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The argument has deceived many who have not studied the question, and it is well to now put the fallacy to sleep by placing on record tbat I understand that not one ship has so far under the law been purchased abroad. Take away free tolls from our coastal ships, and our citizens will not contract for vessels for canal purposes, and then through pressure of business Congress will undoubtedly be appealed to, and asked to allow foreign built vessels to go through the canal free if owned by United States citizens, and a further danger may menace, perhaps even greater dangers.
Only recently Senator Percy asked Senator O'Gorman if he did not consider much better shipping facilities would ensue if coastwise navigation laws were amended, and vessels of all nations allowed to carry passengers and freight from a port or ports on the Atlantic coast to a port or ports on the Pacific coast through the Panama Canal. Dangers lurk in all these proposals, and these accurate facts are given for the careful thought of all members here to day.
It is further well known that alien nations will likely rebate the tolls of their ships, which they already do in the case of the Suez Canal. England purchased a controlling interest in that great waterway for £4,000,000, when Egypt needed the money. Her dividends to date are £18,000,000 to £20,000,000.
Your committee state in the notice sent out for this adjourned meeting that the sentiment of the country is very largely against the provision according free passage to coastwise tonnage. This is a positive statement, and it does not appear to be true; it should be challenged. The country has passed their judgment on this point. The platform of the Democratic Party distinctly states they favor free tolls, and so does the Progressive Platform. This means that twothirds of the men of this country endorse the law.
All questions affecting our interest are earnestly debated by our people, but specially is this so when the policy to be adopted relates to our connection with other nations. Few subjects have been so thoroughly canvassed. Earnest and able men have expressed their views, and commercial organizations throughout the country have endorsed or condemned the law. No man can justly say which side has the best advocates. In our own city the Merchants Association, the Maritime Exchange, the Board of Trade and Transportation and other commercial bodies have all favored free tolls. Also such bodies as the Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia Chambers of Commerce, and organizations in many other large cities. The National River & Harbor Congress also recently strongly endorses the bill. Ex-President RoOSEVELT says “I think that free tolls do not interfere with the rights of any other nation. Moreover I do not think it sits well on the representatives of any foreign nation to make any plea in reference to what we do with our own coastwise traffic.”
Senator LODGE, an authority on international law, stated in the Senate August 6, 1912—“ I personally interpret that treaty, and have from the beginning, as giving us complete control over tolls to be eharged American vessels. There is a dispute upon that point. Different views are held. Arbitration may be asked at the Hague. Of course if the question goes to the Tribunal, as I said the other day, it is decided beforehand. It would be for the interest of every nation represented to decide against us, and their representatives would do so, no matter how good was our case. They would decide in their own interest. I have no disposition to take that question to a Tribunal where every Judge is, through his country, against our contention. The proposition which I make is one to which no country can possibly object. It is wholly a domestic question, and to undertake to make the argument about ihat, such as was intimated I believe in the English dispatch, it seems to me a little less than impertinence."
Senator Jones, and Congressmen KNOWLAND and HUMPHREYS, and many others have spoken at great length. Also our Junior Senator, O’GORMAN, a man of judicial temperament, who served with distinction on the Bench for many years, a thorough student of the subject, replied to our Senior Senator July 17, 1912, and January 22, 1913, presenting the matter in the clearest terms which must convey conviction to the minds of any one who impartially reads his argument.
HENRY W. Taft, Curtis GUILD, Admiral DEWEY, CHAUNCEY M. DEPEW, Secretary NAGEL, Senator Bristow, Senators NEWLANDS, TOWNSEND and WARREN all favor the measure; also Governor SULZER.
Naturally it is impossible to give more than a limited number of names in this argument, but expressions have been put in the Congressional Record from hundreds of others. The bill was discussed for months in the ablest way by the House and the Senate, and finally when voted on only 63 members were recorded against it in the House, 21 Republicans and 42 Democrats. In the Senate only 15 Senators could be mustered to oppose the bill.
