with no apparent hesitation
though without any general intent, the United States entered into
cooperative agreements with them relating to the native
governments which it would never have thought proper or possible
in other parts of the world. The United States seemed to be
evolving a new policy for the protection of its interests in the
Pacific. This first clash with the rising colonial power of
Germany has an added interest because it revealed a fundamental
similarity in colonial policy between the United States and Great
Britain, even though they were prone to quarrel when adjusting
Anglo-American relations.

While the Samoan affair seemed an accidental happening, there was
taking shape in the Pacific another episode which had a longer
history and was more significant of the expansion of American
interests in that ocean. Indeed, with the Pacific coast line of
the United States, with the superb harbors of San Francisco,
Portland, and Puget Sound, and with Alaska stretching its finger
tips almost to Asia, even Blaine could not resist the lure of the
East, though he endeavored to reconcile American traditions of
isolation with oceanic expansion. Of all the Pacific
archipelagoes, the Hawaiian Islands lie nearest to the shores of
the United States. Although they had been discovered to the
European world by the great English explorer, Captain Cook, their
intercourse had, for geographic reasons, always been chiefly with
the United States. Whalers continually resorted to them for
supplies. Their natives shipped on American vessels and came in
numbers to California in early gold-mining days. American
missionaries attained their most striking success in the Hawaiian
Islands and not only converted the majority of the natives but
assisted the successive kings in their government. The
descendants of these missionaries continued to live on the
islands and became the nucleus of a white population which waxed
rich and powerful by the abundant production of sugar cane on
that volcanic soil.

In view of this tangible evidence of intimacy on the part of the
United States with the Hawaiian Islands, Webster in 1842 brought
them within the scope of the Monroe Doctrine by declaring that
European powers must not interfere with their government. Marcy,
Secretary of State, framed a treaty of annexation in 1853, but
the Hawaiian Government withdrew its assent. Twenty years later
Secretary Fish wrote: "There seems to be a strong desire on the
part of many persons in the islands, representing large interests
and great wealth, to become annexed to the United States and
while there are, as I have already said, many and influential
persons in the country who question the policy of any insular
acquisition, perhaps even any extension of territorial limits,
there are also those of influence and wise foresight who see a
future that must extend the jurisdiction and the limits of this
nation, and that will require a resting spot in the mid-ocean,
between the Pacific coast and the vast domains of Asia, which are
now opening to commerce, and Christian civilization."

All immediate action, however, was confined to a specially
intimate treaty of reciprocity which was signed in 1875, and
which secured a substantial American domination in commerce. When
Blaine became Secretary of State in 1881, he was, or at least he
affected to be, seriously alarmed at the possibility of foreign
influence in Hawaiian affairs, particularly on the part of Great
Britain. The native population was declining, and should it
continue to diminish, he believed that the United States must
annex the islands. "Throughout the continent, north and south,"
he wrote, "wherever a foothold is found for American enterprise,
it is quickly occupied, and the spirit of adventure, which seeks
its outlet, in the mines of South America and the railroads of
Mexico, would not be slow to avail itself of openings of assured
and profitable enterprise even in mid-ocean." As the feeling grew
in the United States that these islands really belonged to the
American continent, Blaine even invited Hawaii to send
representatives to the Pan-American Congress of 1889. When he
again became Secretary of State, he was prepared to give indirect
support at least to American interests, for the new queen,
Liliuokalani, was supposed to be under British influence. On the
arrival of a British gunboat in Honolulu, J. L. Stevens, the
American Minister, went so far as to write on February 8, 1892:
"At this time there seems to be no immediate prospect of its
being safe to have the harbor of Honolulu left without an
American vessel of war."

Revolution was, indeed, impending in Hawaii. On January 14, 1893,
the Queen abolished the later constitution under which the
Americans had exercised great power, and in its place she
proclaimed the restoration of the old constitution which
established an absolutism modified by native home rule. At two
o'clock on the afternoon of the 16th of January, the resident
Americans organized a committee of safety; at half-past four
United States marines landed at the call of Stevens. The Queen
was thereupon deposed, a provisional government was organized,
and at its request Stevens assumed for the United States the
"protection" of the islands. Without delay, John W. Foster, who
had just succeeded Blaine as Secretary of State, drew up a treaty
of annexation, which he immediately submitted to the Senate.

