The Path of Empire,
Carl Russell Fish
Part 4 out of 4
up treaties on such general lines with a number of nations, and
President Roosevelt referred them to the Senate with his warm
approval. That body, however, exceedingly jealous of the share in
the treaty-making power given it by the Constitution, disliked
the treaties, because it feared that under such general
agreements cases would be submitted to The Hague Court without
its special approval.* Yet, as popular sentiment was strongly
behind the movement, the Senate ventured only to amend the
procedure in such a way as to make every "agreement" a treaty
which would require its concurrence. President Roosevelt,
however, was so much incensed at this important change that he
refused to continue the negotiations.
* The second article in these treaties read: "In each individual
case the high contracting parties, before appealing to the
Permanent Court of Arbitration, shall conclude a special
agreement defining clearly the matter in dispute."
President Taft was perhaps more interested in this problem than
in any other. His Secretary of State, Elihu Root, reopened
negotiations and, in 1908 and 1909, drew up a large number of
treaties in a form which met the wishes of the Senate. Before the
Administration closed, the United States had agreed to submit to
arbitration all questions, except those of certain classes
especially reserved, that might arise with Great Britain, France,
Austro-Hungary, China, Costa Rica, Italy, Denmark, Japan, Hayti,
Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, Peru,
San Salvador, and Switzerland.
Such treaties seemed to a few fearsome souls to be violations of
the injunctions of Washington and Jefferson to avoid entangling
alliances, but to most they seemed, rather, to be disentangling.
It was, indeed, becoming increasingly apparent that the world was
daily growing smaller and that, as its parts were brought
together by rail and steamships, by telegraph and wireless, more
and more objects of common interest must become subject to common
regulation. General Grant can hardly be regarded as a visionary,
and yet in 1873 in his second inaugural address, he had said:
"Commerce, education, and rapid transit of thought and matter by
telegraph and steam have changed all this.... I believe that
our Great Maker is preparing the world in His own good time, to
become one nation, speaking one language, and when armies and
navies will be no longer required."
Quietly, without general interest, or even particular motive, the
United States had accepted its share in handling many such world
problems. As early as 1875 it had cooperated in founding and
maintaining at Paris an International Bureau of Weights and
Measures. In 1886 it joined in an international agreement for the
protection of submarine cables; in 1890, in an agreement for the
suppression of the African slave trade; in 1899, in an agreement
for the regulation of the importation of spirituous liquors into
Africa; in 1902, in a convention of American powers for the
Arbitration of Pecuniary Claims. In 1903 it united with various
American powers in an International Sanitary Convention; in 1905
it joined with most countries of the world in establishing and
maintaining an International Institute of Agriculture at Rome. It
would surprise most Americans to know that five hundred pages of
their collection of "Treaties and Conventions" consist of such
international undertakings, which amount in fact to a body of
international legislation. It is obvious that the Government, in
interpreting the injunction to avoid entangling alliances, has
not found therein prohibition against international cooperation.
In 1783 the United States had been a little nation with not
sufficient inhabitants to fill up its million square miles of
territory. Even in 1814 it still reached only to the Rockies and
still found a troublesome neighbor lying between it and the Gulf
of Mexico. Now with the dawn of the twentieth century it was a
power of imperial dimensions, occupying three million square
miles between the Atlantic and the Pacific, controlling the
Caribbean, and stretching its possessions across the Pacific and
up into the Arctic. Its influence was a potent factor in the
development of Asia, and it was bound by the bonds of treaties,
which it has ever regarded sacred, to assist in the regulation of
many matters of world interest.
Nor had the only change during the century been that visible in
the United States. The world which seemed so vast and mysterious
in 1812 had opened up most of its dark places to the valor of
adventurous explorers, of whom the United States had contributed
its fair share. The facilities of intercourse had conquered
space, and along with its conquest had gone a penetration of the
countries of the world by the tourist and the immigrant, the
missionary and the trader, so that Terence's statement that
nothing human was alien to him had become perforce true of the
Nor had the development of governmental organization stood still.
In 1812 the United States was practically the only democratic
republic in the world; in 1912 the belief in a government founded
on the consent of the governed, and republican in form, had
spread over all the Americas, except such portions as were still
colonies, and was practically true of even most of them.
Republican institutions had been adopted by France and Portugal,
and the spirit of democracy had permeated Great Britain and
Norway and was gaining yearly victories elsewhere. In 1912 the
giant bulk of China adopted the form of government commended to
he; by the experience of the nation which, more than any other,
had preserved her integrity. Autocracy and divine right, however,
were by no means dead. On the contrary, girt and prepared, they
were arming themselves for a final stand. But no longer, as in
1823, was America pitted alone against Europe. It was the world
including America which was now divided against itself.
It was chiefly the Spanish War which caused the American people
slowly and reluctantly to realize this new state of things--that
the ocean was no longer a barrier in a political or military
sense, and that the fate of each nation was irrevocably bound up
with the fate of all. As the years went by, however, Americans
came to see that the isolation proclaimed by President Monroe was
no longer real, and that isolation even as a tradition could not,
either for good or for ill, long endure. All thoughtful men saw
that a new era needed a new policy; the wiser, however, were not
willing to give up all that they had acquired in the experience
of the past. They remembered that the separation of the
continents was not proclaimed as an end in itself but as a means
of securing American purposes. Those national purposes had been:
first, the securing of the right of self-government on the part
of the United States; second, the securing of the right of other
nations to govern themselves. Both of these aims rested on the
belief that one nation should not interfere with the domestic
affairs of another. These fundamental American purposes remained,
but it was plain that the situation would force the nation to
find some different method of realizing them. The action of the
United States indicated that the hopes of the people ran to the
reorganization of the world in such a way as would substitute the
arbitrament of courts for that of war. Year by year the nation
committed itself more strongly to cooperation foreshadowing such
an organization. While this feeling was growing among the people,
the number of those who doubted whether such a system could ward
off war altogether and forever also increased. Looking forward to
the probability of war, they could not fail to fear that the next
would prove a world war, and that in the even of such a conflict,
the noninterference of the United States would not suffice to
preserve it immune in any real independence.