What is the position of this Chamber in connection with the matter?
On the 1st of February, 1912, the Committee on Foreign ('ommerce and Revenue Laws presented a resolution practically advocating the English point of view, and advising that tolls should be placed at $1.00 net per ton. The matter went over by consent until the meeting held March 7th. The question was debated at some length. I presented a substitute resolution which urged President Tart and the Congress, while honestly carrying out all existing treaties, to arrange the tolls so as to carefully protect American interests, and bring about the upbuilding of our Merchant Marine, and advocated tolls to the coastal trade at not over one-third the rates for deep sea business, and said tolls to be free if necessary to accomplish the purposes desired, and copies of the resolution should go to the President, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Navy, and all members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. This resolution was carried and became part of our Record. On April 4, 1912, the same committee reported in favor of allowing railroad owned vessels to go through the canal. Congress, however, in passing the bill did not agree with the view of the committee. On the other hand, however, Congress did carry out the views we expressed at the March 7th meeting giving us free ships engaged in the coastal trade, as per resolution just read to you.
At our meeting in November 1912, MR. Nixon offered a resolution endorsing the position of President Taft, that no provision in the HAY-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty forbids the United States from regulating its commerce by remitting tolls on American ships using the canal. By agreement the resolution went over until the December 5th meeting. The advisability of reopening this question was discussed and there was quite a general sentiment that we had already disposed of the matter, and that a law once passed by Congress should then be recognized by all citizens as an existing condition, and it behooved all Americans to uphold the action of their Government. Mr. Nixon was asked to withdraw his resolution on this ground, and would probably have done so had it not been for the remarks of Senator Root at our annual banquet. The advocates of sustaining the government, and those opposed, came to the December meeting fully prepared if necessary to debate the subject. MR. Schiff evidently feeling that we could not vote against the resolution without directly condemning the President and Congress, which would have been the effect, addressed the Chamber and his concluding sentence is as follows:
This is the law of the land now, and whether we are in favor of it, or whether we consider it unfortunate legislation, our first duty as loyal citizens is the support of the Government in its defense of the laws of the land. I therefore move that both the resolution and the report be laid on the table."
A standing vote was taken and MR. SCHIFF's motion was carried by 164 ayes to 22 nays. Thus oil was poured on the troubled waters, members of both opinions believing that this action was commendable. Unquestionably every man who attended the December meeting presumed, and understood that the question was not again to be brought before the Chamber.
Without any previous intimation, however, members who attended the meeting February 6, 1913, were astonished at the committee reopening the issue, and offering the resolution which we are here today to discuss, endorsing Senate Bill 8114 introduced by Senator Root to change the Panama Canal Act, and do away with the provision in favor of our coastwise vessels, also asking authority that said committee could represent the Chamber at any hearings on the bill and support the resolution. The reason the Chairman gave for this sudden move and change of front, when we all had a fair right to consider the question as ended, was that pressure had been brought to bear on the committee, but the Chamber was not taken into the confidence of the committee, and advised from whom the pressure emanated. Protests were at once made to any such proposed action. It was clear that straightforward methods were assailed, that action without notification
was attempted, and finally the resolution was laid over for discussion at to-day's meeting.
The words uttered by Mr. SCHIFF at the December 5th meeting must stand to-day, as approved then, or this Chamber will absolutely stultify itself. If the President and Congress were to be condemned then, they are condemned now, if you vote in favor of the committee. Not only that, but you again stultify the Chamber because, if you vote in favor of the committee, you put yourselves on record as now objecting to the very action you asked Congress yourselves to enact into law at your meeting in March 1912, which resolution called for the protection of coastwise shipping, if the judgment of Congress warranted taking this action, and their judgment did warrant. How can this Chamber expect their resolutions and their opinions to carry any weight with the Congress and the people of our great state if we continually change our mind? The honor of the Chamber is therefore to-day doubly involved.