On March 4, 1893, Cleveland became President for the second time.
He at once withdrew the treaty and appointed James H. Blount
special commissioner to investigate the facts of the revolt.
While the report of Commissioner Blount did not, indeed, convict
Stevens of conspiring to bring about the uprising, it left the
impression that the revolt would not have taken place and
certainly could not have succeeded except for the presence of the
United States marines and the support of the United States
Minister. Cleveland recalled Stevens and the marines, and
requested the provisional government to restore the Queen. This
Sanford Ballard Dole, the President of the new republic, refused
to do, on the contention that President Cleveland had no right to
interfere in the domestic affairs of Hawaii. On the legality or
propriety of Stevens's conduct, opinion in Congress was divided;
but with regard to Dole's contention, both the Senate and the
House were agreed that the islands should maintain their own
domestic government without interference from the United States.
Thus left to themselves, the Americans in Hawaii bided their time
until public opinion in the United States should prove more
favorable to annexation.

CHAPTER VI. Venezuela

Probably no President ever received so much personal abuse in his
own day as did Grover Cleveland. In time, however, his sterling
integrity and fundamental courage, his firm grasp of the higher
administrative duties of his office, won the approval of his
countrymen, and a repentant public sentiment has possibly gone
too far in the other direction of acclaiming his statesmanship.
Unlike Blaine, Cleveland thought soundly and consistently; but he
was more obstinate, his vision was often narrower, and he was
notably lacking both in constructive power and in tact,
particularly in foreign relations. In his first Administration,
through his Secretary of State, Thomas F. Bayard, Cleveland had
negotiated fairly amicably with Great Britain, and when he failed
to secure the Senate's assent to a treaty on the irritating
question of the northeastern fisheries, he arranged a modus
vivendi which served for many years. In American affairs he
opposed not only the annexation of Hawaii but also the
development of the spirit of Pan-Americanism. He was, however, no
more disposed than was Blaine to permit infractions of that
negative side of the Monroe Doctrine which forbade European
interference in America. His second Administration brought to the
forefront of world diplomacy an issue involving this traditional

The only European possession in South America at this time was
Guiana, fronting on the Atlantic north of Brazil and divided
among France, Holland, and Great Britain. Beyond British Guiana,
the westernmost division, lay Venezuela. Between the two
stretched a vast tract of unoccupied tropical jungle. Somewhere
there must have been a boundary, but where, no man could tell.
The extreme claim of Great Britain would have given her command
of the mouth of the Orinoco, while that of Venezuela would
practically have eliminated British Guiana. Efforts to settle
this long-standing dispute were unavailing. Venezuela had from
time to time suggested arbitration but wished to throw the whole
area into court. Great Britain insisted upon reserving a minimum
territory and would submit to judicial decision only the land
west of what was known as the Schomburgk line of 1840. As early
as 1876 Venezuela appealed to the United States, "the most
powerful and oldest of the Republics of the new continent," for
its "powerful moral support in disputes with European nations."
Several times the United States proffered its good offices to
Great Britain, but to no effect. The satisfactory settlement of
the question grew more difficult as time went on, particularly
after the discovery of gold in the disputed region had given a
new impulse to occupation.

President Cleveland took a serious view of this controversy
because it seemed to involve more than a boundary dispute. To his
mind it called into question the portion of Monroe's message
which, in 1823, stated that "the American continents...are
henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future
colonization by any European powers." According to this dictum,
boundaries existed between all nations and colonies of America;
the problem was merely to find these boundaries. If a European
power refused to submit such a question to judicial decision, the
inference must be made that it was seeking to extend its
boundaries. In December, 1894, Cleveland expressed to Congress
his hope that an arbitration would be arranged and instructed his
Secretary of State to present vigorously to Great Britain the
view of the United States.

Richard Olney of Boston, a lawyer of exceptional ability and of
the highest professional standing, was then Secretary of State.
His Venezuela dispatch, however, was one of the most undiplomatic
documents ever issued by the Department of State. He did not
confine himself to a statement of his case, wherein any amount of
vigor would have been permissible, but ran his unpracticed eye
unnecessarily over the whole field of American diplomacy. "That
distance and three thousand miles of intervening ocean make any
permanent political union between a European and an American
state unnatural and inexpedient," may have been a philosophic
axiom to many in Great Britain as well as in the United States,
but it surely did not need reiteration in this state paper, and
Olney at once exposed himself to contradiction by adding the
phrase, "will hardly be denied." Entirely ignoring the sensitive
pride of the Spanish Americans and thinking only of Europe, he
continued: "Today the United States is practically sovereign on
this continent, and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it
confines its interposition."

The President himself did not run into any such uncalled-for
extravagance of expression, but his statement of the American
position did not thereby lose in vigor. When he had received the
reply, of the British Government refusing to recognize the
interest of the United States in the case, Cleveland addressed
himself, on December 17, 1895, to Congress. In stating the
position of the Government of the United States, he declared that
to determine the true boundary line was its right, duty, and
interest. He recommended that the Government itself appoint a
commission for this purpose, and he asserted that this line, when
found, must be maintained as the lawful boundary. Should Great
Britain continue to exercise jurisdiction beyond it, the United
States must resist by every means in its power. "In making these
recommendations I am fully alive to the responsibility incurred,
and keenly realize all the consequences that may follow." Yet
"there is no calamity which a great nation can invite which
equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and
injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and
honor beneath which axe shielded and defended a people's safety
and greatness."