Each President's "Annual Message" always gives a brief survey of
the international relations of the year and often makes
suggestions of future policy. Of these the most famous is
Monroe's message in 1823. Since 1860 they have been accompanied
by a volume of "Foreign Relations, "giving such correspondence as
can be made public at the time. The full correspondence in
particular cases is sometimes called for by the Congress, in
which case it is found in the "Executive Documents" of House or
Senate. A fairly adequate selection of all such papers before
1828 is found in "American State Papers, Foreign Affairs." Three
volumes contain the American "Treaties, Conventions,
International Acts," etc., to 1918. A. B. Hart's "Foundations of
American Foreign Policy" (1901) gives a good bibliography of
these and other sources.
More intimate material is found in the lives and works of
diplomats, American and foreign. Almost all leave some record,
but there are unfortunately fewer of value since 1830 than before
that date. The "Memoirs" of John Quincy Adams (1874-1877), and
his "Writings," (1913- ), are full of fire and information, and
W. C. Ford, in his "John Quincy Adams and the Monroe Doctrine,"
in the "American Historical Review," vol. VII, pp. 676-696, and
vol. VIII, pp. 28-52, enables us to sit at the council table
while that fundamental policy was being evolved. The most
interesting work of this kind for the later period is "The Life
and Letters of John Hay," by W. R. Thayer, 2 vols. (1915).
Treatments of American diplomacy as a whole are few. J. W.
Foster's "Century of American Diplomacy" (1901) ends with 1876.
C. R. Fish in "American Diplomacy" (1915) gives a narrative from
the beginning to the present time. W. A. Dunning's "The British
Empire and the United States" (1914) is illuminating and
interesting. Few countries possess so firm a basis for the
understanding of their relations with the world as J. B. Moore
has laid down in his "Digest of International Law," 8 vols.
(1906), and his "History and Digest of International
Arbitrations," 6 vols. (1898).
Particular episodes and subjects have attracted much more the
attention of students. Of the library of works on the Monroe
Doctrine, A. B. Hart's "The Monroe Doctrine, an Interpretation"
(1916) can be most safely recommended. On the Clayton-Bulwer
Treaty, M. W. Williams's "Anglo-American Isthmian Diplomacy,"
1815-1915 (1916) combines scholarly accuracy with interest. A. R.
Colquhoun's "The Mastery of the Pacific" (1902) has sweep; and no
one will regret reading R. L. Stevenson's "A Footnote to History"
(1892), though it deals but with the toy kingdom of Samoa.
The most important history of the Spanish War is Admiral F. E.
Chadwick's "The Relations of the United States and Spain," one
volume of which, "Diplomacy" (1909), deals with the long course
of relations which explain the war; and two volumes,
"Spanish-American War" (1911), give a narrative and critical
account of the war itself. E. J. Benton's "International Law and
Diplomacy of the Spanish-American War" (1908) is a good review of
the particular aspects indicated in the title. The activity of
the navy is discussed from various angles by J.D. Long, "The New
American Navy," 2 vols. (1903), and by H. H. Sargent in "The
Campaign of Santiago de Cuba," 3 vols. (1907), in which he gives
a very valuable documentary and critical history of the chief
campaign. General Joseph Wheeler has told the story from the
military point of view in "The Santiago Campaign" (1899), and
Theodore Roosevelt in "The Rough Riders" (1899). A good military
account of the whole campaign is H.W. Wilson's "The Downfall of
Spain" (1900). Russell A. Alger in "The Spanish-American
War"(1901) attempts to defend his administration of the War
Department. General Frederick Funston, in his "Memories of Two
Wars" (1911) proves himself as interesting as a writer as he was
picturesque as a fighter. J.A. LeRoy, in "The Americans in the
Philippines," 2 vols. (1914), gives a very careful study of
events in those islands to the outbreak of guerrilla warfare.
C.B. Elliott's "The Philippines," 2 vols. (1917), is an excellent
study of American policy and its working up to the Wilson
Administration. W.F. Willoughby discusses governmental problems
in his "Territories and Dependencies of the United States"
On the period subsequent to the Spanish War, J.H. Latane's
"America as a World Power" (in the "American Nation Series,"
1907) is excellent. A.C. Coolidge's "The United States as a World
Power" (1908) is based on a profound understanding of European as
well as American conditions. C.L. Jones's "Caribbean Interests of
the United States" (1916) is a comprehensive survey. The
"Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt" (1913) is indispensable for
an understanding of the spirit of his Administration. W.H. Taft's
"The United States and Peace" (1914) is a source, a history, and
The "International Year Book" and the "American Year Book"
contain annual accounts written by men of wide information and
with great attention to accuracy. Such periodic treatments,
however, are intended to be, and are, valuable for fact rather
than for interpretation.
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