Senator Roor to the satisfaction of some, but the regret of numerous dissenting friends, has taken an attitude of pronounced antagonism to the Panama Bill. His arguments are un American, but by reason of his political prominence may do great damage to his country, as he practically invites Great Britain to ask for arbitration, and prejudices his fellow countrymen if they do not admit his contentions. He added nothing new to the argument in his late speech in the Senate. Last summer he had his day in court before the bill was passed, and signally failed to make any impression on the public or his fellow Senators. He will not now respect the law as passed and the Senate's verdict, but wishes to overturn it. Many think that it is as much the part of honor, and love of country to uphold her laws, while on the statute books as it is to proclaim a law dishonest and try to break it own for the benefit of an alien, even if a friendly nation.
The question of what shall be done if arbitration is asked has nothing to do with to-day's question, and should not influence any one present in his vote. We ask to decide solely whether our coastwise vessels should pay, or should not pay tolls. Congress will decide whether we shall go to arbitration or shall not, if we are asked and will decide the question honorably, or it may be decided by diplomatic negotiations now going on. This Chamber cannot decide it. Remember, as well, no man has the right to assume England will ask us to arbitrate. Many think she is merely playing the usual diplomatic game and will accept the position. In fact has no heart in the argument, or belief in her own cause, but acts largely as sponsor for her erring daughter, Canada.
Great Britain has now put forth a second protest based, however, on radically different grounds from her first paper, in the hope of rectifying errors of fact. This protest has been considered most carefully by the Government, and Mr. Knox, Secretary of State, has replied January 24th and maintains the full justice of our previous action in so dignified and clear a statement, that it is hoped it will end the controversy.
The alien lines through their agents and friends and attorneys dread any advancement of our shipping interest. They are a powerful combination and know how to make their influence felt, says the Maritime Journal. Gentlemen, we feel this influence to-day in this Chamber, and their votes will be a potent factor in favor of the committee's action.
Peace pronunciamentos, arbitration advocacy, and the sacrifice of those principles our fathers fought for, even to allowing alien countries to dominate our domestic affairs, has become popular in New York. We are rather hypocritical, however, as within a day or so of such advocacy we attend a meeting for the upbuilding of a warlike navy, and shout the loudest for four battleships a year to fight if necessary the very power we were conceding everything to shortly before.
We all recognize and admit the fact that so long as Europe, the East and all of us have to keep up such large armies and navies, war must come, and until a general disarmament is enforced arbitration is not of much value. The great powers with their armies and navies will decide in their own way against the nation who has the treaty, but no army or navy to defend it, and then make a new treaty with her foot on the prostrate neck of her victim.
In deciding you must support President Taft, Secretary of State Knox, a large majority in Congress and two-thirds of the Senate, or turn down these distinguished men, and your own resolutions sent to them. I sincerely trust you will take no such action. When debate is closed let us hope Mr. Scuff will be consistent and again assume the honor of moving to lay the committee's resolution on the table. If he fails in consistency I will then so move.
The patriotism, the word itself and what it stands for, has stirred the breasts of men and women of all countries to noble deeds since first the sun came up over the world, and will continue to do so until the last sun goes down in the west. Be true to these sentiments and your own country, and do not play into the hands of foreign governments. [Applause.]
REMARKS OF G. WALDO SMITH, ESQ.
MR. SMITH.—The first speaker closed with these words: “JOHN Hay and LORD PAUNCEFOTE knew just what they were about.”
It seems to me that that is just exactly the opposite from what they did know. If they had they added four words, including or excluding the American nation, then they would have known just what they were about and we would have known. As it is the very best legal minds in the country differ. The members of the Chamber of Commerce differ and nations differ, and I cannot understand how these men knew just what they were about, when they left such a vexed question for the world to consider and discuss.
The great question is now, shall the coastwise trade have free passage through the Panama Canal? The coastwise trade of America has a monopoly. It has had a phenomenally remarkable growth. In 1900 it handled three and one-half million tons; in 1910 it was