Perhaps no American document relating to diplomacy ever before
made so great a stir in the world. Its unexpectedness enhanced
its effect, even in the United States, for the public had not
been sufficiently aware of the shaping of this international
episode to be psychologically prepared for the imminence of war.
Unlike most Anglo-American diplomacy, this had been a long-range
negotiation, with notes exchanged between the home offices
instead of personal conferences. People blenched at the thought
of war; stocks fell; the attention of the whole world was
arrested. The innumerable and intimate bonds of friendship and
interest which would thus have to be broken merely because of an
insignificant jog in a boundary remote from both the nations made
war between the United States and Great Britain seem absolutely
inconceivable, until people realized that neither country could
yield without an admission of defeat both galling to national
pride and involving fundamental principles of conduct and policy
for the future.

Great Britain in particular stood amazed at Cleveland's position.
The general opinion was that peace must be maintained and that
diplomats must find a formula which would save both peace and
appearances. Yet before this public opinion could be
diplomatically formulated, a new episode shook the British sense
of security. Germany again appeared as a menace and, as in the
case of Samoa, the international situation thus produced tended
to develop a realization of the kinship between Great Britain and
the United States. Early in January, 1896, the Jameson raid into
the Transvaal was defeated, and the Kaiser immediately
telegraphed his congratulations to President Krtiger. In view of
the possibilities involved in this South African situation,
British public opinion demanded that her diplomats maintain peace
with the United States, with or without the desired formula.

The British Government, however, was not inclined to act with
undue haste. It became apparent even to the most panicky that war
with the United States could not come immediately, for the
American Commission of Inquiry must first report. For a time Lord
Salisbury hoped that Congress would not support the President--a
contingency which not infrequently happened under Cleveland's
Administration. On this question of foreign relations, however,
Congress stood squarely behind the President. Lord Salisbury then
toyed with the hope that the matter might be delayed until
Cleveland's term expired, in the hope he might have an
opportunity of dealing with a less strenuous successor.

In the summer of 1896, John Hay, an intimate friend of Major
McKinley, the probable Republican candidate for the presidency,
was in England, where he was a well-known figure. There he met
privately Arthur J. Balfour, representing Lord Salisbury, and Sir
William Harcourt, the leader of the Opposition. Hay convinced
them that a change in the Administration of his country would
involve no retreat from the existing American position. The
British Government thereupon determined to yield but attempted to
cover its retreat by merging the question with one of general
arbitration. This proposal, however, was rejected, and Lord
Salisbury then agreed to "an equitable settlement" of the
Venezuela question by empowering the British Ambassador at
Washington to begin negotiations "either with the representative
of Venezuela or with the Government of the United States acting
as the friend of Venezuela."

The achievement of the Administration consisted in forcing Great
Britain to recognize the interest of the United States in the
dispute with Venezuela, on the ground that Venezuela was one of
the nations of the Western Hemisphere. This concession
practically involved recognition of the interest of the United
States in case of future disputes with other American powers. The
arbitration treaty thus arranged between Great Britain and
Venezuela under the auspices of the United States submitted the
whole disputed area to judicial decision but adopted the rule
that fifty years of occupation should give a sufficient title for
possession. The arbitration tribunal, which met in Paris in 1899,
decided on a division of the disputed territory but found that
the claim of Great Britain was, on the whole, more nearly correct
than that of Venezuela.

Cleveland's startling and unconventional method of dealing with
this controversy has been explained by all kinds of conjectures.
For example, it has been charged that his message was the product
of a fishing trip on which whisky flowed too freely; on the other
hand, it has been asserted that the message was an astute
political play for the thunder of patriotic applause. More
seriously, Cleveland has been charged by one set of critics with
bluffing, and by another with recklessly running the risk of war
on a trivial provocation. The charge of bluffing comes nearer the
fact, for President Cleveland probably had never a moment's doubt
that the forces making for peace between the two nations would be
victorious. If he may be said to have thrown a bomb, he certainly
had attached a safety valve to it, for the investigation which he
proposed could not but give time for the passions produced by his
message to cool. It is interesting to note in passing that delay
for investigation was a device which that other great Democrat,
William Jennings Bryan, Cleveland's greatest political enemy,
sought, during his short term as Secretary of State under
President Wilson, to make universal in a series of arbitration
treaties--treaties which now bind the United States and many
other countries, how tightly no man can tell.

While, however, Cleveland's action was based rather on a belief
in peace than on an expectation of war, it cannot be dismissed as
merely a bluff. Not only was he convinced that the principle
involved was worth establishing whatever the cost might be, but
he was certain that the method he employed was the only one which
could succeed, for in no other way was it possible to wake
England to a realization of the fact that the United States was
full-grown and imbued with a new consciousness of its strength.
So far was Cleveland's message from provoking war that it caused
the people of Great Britain vitally to realize for the first time
the importance of friendship with the United States. It marks a
change in their attitude toward things American which found
expression not only in diplomacy, but in various other ways, and
which strikingly revealed itself in the international politics of
the next few years. Not that hostility was converted into
affection, but a former condescension gave way to an appreciative
friendliness towards the people of the United States.

The reaction in America was somewhat different. Cleveland had
united the country upon a matter of foreign policy, not
completely, it is true, but to a greater degree than Blaine had
ever succeeded in doing. More important than this unity of
feeling throughout the land, however, was the development of a
spirit of inquiry among the people. Suddenly confronted by
changes of policy that might bring wealth or poverty, life or
death, the American people began to take the foreign relations of
the United States more seriously than they had since the days of
the Napoleonic wars. Yet it is not surprising that when the
Venezuela difficulty had been settled and Secretary Olney and Sir
Julian Pauncefote, the British Ambassador, had concluded a
general treaty of arbitration, the Senate should have rejected
it, for the lesson that caution was necessary in international
affairs had been driven home. Time was needed for the new
generation to formulate its foreign policy.

CHAPTER VII. The Outbreak Of The War With Spain

Before the nineteenth century ended, the Samoan, Hawaiian, and
Venezuelan episodes had done much to quicken a national
consciousness in the people of the United States and at the same
time to break down their sense of isolation from the rest of the
world. Commerce and trade were also important factors in
overcoming this traditional isolation. Not only was American
trade growing, but it was changing in character. Argentina was
beginning to compete with the United States in exporting wheat
and meat, while American manufacturers were reaching the point
where they were anxious for foreign markets in which they felt
they could compete with the products of Great Britain and

In a thousand ways and without any loss of vigor the sense of
American nationality was expressing itself. The study of American
history was introduced into the lower schools, and a new group of
historians began scientifically to investigate whence the
American people had come and what they really were. In England,
such popular movements find instant expression in literature; in
the United States they take the form of societies. Innumerable
patriotic organizations such as the "Daughters of the American
Revolution" and a host of others, sought to trace out American
genealogy and to perpetuate the memory of American military and
naval achievements. Respect for the American flag was taught in
schools, and the question was debated as to whether its use in
comic opera indicated respect or insult. This new nationalism was
unlike the expansionist movement of the fifties in that it laid
no particular stress upon the incorporation of the neighboring
republics by a process of federation. On the whole, the people
had lost their faith in the assimilating influence of republican
institutions and did not desire to annex alien territory and
races. They were now more concerned with the consolidation of
their own country and with its place in the world. Nor were they
as neglectful as their fathers had been of the material means by
which to accomplish their somewhat indefinite purposes.

The reconstruction of the American Navy, which had attained such
magnitude and played so important a part in the Civil War but
which had been allowed to sink into the merest insignificance,
was begun by William E. Chandler, the Secretary of the Navy under
President Arthur. William C. Whitney, his successor under
President Cleveland, continued the work with energy. Captain
Alfred T. Mahan began in 1883 to publish that series of studies
in naval history which won him world-wide recognition and did so
much to revolutionize prevailing conceptions of naval strategy. A
Naval War College was established in 1884, at Newport, Rhode
Island, where naval officers could continue the studies which
they had begun at Annapolis.

The total neglect of the army was not entirely the result of
indifference. The experience with volunteers in the Civil War had
given almost universal confidence that the American people could
constitute themselves an army at will. The presence of several
heroes of that war in succession in the position of
commander-in-chief of the army had served to diffuse a sense of
security among the people. Here and there military drill was
introduced in school and college, but the regular army attracted
none of the romantic interest that clung about the navy, and the
militia was almost totally neglected. Individual officers, such
as young Lieutenant Tasker Bliss, began to study the new
technique of warfare which was to make fighting on land as
different from that of the wars of Napoleon as naval warfare was
different from that of the time of Nelson. Yet in spite of
obviously changing conditions, no provision was made for the
encouragement of young army officers in advanced and up-to-date
Studies. While their contemporaries in other professions were
adding graduate training to the general education which a college
gave, the graduates of West Point were considered to have made
themselves in four years sufficiently proficient for all the
purposes of warfare.


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